Tired of key rings and refrigerator magnets? You had enough of all the Chinese crap? Looking for a unique souvenir? I’ll show you the best souvenirs in Budapest which you can really surprise your loved ones with.
A keepsake or souvenir – as they say in France – helps us remember the great moments of our journey. There are countless Hungarian treasures in the shops and stalls in Budapest, but you won’t necessarily find the best souvenirs in big shops.
In this article, I will tell you all about the best souvenirs in Hungary and Budapest that you should definitely take home.
Table of Contents
What is a souvenir?
The culture of souvenirs is as old as traveling. Our ancestors wandering on horseback were given some small presents by their hosts to compensate for the fatigue of the long journey.
In modern times, there has been a shift in the method; you can surprise yourself, your loved ones, and friends with mementos brought from distant countries.
Taking these small items home, you show your family that you have been thinking of them and they also serve as a memory of the journey.
Typical (crappy) souvenirs, or fridge magnets, postcards and key chains
I must admit I have seen some really sophisticated collection of souvenirs. Once I was stuck with a collection of postcards bound into a book by my friend for almost an hour. He bought them in the cities and countries he visited.
But a refrigerator full of fridge magnets can be just as impressive. Also, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a couple of key chains from abroad hanging on my car keys. Yet, unfortunately, none of them can fully reflect the atmosphere of the country we have visited.
Today, most of the classic souvenirs are mass-produced in China. Travelers tend to buy them because of their cheapness.
I have seen the very same fridge magnets in Budapest and in Prague – the only difference was the name of the two cities on them.
I am not saying you should forget classic souvenirs in Budapest, but if you are looking for something original, look for authentic Hungarian ones.
What to buy in Budapest? Choose original Hungarian souvenirs
Budapest and Hungary are the treasure chests of souvenirs with both long-lasting and culinary ones – find the ones you like the most.
Whichever you choose, you can be sure that a piece of Hungary will always be there with you in them.
The best souvenirs for the lovers of gastronomy from Budapest
Gastronomy holds a prominent place in Hungarian culture – we have countless traditional foods and drinks that are unheard of in other cultures.
We are proud of them, they are an integral part of our everyday lives, and we recommend them to others as well since we know they are excellent!
Looking for something truly authentic and want to show something really Hungarian to your loved ones? Then, any of the following food and drinks will be excellent souvenirs from Budapest.
1. Pálinka (Fruit Brandy)
If it is gastronomy and souvenirs, then we should definitely begin with our favorite “protective drink” – pálinka.
This strong fruit distillate incomparable to anything else is under EU protection for indication of provenance, so you are guaranteed to see this kind of spirit only in Hungary.
The most common types of pálinka in shops are plum, apple, pear, peach, sour cherry, and grape marc.
Sunday lunches start with a shot of pálinka that works up your appetite for the soup. But the drink is also an essential part of genuine Hungarian party life. It is listed on the menu of every tavern, ruin bar and restaurant.
A really good pálinka can be recognized from the fact that although its alcohol content is high (at least 40%) and even its smell hits you in the head; you will perfectly feel the taste of the fruit in your mouth.
So, I recommend that you do not buy the cheapest one. If you are looking for a truly special souvenir to take home, buy a bottle of bedded pálinka. It is easy to recognize as there is fruit on the bottom.
Panyolai, Agárdi, and Zsindelyes always work, while half a liter of Rézangyal is also a very decorative choice.
Quality pálinka costs around 15–20 EUR (6000–7000 HUF), while those above are of premium quality. The good news is you can buy them at basically every major supermarket.
However, if you prefer limited packaging and unique presents, visit the Magyar Pálinka Háza shop (the house of Hungarian brandy) a 5-minute walk from Astoria (H-1088, Budapest, Rákóczi út 17.) Good luck with picking one from the tremendous variety.
2. Hungarian wines
Don’t tell anyone, but I’d rather choose full-bodied Hungarian wine for a family reunion than a strong pálinka. (Hope I won’t be exiled because of this statement. 😀 ). There are 22 wine regions in our country, so the choice is yours.
The best one and famous abroad as well is undoubtedly Tokaji Aszú. The golden, sweet wine specialty – also referred to as the drink of kings – occupies a prominent place even in Hungarian wine gastronomy.
Since furmint grapes can only be botrytized in the special microclimate and soil structure of the Tokaj-Hegyalja region, this type of wine cannot be classified as ordinary table wine. It is a festive drink to be drunk with people we really love. So, what else could be a more worthy present than a bottle of Tokaji Aszú?
