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HUNGARY

DECODED BY NATIVES
 

Northern Hungary (Észak-Magyarország)

In Northern Hungary you'll find:

  • wildly beautiful landscapes dominated by the forested ridges of the Northern Mountain range,

  • with quaint villages nestling in the valleys,

  • crumbling fortresses,

  • stately castles,

  • divine wines, and

  • delicious food.
Northern Hungary landscape Tokaj Town Life Sárospatak castle



My dream holiday in Hungary would be a combination of a historic and cultural sightseeing tour with active recreation (hiking, horse riding, mountainbiking) in Northern Hungary, including wine tasting in its famous wine regions.

What else do you need for a perfect vacation?

Three major rivers of the area: the Tisza, the Bodrog and the Hernád provide plenty of opportunity for angling and kayaking.

Map of Northern Hungary
World Heritage Sites
Historic & Cultural Sights
Spas & Baths
Active Recreation
Wines & Gastronomy in Norhtern Hungary

Map of Northern Hungary

Three counties lie in Northern Hungary: Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén, Heves and part of Nógrád county

 


If you want to have a good bird's eye view of the region climb up the highest peak of Hungary, Kékestető (1014 m) or the second highest Galyatető (964 m) in the Mátra Hill.

World Heritage Sites in Northern Hungary

Cave at Aggtelek Church at Hollókő Tokaj Hill Hungary

The natural beauties and treasures of northern Hungary convinced the UNESCO to add three areas to the list of World Heritage Sites:

  • the Baradla Cave system at Aggtelek next to the Slovak border,

  • the small village of Hollókő in the Cserhát Hill which was the first village included in the World Heritage program in 1987, is a living museum of folk art and traditions.

  • the Tokaj Wine Region home of the world famous dessert wine the Tokaji Aszú

 

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Historic & Cultural Attractions in Northern Hungary

Northern Hungary played an important role in Hungary's tumultous history. Its settlements witnessed many attacks, fights, victories, devastations and reconstructions.

First the Mongols raided the area in 1241-42. The Mongols defeated the Hungarian army lead by King Béla IV at Muhi, naer Miskolc. The king and the survivors of the battle found refuges in the mountains and later built stone fortresses there.

Eger Cityscape

After the Hungarian army had suffered a shuttering defeat from the Turkish army at Mohács in 1526, northern Hungary came under Austrian- Habsburg rule.

The Turks launched several attacks against settlements in Northern Hungary, the most famous of which was the siege of Eger in 1552. The castle dominates the baroque inner city of Eger but it has many other attractions.




The fortress ruins sitting atop mountain peaks of Cserhát, Mátra, Bükk, and Zemplén Hills, the old churches and castles, city parts with historic buildings all evoke the atmoshpere of times long gone.


Nógrád castle


Northern Hungary was home to many outstanding Hungarian politicans, poets, writers. István Bocskai was elected ruling prince of Hungary in Szerencs in 1605.

The Rákóczi family owned the Zemplén area with Sárospatak as its centre. Their castle is a fine example of late-Renaissance architecture in Hungary.

Lajos Kossuth an eminent figure of the Reform Era in 19th century and Hungary's president in the 1848-49 War oof independence against the Habsburg rule was born in Monok near Szerencs.

Wonderful tourist attractions surround, Miskolc the industrial centre of Northern Hungary. The four-towered Castle of Diósgyőr built in the 14th-15th century and once a wedding premise of many Hungarian qeens hosts historc days every August. You can relax within a serene and beautiful natural environment at Lillafüred or have a bath at a magnificent cave bath in Miskolctapolca.

Sátoraljaújhely famous for its medieval monastery, wine cellars and monuments related to Lajos Kossuth.

In the picturesque small village of Hollóháza, the northernmost settlement of Hungary are made the fine Hollóházi porcelains.

Hatvan on the bank of the river Zagyva isa significant centre of nrthern Hungary's economy and transportation.

