Great Market Hall (Budapest)

We kicked off our second day in Budapest with a culinary food tour that began at Central Market Hall and continued through the narrow streets of Pest.

Central Market Hall exterior

Central Market Hall is the largest and most modern market I have been to in Europe. La Boqueria in Barcelona is a miniature market compared to Central Market Hall.

The market has three levels.

  • Lower: Stinky foodstuffs like pickles and fish
  • Ground: Vegetables, fruits, raw and cooked meats, and cheeses
  • Upper: Textiles and State Fair-type food stalls
Central Market Hall interior

Our guide wasted no time getting food samples in our bellies. She asked if everyone in the group “ate all kinds of meat” and all six of us said yes.

She scurried away and returned with a tray full of “salami.”

One-by-one, we sampled all seven types of salami. After each sample, our guide explained what we had just consumed.

The first few samples were made from pigs. Then followed the dark-colored samples. After the samples had been chewed and swallowed, our guide told us that we’d just eaten horse meat.

I was slightly surprised that my pre-trip research did not reveal that horse meat was somewhat common in this region.

I can’t believe I’m saying this but the horse “salami” was one of my favorites.

Our tour continued through the market, visiting all three levels, and learning about the mushroom shop. The purpose of the mushroom shop is to help foragers identify the wild mushrooms that they have picked in the forests to ensure they are not poisonous.

We capped off our market tour with a shot of the local liqueur, Unicum. I took a tiny sip of Unicum and then handed my shot glass to Peter to finish off. Unicum is yet another local liqueur that is just not good.

Our tour continued at a little cafe around the corner from the market called Halkakas Halbisztró. The cafe is known for its fish dishes which was a little concerning because Peter and I are not necessarily “fish people.” Then again, we aren’t necessarily “horse people” either.

After lunch, we toured the narrow streets of Pest, stopping at a chocolate shop, a candy store, and a dessert shop along the way. Thankfully, the rain held off for the outdoor portion of our tour.

With our tour “done and dusted,” we rode our sugar highs and walked across Chain Bridge and then hiked up to Buda Castle.

Buda Castle from the Pest side

Chain Bridge was built in 1849 and was the first permanent bridge linking Buda and Pest.

Chain Bridge from the Buda side

There were a couple of different types of tickets for Buda Castle. We opted for the cheap ticket which granted us access to the castle grounds. The ticket got us less than what we were expecting. We had access to the grounds, which included a square and a couple of narrow streets. There were stalls selling food (great!) and souvenirs made overseas (not so great!).

Bell peppers are a staple in Hungarian cuisine

The best part of our visit to Buda Castle was the view of Pest. There are three great viewpoints of Pest.

  • Top of the funicular
  • Outside of the castle entrance
  • Fisherman’s Bastion

Fearing the weather was about to turn on us at any moment, I took a few photos of Fisherman’s Bastion (I love the whimsical towers) and then we quickly spun by Matthias Church. There were mobs of tourists in both locations.

We chose to take the funicular down for no other reason than we wanted to escape the cold, even for only a minute or two.

Once at the river level, we walked across Chain Bridge and warmed up in the same wine bar we’d visited the day prior.

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