SZABAD SZELLEMŰ SÉTÁK
Tour Esprit Libre
Tradition, history, culture, art, and gastronomy are all present in various ways. The uniquely Mediterranean cityscape originates from the Serbian, Dalmatian and Greek settlers. Not far from the Danube bend and Visegrád, framed in a picturesque natural setting, narrow cobblestone streets, tight alleys, tiny baroque downtown houses make this tour special.
Going to Szentendre on public transport and going back to Budapest on boat to make the full local experience is not just beautiful, but unforgettable too.
Thanks to the Pannonian Sea which existed for about 9 million years, dominating the relief are the great lowland expanses that make up the core of Hungary. The Little Plain or Kisalföld lies in the northwest, fringed to the west by the easternmost extension of the sub-Alps along the border with Austria and bounded to the north by the Danube. The Little Plain is separated from the Great Plain, Nagyalföld or Puszta by a low mountain system extending across the country from southwest to northeast for a distance of 400 km - 250 miles. This system, which forms the backbone of the country, is made up of Transdanubia (Dunántúl) and the Northern Mountains, separated by the Visegrád Gorge of the Danube. Transdanubia is dominated by the Bakony Mountains, with dolomite and limestone plateaus at elevations between 400 and 700 meters - 1,300 and 2,300 feet above sea level. Volcanic peaks comprise the Mátra Mountains in the north, reaching an elevation of 1,014 meters 3,327 feet at Mount Kékes, Hungary’s highest peak. Regions of hills reaching elevations of 250 to 300 meters - 800 to 1,000 feet lie on either side of the mountain backbone, while to the south and west of Lake Balaton is an upland region of more-subdued loess-covered topography.
The Great Plane is a basinlike structure filled with fluvial and windblown deposits. Four types of surface may be distinguished: floodplains, composed of river alluvium; alluvial fans, wedge-shaped features deposited at the breaks of slopes where rivers emerge from the mountain rim; alluvial fans overlay by sand dunes; plains buried under loess, deposits of windblown material derived from the continental interior. These lowlands range in elevation from about 80 to 200 meters - 260 to 660 feet above sea level, with the lowest point at 78 meters - 256 feet, on the southern edge of Szeged, along the Tisza River. In the northeast, bordering Slovakia is Aggtelek National Park; characterized by karst terrain and featuring hundreds of caves, the area was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Buda Hills, the Pilis and Mount Visegrád
If you are interested in a nice and easy morning walk in the forest, the Hármashatár-hegy or Three Border Mountain is your place. The mountain is located on the Buda side, at 495 m - 1623 ft above sea level. This mountain is a popular place for hiking, biking, and paragliding. In the winter it is also a place for sled riding. There are several trails in the area, but the only one that reaches the top is the blue trail. At the summit, there are television and radio towers. When going home, just pop into Fenyőgyöngye Restaurant. You won't regret it.
The Pilis is a popular one day hike in northern Hungary. The name is of Slavic origin: pleš means bald just like on a monks head. The highest point is Pilis-tető 756 meters, while that of the Visegrád Mountains is Dobogó-kő 700 m. Hikers and paragliders have returned to the place. The story of Dobogó-kő is slightly different. The first hiker's hut was opened in 1898. The place gained popularity rapidly and has grown into a complete holiday resort by now. The natural rocky lookout after which the mountain is named offers nice views on the surrounding mountains and the Danube. Also, there are interesting rocks below this rocky balcony. One of our favorite hikes in Mount Visegrád is the Rám-szakadék which is a fairly difficult but very rewarding hike.
Despite their modest height, the Pilis and Buda Hills provide several interesting places worth checking out. As these mountains are within a good reach of the capital, they are rarely short of visitors.
Balaton and Tihany
Frequented by locals and tourists from all over the world, this body of water is one of the largest lakes in Europe, providing fishing, water sports, beach volleyball, and beach water polo activities from June through to the end of September. The lake is bordered by villas, public and private beaches, and a smorgasbord of eateries small and large with amazing homemade Hungarian delicacies.
Because the climate of Tihany is ideal for lavender, it has a real French Riviera feeling lingering in the air with a pinch of paprika.
Hollókő, the jewel of northern Hungary
Hollókő is the only village in the country which is both at the center of a nature reserve (141 hectares) and is a World Heritage site. The villagers use the Palóc dialect and dress in richly decorated local costume. There are 65 houses in the old village which are scheduled as historical monuments, examples of 18th century Palóc architecture. The wooden spired Catholic church dates from 1889. The splendid castle above the village is first mentioned in records in the 13th century, recently being renovated, crowns the hills of Hollókő.
