Budapest is one of the cities in Europe that has been enticing me for a long time. I had flights booked to Budapest last year, but our plans changed last minute and we ended up going to Canada for a family wedding instead. Now I’m finally here to see what the capital of Hungary has to offer a girl like me, who loves eating vegan food and thrift shopping.
My first impression of the city was somewhat different than I expected. There was a lot of noisy construction and I’m just going to say it outright, a fair few homeless people. In some ways, Budapest reminds me of Buenos Aires, because of the leafy tree-lined boulevards, noisy traffic, baroque architecture and frequent church bells.
In this blog post I’ll start by covering my favourite places and ways to fill your belly with tasty plant food. Then, we’ll talk about my thrift shopping experiences and recommendations – because shopping is no fun on an empty stomach!
BUDAPEST VEGAN EATS
A quick glance at Happy Cow will tell you that there is an abundance of vegan options in Budapest. There was no way we could eat our way through them all during our stay, so I made a shortlist based on location, best ratings and our specific cuisine preferences. I wanted to try out traditional Hungarian fare, but I also love sushi and pizza, and my partner loves burgers, so that pretty much rounded out what I was looking for. Before we get to the fun part of all the tasty vegan meals we enjoyed while in Budapest, let’s quickly cover some important groundwork.
If you enjoy cooking for yourself, and have access to a kitchen while you’re in Budapest, you’ll need to know where to find all the plant-based alternatives. The Dutch supermarket SPAR operates all around Europe, Africa and some parts of Asia and the Caribbean. Finding plant milks, yogurts, creams, cheeses and faux meats is very easy at basically all SPAR locations. There are also nice health stores like Bio ABC, where we got vegan protein bars. They have a much wider range of plant based alternatives as well, like supplements and spreads.
Using TESCO home delivery is also a great alternative if you want to order a bunch of groceries and have them brought to your door. They offer a first time discount, and the delivery comes in a crate, so you’re not wasting a whole bunch of plastic bags. Also, they have an English website, so don’t worry about wading through bad Hungarian to English translations.
Now, that you’ve got your basic nourishment needs sorted, let’s get to my top five vegan eateries!
I have to begin by mentioning Vegan Garden, because it was the highlight for me. It offers a variety of vegan street-food vendors that have tacos, burgers, nuggets, ice-cream, falafel and more. I ended going twice because everything was so tasty and inexpensive.
It also features (to my knowledge) the only place you can get vegan Hungarian chimney cakes, as they usually contain butter or milk powder. Kürtős Legenda is the vendor that makes these hugely delicious treats, and they offer a wide range of flavours from cinnamon to coconut to unicorn! For only 1,400 HUF (around €5), they’re totally worth it. You get to watch them make your chimney cake from scratch, which is fun, and it’s extra delicious because it’s all fresh and warm.
Disclaimer: I know the plastic wrapping is not great. If you really want to try the cakes, but don’t want the added plastic you would need to bring an alternative in advance. They only have the plastic wrap and napkins.
We started our gastronomic tour of Budapest with Veganeria. This two story vegan eatery is beautiful. It boasts chic modern decor, a spiral staircase and a very comprehensive menu. You can also choose to fill your own plate from their salad bar. From our perch on the second floor, we could look into the kitchen below and watch the chef make our pizzas.
We started with soups (broccoli cream for me and bean for him), and then got two large pizzas. I was very happy with my arugula pizza. The dough was chewy, the arugula was fresh and the cheese had melted beautifully, what more could I ask for? They also had a nice range of dessert options, but we were too full to contemplate them.
While most of the highlights of Budapest are in Pest, you really must make it over the Danube to Buda. I really liked the change of pace, as Buda felt a lot more subdued and quiet. Vegan Love is a top rated vegan eatery in Budapest for very good reason. It’s menu offers next level delicious burgers, gyros, hot-dogs, donuts, smoothies and a salad bar.
I treated myself to the Mexi Burger and a green smoothie. It’s location right beside the Gellert Baths makes it a no brainer if you’re hungry after a hard day of thermal spa bathing 😉 We took the tram down from Fisherman’s Bastion, which was only ten or fifteen minutes.
I didn’t have Vega City on my shortlist, it made it’s way onto my top five all by itself! On our way to the Central Market Hall, we couldn’t help but notice the lunchtime line that ran right out the door and onto the footpath. Their weekly menu changes every week, but always has soups, stews, Indian food, pasta and side dishes. You can also get smoothies, salads, cakes and sushi.
They have plenty of space to sit and eat, but we opted for takeaway sushi and were impressed with the creativity they put into it. Each box has 6 pieces for 1,100 HUF (approximately €3.40), so you get five pieces of maki with interesting fillings like chickpea mash, and a nice piece of nigiri with tofu and dehydrated carrot. The best part though, was the pink mayo that came with it! I’m pretty sure it was made using beetroot juice, it was very tasty and aesthetically pleasing.
