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Northern Great Plain (Észak-Alföld), Hungary

In the Northern Great Plain region of Hungary you you can a have a taste a bit of everything:

  • endless, flat steppe, the puszta in Hungarian with grazing grey cattle,
  • well-preserved village life and folk art,
  • thermal baths and spas where you can relieve the pain in your aching joints,
  • towns with historical and cultural sights,

  • welcoming inns with tasty local food.
Hungarian Puszta Debrecen Great Church Spa Northern Great Plain Hungary

You have a wide selection of accommodations to stay at from luxury hotels to friendly private guesthouses.

Map of Northern Great Plain
Main Attractions and Settlements
Thermal Baths
Wine & Gastronomy

Map of Northern Great Plain

Three counties belong to the Northern Great Plain region:

  • Hajdú-Bihar,
  • Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok, and
  • Szabolcs Szatmár-Bereg counties



Main Attractions in the Northern Great Plain

The puszta, this seemingly dull, flat landscape attracts many visitors from both other parts of Hungary and from foreign countries.
It became the symbol of Hungary in the comunist era.

The Hortobágy National Park looks after the natural treasures of this unique area. At hte visitor centre at Hortobágy village the exhibited tools and artworks in the museums help you imagine how the people lived in the puszta.

Museum about Hungarian Herdsmen, hortobágy

Kids will surely enjoy petting the smaller animals: goats, donkeys, sheep in the Animal Park.

Animal Petting in the Hortobágy National park

Hungarian Grey cattle

In summer the hot air seem to quiver over the grassland and creates funny illusions called mirage (délibáb in Hungarian). Sweep-pole wells and grazing herds of cattle break occasionally the monotonous landscape.

Sweep Pole Well (gémeskút) Hortobágy

Wetlands and marshes dot the boundless pastures giving home to 350 games including some bird species: wild goose, herons or jib which is included in the coat of arms of the national park.

Wild Geese at a Wetland Area in Hortobágy, Hungary

The Market at the Nine-Arch Bridge (Kilenclyukú Híd) has been held at the end of August every year for centuries.

Nine-Arch Bridge at Hortobágy (Kilenc-lyukú Híd)

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Horse riding

Hungarians are well-known for their great horsemanship and equestrian culture has great traditions in the Hortobágy.

Horses on the Hungarian Puszta

The numerous horse riding shows taking place in the area will give you opportunity to admire the equestrian talents of Hungarians.

The International Horse Days at Máta in Hortobágy or the stud farm of Szenttamás near Törökszentmiklós are the most noted places to have a taste of horse riding.

The smooth, stretching territory broken by sand dunes and wetlands is just perfect for a horse riding tour.

You can also explore the beauty of the Hungarian puszta by going on a ride in a horse-driven cart or from a boat on the Hortobágy river. To see the endless steppe from a different perspective go for a pleasure flight.

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Main Settlements of the Northern Great Plain

If you have enpugh of the outdoors stop by one of the larger settlements of the region.

Debrecen Great Church (Debreceni Nagytemplom)

The centre of the Northern Great Plain is Debrecen with its vivid cultural and scientific life. The towns is also a religious center often referred to as the "Calvinist Rome" because of its role played in the Hungarian Reformation in the 16th century.

The larges Calvinist church of the country, the Great Church of Debrecen with its 3000 seats became the symbol of Debrecen.

Nyíregyháza the seat of Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg county is one of the most dynamically developing towns of Hungary. The town has a relaxed atmosphere and some nice buildings like the town hall on Kossuth Square, or the Baroque Lutheran church.

A recreational oasis at Sóstógyógyfürdő offers plenty of attractions and things to do: bathing and rowing on the salt lake, the game reserve is the second largest of Hungary after the Budapest Zoo.


Szolnok the county seat of Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok county stands at the meeting point of the rivers Tisza and Zagyva.

You cans ee the town's most captivating scenery on a walk on the promenade along the Tisza. The kayak-canoe course on the river often hosts international championships. A nice free beach offer refreshing entertainment during scorching summer days.

The area east of Hortobágy is called Hajdúság and has several towns: Hajdúböszörmény, Hajdúdorog, Hajdúhadház, Hajdúnánás, Hjadúpolgár tfamosu thermal resort Hajdúszoboszló.

Almost every small village in the northern part of the Hungarian Great Plain has some hidden treasures: several-centuries old churches with unparalleled folk decorations and wooden belfries charcateristic of the region's religious architecture, but masterpices of folk architecture and industrial monuments also make worth visiting these settlements.

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Museums and skanzens introduce the village life and exhibit traditionla tools and utensils.

The Calvinist St George church at Nyírbátor contains some of the most beautiful masterpices of Hungarian Renaissiance architecture and the countries largest wooden belfry stands next to it.

The church in Csaroda with its flower decoration is 700 year old,

Hundreds of thousands visit the picture of the weeping Madonna in the Greek-Orthodox church in Máriapócs.

Other famous pilgrimage site is the cemetery at Nagykálló where the famous rabbi Taub Isaac Ezekiel is buried.

You can see masterpieces of folk arts and crafts and learn about the history of the trade in the Pottery Art House or in the Túr Pottery Museum in Mezőtúr.

The wooden grave memorials with boat-shaped heads in the cemetery in Szatmárcseke are unparalleled in Europe. Ferenc Kölcsey writer of Hungary's national anthem, was born and lived in the village and was buried there too.

