Tourism is back on track – best destinations besides Budapest and Balaton
Following the onset of the coronavirus epidemic, the Hungarian government made rebooting tourism a paramount goal. And Hungary offers much more than Budapest and Lake Balaton!
To avoid the collapse of the tourism sector due to the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced on April 6 a five-point economy protection action plan. Under its third point, the government provided HUF 600 billion (later extended by another HUF 150 billion) for, among other things, developments in tourism, investments, reconstructions and tax exemptions, all aimed at helping the sector, which employs some 400,000 people and generates more than 10 percent of the country’s GDP.
As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to rise in many countries, in Hungary the number of active infections keeps stagnating between 500 and 600 and with proper care and adherence to the epidemiological rules, it is fortunately safe to travel in Hungary.
But Hungary is more than just Budapest and Lake Balaton (known also simply as “Balaton”)! Here below, we cover some of the best places to visit.
If you like to be around water during the summer, there are plenty of spots you can visit in Hungary. For example, Lake Hévíz, Hungary’s unique warm-water lake, is the second largest thermal lake in the world, thanks to which the settlement is one of the number one tourist destinations in Hungary. The lake’s healing effect is said to have been known even to the Romans. Or if you prefer more than just swimming, visit Szigetköz, the biggest island of the country, where you can go on kayak tours and see fascinating flora and fauna. Another special experience is offered by Miskolctapolca with its unique cave bath, hollowed out from hard limestone by water through the millennia, giving an unparalleled experience to bathe in a natural indoor swimming pool, complete with thermal water at a pleasant temperature coming from the depths of the mountain.
For tourists who are more into natural heritage and nature, Hungary has plenty of opportunities. The Nyíregyháza Zoo has more than 5,000 animals from 500 different species, presenting the ecological environment in the eastern, less developed region of Hungary. One of the largest animal parks in Europe, it hosts animal lovers in a beautiful oak forest. A different experience can be found in Hortobágy and its surrounding national park. The cultural landscape of the Hortobágy Puszta consists of a vast area of plains and wetlands and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Traditional forms of land use, such as the grazing of domestic animals, have been present in this pastoral society for more than two millennia. For bird lovers, the best choice is Kis-Balaton, which until the 19th century was actually connected to Lake Balaton. Kis-Balaton has such a significant range of flora and fauna that its natural treasures are protected under the Ramsar Convention.
Last but not least, for anybody who is interested in culture and sightseeing, Hungary has a long list of fascinating cities. Pécs awaits visitors with a historical and cultural heritage from the time of the Turkish occupation and with the Zsolnay Quarter presenting the world’s finest porcelain manufacturer. Sopron, Civitas Fidelissima (“The Most Loyal Town”), is a gem at the Austrian border in the northwestern corner of Hungary, with its Renaissance and Baroque architecture, excellent wines and a calm atmosphere. Szeged, meanwhile, is a Mediterranean jewel on the shore of the Tisza River with a vivid student life, elegant boulevards and astonishing monuments – not to mention its famous fish soup.