Folk Art

Hollókő Woman in Folk Costume

Woman in Folk Costume in Hollókő village



Two major ethnic groups have maintained their rich folk traditions in the northern part of Hungary. At Mezőkövesd and in the two nearby villages in Tard and in Szentistván live the matyó-s. The matyó have been faithful to their Catholic religion within a Protestant environment. You can see colourful matyó embroideries in the Jankó Bori House in Mezőkövesd.


Mezőkövesd Matyó


Vizsoly guards one of the most important relics of Hungarian literature and the Catholic religion: the first printed version of the Bible in Hungarian, translated by Gáspár Karoli

The palóc people living mainly in Nógrád county can be recognised about their strange dialect. Visit The Palóc Museum in Balassagyarmat to learn about the traditions and folk art of the palóc people. Other unique collectiin is exhibited in a 200-year old Palóc House in Parád.

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Spas & Baths of Northern Hungary

Although Northern Hungary hasn't got as many thermal baths and spas than other regions of the country you can still find numerous places with curative waters and baths.

Egerszalók Thermal Spring Miskolctapolca Cave Bath  



  • I'm sure you'll have one of your most unforgettable bath experience in the Cave-Bath in Miskolctapolca. The crystal-clear air and the vapor of the medicinal water are good for respiratoty problems. An open-air pool and a lake for rowing offer other activities for a long weekend getaway.

  • Zsóry Spa complex near Mezőkövesd has several indoor and outdoor pools with medicinal water benefitial for rheumatic and arthritis problems.

  • Downtown Eger has two great baths the newly reconstructed Thermal Bath and Turkish bath next to it.

  • You can enjoy the benefits of Salvus water in three pool in Bükkszék at the foot of the Bükk Hills. As a drinking water Salvus relieves the symtomps of reflux and stomach ulcer.

  • Bogács is another small vilalge with thermal baths in the Bükk Hills.


  • At Mátraderecske you can try the dry bath called Mofetta which consists of a medicinal gas with high carbon-dioxide content.

  • The water at Parádfürdő good for gynaeological problems while the medicimal water of Parádsasvár can help soothe stomach and respiratory problems and it's also good for hangover.

  • A rare thermal spring-bath in Egerszalók near Eger offers a recreation within the stunning environment of forested hills.

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Active Recreation in Northern Hungary

God created northern Hungary to the delight of nature-lovers and hikers.

Explore the hills of Cserhát, Mátra, Bükk and Zemplén either by foot or by bycicle. The rapidly developing rural tourism offers wonderful guesthouses for accommodation. The three rivers flowing in northern Hungary the Tisza, Bodrog and Hernád and some smaller but cleaner streams offer a

Three National Parks safeguard the national beauties of the area:


Aggtelek Cave System
  • the Aggtelek National Park where the Aggtelek cave system, also a World Heritage site, runs with its magical limestone formations.
  • Not only the underground but the surface too has some delights for tourists: marked hiking paths, horse riding, visit to the so-called hucul pony studs
  • prehistoric men lived in the caves of the Bükk National Park, in the Subalyuk cave, Szeleta cave and in the Istállós-kő cave.

The most scenic route winds along the Szalajka Valley where you can admire the so-called Fátyol Waterfall. you can get there by narrow-gauge railway from Szilvásvárad.

  • part of the Duna-Ipoly National Park also lies in northern Hungary

Village tourism attracts more and more visitors every year. The clean air, unique folk arts and crafts, tasty local food can revive every tired city dweller.

Hejce in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county has an art and craft shop every summer.

Small villages nestle in the Bükk Hills like Cserépfalu, and Bükkzsérc.

Lillafüred on the bank of the Hámori Lake

Szilvásvárad is a very popular holiday resort. The narrow-gauge railway takes you there from Miskolc.

You can admire the beautiful panorama form highest point of Hungary at Kékestető in the Mátra Hills.

Kids will enjoy a ride to the forest of the Bükk Hills on the narrow-gauge railway departing from Felsőtárkány.

