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By CRISTINA DUMITRU

Photo: TRAIAN BADULESCU  

Shopping season: Budapest

We all want to preserve the memory of the places our steps take us. That is why we take photos, we go to shopping. And Budapest, as any other great European capital, lure tourists with thousands of temptations. It is still better to know quality Hungarian products and the stores where they are located before starting the shopping tour.

For those who wish to find specific Hungarian items I recommend Hungarian hand-painted porcelain, embroidery and pottery objects.  You can buy shirts and suits with traditional models from specialised stores. They are defined by floral patterns, with a vivid chromatic. Depending on the complexity and size of product, the prices can be of  few tens of thousands of forints (generally, the difference being on model and size, prices start from 20,000 HUF).  Very common are the handmade wood products: spoons and different kitchen items, beautifully decorated with floral designs. Ceramic is a special souvenir: handy-made blue-colour ornaments being  a specific feature. Easter eggs, with patterns similar to lace, are a special gift, too. To purchase these products I would recommend "Folk art Centrum" store, with a downtown location, on Vaci utca 58, open daily from 10:00 to 19:00.  The products they make available to clients are from all over Hungary. The staff is ready to help and provide necessary guidance for choosing the perfect gift. Items sold here can be found on www.folkartcentrum.hu

One of the most popular areas for shopping enthusiasts is Vaci utca. This famous street is the core of Budapest, and can be divided into two areas: the north, where there are many restaurants and cafes, and the south, which is more commercial. The best would be to walk through from an end  to another. You will spend this way a very nice and especially useful time: seeing the windows of well-known brands such as „Marks and Spencer "," Cottonfield "and many others. You can head from   here to Parizsi street, where you'll find famous Szamos marzipan sweets.

Andrassy Boulevard lays at short distance from Vorosmarty street.  The last is included on the list of UNESCO world heritage, and is famous due to its buildings with impressive facades. Here you will find shops that sell famous porcelain, Herend. A visit to the shop is like a walk in an art gallery. These porcelains are the pride of the industry in Hungary. Herend porcelain hand painted pots, plates and saucers services have won numerous gold medals at international exhibitions.
If the shopping fever embraced you, take a walk on the fashion street called, guess how smart.. „Fashion Street”. It connects Deak and Vorosmarty Square, and allows the investors to put Budapest on the European catwalks. Here you will find all the international brands such as "Benetton", "Lacoste", "Boss, Tommy Hilfinger," Puma, "Mexx", "Sisley", "Giancarlo Ferre." There are also shops for shoes as "Lloyd" and "Zengarini. In this area you can buy as well sports clothing or mountain equipment (you can buy a pair of sport pans with about 20,000 HUF). Shops are open from Monday to Saturday, from 09:00 – 19:00. 

If the shopping exhausted you, go into a cafe or restaurant in the area. In Vorosmarty Square you will find the famous cafe "Gerbeaud Cukraszda”, where you can take a coffee and a cake, all served with the elegance and the style of old times. Founded in 1858, it is the most famous cafe in Budapest. 
When you go shopping, try to removed yourself from the so-tempting windows ! Admire the elegant old buildings, most of them since 1800s, now shelters for famous shops. Many of them hide true "treasures" for shoppers  in their nice furnished basements. 
Vaci Street extends into Central Market. In a perpetual bustle, here you will find only quality products. The building that houses this market is really beautiful and is older than 100 years. Everything is colourful and sweet from red pepper paprika garlands, piles of fruits and vegetables, ropes of garlic, fish, cheese. Upstairs, you find  large bouquets of flowers, a cafe and souvenir shops. Here you will find Hungary in colour, smells and sounds. Canvas bags with paprika and a bottle of wine Tokaji or Unikum can make a useful and pleasant gift that can be purchased here. Add a cookbook to this package and, voila, the perfect souvenir!

It  would be good to make some time to visit the bookstores in Budapest as well. It is the city with the largest number of libraries in Europe. Their offer is varied, and you could find here translations of the most important Hungarian writers.

Shops selling antiques, old furniture and porcelain have to be found also on Vaci street. If you are a collector, you might want to visit Moro Antik: V, Falk Miksa u.13, and the flea market held on Saturday and Sunday from 07:00 to 14:00, in Varosligeti park. There you have opportunity to find rare collectible items. 
If you are not interested in purchasing brands or handicrafts, you can go into the huge outlet stores or supermarkets. One of them, quite central, is the WestEnd Shopping Center. It has three floors and houses approximately 400 shops. You will surely find what you are looking here, but prices are not lower than in other stores. It is located on Vaci ut., 1-3, and is open from Monday to Saturday, 10:00 – 21:00, and on Sunday from 10:00 – 18:00. 

If you are short of time or simply do not want to walk through so many stores, you can buy gifts from the tourist information points. Downtown is located Tourinform office, open daily from 08:00 – 21:00, near Deak ter metro station, on Suto street, no. 2. 
Budapest has its own discount period as any major European capital, when prices fall off by 20 to 80%
Since I outlined above details about shopping in Budapest, you need to know details about payments, too. Most shops accept credit card payments. Their symbols are displayed at the entrance, and you'd better check this before buying anything. If you want to pay cash, would be very nice to have forints. You can pay in euros, but not in all the shops, if it is possible to pay in euros in the shop, the exchange rate will not be very convenient for you (1 EUR = 250 HUF). At the currency exchange offices, the rate is better: 1 EUR = 268 HUF. Also, it would be nice to have small banknotes with you, in case the shopkeeper will not be able to give you the change.


 

Useful information
WestEnd shopping mall
Vaci ut., 1-3, open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 21:00

Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00
Central Market Vamhaz Korut 1-3, open Monday from 6:00 to 17:00, Tuesday - Friday from 6:00 to 18:00, Saturdays from 6:00 to 14:00
 Folkart Centrumb Vaci utca 58, open daily from 10.00 - 19.00
Cafe Gerbeaud CukraszdabVorosmarty ter, 7, www.gerbeaud.hu
Herend porcelain shop - Andrassy ut, 16
Bestseller Bookstore - Oktober 6 utca 11
Thonet House (porcelain shop) Vaci utca 9
BAV Antiques - Kossuth Lajos utca 1-3

Shopping sezon Budapesta