However, if you are not a great fan of sweet wine, choose one from the full-bodied dry wines Hungarian wine regions offer. Egri Bikavér, Szekszárdi Kadarka and Villány Cabernet Sauvignon are compatible with even the most delicious French and Spanish wines.
I highly recommend wines of the Bodri (Szekszárd), Vylyan (Villány), and Thummerer (Eger) wineries.
Don’t even think about buying wine cheaper than 4 EUR (approx. 1500 HUF) – not even for a spritzer! Quality wines cost at least 7 EUR (approx. 2500 HUF), while premium wines are a minimum of 10–15 EUR (4000–5000 HUF).
Wines of the above-mentioned wineries can be bought at all major supermarkets, but there are also wine houses in Budapest offering them in special packaging and limited editions. If you really love wine, don’t miss Bortársaság and Borháló shops!
A kind of medicine, yet a tasty liqueur. Wonder what it can be? Unicum – a drink that is over a hundred years old. It has been used as a drink to solve digestive problems –even by Emperor Joseph II of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy – since the 1790s.
Unicum is made from more than 40 herbs and spices collected from five continents. Most of them are from the Carpathian Basin, but some ingredients come from Morocco, China, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Nigeria, America, and even Australia.
The proportion of plants has been measured by hand to this day. In fact, some ingredients are dispensed by the Zwack family themselves. The round bottle and a red cross on the label both represent its miraculous curing ability.
The exact recipe is a top secret; it is far better guarded than NASA security codes! The secret survived two world wars, a regime change and several crises. This is how Unicum became a real Hungaricum.
It is as much the integral part of our gastronomy as the pálinka and great Hungarian wines, so you can buy this round bottle drink in all major shops.
The half-liter bottle costs 10 EUR (approx. 3500 HUF). But let me tell you a secret! If you would like to mix the tastes of Hungarian gastronomy, choose Unicum Riserva.
It differs from the traditional Unicum in that Riserva is packaged in an 80-year-old Tokaji Aszú barrel where there is “black honey” residue in the cracks of the barrel sweetening the liqueur. Sounds good, right?
It costs a bit more (28 EUR, approx 10.000 HUF), but I guarantee that you can’t find a more exclusive souvenir than this one.
4. Home-made syrups and jams
Enough of alcohol and let’s move on to sweeter realms. The last decade has seen the renaissance of home-made syrups and jams, as Hungarians began to live a more conscious lifestyle.
Housewives and producers dug up recipes inherited from grandma or resting in the back of the drawer and started rethinking the traditional ideas. And what a good idea it was!
Jam and syrup makers of modern times don’t stick to traditional flavors, offering specialties like mint-strawberry syrup, pear jam, and plum jam at their stands.
You can’t buy them in shops as they are artisan products. So, it’s time to explore backyard and artisan markets. Szimpla Domestic Market is open every Sunday while on Saturdays you can visit the Római Part (Roman Coast) Market.
A bottle of jam is available from 2–3 EUR (approx. 700–1000 HUF) depending on the packaging size, while a bottle of syrup is 3–4 EUR (approximately 1100–1500 HUF).
5. Paprika (The famous Hungarian red paprika powder)
The essential element, the cornerstone of the Hungarian cuisine – these are only some of the many adjectives to describe the Hungarian paprika.
This basic spice is responsible for coloring good Hungarian sausages red and can be smelled in the tempting scent of goulash soup and stew.
Interestingly, it was the ornamental plant of aristocratic castles until the 18th century. But Hungarians like experimenting. 🙂 And we like it so much that once we found out about its delicious spicy flavor, we immediately switched to mass growing.
Our great scientists soon discovered the fact that in addition to being an excellent spice, paprika strengthens the immune system and is high in vitamin C as well.
The good news is that just like pálinka, paprika can be found in all major shops. You can see special packaging of Hungarian colors and different package sizes at street fairs and gastronomic festivals.
An important note: genuine Hungarian red paprika comes from Kalocsa and Szeged; so, if you are about to buy one at the market or a shop, look for the names of these two cities on the package.
It costs 8–12 EUR (approx. 3000–4000 HUF) per kilogram.
And why would Hungarian red pepper be the best souvenir? It is because you can even make a typical Hungarian “delicacy” at home using this spice.
