Eating Plant-Based, Vegan and Vegetarian in Budapest, Hungary
(originally written for another blog in August of 2010)
After my short stay in the Czech Republic for Freshness Week I headed off to Budapest, Hungary.
I had not planned anything in advance and had no idea what to expect. But I had heard that everyone said it was a beautiful city.
Boy were they right!
Every day was over 35 C / 95 F and it was hot hot hot! But not as humid as a lot of other cities so it was actually quite enjoyable.
I had the pleasure of staying in a hotel with an ideal city centre location, just steps away from the St. Stephen’s Basilica, the largest church in Hungary.
While I did not venture inside, I thoroughly enjoyed marvelling at the impeccable architecture with our heads titled all the way back gazing up in awe at this behemoth of a structure. It is one of two of the tallest buildings in all of Budapest at 315 ft! (The other being the Parliament building) Both of which can be seen from most every part of the city, so it was a great way to orient myself each day!
In my 2 days we spent in Budapest I spent most of our time walking around and touring the city. I have to say that Budapest is a very walkable and easy to get around city. You can see most of the sites in Buda from across the Danube on the Pest side, which made it easy for us to decide where to go first.
I visited the Castle District, the Citadel, the Danube, the Central Market and passed by the famous Heroes’ Square and Szechenyi Thermal Baths to name a few of the highlights of my trip.
I didn’t get a chance to actually enjoy Szechenyi, but if you visit Budapest you definitely have to check it out. The Széchenyi Medicinal Bath in Budapest is the largest medicinal bath in Europe. The water is supplied by two thermal springs underground with temperatures above 74°C/165°F! Wow that’s hot!
There is simply too much to do and see in Budapest that I plan on returning again in the future to fully enjoy everything that the city has to offer.
One of the best things though, was how CHEAP everything seemed to be. Well inexpensive compared to a lot of other countries in the European Union. It was much more affordable buying fruits and vegetables than previous places such as Copenhagen, Malmo and even Berlin. I definitely would have saved a lot more money on food if I had stayed here longer than more expensive cities like Paris and London I visited.
The Central Market is going to be one of your must see’s when visiting this city because it’s open all week long, is fully indoors and you will find the largest number of fruit and vegetable vendors you will find anywhere in Budapest. It’s simply the place to go for fresh food.
What impressed me the most was the amount of pride each vendor had for their produce. Displaying all of the items pristinely so that everything catches your eye and you can tell that everything is very fresh. They even pick out any squished, mouldy or wilted fruits and vegetables throughout the day and would never even consider selling it! (Unlike our mishap in Berlin, where a fruit vendor proceeded to sell Frederic an entire bag of golden kiwis that had all fermented and wouldn’t budge on the price…)
In Europe the produce stands are run differently, it is not like your grocery store where you can pick and rifle through all of the produce looking for the best or ripest specimen.
No, in Europe you have to actually get in line and point to what you would like, no touching, no tasting, no smelling before you buy. So this can be a little tricky if shopping at a small produce stand on the street. But this is not so at the Central Market where everything is top quality and a lot of it is locally grown as well.
I did not see anything really exotic there, but we didn’t mind in the least. The watermelons I bought were absolutely amazing, much more reliable than the ones we get in Canada. And the navel oranges were huge and juicy sweet. I also bought blueberries, raspberries and blackberries which were pretty reasonably priced considering the fact that they are usually the most expensive of fruits by weight.
Some of the prices I got:
1 pint of blueberries 2.50 euros
watermelon 0.46 euros/kilo
peaches 1.06 euros/kilo
plums 0.53 euros/kilo
blackberries 1.96 euros/kilo
Converting that to USD per lb:
1 pint of blueberries $3.21
These are specialty fruits and aren’t even as cheap as apples, oranges and bananas, so you can only imagine how inexpensive buying these things regularly in Hungary would be.
The Central Market is also famous for having typical Hungarian (meat based) food stands, paprika, crafts, clothing, collectible dolls, knickknacks and anything else Hungarian you’re in the mood for.
Overall, as a big city with a warm climate it is pretty darn liveable and affordable! It’s also not as small and compact in regards to living space compared to other European metropolises.
I will definitely be back one day!
So if you’re looking to visit Budapest and want to find the best places to find raw and vegan food check these out:
Vámház körút, Hungary
Obviously the best place to get your produce from every week, no raw restaurants here though.
Múzeum Körut 19 (at Brody Sandor, Muzeum krt)
Vegan, Raw options, Organic, Juice bar, Take-out
This place is rumored to have some raw options on their daily menu along with fresh juices and cooked vegan plate lunches.
Iskola Utca 31 (1011)(at corner of Gyorskocsi utca, 1 block from Batthány tér bus and metro station, 1 blk from the Danube)
Open Mon-Thur 8-21, Fri 8-18, Sun 11-19, closed Saturday.
Vegan buffet, Hungarian and Mediterranean food, Juice bar, Take-out
This place has GREAT juices at a steal of a price… 2.50 euros for a large glass and some inexpensive buffet style plate lunches too. They speak a little English here and can tell you about their menu and fresh juices.
Rózsa u 39, District VII (1077) (at Király u.)
weekday 10:00-6:00pm Saturday 10:00 to 2:00pm
Vegan, Organic, Salad bar, Juice bar, Hungarian, Italian
Hummus Bar – Kertesz
Kertesz u. 39 (1073 Budapest VII) (at Jewish quarter, across Franz Liszt Music Academy, metro Oktagon on M1)
Daily: 12:00pm-11:30pm, close midnight
Vegan, Middle Eastern, Fast food
Falafels, pita, hummus, soups. English spoken and on the menu.
You will also find several little corner grocery stores, but they are particularly small and only sell the bare essentials of the SAD lifestyle, a little bit of fruit, which can be helpful if you’re in a pinch, but otherwise head to the Central Market.
Here are some more of my photos of beautiful Budapest
Parliament – by Veronica Grace