Budapest offers plenty of options and venues for shopping. Since the early 1990-s, large shopping malls have popped up and a lot of new shops opened, not only in the malls but the existing shopping streets too. Certain vendors, such as antique dealers, have clustered around specific areas of the city.
There are six large busy market halls; these are the best places to get a feel of everyday Budapest. The markets' popularity is unaffected by the rapid expansion of supermarkets. The city centre of Pest has the most famous pedestrian shopping street of Hungary, called Váci utca, and also the newly built Fashion Street, an extension of the shopping street between Vörösmarty tér and Deák tér.
Opening hours of most shops are generally between 10 AM and 6 PM on workdays, and until 1 PM on Saturdays. The shopping malls are a general exception, as their opening times are uniform for all shops in a given mall, and are longer than usual: Monday through Saturday 9 AM - 9 PM, Sunday 10 AM - 7 PM. Some larger supermarkets, such as Tesco, have units that are open 24 hours a day.
Gift ideas from Hungary
Hungarian products make great gifts. You can find a lot of Hungarian specialties, such as foodstuffs (goose liver, paprika, and wine), porcelain (world famous brands Herend and Zsolnay) and folk art (handmade embroidery, tablecloths). Also, keep an eye out for older Hungarian women, dressed in traditional folk clothes and with kerchiefs around their heads.
They travel to Budapest from their country homes every morning to sell their wares to the tourists, and chances are that you'll get a better price than in the shops - and no chance that you'll end up with anything made in Taiwan.
Taxes and refunds
When making purchases in excess of HUF 50,000 (EUR 200), you can reclaim the VAT when leaving the country, which is currently 20% in Hungary. Look for shops that display the "Tax Refund" sticker on the door. It is important that the minimum HUF 50,000 amount be one the same one receipt, as they can't be combined (e.g. an item bought for HUF 45,000 and another for HUF 23,000 in the same shop but on different days is not eligible for refund).
The necessary documents are: the receipt of purchase, another separate receipt of the purchase displaying the amount of VAT included in the price, VAT reclaim form and the mailing envelope. The shop assistant will help you fill out the forms.
These are available at the shop where you make the purchase. Then, you can get your refund either at Ferihegy Airport if you have time before departure, or make the arrangements at home by having the purchase and the VAT reclaim documents certified by customs upon arrival, and mail these to the authorities in Hungary, and just wait for your refund to arrive.