Everything you didn’t know about the markets and stores in Hungary, you will discover from this article. I will share the intricacies and nuances that can surprise you, provide tips and life hacks. You will learn what to pay attention to, where to best buy groceries, alcohol, and much more. There will be plenty of valuable information that will at least make your life easier and even save you some money :).

Markets and Stores in Hungary: General Points

In broad strokes, markets and shops in Hungary are just like ours; there are no differences. The distinctions emerge when you delve into the details. Some general points include:

  • All major European retail chains operate in Hungary: Tesco, Lidl, Spar, Metro, and so on.
  • There is a vast number of shopping malls, supermarkets, and regular stores.
  • Every city has a central market where you can buy vegetables, meat, pastry, and everything you can find at a typical market.
best place to buy vegetables and fruits in Hungary
Externally, any market or shop in Hungary is similar to those in our country. This is the central market in Budapest.

Useful to know:

Prices for vegetables, fruits, and meat at Hungarian markets are generally not significantly different from prices in chain stores. We’re accustomed to markets being cheaper, but that’s not the case in Hungary. Where to buy groceries is your decision to make.

Regarding Hungarian shopping malls, there are a few peculiarities:

  • It’s common for restrooms in large shopping malls to be paid, typically around 0.5 – 1 euro. It’s unusual for me since I live in a country where access to a restroom is considered a basic human need, and they are 99% free. But not here 🙂
  • Parking in shopping malls is often paid, especially if it’s underground parking. Usually, the first 30 or 60 minutes are free, and then it’s around 1.5 euros per hour. For more information on roads, traffic rules, parking, police, toll roads, read the article through the link; there’s a lot of interesting information there.

Operating Hours of Markets and Stores in Hungary

Here, there are some peculiarities. Generally, markets and shops in Hungary open early and close early as well. Hungary is a country for early birds. Those who love nightlife beyond Budapest may be disappointed; many areas are pretty much deserted after 8 in the evening. Only in Budapest is there a full-fledged nightlife.

markets in hungary
Market opening hours in Szeged. Please note that there are no weekends
  • Everything about time in Hungary, punctuality of locals, operating hours of restaurants and cafes, and so on.

Summary of general points regarding the operating hours of markets and shops in Hungary:

  • Markets open at 4-5 am and by 3pm, there’s not much left to do. Most markets are open seven days a week, including Mondays.
  • Grocery stores, including major chains, open at 6:3am or 7am. By 7am, 80% of grocery stores are already open. However, they close at 8-9pm. On Sundays, there might be reduced operating hours. Always check the current schedule of the shopping center you plan to visit on Google Maps.
  • On public holidays, most stores are usually closed. About holidays and festivities in Hungary.
Store opening hours in Hungary
The operating hours of a large Aldi in the center of Budapest. The store is open at 6:30 in the morning, and fresh hot pastries are already being sold.

As for restaurants and cafes in Hungary, they operate on a different schedule, and you can find more information in the article via the link, covering menus, tipping, and portion sizes.

Nighttime Stores in Hungary and Liquor Stores

In Hungary, there are no restrictions on the sale of alcohol during the night. If a store is open, you can purchase cigarettes and any type of alcohol. Here are some general points to consider:

  • Alcohol is sold in any store. Learn all about Hungarian alcoholic drinks, what to drink, prices, and wines.
  • Throughout Hungary, there is also a network of mini markets where you also can buy cigarettes. They are not open 24/7, and their hours vary from place to place, typically closing around 10 PM. You can recognize these shops by the logo of “18” in a red circle, resembling a “no entry” road sign.
How do liquor stores work in Hungary
The 18+ liquor stores, you an also buy cigarettes here. There are many of them in any city in the country.

Prices in these stores are slightly higher than in regular supermarkets, but not significantly so. If all other stores are closed, this is an excellent alternative.

Important note:

Here’s information that will help you save money and avoid misunderstandings.

In Hungary, there is a large network of 24-hour stores called “ABC.” Here’s what you need to know about them:

  • “ABC” is the name for 24-hour stores. There are various chains of these stores, such as Roni ABC, Manna ABC, and so on.
  • The prices there are astronomical. Half of the price tags do not reflect reality, and you might be quite surprised at the checkout.
  • The staff usually does not speak English, and the assumption is that tourists struggle to convert Hungarian Forints into Euros. For example, a can of beer in any regular store costs around 0.7 euros, but in these stores, it might be priced at 3 euros.
  • We once bought 2 beers, a piece of cheese, and some rolls, and at the checkout, we were charged around 30 euros. Be attentive. The Roni ABC chain, in particular, tends to have this issue.
  • If possible, it’s better to steer clear of ABC stores.
markets and stores in hungary
These are Hungary’s 24-hour stores. You would go here as a last resort if it’s 3am, and you’re really hungry or thirsty 🙂

Payment in Forints, Euros, and Cards

Handling payments is quite straightforward:

  • Hungary is expected to transition to the Euro in the next few years (3-5 years). Its economy is already closely integrated with the Eurozone.
  • You can pay with cash in Forints or by card at any store.
  • Some major retail chains already accept cash Euros. The conversion rate is not favorable, but if you haven’t exchanged your money and have no cards, you won’t have to go hungry. For example, with an exchange rate of 380 Forints to 1 Euro, Spar stores would use a rate of 360 Forints. This results in about a 5-6% loss. If a store accepts Euros, there is usually information at the checkout or you can ask.
euros in hungarian markets
In the large Spar store chain, they already accept cash Euros. There’s a blue sign above the cash registers, indicating the exchange rate.

