If you know where to look, you can find almost anything you’re looking for in Budapest. But some things just aren’t going to be easy to get, and other things are going to be more expensive to buy in Hungary than they would be elsewhere.
This post will look at both of those categories. Some of these things you might consider trying to bring with you to Hungary, and others you’re probably best to just learn to live without. You will have to be the judge on which is which.
Things that are hard to find in Budapest
Certain food seasonings. When my mother-in-law came to visit, we asked her to bring a bunch of spice packets that were impossible to find in Budapest, including spice mixes for making tacos, enchiladas, and sloppy joes.
Black beans. Hungary just does not do black beans. Kidney beans you’ll find all over the place, but black beans are not a thing here. Oh, and refried beans also are nearly impossible to find.
Brown sugar. If you’re trying to make a recipe that calls for brown sugar, you’ll probably end up just making do with some combination of regular sugar, raw sugar and molasses. The brown sugar that we were used to in the United States isn’t sold here.
Maple syrup. The LIDL grocery stores sometimes will have syrup in stock, but it isn’t often — maybe once every four months or so. The last time they had maple syrup, we went to the LIDL by Nyugati pályaudvar and bought six bottles. If you’re in a pinch, you can also reliably find maple syrup in the bio (organic) section of Müller Drogéria. We’ve never bought it there, because it’s a bit more expensive than at LIDL, and it’s not exactly cheap there, either. DM drugstores also occasionally have syrup in stock.
Things that you’re better off buying elsewhere
Many electronics. We thought we would save money by bringing our little laser printer with us to Budapest (despite the precious luggage space it required). Of course, we had forgotten that Europe runs on 220 volts, whereas the United States is on a 110-volt system. We had an adapter to convert the U.S. plug to the European style, but to use the printer we also would have needed a device to step down the power from 220v to 110v. We were able to print one sheet of paper before the printer started smoking, and we unplugged it. Many devices are able to handle 220v; your laptop and phone chargers, for example, should have no problem (just read the fine print on the adapter to be sure). Other devices, though, like printers, televisions, microwaves and more, will either be built to handle 110 or 220.
Laptops and computer keyboards. It’s easy to buy desktop computers and laptops in Hungary. Because of import costs and VAT, though, they’ll probably be more expensive than you’d pay for the same thing elsewhere. Plus, it’ll have a Hungarian keyboard. You can order from a place like Amazon UK instead, of course, but then your keyboard will have symbols for pounds instead of dollars. Not a huge problem, but something to be aware of. If you have a laptop already, it’s better to bring it with you rather than buying one here. Just before we left the States for Hungary, we purchased this HP laptop, and it’s still going strong three years later.