Home » A Guide to Nagycsarnok: Budapest’s Great Market Hall

A Guide to Nagycsarnok: Budapest’s Great Market Hall

by Paola Bertoni
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Nagycsarnok, also known as the Great Market Hall, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Budapest and the most beautiful and largest of all Budapest market halls. It is a large indoor market that sells everything from fresh produce to souvenirs, like paprika, perfect for remembering your trip to Hungary.

About Budapest’s Great Market Hall

The Great Market Hall, also known as Nagycsarnok in Hungarian, is situated in the heart of Budapest, near the Liberty Bridge, making it easily accessible for both locals and tourists. It is called the Central Market Hall because of its central location, which is just a 5-minute walk from the city centre, and the high volume of trade that occurs here daily.

Get ready to make the most of your Budapest trip with the Budapest Card to enjoy free public transportation throughout the city, enter for free at several of the city’s very best museums, relax at the famous Lukács Thermal Bath, and enjoy exclusive discounts to some of the most popular tourist attractions and tours.
Keep you connected throughout your journey in Budapest with an Airalo eSim, saving money on data coverage while in Hungary.

Built in 1897, the market was designed by the famous Hungarian architect Samu Pecz. The architecture of the Great Market Hall is a combination of Neo-Gothic and Neo-Renaissance styles, characterized by steel beams and columns inside and colourful Zsolnay ceramic tiles on the roof, which is a hallmark of Hungarian architecture.

The market was initially constructed to provide a central location for locals to purchase fresh produce, meat, and fish. However, during World War II, the market suffered severe damage. Later on, in the 1990s, it was restored to its former glory.

Nagycsarnok in Budapest: What to Expect From Your Visit

As you enter Nagycsarnok, the fresh aroma of produce and the bustling of vendors selling their goods will welcome you. Whether you enjoy fresh goods, shopping, people watching, photo opportunities, guided tours with tastings, or sightseeing, the Great Market Hall has it all. Rain or shine, the Great Market Hall is an excellent option and one of the top Budapest attractions, according to many Budapest guides.

You can find all sorts of goods on the three floors of the Great Market Hall of Budapest, including fruits, vegetables, dairy products, fantastic salamis, pickles, fresh fish, Hungarian paprika, Tokaj wines, various souvenirs, bags, clothes, pans and pots, and even home-style meals or Hungarian snacks like Langos at the upper-floor food stands.

Chimney Cake shop at Budapest's Great Market Hall
Chimney Cake shop at Budapest’s Great Market Hall

What to Buy at the Great Market Hall

If you plan on going shopping at Nagycsarnok, you’ll come across a wide range of products to choose from. One of the most popular things to buy there is paprika, which is a crucial ingredient in Hungarian cuisine. You can find paprika in three different types: sweet (édes), hot (csípős) and smoked (füstölt).

Another popular item to buy at Nagycsarnok is Hungarian salami, which is made from high-quality pork and seasoned with paprika and other spices. The market also offers a variety of cheeses, including the famous Hungarian sheep cheese, which is a must-try for cheese lovers.

If you’re interested in purchasing souvenirs, the market has a wide range of options to choose from. You can find everything from traditional Hungarian clothing to handmade pottery and jewellery, but be aware that these items are usually geared towards tourists.

Nowadays, the market is mainly meant for tourists, so you might not find anything that people in Budapest usually eat or wear on a daily basis. For example, Hungarians generally buy paprika to cook in local supermarkets. Lastly, if you’re paying with a card, make sure to ask for the price in forints and not in euros, as paying in euros will almost double the price.

Budapest's Great Market Hall first floor
Budapest’s Great Market Hall first floor

Best Days and Hours to Visit the Market Hall

If you’re planning to visit the Budapest Great Market Hall, you might be wondering when is the best time to go. If you want to avoid crowds, it’s best not to go too early. From Monday to Friday, the early morning shopping hours until about 8-9 am are mostly for homemakers and locals. Saturdays are generally busier since Budapest weekend getaways are quite popular among tourists, both local and foreign.

For a less crowded experience, it’s better to come in late morning or early afternoon on weekdays since most locals are at work. During this time, only some pensioners, tourists, and stay-at-home parents run their errands. However, lunchtime, between 12 am and 2 pm, is the peak hour of the day as many locals and tourists come for a quick snack or a cheap lunch.

Where to stay in Budapest

Budapest offers a wide range of beautiful hotels to choose from. Hampton By Hilton Budapest City Centre (here my review) is located in the heart of Budapest, just 600 metres from St. Stephen’s Basilica. They offer a delicious breakfast and have a restaurant and a bar on-site. For those looking for a hotel with unique and stunning decor, Stories Boutique Hotel is a 4-star property situated 500 meters away from the Hungarian State Opera. They have a restaurant on-site that serves à la carte, a continental or vegetarian breakfast. If you prefer an aparthotel, Zoya Luxury Residence is an excellent option with units with a coffee machine, a dishwasher, a microwave and parking space.

Nagycsarnok is a must-visit destination for anyone travelling to Budapest. The market provides an authentic Hungarian experience and is the perfect place to try traditional Hungarian food and purchase souvenirs. Whether you are a foodie, a history buff, or just looking for something to do, Nagycsarnok is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. Feel free to comment with your experience!

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