After Count Széchenyi tamed the river by building dams and rerouting the original course of the Tisza, there is much to be proud of in the Tisza River Basin including unique cultures, rare flora and fauna, a rich supply of natural resources and the waters of the Tisza River itself. There are many natural attractions such as the flowering of the Tisza, that occurs only once a year and it means the short mating period of Palingenia Longicauda.
If you love kayaking this is the river for you. Lake Tisza - artificially created by using the river - provides a very calm and easy experience. You can go down all the way to Szeged and crown your journey at the Szegedi Szabadtéri Játékok festival or at the Olimpic Water Arena.
Heves county is a geographically diverse area; its northern part is mountainous, the Mátra and Bükk are the two highest mountain ranges in Hungary, while at south it includes a part of the Great Hungarian Plain. From the south, it is bordered by Lake Tisza, the largest artificial lake in Hungary. Actual Hungary's highest peak is here, Kékestető, with its 1015 meters. Kékestető is one of the few skiing places in Hungary. Mount Mátra is crisscrossed with tourist paths. There are a few vignards as well for the thirsty.
Mount Bükk, Szilvásvárad, and Lillafüred
There are 1115 known caves in the mountain range, including Bányász cave 274 meters and István-lápa 254 meters, the deepest caves in Hungary, the archaeologically important Szeleta cave, a cave bath, the main tourist attraction of Miskolc-Tapolca. 52 of the caves are protected because of their fauna and microclimate.
The mountain range is also famous for its skiing facilities located around Bánkút.
Szilvásvárad is best known for its Lipizzaner horses, but when you are hiking in the area, you'll find yourself enchanted by the beauty of the forest. There is an adventure park for children, but your favorite gourmet experience is going to be eating fresh trout after your hike.
Lillafüred is just one magnificent gem in the middle of the forest. Count András Bethlen, the minister of agriculture, decided in the 1890s to build a holiday resort near Lake Hámori. The resort was named after his niece, Erzsébet Vay nicknamed Lilla. The Palace Hotel was designed by Kálmán Lux and was built between 1927 and 1930 in neo-Renaissance style. One of the restaurants in the hotel is a Renaissance restaurant named after King Matthias. Its stained glass windows show the castles of historical Hungary. The hotel is surrounded by a large park with rare plants and a hanging garden hosting a cave and a spring. The hanging gardens are below the hotel, between the streams Szinva and Garadna. The highest waterfall in Hungary, at 20 meters in height. There are three natural caves close to the hotel.
Erdőkövesd and the Challenge
If you are a real sportsman, you will love what this tiny palóc-village has to offer. The landscape is not as dramatic, so you'll have the visuals to come to your senses through the calming easy walks in the woods. Surrounded by gorgeous hills, this trip is the perfect escape from civilization. No matter the season, in spring you'll experience a fantastic acacia blooming, in summer you can refresh in Büdös-kút lake while cooking on its shoars, harvesting juniper berry in autumn or having a walk to the many springs in the area is very welcome any time of the year.
To make sure you are going to have a
wonderful time, Igazvölgy Egyesület
- Trueman's Valley Association - is
organizing events all round of the year
and they will give you the true
sensation of palóc hospitality.
There are several possibilities for
accommodation, in the village of
Erdőkövesd or in the near forest,
the forestry house is just the perfect
spot if you need quietness in
the heart of the forest.
Medvesalja, part of Palóc heritage
Medvesalja is the hilly basin area East and South of the Medves mountain, cut by the Hungarian-Slovakian border. The past 30 million years left a thick and variable rock formation in the area. They have a saying: Not our mountains are higher, but our valleys are deeper.
The Medves Region can be separated into three parts based on the size, character, and distribution of the volcanic forms. The central region is the Medves Uplands formed by four eruption periods. Gortva stream cut through between the two former eruption centers Baglyas and Ragács mounts.
Crossing the border doesn't change much, Hungarians in the Medves region are very welcoming. You will not only have fantastic scenery and hikes, but you'll make friends in a wink. There is much to offer: in Péterfala Felföldi Dalia Iskola organizes the Paysant Olympics every year, Medvesalja is a fantastic community who built a forest bath-house where you are going to refresh yourself in spring water. If you are interested in the old Hungarian pagan ways, you'll have a full weekend in the Völgy celebrating our Encisters.
And many more activities that are better to experience instead of reading about it.
And one more thing. Your best accommodation in the whole area is Pogányvár Fogadó in Egyházasbást. So charming, you'll want to take it home with you.