A dynamic capital city with a reputation for its lively nightlife and awe-inspiring architecture, Budapest is also packed with opportunities for retail therapy. From boutiques stocking clothes by local fashion designers to bookshops and markets, there is something here to suit every taste and budget.
Whether you’re looking for new wardrobe staples by an emerging designer, quirky antiques to adorn your home or wacky souvenirs to take home, Budapest’s shopping scene does not disappoint. Local fashionista Wiktoria Skiba – who runs The Spoiled Queen fashion blog – shares her top picks for retail therapy in the Hungarian capital.
Head to the best streets for local fashion designers
Paulay Ede Utca
Courtesy of The Garden Studio
“For a few years now in Budapest, I’ve observed the increasing number of concept stores with handmade clothes, accessories and decor,” says Skiba. “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,” she adds. Opened by fashion designer Dóri Tomcsányi, The Garden Studio stocks colourful clothing by independent Hungarian brands, so if you’re after a statement piece, this shop is worth a visit. 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 hand-picked products suit a range of different moods and personalities – think intricate handmade jewellery, oversize vintage sweatshirts, mainstream brand pieces and designs by local artists. What’s more, the PSTR Store is worth a visit purely for its spacious interior, filled with hanging indoor plants and colourful rugs.
“I love shopping on Lövőház Utca because it has some amazing multi-brand stores with premium clothes and accessories. Spark Le Monde is my current favourite,” says Skiba. Featuring products by both emerging designers and big names like Loewe and Tom Ford, Spark Le Monde is a must-visit for unique luxury fashion – from minimalistic, sustainable Scandinavian bags to oversize sunglasses and statement dresses.
“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. 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. Even if you don’t 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’ll have the time of your life here, rifling through the racks and discovering clothes by designers including Moschino, Versace, Guess and Versus.
Browse the day away at Budapest’s quirky bookshops
Massolit Books and Café
Courtesy of Massolit Books and Café
Massolit bookshop, in the bustling Jewish Quarter, stocks a range of genres that aren’t commonly seen in Hungary, from progressive politics to Jewish and gender studies. Its decor is charming, and there’s a small outdoor garden where you can relax with a book in the warmer months. Visitors are encouraged to grab a coffee and cake and lounge around as long as they wish.
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 also stocks primarily second-hand titles. 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. 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.
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’s always live music playing, and Szimpla Brunch, combining many of the local products on offer, is available on the second floor.
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 fare – such as gulyás (goulash) and lángos (fried dough traditionally topped with sour cream and grated cheese) – at on-site eateries.