People carved complete apartments and cellars in the soft rhyolit-tufa rocks at Noszvaj near Eger.


Noszvaj Cave Apartments


The best opportunities for winter sports can be found in the Mátra and in the Bükk Hills in whole Hungary. Mátraalmás boasts the only ski runner course in the country. The most popular ski slopes are at Kékestető and Galyatető.

The longest ski course is in the Zemplén and you can get there by ski lift form Sátoraljaújhely.

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Wines & Gastronomy of Northern Hungary

No other region of Hungary offer such varied wines in character than Northern Hungary: from sweet dessert wines and light dry whites to full-bodied reds you'll find something to your taste.

Wine Regions

Northern Hungary has four wine regions two of which are world-famous.

  • Tokaj Wine Region

Many international wine experts consider the sweet, honey-like dessert wine of Tokaj, the aszú to be among the top 3 wines in the world.

Wines produced her deserve the title the "King of Wines, Wines of Kings" (the French King Louis IV praised Tokaji Aszú with this title) because many royal families around the world kept and still keep a couple of Tokaji Aszú bottles in their cellars.

Other wines and varieties grown in the Tokaj region include Szamorodni, Yellow Muscat, Furmint and H árslevelű (Linden-leaf) .

  • Eger Wine Region

The best-known wine of Eger is the ruby-red Bull's Blood. According to the story the soldiers of Eger castle drank this red wine which was dripping down their beards and the Turks thought it was bool's blood. They contributed the heroic strength and fight of the Hungarian soldiers to the dark red wine.

Some excellent whites also worth tasting: Leányka, Királyleányka, Muscatel.


Thummerer Winery Noszvaj

The Thummerer Winery is another great place to taste wines of Eger.


To enjoy wines of Eger and a beautiful landscape visit the cellars in Szépasszony völgy (Valley of Beautiful Woman). Private cellars offer their wines and you can have tasty food in the restaurants.

  • Bükkalja Wine Region

Althugh Bükkalja Wine region is lesser known than other wine producing areas of Hungary some nice white wines with fiery character are produced here.

Visit some of the cellars cut into the soft, rhyolit-tufa rocks of the Bükk Hills to sample the local wines.

Main grape varieties : Italian riesling, Leányka, Cserszegi Fűszeres

  • Mátra Wine Region

On the slopes of the Mátra Hill mainly white varieties are grown: Olaszrizling, Rieslingsilvani, Szürkebarát, Sauvignon Blanc, Hárslevelű, Tramini, Leámyka, Muscat Ottonel. Nagyréde is noted for its fresh frutiy wines which you can taste during the Open Cellars Days (Nyitott Pincék Napja) , on 28th April 2007. The Gyöngyös Wine Days (28th May 2007) is another great event where you can taste the local wines.

In Gyöngyöspata you'll find cellars carved into the tufa and rock.

 

For something stronger than wine have a shot apricot brandy from Gönc (gönci barackpálinka).

Gastronomy

Village people used to have only a few ingredients to cook with: flour, potato, onions, lard and a few spieces and herbs, still they managed to make dishes that were far more delicious and nutritious thna today's fast food.

To have a taste of local quisine visit some of the gastromomic festivals in the region:

  • Trout & Wine Festival at Szilvásvárad, 7th-8th July 2007

The tastiest trouts live in the clear water of the Szalajka stream which is a local speciality on restaurant menues made in different ways: grilled, roasted.

If you're in Palócland taste their most characteristic dish the Sztrapacska which is potatoe gnocchi sheep curd and bacon cracklings. Potato cake (tócsni) is a nice snack with a glass of dry wine.

At the Tócsni Festival in Bátonyterenye you can have a taste of this savoury snack in the park of an 18th century Castle (Gyürky-Solymossy Kastély)

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Regions Nearby Northern Hungary

Lake Tisza

Northern Great Plain

Southern Great Plain

Danube Bend

 

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