Browsing the Great Market Hall, Budapest

Mom always taught me that the best place to see how locals live are their markets. I’m at the age now where I always say “Mom was/ is always right” and over the years, even when I travel solo, I get excited visiting local markets and taking photos to show her.

The Great Market Hall (or Central Market Hall as it is also known) in Budapest was the place for me to be. It’s famous for locals and tourists alike and I was gamed to stroll through ogling at the fresh fruits of the season, vegetables, meats, breads, cheeses and most importantly the paprika. Everyone knows by now I love my peppers and the spicier the better!

A quick tram ride from our apartment and walk across the busy Freedom Bridge, we made our way to the famous Great Market Hall on the Pest side of Budapest. It really is a spectacular building.

Great Market Hall, Budapest

History has it that when the cities of Buda, Pest and Óbuda merged to form one at the turn of the twentieth century, a decision was made to build covered markets to rival those in larger European cities. The result included the largest, the Great Market Hall, which to many was referred to as “symphony in iron” because it was so ornate. In the old days there was a canal running through the market. Wow that would of been a delight to see, however it was extensively damaged in World War II. The market had lost its magnificence even after being rebuild immediately after the war and in 1991 it was closed after being deemed hazardous. This once grand monument was restored in the mid 1990s by the government in an attempt to preserve a building that represented the history of Budapest when it was united as one city.

Great Market Hall, Budapest


The result was I imagine similar to the original sans a canal running down the middle…but that’s ok because I was going to be a little kid in a playground for I love to cook and where else to get food shopping envy that one of the grandest in Europe?

It is huge, immaculate and well organised, one of cleanest I have ever been too.


Off course you can start like us. Breakfast was a fresh loaf of bread and a variety of local cheeses with freshly pickled peppers, all from the stalls on the ground floor at the market. Peppers make everything taste better!

Great Market Hall, BudapestI encourage anyone to have breakfast here and then spend a morning browsing and people watching. The locals on their daily routine was a treat to see.

If you prefer a quick and cheap lunch, be prepared for fast food Hungarian style on the upper level. It is definitely not your typical McDonalds and Subway!

Great Market Hall, Budapest

Great Market Hall, Budapest







And why not wash down all that super sized deep fried foods with some Virgin Mojitos instead of a beer :) Definitely an odd find here in a market in Budapest!

Great Market Hall, BudapestIn keeping with Mom’s theories “it’s better to go food shopping on a full stomach so as not to over-shop”, it was time to explore the goodies of the market. Look at all these peppers…red, white, green! Paprika in all shapes and sizes. The white peppers, which are uniquely Hungarian, were everywhere.

Great Market Hall, Budapest Great Market Hall, Budapest Great Market Hall, BudapestHungary is well known for its dried paprika and it was in abundance at the market, all beautifully strung and bunched together in different degrees of hotness. Any cook would be in heaven at this market.

Great Market Hall, Budapest Great Market Hall, BudapestThe much quieter basement with the fishmonger and supermarket also had tucked away some stalls of ingeniously crafted pickled peppers. All types of pickled peppers! Who would not want a jar of pickled peppers with a smiley face on it?

Great Market Hall, Budapest Great Market Hall, BudapestNo I was not doing an ode to peppers (although I did bypass all the meat stalls) but one can’t help oogle at the variety Hungarians use in their cuisine.  I was equally impressed watching the locals shop and go about their daily routine. Off course the one to win the award for most inventive shopper was this young woman. Kudos to her for balancing her market bags on rollerblades. People still rollerblade?

Great Market Hall, Budapest It may not be the average tourist’s top ten destination when visiting a new city but I encourage any and everyone to visit the local markets…browse slowly, smell, taste and discover some of the local foods you will never find at home. The market is where you can live like a local or at least see how the locals live so why not?

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