The museum in Hajdúnánás provide a glimpse into the locals' art and craft talents. The ostrich farm is a peculiar attraction of the town.

The water mill from the 18th century at the bank of the river Túr in Túristvándi is a rarity with its three bottom wheels.

Another valuable industrial monument is the shingle-roofed mill in Tarpa village which was driven by horses.

Apart from the puszta at Hortobágy some other natural treasures in the area that should be included in yout to-be-visit list are:

  • The arboretum at Tiszakürt has awesome, ancient trees like the sycamore tree the trunk of which reaches 6 m in diameter.

  • The Dédai forrest at the border of Beregdaróc

  • In the Lónyai and in the Bockereki forrests live the most Vipera berus snakes the woodeed areas are also favourite nesting places of black storks.

  • At Kisar is Europes largest floodpalin fruit garden with indigenous plum, apple, and walnut trees.

  • The sandy beaches at the bank of Tisza and the Atlantika Water Theme Park in Gergelyiugornya near Vásárosnamény offer fun and relaxaiton for young and adult alike.

Cultural, sport and gastronomic programs of the Tisza Party, the most outstanding event of the Upper Tisza area, provide for enetertainment for the whole summer: concerts, folk shows, volleyball championships, and sand castle building competitions welcome the adventurous tourists.

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Thermal Baths in the Northern Great Plain

Just like other parts of Hungary the northern part of the great plain also abounds in thermal springs that feed the numerous medicinal baths and spas in the settlements of the area.

Many of the spas and the treatments offered gained reputation all over the world. The curative waters are beneficial for rheumatic problems, arthritis, gynaecological problems and they're also a source of relaxation. The themal baths almost always have pools for the little ones and other amenities for kids so the whole family can have a stressfree time.

  • The medicinal water with alcali-hydrogen carbonate and chloride content in Cserkeszőlő and the medical centre based on the benefits of the water became world famous.

  • Hajdúszoboszló has developed into a bath capital of the Northern Great Plain where you can cure your aching joints or just relax. Besides the numerous thermal hotels, the Aquapark attracts the most visitors where a lighthouse, a pirate ship, sandy beach with palm trees create an unforgettable setting for water fanatics who can enjoy countless slides funbath facilities. Many programs cater for the enetertainment of the tourists: Bio food and Wine Festival.

  • The Aquatica of Debrecen is a real Mediterranean island in the Nagyerdő area. It also has thermal and medicinal complex with a huge variety of treatments and packages.

  • The Aquarius Aquapark at Nyíregyháza-Sóstó is a new bath complex with countless fun elements, wellness and health care services.

  • You can ease your rheumatic pains at the mdedicinal and thermal bath in Túrkeve a town in the miidle of the great plain.

  • Mezőtúr besides its pottery traditions has a thermal bath and swimming pool.

  • The thermal bath in Balmazújváros is open throughout the year.

  • Combine a bathing in the thermal baths of Püspökladány with visiting the Farkassiget arboretum which is part of the Hortobágy National Park.

  • You can ahve a nice bath experience at the serene and beautiful Tiszaliget in Szolnok where reconstructed thermal pools and beach with funbath elements welcome visitors.

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Gastronomy & Wines of Northern Great Plain

The Northern Great Plain abounds in delicious fruits and vegetables that cannot be compared to produce grown in green houses. Pálinka authentic Hungarian fruit brandy is made from the fragrant Szatmári plum, and from apple in Szabolcs.

The thick, dark Szabolcsi plum jam is made in tradtitional way, cooked in large cauldrons for a day while constantly stirring to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. It's not like some industrial made, jelly-like, stuff with very little fruit content but high on sugar, plum jam from Szabolcs is a real stuff that perfect for filling pastries because it won't leak from the pastry during baking.

Aranygaluska Szilvalekvárral)

Golden dumpling (aranygaluska with plum jam filling

While in Szabolcs taste their traditional potato meal called cinke: boiled potatoes mixed with some flour than baked in oven and served with sheep cheese flavoured with chopped dill, or with fried onions.

The Hortobágy is the place to have authentic Hungarian gulyás or mutton stew where herdsmen created this simple, tasty dishes in cast iron kettles hung above open fire (bogrács in Hungarian), when they were out on the meadows looking after the herd.

Hortobágyi palacsinta a savoury pancake filled with some kind of paprikás stew and topped with paprika sauce is a famous appetizer of the Hungarian cuisine and no better to place to taste it than in its homeland after wich the meal received its name.
Every road-side inn (called csárda in our language) has these traditional dishes on their menus. The csárdá-s were established every 10-12 kms along the main commercial road called sóút (salt road) in the 17th century to offer food and room for the travellers and merchants.

Some of the csárdas still welcome visitors with traditional interior and tasty food: the Patkós csárda near Tiszafüred along the No. 33 main road leading to the heart of Hortobágy, the Hortobágy csárda at the visitor centre in Hortobágy village next tot he Nine-Arch Bridge, or the Kaparó csárda at Nagyiván.

Hungarian Stew in kettle (bogrács)

Raised pastries like milk loaves (called kalács in Hungarian) have a greta tradition in the region's gastronomy. Kürtös kalács, a hollow, cylinder shaped pastry fried in open fire and coated with ground walnut or cinnamon is a characteristic sweet dish.

Kürtös kalács

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Regions Nearby Northern Great Plain

Lake Tisza

Northern Hungary

Southern Great Plain


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