Filming in Hungary

Hungarian Gift Guide

The List of Best Souvenirs

As a production company, throughout the years many of the international filmmakers we have collaborated with have asked us for recommendations for souvenirs. We too have many a time given special local gifts to our workpartners, so over the years Progressive’s team has accumulated a rich and diverse collection of first class Hungarian drinks, designer objects, cultural products and traditional gifts, which we would like to share with you.

As a production company, throughout the years many of the international filmmakers we have collaborated with have asked us for recommendations for souvenirs. We too have many a time given special local gifts to our workpartners, so over the years Progressive’s team has accumulated a rich and diverse collection of first class Hungarian drinks, designer objects, cultural products and traditional gifts, which we would like to share with you.

Beverages

Let’s start with drinks, since Hungary has a historic drinking culture, that includes all sorts of alcoholic beverages. Among the many options, we singled out the most iconic types and selected brands that provide excellent quality and slick design.


First of all the iconic Tokaji wine has to be mentioned, because it is ‘the kings of wines, the wine of kings”, as put by Louis XIV of France himself, and who is to be believed if not him. Holdvölgy is a company continuing this 500 years old tradition of Tokaji Aszú, bringing to you top quality wine from a winery, that is only a few kilometers away from Europe’s geometric center point.


The next drink that ought to be taken home is the national spirit of Hungary, which is undoubtedly what is called pálinka. It can be found in a large variety of flavours, since although it is made with a similar method as vodka, all sorts of local fruits are used as the base instead of potatoes. Next to it being surprisingly fruity, its strength can also catch you unaware, since the percentage of alcohol can range to anything from 40% and above. Named after the historical Hungarian leader Árpád, Árpád Pálinka is a high quality brewery, offering this spirit made with fruits such as plum, black cherry, raspberry, wild pear and grape.

Another top quality company is Panyolai Pálinkák, working with excellent local raw materials and traditional recipes. Their pálinka is sold in beautifully designed bottles, combined with drinking glasses made by the company’s own handcraft manufacture.


Finally, Hungary’s 230 years old Unicum has to be mentioned. It is an iconically bitter and dry liquor, that is often drunk as an aperitif, although it was originally created for healing royalty. It is only produced by the company Zwack according to a recipe that is strictly kept secret to this very day. But we do know that this national symbol of Hungary is made of the combination of at least forty types of herbs.


UNICUM Unicum has continuously represented excellent quality and Hungarian tradition for 225 years 

Chocolates

Hungary is home to some top quality companies offering a rich range of traditional and contemporary desserts and chocolates. Although confectionery has always been part of the country’s tradition, the golden age was undoubtedly during the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, when café culture and cake shops flourished. The most historic cafés and brands date back to this age and are often still located in their original spot, still with the authentic interiors. These cafés, and generally Hungarians are very proud of their heritage. Since we are concentrating on gifts, let’s focus on delicious chocolates and gift boxes that are easy to travel with, instead of the endless varieties of rich cakes.

It has not been long since Gerbeaud celebrated its 160th birthday, making it one of the oldest cafés in Hungary. With top quality meals, desserts and coffee, as well as stunning historic interior, the Gerbeaud is a favourite of Budapest’s population and is frequently visited by visitors for the famously exquisite experience it has to offer. They also have a wide range of gifts, for those who would like to give friends and family delicious chocolates, bonbons and macarons, just to mention a few. This photo features a box of charming cat tongue chocolates and Christmas beigli.


Stühmer since 1868Photo: Stühmer

Stühmer is an iconic and quality Hungarian chocolate brand, whose mission is to revive historic desserts. By combining rich and delicious recipes with beautiful historic designs, it provides us with a journey back into the past. They also create their own new stylish and appetizing products with the artwork of contemporary designers.


Nearly a century old, Szamos is one of Budapest’s most distinguished cake shops that has many high quality gift boxes to offer. These feature chocolates, truffles, small desserts filled with fruits, marcipan and caramel, as well as bonbons. They also provide sugar-free options.

