Charity shops, long been popular in the UK and America, are starting to pop up around Budapest, offering unique gifts this shopping season. Walking into a charity shop is like going on a treasure hunt, as donated objects come from all types of homes and all walks of life. From real leather boots to funny reindeer antler hats to handmade pottery, you never know what you're going to find. We went on a treasure hunt of our own, starting in Buda and finishing in Pest.
Sorsváltozás Alapítvány Adománybolt
Beginning on the Buda side, we first step into the Sorsváltozás Alapítvány charity shop. This is near the Feneketlen Lake and adjoining park. The entrance has a large sign saying ADOMÁNYBOLT (‘charity shop’), with steps leading down. A handful of items sit at the door, including a pair of skis, women’s shoes, an ironing board and coffee mugs. Inside there are items floor to ceiling – books, cookery, jewellery, roller blades, textiles, electronics, backpacks, shoes…
Large tables are set up in the middle, piled high with teddy bears, and clothes for 500 forints. One set of shelves is completely dominated by traditional Hungarian pottery.
Overseen by a friendly woman, this is truly a place to spend an hour meticulously browsing, with all sorts of goodies waiting to be discovered.
District XI. Edömér utca 4
Open: Mon noon-8pm, Tue-Thur 10am-6pm, Fri 10am-4pm. Closed Sat-Sun
KÖZépPONT Közösségi tér és adománybolt
Continuing on the Buda side, the KÖZépPONT Közösségi tér és adománybolt is a charming underground charity shop doubling as a community centre, where it offers activities such as yoga, a book club, sewing projects and more.
There is no space to store inventory, so the shop asks that donations be seasonal, and of good quality. Books are sold for 100 forints in one corner, next to records, CDs and cute postcards. Clothes generally run at about 500 forints, larger coats for 1,000. There are also ceramics, purses, belts, blankets, children’s toys and craft supplies.
District XII. Kiss János altábornagy utca 26
Open: Tue-Wed 11am-5.30pm, Thur 10am-7pm, Fri 10am-5pm. Closed Mon, Sun
Simply named Adománybolt, this next charity shop has only one room and it is filled to its tiny brim.
Cups and mugs are stacked upon each other, and a plastic bucket of kitchenware requires a thorough investigation to reach the bottom. Textiles with traditional Hungarian motifs are stacked by the window, a great place to pick up a souvenir or find a traditional-looking gift for a friend. Other items in the shop include books, cups, bowls, jugs, purses and bags, hats, games and even some outdoor sport equipment.
District XI. Karinthy Frigyes út 20
Open: Tue-Fri 10am-1pm, 2pm-6pm, Sat 8am-2pm. Closed Mon, Sun
Within view of Liberty Bridge, the SZIA adománybolt has a charming storefront, little lizard stickers decorating the glass around the opening hours. Books are sold outside for 100 forints. Inside, everything is carefully sorted, and mobiles made from old clothes hangers hang from the ceiling. There are two tables with assorted clothes for 300 forints.
Kids’ clothing and toys are all arranged along one wall, and books and CDs are stacked along another. In a separate room, there are crafts for sale, car bumper stickers, postcards, notebooks, even celebrity face masks.
District XI. Budafoki út 17
Open: Mon-Fri 10am-6pm. Closed Sat-Sun
Cseriti Pont Józsefváros Adománybolt
On the Pest side, the Cseriti Pont Józsefváros Adománybolt is one of a cross-city chain – cseriti is the phonetic Hungarian rendition of 'charity’. Inside, there’s a huge selection, the largest of the charity shops we surveyed.
All sorts of prized items can be found here, including pressure cookers, Hungarian folk children’s games and specialised kitchen instruments. Racks and racks of clothes await, as well as hats, scarves, rain boots, slippers, yarn, shoelaces, picture frames, candle holders and more. Cups and small glasses sell for 50-100 forints, and even cardboard boxes are available for 150 forints!
Amazingly, there is even a box of old Kinder Egg toys for sale. It is possible to pay by card.
District VIII. Baross utca 47
Open: Mon-Fri 10am-7pm, Sat 10am-6pm. Closed Sun
Not far from Cseriti is the Kocka Adománybolt, which has an abundant selection of clothes, as well as a big box of women’s purses in the middle.
A myriad of kitchenware is also available, with mugs, bowls, plates, knives, vases, cutlery and more. Even a hoover and some sports equipment can be found! Prices are agreeably low, and quality items cover a large range. Definitely a good place to browse.
District VIII. Nagy Fuvaros utca 3A
Open: Mon-Thur 9am-4pm, Fri 9am-6pm. Closed Sat-Sun
This charity shop has some of the best prices in town, the kind of place where you can lay a whole handful of items on the counter and only pay 700 forints.
Mozaik Adománybolt is located near the party district, and has clothes, shoes and purses available, as well as books in several languages, miscellaneous craft supplies, jewellery, toys, kitchenware and even some old wedding dresses! There is a second location at nearby VI. Izabella utca 36-38.
District VII. Dohány utca 65
Open: Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-2pm. Closed Sun
Continuing on, we come to e-cherry Adománybolt. This shop, which has another location in District XII, is located is right on busy Király utca, which might explain why some prices are a little higher than might be expected in a charity shop. However, theirbins of low-priced clothes are truly the lowest in the city, at 250 forints per item.
Don’t be afraid to really dig through the pile – there are often some gems. This shop has a large range of textiles as well, and two big bookshelves of shoes right at the entranceway. Even some cosmetics are available at the very front.
District VII. Király utca 103
Open: Mon-Thur 10am-6pm, Fri 10am-4pm. Closed Sat-Sun
Ending our tour of charity shops is the Filantrópia Adománybolt on Aradi utca. This cute charity shop has soft lighting, which feels more like stepping into someone’s home.
The single room has appealing interior decoration, with clothes lining the left-hand wall and continuing in an L-shape. Assorted electronic power cords and connectors fill one drawer, and various small knick-knacks are available for 100-200 forints. There are also books, jewellery, hats, ties, shoes and toys available, as well as a small arrangement of kitchenware. Located near Andrássy út, this is a great little shop to check out when looking for a nice gift, or even something for yourself.
District VI. Aradi utca 43
Open: Mon-Tue, Thur-Fri noon-6pm, Wed 11am-6.30pm. Closed Sat-Sun
Shopping in charity shops requires a bit of patience, and an open mind. View it as a treasure hunt. Yes, sometimes all you find is grandma's old sweater which surely wasn't fashionable even in her day, but your eyes will widen as you lay your hands on the perfect the pair of shoes, or a pie tin in exactly the size you were looking for, or an expensive golf club whose previous owner has picked up a new hobby now. Consider diving in to miscellaneous madness this gift-giving season, and surprise yourself with what you find at the nearest charity shop. We bought one item in each shop mentioned above, and we're quite pleased with our collection!