Take a slice of bread, spread butter or duck fat (can be bought in Hungarian shops), take a few strands of spring onions, red onions or yellow onions, and slice them on the bread. Then, sprinkle it with some salt and red paprika. There you have the zsíroskenyér – a true Hungarian snack.
6. Erős Pista, Piros Arany (hot paprika cream, mild paprika cream)
Being a tough nation, we love strong spicy flavors. Erős Pista is one of the most popular paprika products in Hungary made from ground hot paprika. We love it in everything: soup, stew, meat, or on simple sandwiches.
However, if you prefer minder flavors, choose Piros Arany – a mixture of raw paprika and pritamin paprika. Hungarian sandwiches made for guests are only complete with a bit of Piros Arany on them.
Both Erős Pista and Piros Arany can be found at the aisle of spices in every supermarket for almost the same price: 1.2–1.5 EUR (approx. 450–500 HUF).
Haven’t a clue what to take home from Budapest as a souvenir, and wouldn’t like to spend too much on it either? Then this is the present to buy!
7. Gulyáskrém (Goulash Cream)
Want to take home a piece of Hungarian cuisine? Gulyáskrém is the perfect choice!
Its special home-made flavor is provided by paprika, yellow onion, tomato, cumin and spices. It has all the essential elements of a good Hungarian stew or goulash as Gulyáskrém is basically the flavor of Hungarian cuisine closed in a tube. You can buy it in hot (of course 😀 ) and sweet form.
Sold in a tube, Gulyáskrém can be bought in every Hungarian supermarket for 1.5 EUR (approx. 500 HUF).
8. Sausage, salami
As soon as I smell the scent of a salami or sausage, I remember the school excursions and family hikes of my childhood. Oh yes, we always had spicy sausages and delicacy salamis hanging from wooden poles in our larder.
They were sliced into our sandwiches taken for trips, and were the essential part of Sunday breakfasts when my grandparents came over. There is nothing like a few slices of spicy sausages with some home-made cheese put on real, fragrant peasant bread eaten with green apples. Finish it with a glass of good Hungarian wine.
Leaving the land of pig slaughters without tasting some of these would be a sin! And leaving your loved ones out of these flavors would be an ever bigger one.
Pick salami – a favorite with Hungarians – can be found in every supermarket both in spicy and delicate tastes. If you have a large family, take a roll of salami as smaller packages would be eaten before you can say Quidditch. 🙂
Plus, you can store this type of salami for a long time, it doesn’t go bad easily. The average price is around 18–23 EUR (approx. 6500–8000 HUF) per kilogram at every Hungarian supermarket.
A really delicious Hungarian sausage takes a bit more effort to find. I’m not saying that the sausages in shops are not good enough, but you can find better ones.
Visit the Great Market Hall or the butchers at any other Hungarian market, and see for yourself. Just like in the case of the paprika, there are two city names to look for: Csaba (its official name is Békéscsaba, yet everyone refers to it as the Csaba sausage) and Gyula.
These two cities still stick to the traditional way of sausage making methods, that is, instead of using preservatives, they only smoke the sausage to preserve them.
Although both makers think the best sausages are spicy, but there are mild sausages as well for those who don’t like spicy flavors.
Csabai and Gyulai sausages are cheaper than Pick salami, ranging from 8 to 12 euros (3000–4000 HUF) per kilogram.
9. Foie gras
Hungarian foie gras is world-famous; it rivals the goose delicacies of the French cuisine and occupies a prominent place in the menus of Hungarian restaurants.
Try it, don’t hesitate. I also have some good news for you: if you like it, you can take it home and share this culinary masterpiece with others.
You can buy foie gras in canned or bottled form not only in the Váci Street souvenir shops, but also in major supermarkets.
Canned gavage-based foie gras is 4 EUR/190 g (approx. 1500 HUF), while bottled versions flavored with jam are 5.5 EUR/180 g (approx. 2000 HUF).
10. Szamos Marzipan
For us Hungarians, the name Szamos equals the concept of marzipan and sweets. As a child, I always wanted Szamos marzipan figures for my birthday cake because they were the most delicious of them all.
I admired the figures a lot and only ate small portions every day so that it would last longer. Luckily, I don’t have to wait for my birthday any more to eat Szamos marzipan. But the festive nature and quality of Szamos sweets has persisted to this day.
Basically, you can find Szamos sweets in every shop all around the city. Szamos Marzipan Heart Dessert and Szamos Golden Cubes are the most popular presents among Hungarians as well, and you can also have them for an average of 4–5 EUR (1500–1800 HUF).