Unbelievably, the Soviet Era’s most iconic childhood treats can be still found today in most food stores. Many of these designs have not been altered over the decades, so if you would like an encounter with the past, search for chocolate bars like “lottó”, “sport szelet”, “párizsi”, “szamba” and a more sophisticated “szerencsi retró szelet”.

Sport szelet - sport chocolate

Traditionally Hungarian larders are full of pickles, homemade fermented vegetables and fruit kept in large jars, as well as spicy paprika in all forms. While gherkin, cabbage and beetroot are the most typical types, there is an artisan brand Chabo that creates exciting new products based on local customs. They have to offer special types of pickles, spicy sauces and chutney, made from the likes of pumpkins, cukkinis and plum, with quality local ingredients according to innovative recipes and bottled with style.

Fashion

Hungary has a fashion scene thriving with talented young designers and cutting edge brands. While naturally many are made for highbrow fashion world we would like to share some innovative brands that offer products perfect for everyday use.


YKRA is a highly popular Hungarian brand specializing in outdoor backpacks, accessories that have a colourful, sporty and slightly retro feel to them, making them a big favourite among young people in Hungary, while it is gaining more international acclaim as well. For example, they have a brilliant series in which they use a detailed map of Hungary as the basic pattern for the bags and pouches.


Environmental bags on the streets of Budapest 
Photo: Medence Design

If being environmentally conscious is an important aspect for you, then the Hungarian scene can provide you with a brilliant brand. Medence Design’s ingenious central concept is to create bags reusing discarded advertisement molinos. Due to the nature of this material, its sturdiness and waterproof is ensured. These are all completely unique pieces, and the brand offers a huge variety of patterns, since it all depends on which molino they use and which part of it, so you can find minimalist, geometric ones or another that features a detail of a famous painting, etc.

Beauty

Hungary is rich in mineral waters with extraordinary healing and vitalising properties. It is the brand Omorovicza that decided to embark on the mission with the help of scientists to create skincare and other cosmetic products that enable their users to benefit in the brilliant effects of Hungarian spas wherever they happen to be around the world. By combining their unique production method with top product design, Omorovicza is a true luxury brand.

Zador is a family run manufacturer that produces high quality natural soaps and bath salts with cutting edge technology. Their luxurious combinations of scents paired with sophisticated designs are ideal gifts, offering the beneficial effects of shea, vitamins and the healing thermal water of Hévíz.


The Danubius Health Spa Cosmetics’ Products contain valuable minerals from Hungarian local thermal spots. The difference of the various product lines lie in which location the materials were sourced from. They contain thermal water extracts, pure plant oils and some medicinal mud, packaging the exceptional Hungarian natural thermal gifts.

Other Gifts

Communist relighes at Antik BazárPhoto: Antik Bazár

A much loved type of Hungarian souvenirs are Communist reliques. Since the Socialist Era in Hungary only ended thirty years ago, many authentic mementos can be found from this period in history. Quirky and characteristic, these objects are strikingly typical of that period in history, which had such a different ideology and visual culture than contemporary Europe. A red star badge, an army service cap or an image of Lenin are just a few of the unique memorabilia that can be easily found in antique shops and markets around Budapest. One of the iconic shops is called Antik Bazár, located near Blaha Lujza Tér.


Budapest has a few iconic symbols, and next to the chain bridge and the Parliament, the Liberty Statue that towers over the city on the Gellért Hills, is undoubtedly one of the most important statues in the capital of Hungary. Redheads, an up and coming  Hungarian brand captured this statue and made it into a trendy design for one of their tote bags. Another cool feature of the bag it that its shoulder strap is made of typical old Hungarian blind cords.


Embroidery is a central part of Hungarian folk culture. Traditionally countryside women would work together for months on one unique and beautiful piece for the inhabitants of their village. Thankfully the value of the design and practise of this custom was acknowledged, enabling it to be supported and continued throughout the centuries, making Hungarian embroidery a central visual element of traditional national identity and heritage.