At markets, if you’re buying products from a local farmer, payment is only accepted in cash Forints.

About Price Tags in Hungarian Stores

The most significant challenge in any store is the price tags. They are entirely in Hungarian. What does this mean? I recommend reading the article on the Hungarian language for tourists. It offers tips that will make it easier for you to read price tags, menus, and other informational signs. In a nutshell, you won’t understand anything at all because there isn’t a single familiar word to anchor your eyes.

Interesting to know:

For example, you might not even understand which price tag is for tomatoes and which one is for cucumbers if they are displayed side by side. This is because the Hungarian words for tomatoes and cucumbers are quite distinct and bear no resemblance to each other.
price tags in stores in Hungary
Try to guess which product this price tag belongs to. In most European countries, many words are intuitively understandable or sound similar to other languages, but that’s not the case with Hungarian. Spoiler alert (this is about cheese).

Another peculiarity in Hungarian stores is the weight of products. Here are some common examples:

  • Prices are often indicated per 100 grams or 500 grams. For instance, for greens (let’s say, iceberg lettuce), the price will be for 500 grams. However, sausages, deli meats, and cheeses may be priced per 100 grams.
  • If you’re buying liquids, the price might be specified even per deciliter. It’s typically denoted as 1dl = 100 ml.
  • Another thing that I don’t particularly like is that often, in the case of vegetables, the price is given per piece. This can apply to both peppers and cucumbers. You walk by a stand, see a great price for peppers, but at the checkout, it turns out it’s per piece.
  • It’s important to look at the price tag: if you see Ft/kg, it’s the price per kilogram. If it says Ft/db, it’s the price per piece. Moreover, items that are typically sold by the kilogram in our country can easily be sold individually here.
features of Hungarian price tags
Here’s an excellent example. Peppers on the left that are sold unpackaged are priced individually. On the right, the price is indicated per kilogram. The red arrows show where to look. Be attentive!

Travel Tips

The assortment in markets and stores in Hungary is as you’d expect in any European country. You’ll find everything you’re accustomed to. For detailed information on food prices, all categories of products, and services that interest tourists, check the link. From general advice, you should be aware of the following:

  • Most stores and markets tend to open early, or very early. But they also close relatively early in Hungary, usually by 8 or 9 PM.
  • There’s a massive shopping mall in the center of Budapest with all the renowned brands, a vast supermarket, and a food court: Westend. Here are the coordinates on the map: 47.51394174716994, 19.059292442036647. You can easily walk here from the Hungarian Parliament.
  • The biggest hurdle is the price tags. Be attentive, and read the article on the Hungarian language for tourists; it provides many useful tips. Excluding the ABC night stores, in most regular retail chain stores, the price tags reflect reality; it’s just that nothing is comprehensible to an unprepared tourist.
  • In all supermarkets, you can buy fresh hot pastries in the morning.
  • I personally prefer shopping at Tesco or Spar.
  • Pay attention to yellow or red price tags; most of them are exclusively for holders of the store’s loyalty card. If you don’t have the card, the price will be significantly higher, typically indicated in small print nearby.

In conclusion, I hope you’ve learned something new about the markets and stores in Hungary. Broadly, it’s like everywhere else, but if you delve into the nuances, there are peculiarities that might cause a bit of inconvenience, but I’m confident you can handle it.

Wishing you fabulous shopping and attractive prices!

IMPORTANT: Below are useful links that will help organize your trip to Hungary and Budapest:

  • Flight: Aviasales – compares prices for flights among 30+ airlines flying to Budapest.
  • Tours and excursions:
    • Viator and GetYourGuide – the best services for finding tours in Budapest and Hungary with the largest database of activities in Hungary. They offer river cruises on the Danube, tickets to baths, and 1000+ tours (available in different languages).
  • Accommodation, apartments, hotels, hostels:
    • Hotellook compares the prices among dozens of other booking services and offer the best price
    • Booking – the most popular booking platform
    • Agoda – even more accommodation options in Hungary
  • Car rental: DiscoverCars – the leading and largest car rental service in Hungary.
  • Travel Insurance: EKTA.
  • eSIMAiralo virtual SIM card in Hungary.
  • Taxi and airport transfers: Intui.Travel