Whether you are looking for new wardrobe staples by emerging designer, quirky antiques to adorn your home or wacky souvenirs to take home, Budapest’s shopping scene does not disappoint. From boutiques stocking clothes by local fashion designers to bookshops and markets, there is something here to suit every taste and budget.
A dynamic capital city with a reputation for its lively nightlife and awe-inspiring architecture, Budapest is also packed with opportunities for retail therapy. Local fashionista Wiktoria Skiba – who runs The Spoiled Queen fashion blog – shares her top picks for retail therapy in the Hungarian capital with the Culture Trip.
The best streets for local fashion designers
Paulay Ede Utca
Opened by fashion designer Dóri Tomcsányi, The Garden Studio stocks colourful clothing by independent Hungarian brands, so if you are after a statement piece, this shop is worth a visit. “One of the best streets to shop for these things is Paulay Ede Utca. Here, you can find many multi-brand stores with collections from Hungarian designers. My favourite is The Garden Studio,” says Skiba. Also situated on Paulay Ede Utca is Projekt Showroom, a space full of stalls hawking an array of items by local designers. This hipster paradise provides an unforgettable shopping experience, with vendors specialising in the likes of arty postcards and prints, scented candles, statement clothing, and jewellery.
“Another one of my favourite shopping streets in Budapest is Dohány Utca, where you can find cool stores with street clothing, like Poster Urban Outfit,” says Skiba. Also known as the PSTR Store, this shopping hub stocks garments for both men and women. The PSTR Store is worth a visit purely for its spacious interior, filled with hanging indoor plants and colourful rugs.
Spark Le Monde is a must-visit for unique luxury fashion – from minimalistic, sustainable Scandinavian bags to oversize sunglasses and statement dresses, featuring products by both emerging designers and big names like Loewe and Tom Ford.
Budapest’s quirky bookshops
Massolit Books and Café
With charming décor and a small outdoor garden where you can relax with a book in the warmer months, Massolit bookshop, in the bustling Jewish Quarter, stocks a range of genres that are not commonly seen in Hungary, from progressive politics to Jewish and gender studies. Visitors are encouraged to grab a coffee and cake and lounge around as long as they wish.
Dani’s English Bookshop
Situated on a sleepy Buda street close to Fisherman’s Bastion and Buda Castle, Dani’s English Bookshop is a must-visit if you prefer to shop for second-hand books. This store is full of super rare and eclectic titles that you might struggle to find anywhere else.
Yellow Zebra Bookstore
Located in central Budapest, behind the Hungarian State Opera House, this bookshop caters to all preferences – you can get your hands on anything from mystery and crime novels to romance and young adult fiction. Yellow Zebra also stocks primarily second-hand titles. The same company operates an on-site café – meaning customers can peruse the books on offer over a coffee – as well as a bike rental service and several tours around Budapest, including Segway tours.
Szimpla Farmer’s Market
Arguably the most famous ruin bar in Budapest, Szimpla Kert, hosts a farmer’s market each Sunday. Visitors can browse a huge selection of Hungarian produce, including fresh cheeses, meats, fruits, vegetables, jam, honey, spices, and even truffle specialities – all of which are produced by the sellers at the market. There is always live music playing, and Szimpla Brunch, combining many of the local products on offer, is available on the second floor.
Central Market Hall
The Neo-Gothic Central Market Hall – Budapest’s largest food market – was built in the late 19th century and is home to over 100 stalls, set over three floors. Visitors here can shop for fruit, vegetables, salami, fresh fish, traditional Hungarian paprika, Tokaj wine, and unique souvenirs to take home. The Central Market Hall also provides the perfect opportunity to sample some traditional food – such as gulyás (goulash) and lángos (fried dough traditionally topped with sour cream and grated cheese) – at on-site eateries.
Located in a historic building on the Buda side of the river, this alternative store supplies items such as bold and colourful accessories, graphic-print T-shirts, fun jewellery, and distressed denim jackets. “This has been one of my favourite vintage stores in Budapest for years,” says Skiba. “It has a great selection of clothes, accessories, shoes, bags and backpacks. I particularly love the old-school T-shirts with cool prints,” she adds. Even if you do not end up buying anything, you should go just to snap a picture of the eclectic interior.
“The aspect of Ludovika I love the most is its beautiful boho dresses and blouses,” says Skiba. Conveniently open until 8pm, this treasure trove is bursting with hundreds of vintage pieces. You will have the time of your life here, rifling through the racks and discovering clothes by designers including Moschino, Versace, Guess, and Versus.