Over the last few years, some of the most beautiful traditional market halls in Budapest have been renovated. As a result, taking a visit to the weekend morning market is becoming more and more popular among locals. In this week’s Best of Budapest, we have compiled a list of the best market halls in the capital, from the top tourist spots and food courts to the small Sunday farmers market in the city’s most famous ruin pub.
Great Market Hall
The beautiful Great Market Hall at Fővám Square is probably the most popular and well-known market in the capital. It was named the continent’s most amazing market on CNN’s Travel list, surpassing some of the most famous markets in Europe, such as Barcelona’s La Boqueria and London’s Portobello Road Market. When it opened at the end of the 19th century, the three-story “cathedral of iron” was deemed one of the world’s most modern market halls with its state-of-the-art lighting and ventilation. It originally had a canal running through its center so that barges could deliver fresh produce to traders. The canal is no longer there — it has been replaced by wide elegant thoroughfares between the stalls. The hall was badly damaged during World War II and eventually closed when it became a danger to patrons. In the mid-1990s, it was restored and now takes pride of place as one of the city’s great attractions.
Downtown Market (Hold utca)
The market in Hold utca was fully renovated in 2014, and re-christened as Downtown Market; today, it is one of the best examples to come out of Budapest’s gastro revolution. On the ground floor, customers can still find high-quality meat, vegetable, and fruit stalls. On the next floor up, a number of eateries have opened – including restaurants created by star chefs – offering classic market and street food. Lajos Bíró, one of the first chefs to operate a bistro in the market, opened a high-quality butcher’s shop fused with a deli called Séf Utcája; he later opened Buja Disznók, a restaurant specializing in fried pork schnitzel, pork ears and potato salad. Szabina Szulló and Tamás Széll – who came in fourth place in the International competition of Bocuse d’or in 2017 – also opened a restaurant, Stand25, which recently won a coveted Bib Gourmand award.
Lehel Market Hall, a colorful, red-yellow ship-like building, is located in the 13th district and is one of the main markets of the capital. It is considered to be one of the ugliest buildings in Budapest, alongside the former headquarters of the Centre for Budapest Transportation (BKK) and of the Hungarian Workers’ Party. While it won’t be topping any international beauty lists anytime soon, the market is still extremely popular with locals as it doesn’t attract hoards of tourists.
Klauzál Square Market Hall
The more than 120-year-old traditional market hall at Klauzál tér, in the heart of central Budapest’s so-called party district, underwent a 2 billion forint renovation in 2015. The market hall serves as a venue to purchase high-quality Hungarian food produced by small-scale family farms across the country. In 2016, the market made the Lonely Planet’s list of the year’s best travel experiences. The market, which boasts a total floor area of 7000 square metres, came 27th on the 31-item list.
Fehérvári Street Market
Situated on Fehérvári street on the Buda side of the city, this market is less known by tourists and mainly serves the locals living around it. Although the building itself is not as beautiful as the Great Market Hall, inside it is stunningly colorful. With almost a whole floor dedicated to flower stands, it’s definitely worth a visit. Besides flowers, it also has meat, fruit and vegetable stands (and a really great cheese stand as well).
Szimpla Farmers Market
Every Sunday, Budapest’s most famous — and first — ruin bar, Szimpla, holds a farmers market offering the best Hungarian products. From locally produced jam, honey and yogurt, to freshly baked bread, organic vegetables and fruits, the market has it all. Its many diverse stalls run by 30-40 sellers attract 3-4 thousand customers every week. Szimpla offers brunch on Sundays consisting of muesli, organic fruit juices, coffee and tea. Live music can also be enjoyed during the market’s opening hours. Szimpla even has a ‘Common Cauldron’ event every week where the representatives of non-profit organizations cook from ingredients available at the market.