However, if you want something more special, visit a Szamos confectionery located in major shopping centers.
After seeing the Parliament, you can also attend a guided tour of the Szamos Chocolate Museum (link) where visitors are introduced to chocolate making. You can even decorate your own chocolate and take it home. This is a truly unique souvenir from Budapest for sure!
11. Stühmer Chocolate
With Stühmer chocolates, I am like the chocolate-addicted Hungarian cartoon figure, Artúr Gombóc. His answer to the question – What kind of chocolate do you like? – has become a proverb among Hungarians:
“Circular chocolate, square chocolate, long chocolate, short chocolate, round chocolate, flat chocolate, solid chocolate, hollow chocolate, wrapped chocolate, unwrapped chocolate, whole chocolate, sweet chocolate, dark chocolate, tube chocolate, chocolate with nuts, milk chocolate, liqueur chocolate, last year’s chocolate, this year’s chocolate and all kinds of chocolate that is made in the world.“
Basically, I like all kinds of chocolate by Stühmer. Although the name is misleadingly German in sounding as the founding master confectioner was from Hamburg, it is a 100% Hungarian product; so much so that its origin is emphasized with Hungarian patterns on the packaging as well.
All Stühmer chocolates are great souvenirs, but I recommend Szilvás Betyár (dark chocolate cream and dried plum) that can be found in any major supermarket.
The package tied with a national-colored ribbon and decorated with an unparalleled drawing contains wine chocolate cream mixed with dried plums dipped in dark chocolate. Yummy!
This special present can be taken home for 4.5 EUR (approx. 1600 HUF).
12. Hungarian dainties: Túró Rudi, Dunakavics and Szerencsi Chocolate
Here we are at one of my favorite topics. In addition to paprika and salami, we can also create unique sweets. As it is obvious from their pricing, Stühmer chocolates and Szamos marzipans are festive sweets. However, there are also more “ordinary” ones that we generally eat as snacks after lunch.
Túró Rudi is not only a favorite with Hungarian kids, adults love them as well. And it is rather hard to stop at a single bar.
A bar of lemon flavor cottage cheese coated in dark chocolate is an authentic Hungarian delicacy that you can’t find anywhere else in Europe.
Although the combination of cottage cheese and chocolate might sound a bit strange at first, trust me, it is worth a try!
It only costs 30 Euro cents (approximately 120 HUF), so it’s a small price for a try.
Dunakavics is a real Hungarian retro sweet that has been a favorite of all ages since 1964. The shape of the sugar-coated roasted peanuts is quite similar to the pebbles on the bank of the Danube, hence its name.
Don’t try to bite it at first try since it feels like eating a stone. Let the sugar-coating melt in your mouth, then you can crunch the peanut part.
A packet of Dunakavics costs half a euro (approx. 190 HUF) at any shop.
Szerencsi chocolate proudly states that it is still 100% Hungarian since it is still produced in Szerencs.
Although the brand is mostly famous for its cake coating chocolates in the Hungarian market, there are chocolates for sweet lovers as well. The hazelnut dark chocolate in retro packaging is about half a euro (approx 190 HUF).
13. Gingerbread heart with a mirror
Although gingerbread is considered to be a Christmas cookie, we tend to connect it to other celebrations as well or include it in our everyday menu. Since it can be shaped and decorated easily, there are countless types of gingerbread. “Food artists” integrate traditional ethnographic motifs into this Hungarian delicacy.
The most common type is the heart-shaped gingerbread with a mirror. In the past, young men bought it at fairs and gave it to the girl they liked as a token of their affection.
In some regions, gifting gingerbread with a mirror meant a proposal. If the girl accepted it, she also accepted the boy as her suitor.
The small mirror in the middle of the heart-shaped gingerbread had several meanings. On the one hand, the boy’s intentions were clear without any secrets. Secondly, mirrors used to be valuable toiletry presents for women.
So, if you would like to surprise your love with a token of affection, gingerbread with a mirror is the ideal choice.
Fairs are the best places to buy gingerbread hearts, but they can also be found in souvenir shops e.g. in Váci Street.
These wonderful loaves of gingerbread cost 1–15 EUR (approx. 350–5500 HUF) depending on their size and the amount of decoration.
14. Monkey bread biscuits
Do you suffer from food sensitivity? You don’t need to miss out on delicacies!