Anjuna Ice Pops
If you’re in Budapest during the spring or summer, visiting Anjuna Ice Pops is an excellent way to treat yourself. There are three different locations in Budapest, we went to the Lovohaz location in Pest. They have a mouthwatering selection of vegan icepop (in both regular and mini sizes), acai bowls and smoothies. Even though their menu is exclusively sweets and snacks, they are a very health-conscious place. All of their goodies are plant-based, gluten free and they are a number of sugar free options too. Also noteworthy is that if you come with a canine companion you can get them a dog-pop! They have a gorgeous modern, beachy decor, which is very instagrammable. I chose their coconut icepop, had it dipped in liquid dark chocolate and sprinkled with toasted coconut flakes. Need I say more?
BUDAPEST THRIFT SHOPPING
Budapest is full to the brim with secondhand stores. I picked out a handful of faves before I arrived based on the results of a few Google searches, but nothing beats actually being on the ground. I kept finding new ones when I was out and about. In fact, there was a random vintage store right next door to where we were staying. I say random because it looked like it was created out of someone’s basement! The stores that I thought I’d really like didn’t really impress me, and the store I wasn’t so sure about ended up being my favourite. So, let’s talk about that.
All of my successful thrifts happened at the Cream stores. I usually find nothing I like at the more kitsch vintage shops because their clothes are too wild for my personal style. I tend to have more success at thrift stores that carry garments from more mainstream stores. The Cream stores do just that. There are six Cream stores throughout Budapest, as well as two outlets. I only went to one outlet, but I found it way too picked over to be any good.
Cream stores exclusively stock secondhand clothing from British high street brands. The racks are bursting with Zara, Debenhams, Topshop, Pretty Little Thing and H&M etc. At the moment I’m pretty new to thrifting, so this was perfect as I was browsing the kind of clothing that I’ve been buying most of my life.
Being a thrift store I was obviously expecting the prices to be low, but I was shocked by just how cheap it was. I found a Debenhams Petite Trench Coat for 750 HUF, which is just over €2… admittedly one of the buttons was falling off, but that can be fixed easily. They also have loyalty cards, which I recommend getting if you plan to go shopping more than once during your stay in Budapest. Once you have ten stamps (i.e. spend over a certain amount), you receive 2,000 HUF (approximately €6) off your next purchase. It may not sound worthwhile, but it equates to a free tee shirt or two.
I’ll just make a couple of small disclaimers about my recommendation of Cream. You should prioritise going to the larger stores as they have a better selection, and be prepared to spend a decent amount of time browsing and trying things on. You can find gems, but you’ll have to wade through a lot of junk to find them.
Without intending to, we stayed just down the street from Antifactory. I appreciated its unique aesthetic with neon signs and minimally decorated concrete walls and floors. If you prefer smaller thrift stores that offer a collection of hand-picked goods, then add Antifactory to your itinerary. They have a diverse selection that is fun to look through and the prices are quite reasonable. It’s a good idea to check out their Facebook page as they often organise events.
Szputnyik D-20 and K-22
The two Szputnyik stores were on the top of my list for my thrifting tour of Budapest. These stores are gorgeous! Pictured below is D-20, and K-22 is also beautifully decorated with the same fresh aesthetic. They also have an online store which you can check out here. The stores offer a selection of both vintage and contemporary fashion. Case in point, you could pick up a Fjällräven Kånken backpack, and a vintage dress from the 40s. These stores were the priciest of the thrift stores I visited. However, you are paying for higher quality items that, in some cases, are brand new.
Retrock is only three minutes walk from Szputnyik K-22, so it’s a good idea to visit them on the same day. However, you’ll need plenty of time because Retrock is huge! As they boast on their website, they are “the largest Vintage and Designer store in Hungary”. They offer both vintage and designer items, and they had the biggest men’s section that I saw. They really make the most of their big space with an expansive selection of vintage and designer pieces. Notably, they also offer limited edition products from designers in Hungary and abroad.
There are seven Humana shops in Budapest. The stores on József krt and Ferenc krt are only five minutes walk away from each other, so it’s definitely worth checking both out. When I visited, these stores were really busy, and it’s easy to see why. They carry reputable brands like Adidas and Herschel, for a fraction of the price you’d usually pay. Their stores are completely restocked every five weeks and, if you’re lucky enough to be visiting around that time you can make the most of the big sales they do. These sales are announced on their Facebook page.
P.S. I never made it to any of the Hada stores, but from what I’ve read online they are highly recommended. If you check them out, let me know what you think!
Thanks for reading my guide to Budapest! I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself, and got lots of inspiration on how to make your visit a blast. You can check out my other vegan travel guides here. I’d love to hear from you, so feel free to leave me a comment 🙂
I’d love to hear from you, so feel free to leave me a comment 🙂
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LESSONS FROM VEGANISM
Are you interested in learning more about veganism? I wrote extensively about how veganism healed my relationship with food in Chapter 3 of my book, Lessons From Veganism. I’ve decided to give this chapter away for free because I want it to reach as many people as possible. I’d love to share more about this journey with you.
Simply click here or the image above, and you’ll be on my Freebies page. There you’ll find Chapter 3, as well as my two self-care e-books, Revamp and Refresh. You can click any of the buttons on that page, fill in your details and check the boxes of the freebies you’d like in the form provided. Then, you’ll receive an email from me with your download link within five minutes.
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