The City of Debrecen is the gateway to Eastern Hungary in-part due to its location, population and status as the second largest city in Hungary. For a time Debrecen was even the capital of Hungary, an event still celebrated each year in February.
It is also because of the fact that besides Budapest International Airport, Debrecen Airport is the only other international airport in Hungary.
There is much to see and do if visiting Debrecen, but if you want to experience a wider cross section of life and attraction, or if your stay has come to an end and your journey takes you away towards Ukraine, Slovakia or Romania then you should take note that some of the most picturesque villages in Hungary lie between Debrecen and the surrounding countries. This region is an area known as the Northern Great Plain region of Eastern Hungary. Be sure to allocate several extra days to visit some of the sights listed below before crossing into one of the surrounding countries. Or if staying in Debrecen, why not take a bus sightseeing excursion and experience the gastronomic delights and sensations of Eastern Hungary.
Cégénydányád Has One of The Most Beautiful Castles in Hungary
In 2015 Kölcsey-Kende Castle reopened its gates after Hortobágy National Park bought the house and surrounding land. It is certainly one of the most beautiful castles in Hungary, happily situated in the idyllic village of Cégénydányád, in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg county, located in an area known as the Northern Great Plain region of Eastern Hungary. The castle was built by the Kende family in 1833, and it became known as a monument and regional landmark, not just for the building but also for its gardens, populated by a wide range of exotic plants.
Csaroda: You can Admire a 700-years Old Church
The small peaceful village principle claim to fame is the “Church of the Smiling Saints” a 700-year-old Medieval of Csaroda’s Romanesque Church and wooden bell tower. Later during the 14 century Gothic frescos were added, and in the 17 century, paintings and wooden carvings were added. The confluence of history means that today the church is considered one of the most beautiful in Hungary, and as such it is well worth a visit. The town of Csaroda is situated close to the Ukraine border and as such is frequently visited by those travelling between the two countries.
Szatmárcseke: The Home of Ferenc Kölcsey
Szatmárcseke is another village in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg county, is throw from the Ukrainian border, situated south west of Csaroda (mentioned above). The small village was made famous because of who was buried in the local cemetery, the famous poet and literary critic Ferenc Kölcsey. He also wrote Himnusz the Hungarian national anthem in 1823. Today his tomb is a tourist destination, and the cemetery, has been a declared a protected monument (since 1973). It is also of particular interest because of the way graves were marked. Some 600 graves are carved from dark oak in the shape of upturned boats bearing human-like faces, the reason and meaning for this unusual practice have been lost to time, despite this the practice is still carried out today.
Egerszalók: Open-Air Spa and Famous Wines
Located to the North West of Debrecen towards Slovakia is Heves County and a village called Egerszalók, proudly situated close to the city of Eger. Egerszalók, is famous for its open-air spa which is surrounded by fruit and pine trees. The village Springs are fed by an aquifer located beneath the Mátra Mountains and it provides insanely hot 68°C volcanic mineral water. The village is located within one of Hungary’s famous wine regions and consequently its well worth sampling the unique local variety of wine known as “Egri Bikavér” which translates to Bulls Blood. Egri Bikavér is an internationally recognised as quality wine which is only produced in the Egri region. The village is also well known for its “cave houses” built during the 17th Century.
Like Egerszalók, Noszvaj lies North West of Debrecen in Heves County, in fact the two villages are only a 25 minute drive apart. Similarly, Noszvaj is also known for its cave houses, but since 1997 these cave houses are maintained by the the Farkaskő Noszvaji Cave Artist Association and are filled with the works of Hungarian sculptors and painters, creating a very unique space. There is also a castle in the village called the De La Motte palace which is also worth seeing however with only 5 rooms open to the public, it does not take long complete. The building suffered great damage during the second world war.
New Wizz Air airplane (Photo: Józsa István, via Debrecen Airport)