Majomkenyér (Monkey Bread) debuting in 2013 created its artisan “free” biscuits which can safely be consumed with virtually any type of food sensitivity. What is more, they are especially delicious.
The one with hazelnut received the “Free” Award for being number one in 2018, while the raspberry-chocolate cookie won in 2019.
Majomkenyér biscuits can be bought in all supermarkets for approximately 1.5 EUR (600 HUF). It is guaranteed to be the best souvenir for a food-sensitive person with a sweet tooth.
15. Szaloncukor (Traditional Hungarian Christmas Candy)
Szaloncukor might be the odd one out, being a bit of a seasonal delicacy, yet it is quite Hungarian. Although they originally came from France, we quickly formed them to our taste.
We wanted something more than wrapping a simple piece of chocolate in nice packaging, so we started filling them with different flavors.
That is how our favorites were made: jelly, caramel, and marzipan flavored fondants. But the most interesting part is the tradition connected to these sweets: Hungarian families decorate the Christmas tree with fondants in ornate packaging.
They are generally hung using a thin sewing thread. Then comes the “Christmas tree harvest” that generally lasts into the New Year :)– that is, the family gradually consumes all the fondants hanging on the tree.
If you have been wondering what kind of souvenir to take home to surprise your family and colleagues from the Vörösmarty Square Christmas Market, a packet of Szaloncukor (fondants) is an excellent choice.
Check the artisan chocolate stalls, because you can find some rarities there. However, if you want to stick with the authentic Hungarian brads, pick Stühmer or Szerencsi fondants.
You can find fondants by both brands in any supermarkets during Advent.
They cost 4.5–11 EUR (approx. 1700–4000 HUF) depending on the size.
Special clothing souvenirs from Budapest
If you are less attracted to alcoholic drinks and sweets and prefer souvenirs to be of everyday use, then you will love Hungarian clothes. You won’t see these items at home for sure!
16. Tisza shoes
„Minden időben Tisza cipőben!” (Tisza shoes in all weather) Even my grandfather knows the slogan of Tisza shoes, since the brand has been producing shoes since 1949.
In the 50s and 60s, the Tisza shoe factory in Martfű mainly produced military boots for the army. It started targeting the Hungarian youth in 1971.
The shoes with the iconic T logo were extremely successful until the 90s. Then, with the regime change, Western brands entering the country decreased the number of its sales. Since its revival in 2003, Tisza shoes have been a favorite of the youth.
The shoes represent an easy life, university parties, and hanging out with friends. Teenagers of the 2000s and 2010s wore them for literally all events – exams, concerts, playing basketball, and dating. Tisza shoes are the perfect love – with their clear colors and shape, they can be worn anytime anywhere.
You can buy this iconic souvenir in two locations in Budapest: a shop in Westend City Center or their brand shop in Astoria. Stores – Tisza Shoes
A classic pair of Tisza shoes costs about 85 EUR (approximately 30,000 HUF). And if already there, make the set complete with a unique Tisza T-shirt and a bag (both costs approximately 22 EUR; that is, 8000 HUF).
They stay with you forever and you will want to use them for every occasion.
17. Gloves from Pécs
What do Madonna and Ryan Gosling have in common? Bet, you never knew, but both of them own a pair of gloves from Pécs. Gloves have been produced from the finest Italian and French raw materials – mostly lamb and deer leather – from 1861 in Pécs, known as the cultural capital of Hungary.
The secret of exclusive leather gloves is that every one of them is made by hand. At least, 9 craftsmen work on a single glove. This way there are no two identical gloves. Surprise your family at home with a completely unique Hungarian souvenir.
If you happen to go to Pécs during your visit to Hungary, don’t miss the chance to visit a glove manufactory. But don’t be disappointed if you can’t include it in your programs since there is a shop called Bognár Glove Shop in Budapest where you can see a smaller collection of the gloves from Pécs. Address: H-1052 Budapest, Károly krt. 4.
And if you visit the capital during Advent, you will find a glove stand from Pécs at the fair on Vörösmarty Square.
A completely unique and exclusive pair can be bought from 55 EUR (approx 20,000 HUF) on.
18. Atilla Jacket & Bocskai Suit
Perhaps it’s because I am a Hungarian, but I would love to wear modern Bocskai suits and “corded” Atilla jackets. The slender, cross corded coat gives a noble, proud appearance to its wearer.
Although we generally wear Bocskai suits for festive occasions, such as weddings, graduation, award ceremonies, a hand-embroidered suit is a good choice for any elegant party or quality event.
