The Central Market Hall or Great Market Hall is the most beautiful Budapest market hall. It was built in 1897 with beautiful tiled roofs and a colourful facade of patterned orange bricks. Although the Central Market Hall (Vasarcsarnok) was pretty damaged during WW2, it has been restored perfectly in the 1990s. “Budapest’s biggest indoor market is the sort of place where you can wander for hours, until sensory overload kicks in.
Though it’s a popular tourist stop—and there are a raft of stalls selling Hungarian dolls, embroidered linens, glassware, and other souvenirs—plenty of locals do their regular food shopping here as well.” (Frommer’s travel guide) That’s true, Hungarians buy their daily fruit-vegetable intake here too (although penny-pinching Hungarians would go to Lehel ter Market Hall).
According to Fodor’s travel guide “the cavernous, three-story [Budapest Central] market, which is near the southern end of Váci utca, once again teems with people browsing among stalls packed with salamis and red-paprika chains. Upstairs you can buy folk embroideries and souvenirs and have your fill of Hungarian-style fast food.” By ‘Hungarian fast food’ most probably referring to Langos as well. Try it, it is really great, especially as a quick lunch or a filling elevenses. (It is quite often used as a snack with cold beer.)
The first floor of the big market hall is full of food stands, and there is also an affordable, down to earth cafeteria, Fakanal Restaurant [Fakanál – say fah -con-ull – meaning ‘wooden spoon’].
Fakanal Restaurant is a self service style cheap restaurant in Budapest, with a perfect location right in the Central Market Hall of the city. An ideal choice for budget Budapest holidays, and a comfortable way to try traditional Hungarian cuisine in a casual setting. “Gourmets will appreciate the Hungarian and other treats available on the ground floor at a fraction of what they would cost in the shops on nearby Váci utca” (Lonely Planet travel guide). True, but we think there are some better eateries to try in Budapest to sample Hungarian meals at a cheap price. Check out our Budget Dining Budapest Map for some great cheap places (restaurants, cafes, bistros, eateries, etc. on the map).
Note: fresh vegetables tend to be oversteamed or overcooked in Hungary, so if you love your veggies crispy, do let the cook know in advance how you like them, for a better experience. Unfortunately, Fakanal is not really prepared for individual cooking options.
What To Buy and Try in the Central Market Hall?
We would especially recommend the juicy fruits, like peaches, apricots and sweet watermelons in summer, apples and plums in autumn. If you love cooking, you may be interested in trying some raw vegetables too, as the local Hungarian varieties taste and look differently. Unique Hungarian produce includes parsnip with a more characteristic, rooty taste, smaller heads of celeriac (again with a stronger character), smaller types of sweet or hot yellow peppers (half or third of the size of western red-yellow-green peppers), etc.
Drinks: if you love dessert wines, do try Tokaji Aszu for its lovely sweet flavours and wonderful fragrance. Unicum is a bitter liqueur that may require a couple of tastings to grow to like it. Many Hungarians love it, some hate it, a divider. Hungarian beers are cheap to buy at the food stalls.
Salamis: Hungarian salamis are high quality products, and there are many foreign tourists returning Hungary and going back for more salamis. Give it a try, if you are a meat eater. Mangalitsa salamis are special salamis made from the local furry pig meat (mangalica)
Pickles: we Hungarians eat less raw salad, and eat more pickles along with the meaty main courses. Pickles are wonderful and varied in Hungary: try the sweet pickled gherkins, the pickled cabbages, the pickled stuffed peppers to get some idea about Hungarian pickles (savanyusag).
Paprika: it may be strange to try Hungarian paprika, but we recommend trying a bit of sweet Hungarian paprika at the Central Market Hall. Beautiful colour, rich sweet flavours, unlike in many of the stores you can get in western Europe or the US. Don’t take our word for it, give it a try. And take home some paprika for colouring dishes and adding a bit of sweet flavour for ragouts, stews and soups. Which is the best Hungarian paprika to buy? Szeged paprika or Kalocsa paprika?
Mon 6am – 5pm
Tue – Fri 6am – 6pm
Sat 6am – 3pm
A night photo of the Budapest Central Market Hall (Vasarcsarnok) on Vamhaz square by the Liberty Bridge
Address: Budapest, Vámház körút 1-3. H-1093
Getting there? Take tram 2 or 47 or 49, or simply take a 5 minute walk from the blue metro line stop called Kalvin ter. Alternatively, you can walk through the most famous shopping street called Váci utca, starting from Vorosmarty square, walk about 15 min, and the Grand Market Hall is right at the end of Vaci street, you cannot miss it.
Here is the Budapest Shopping Map – baskets indicate Market Halls
View Budapest Shopping Map in a larger map
Gifts and Souvenirs at the Central Market Hall (Vasarcsarnok)
Although the Market Hall is a good place to spend some nice time in, it is not the only place where you can buy your Hungarian gifts at a good price. Here is a great tip from Lucy Mallows travel writer: “There are about 200 stalls on two floors and a balcony above offering billowing white tablecloths, souvenirs and snacks. Downstairs are the miserable-looking live carp and dozens of pickled vegetables in jars. Items to look out for are the wooden, hand-made toys and embroidered jackets on the balcony. For souvenirs such as paprika powder, pálinka (the local – and lethal fruit brandy, made from pears, apricots or plums), and Unicum, a bitter digestif that comes in an anarchist’s bomb-shaped black bottle, you’ll get much better bargains in the local supermarket”
Vegetables, fruits, garlic and Hungarian paprika – Budapest Central Market Hall
Herbal liqueurs, Tokaji aszu wines, paprika – choke full:
Also about Budapest Central Market Hall