There are various types of embroidery, one of them is called Kalocsai, the ornate, original handmade designs of which can be pure white or colourful using charming organic motifs mainly featuring flowers. These pieces can vary in size and function; for example, there are tablecloths, pillowcases and aprons alike for sale at this website that has to offer authentic handmade designs.


Another type of Hungarian embroidery is called Matyó. This family business provides authentic aprons, home blessings, shawls, skirts, bags and shirts. A piece, depending on its size can take from a few weeks to even two months until it is completed by hand making each piece unique. The red Pentecostal rose is the central symbol of the Matyó embroidery, which enables this style to be easily recognised around the world


Porcelain was an important element of Monarchy Period Hungarian households. There was a thriving scene of artistic designs that were precious status symbols for their owners. Two of Hungary’s most important historic manufacturers are still active today with flourishing businesses. They are called Zsolnay and Herendi.


Traditional Herendi porcelain Photo: herend.com

Heredi specialises in hand painted and gilded luxury porcelain, with a focus on centuries-old European and Orientalist aesthetics. They produce huge, stunning tea and plate sets, but also make jewellery, small ornaments and event porcelain golf balls! Their shops sometimes even feature enormous statues and vases of astonishing artistic quality.


Porcelain from the Zsolnay manufacture Photo: zsolnay.hu

The Zsolnay manufacture on the other hand, next to its traditional items, is special because of its experimental mentality and innovations. They created a special eosin glazing process for their ceramics, which creates such a stunning and dazzling surface. It amazing color changing effects became emblematic of Hungarian Art Nouveau.  Their shops and websites offer this glazing in all sorts of forms, such as vases, plates and ornaments of all sizes.

Hungary has always been home to engenius scientists. Here are two examples of inventions that have created objects that enchanted the world.


Everyone has heard of Rubik’s Cube, that is probably the world’s most popular 3D puzzle, which has been available since the 1970s when it was invented by Ernő Rubik. It is stated by many as the world’s best selling toy!


A contemporary cult Hungarian object is called Gömböc, which is an extraordinary object invented by two Hungarians. It is of high scientific importance because it is the first known object with only one stable and one unstable point. The online Gömböc Shop enables one to support this brilliance and to take one home yourself. There is a large variety of designs, but mainly in what kind of material the gömböc is made from!


Gömböc

Culture

Hungary is home to a vast range of talented and internationally respected writers, poets, composers, musicians, artists, directors and cinematographers, and the list could continue. Let’s take a look at some of the shops where top quality culture can be found, as well as a few characteristic items that feature the Hungarian vibe.


Hungarian literature is globally acclaimed and many writers have been celebrated with key international awards over the years. A copy of one of the translated Hungarian masterpieces that can be found at the Írók Boltja (Writes’ Shop) is a perfect way to delve into this country’s rich culture.


It is unquestionable that classical music is the field in which Hungarian culture has had the largest impact on the world. Ranging from Liszt, Bartók and Kodály, to Ligeti and Kurtág, many Hungarian figures have had a lasting influence of the development of Western music. At the Rózsavölgyi Publishing House, you can find music sheets, records, CDs and concert DVDs of many of these historic Hungarian composers, next to internationals, and you can also get to know some of the latest composers and musicians as well.


Little Hungaropedia is an exciting project made in collaboration between a graphic designer and young Hungarian writers. They have created a series of books that aim to capture the essence of Hungary, in an encyclopedic way with a grotesk, funny twist. These are colourful small books that playfully present the uniqueness of Hungary through a local’s eye.


The posters of Urban Sidewalker are meticulous, beautiful and elegant. They bring to you a fresh perspective on Budapest with their handmade prints, that astonishingly capture the character of the city as well as all the details one could possibly see overlooking the city. Choosing one of these posters is a brilliant way enrich your room and remember the stunning sight of Budapest.

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