Kati Hampel’s saloon located in Váci Street – which opens from Vörösmarty Square – in the heart of Budapest probably makes the finest traditional clothing in the city. Its exclusivity is reflected in the prices as well – an Atilla jacket might cost 475 EUR (168,000 HUF).
If you venture a little further away from downtown, you can find a small tailor shop near Kolosy Square in Óbuda where the price of Hungarian clothing is nearly half the price of those in Hampel saloon.
In the Újlaki Magyar Díszviselet shop on the first floor of Újlaki Shopping Center (H-1036, Budapest, Bécsi út 34-36), there are beautiful Hungarian quality suits from the price of 245 EUR (approx. 88,000 HUF).
Since they are still rather expensive, they are not the souvenirs to buy for the whole family and colleagues, but rather a unique present for your partner making it an unforgettable memory from Budapest.
19. Unique Hungarian designer bags from Budapest
I find it rather disappointing that there are more and more cheap disgusting low-quality plastic bags with Budapest written on them at souvenir shops. First of all, they are neither nice nor long-lasting – they fall apart after a couple of uses.
What is more, Budapest is full of extremely talented bag makers who produce both unique and lasting pieces.
However, if you want to show off that you’ve been to Budapest (and why wouldn’t you?), then choose the Vintage Gymbag collection by LoveBug. Violetta uses old, traditional Hungarian patterns and laces for her bags.
Get a hand-embroidered variant for about 26 EUR (9500 HUF). Plus, there is the craziest vintage stuff to check out in her Budapest shop.
Roll-up bags by Husew are also hand-made, thanks to a mother of two. They are multi-functional survivors that can be used both in the city and the nature.
Although 90% of the bags are pre-ordered, the remaining 10% can be found at the Artushka shop (H-1072, Budapest, Klauzál utca 4.) near Blaha Lujza Square.
The basic pieces can be yours for 30 EUR (approx. 11,000 HUF).
If you prefer the clear style of Scandinavians or just don’t like colorful bags, then Zagond is the place for you.
Since all Zagond bags are 100% leather, they cost more than the above designer bags – handbags cost 106 EUR (approx. 38,000 HUF) and backpacks are around 140 EUR (50,000 HUF).
20. Matyó-patterned clothes for everyday use
The white linen, lose-shouldered folk blouses, and dresses full of laces and embroidery sold in souvenir shops in Budapest are truly beautiful. But think about it: will you ever put them on?
Even Hungarians don’t wear them but for traditional balls and dances. If you are looking for something much more practical, yet Hungarian, visit a Matyodesign shop.
Every piece of clothing by this nice little family business is hand-embroidered and absolutely casual.
The embroidered poncho for 40 EUR (approx. 14,900 HUF), and the simple but wonderful T-shirt for 27 EUR (approx. 9900 HUF) are the ladies’ favorites.
Ornaments and knick-knacks – The best souvenirs from Budapest for small spaces
At times, you want to take home something more lasting than a bottle of pálinka or a pair of shoes. Here is a list of interior design items and ornaments that will recall happy memories from Budapest and Hungary.
21. Herend and Zsolnay porcelain
If you think Japan produces beautiful porcelain, you haven’t seen Herend and Zsolnay porcelain. The history of both manufactories dates back to the beginning of the early 1800s, and have been on the list of Hungaricums ever since. Hungarian porcelain is significant for both its stylish and detailed designs and unique technology.
The value of Herend porcelain is reflected by the fact that the Hungarian State gave George, the new-born heir to the English throne, this porcelain decorated with the pattern of the Royal Garden as an official present.
Zsolnay porcelain on the other hand is included in the Hungarian construction industry with eosin tiles on the roof of the Museum of Applied Arts, the Budapest Zoo, and the Technical University – the greatest Hungarian higher educational institute.
Interested in Hungarian porcelain? Read my article on the history and unique patterns of Herend porcelain.
Fond of masterpieces of applied arts? Visit the Herend Porcelain Palace (H-1051, Budapest, József nádor tér 11.) in Budapest or the Zsolnay brand shop (H-1052, Budapest, Váci utca 30.)
I would definitely recommend the beautiful bonbonnieres that can be the most beautiful ornaments of your home for only 42 EUR (approx. 15,000 HUF).
22. Embroidered tablecloths and bookmarks
Although Hungarian Matyó style has great marketing abroad, you can’t imagine the number of beautiful decorative motifs of our different regions.
One of my favorites is the written motifs of Kalotaszeg which would perfectly fit any clean Scandinavian home. But following the principle of “simple but great”, tablecloths embroidered with cross stitch patterns are also beautiful. However, if you consider the over-decorated Matyó patterns too much, choose products made with Kalocsa embroidery.
They can all be seen in the Folkart Kézművesház (Folkart Craftsman’s House) where instead of mass-produced items you are guaranteed to find 100% Hungarian arts and crafts products. Address: H-1052, Budapest, Régiposta utca 12.
No matter which tablecloth you choose, these timeless pieces will be the perfect decorations to your living room and kitchen. And if you’re a real bookworm, don’t miss out on the bookmark embroidered with the Kalocsa pattern. It will be your favorite, believe me!
23. Environmentally conscious home accessories
If your apartment has a more modern character and porcelain would be a bit out of line, head for Printa located in Rumbach Sebestyén Street near Deák Ferenc Square. ( Address: H-1075, Budapest, Rumbach Sebestyén utca 10/a.)
You can decorate your entire home with posters, pillows, dishcloths, and toilet bags in the theme of Budapest from this shop.
The owners created the clothes and home accessories made from eco-friendly raw materials with the help of Hungarian graphic designers and artists, so that you could take home something truly unique.
A medium-sized poster and a pillowcase with the pattern “Vintage Pest” cost 13 EUR (approx. 4200 HUF) each.
24. Rubic’s Cube – A Hungarian souvenir known all over the world
Personally, I am extremely fond of the authentic and unique toys of other nations. So, if you still enjoy a good game and love toys, Rubik’s Cube and Hungarian cards are the ideal souvenirs for you.
I probably don’t need to introduce Rubik’s Cube for you as it is once again at its peak of fame: The Rubik’s Cube World Championship was held for the eighth time in Paris in 2017.
This incredibly popular logic game was invented by Ernő Rubik in 1974. It experiences ups and downs in its popularity among the youth of Budapest – there are times where we can see kids playing with it everywhere.
One thing is sure – you can’t get bored of it easily! They can be bought in all major toy shops for 7–8 EUR (2600–3000 HUF).
25. Hungarian cards
You might not have heard as much about Hungarian cards as you have about Rubik’s Cube. Not only is it an exciting game, but also an aesthetic experience.
Each card is illustrated with beautifully drawn patterns and figures bringing the art of traditional Hungarian drawing a little closer to you.
Hungarian cards can be bought for about 1 EUR (approx. 340 HUF) at any toy or souvenir shop. They are small, unique, cheap, and a really good choice if you don’t know what souvenir to take home from Budapest.
26. Ördöglakat (Devil locks)
Would you like to trick your friends with a devilishly elaborate puzzle? Then, devil locks are the perfect souvenirs for them. The essence of the game is very simple: try and take apart the pieces that are put together in a seemingly impossible angle. Succeeded? Then put them back together! 😀 It isn’t as easy as it seems, but that’s the charm of it.
There is a wide range of devil locks; they can be made of wood or metal, there are sets, themed in shape (e.g. treble clef), ornate, natural and colored.
Choose an authentic lock at festivals or street fairs, but if there are none in the city, check out a toy shop.
You might get lucky. This special present can be bought for 4–16 EUR (approx. 1500–6000 HUF) depending on its material, size, and complexity.
27. Körtemuzsika (Pear-shaped ocarina)
I will never forget the day when I got my first pear-shaped ocarina from my father at a fair in Békéscsaba.
It fitted perfectly in my hand and there was a beautiful Hungarian motif on it. Using the six holes, I could produce nice melodies.
I was also given some sheet music with a drawing showing which hoes are to be held down for the specific notes. It took a couple of days before I could play the catchy tunes of the Hungarian Folk Tales without the sheet music.
It took so much time because I practiced a lot (playing the wrong notes in the beginning) and my father hid the ocarina from me. Of course, it wasn’t long before I found it.
A pear-shaped ocarina is a nice souvenir for music lovers. You can learn to play any melody on it – as it works just like the flute – and it can easily fit in your pocket.
Real Hungarian pear-shaped ocarinas are made by potters and sold at fairs. But there is also a music shop called A. Folk (H-1074, Budapest, Almássy utca 1.) near Blaha Lujza Square in Budapest that sells this authentic Hungarian musical instrument for 4 EUR (approx. 1500 HUF).
28. A Hungarian book
Once I got a Russian book about arts from a friend of mine from Moscow. Although my Russian is rather poor for understanding its contents, I still consider it one of my most precious presents.
Because of its curiosity – the Cyril letters on its spine – I keep it on a special part of a shelf and whenever I look at it, it reminds me of the weekend in Moscow.
If you are able to connect to a book spiritually, you will understand my feelings. So, I believe for a bookworm, there is no better souvenir than a book written on the original language.
The books and poetry collections of Sándor Petőfi, János Arany, Zsigmond Móricz, Endre Ady and Mihály Vörösmarty are all great choices. However, if you find original Hungarian texts less exciting, buy a book by the above writers in English.
Go to Bestsellers bookshop where you can find the best of Hungarian literature from Magda Szabó to Sándor Márai.
Take my advice and buy the Nobel Prize-winning novel, Sorstalanság (Fateless) by Imre Kertész in your own language.
This gripping story can be bought for about 11 EUR (4000 HUF).
29. Cosmetics from lavender
Did you know that there are other fields of lavender than the ones in Provance? Well, there is a tiny village by Lake Balaton – the Hungarian sea – where lavender of equally great quality grows.
In Tihany, June is the month of lavender festivities with a real Mediterranean atmosphere during the Lavender Festival. You can also get a taste of it at the souvenir shops and drug stores in Budapest.
Hungarian hand-made soaps and cosmetics by Manna are available in all major drug stores and shops. Choose a lavender liquid soap and add lavender essential oil in order to be able to enjoy the scent of the lavender fields of Tihany for a long time. A simple bar of pressed soap costs 5.5 EUR (approx. 1700 HUF).
Stepping into Yamuna brand shop near Vígszínház (H-1055, Budapest, Szent István krt. 1) feels like entering an enchanted world. It is the paradise of hand-made cosmetics where you can find everything from bath salt to hand creams and cold-pressed soap. A smaller bar of soap can be yours for less than 1.8 EUR (approx. 600 HUF).
A true Hungaricum – A souvenir for those of you looking for something extra special
30. Bullwhip and recurve bow
According to an old Hungarian saying, “great” Hungarians have at least one bullwhip and one recurve bow at home. The whip is used for chasing away intruders and dinner can be caught with the bow.
Don’t worry, you won’t see anyone walking around with a quiver and arrows on their back and a whip curled up on their side (it would be pretty cool though ).
But I must admit I was so into “ancient” items that I bought myself a recurve bow so I would feel at least half a “great” Hungarian. My patriotic feelings vanished immediately once I almost shot my neighbor’s cat on the apple tree with an arrow. So, in order to keep the cat safe, I put a nice holder on the wall and have been keeping my bow on it ever since.
Did you know? It may sound unbelievable, but it’s proven that the ancestors of the Hungarians migrated to Europe from Asia and conquested the Carpathian Basin.
Regardless of the above, I strongly recommend purchasing both a whip and a recurve bow as a souvenir. The elaborate design of the Hungarian Grózer and Kerecsen bows is just amazing, and in addition to daily use, it can be a decorative element of the house.
While traditional Hungarian bullwhips are cooler than that of Indiana Jones and they also have fabulous decorations. If you happen to be at a festival with a street fair, you will most probably find a seller, dressed in ancient Hungarian clothes, who will show you the bows and whips.
However, if it isn’t the festival season, you can get a real recurve bow at the Kerecsen Archery Shop (H-1132, Budapest, Visegrádi utca 26/B) near Western Railway Station for 105 EUR (approx. 38,000 HUF). What’s more, you can also try it on the spot at the shooting range. A bullwhip costs 20 EUR (approx. 7000 HUF) here.
However, learning to use the bullwhip is best shown in Hortobágy. Here, you are taught the Hungarian virtue by csikós (wranglers). They can ride bareback and even standing.
But they are not only professionals with horses. They can use their bullwhip so well that they can even take a cigarette out of a man’s mouth. The bullwhip you can buy here is hand-made and decorated with unique csikós motifs, but it costs more as well.
Budapest souvenirs – Summary
As you can see now, there is much more to souvenirs than fridge magnets, key rings, and postcards. There are countless Hungarian souvenirs to choose from. Avoid the crap and pick a unique present.
Don’t worry about what to take home as almost all souvenirs are easily obtainable in Budapest. Whether you are crazy about fashion or arts, love games, or have a sweet tooth, Hungary offers a wide range of souvenirs to remember the time you spent here.