Thursday, May 9, 2013

Travelling to Debrecen in Hungary

By Jonny Blair

Debrecen is the second largest city in Hungary, after the capital of Budapest and believe it or not it is not so popular with tourists. That aside, I checked it out and loved it. Here are 5 top things to see and do in Debrecen in Hungary to prove it's a great spot for tourists, and slightly off the beaten track too!

What to do in Debrecen?

This is a top 5.

1. Head to the top of the Yellow Church

This sparkling yellow church known as the Nagytemplom is the most striking sight in the city. It is the city's centre piece and focal point. It's unmissable to be honest and it sits in front of the main square where trams take you back in time 20 years. Debrecen hasn't got caught up in the commercial world quite yet. Shopping Malls are on the increase, but it was pleasing that the church is the most popular sight. You can pay to go up to the top for a great view over the city and it's sprawling suburbs. It's worth it. Only one of the two towers was open to the public when I went. The Nagytemplom is also referred to as "The Great Church" in English, and the locals also refer to a smaller church on the main street nearby as "The Little Church".

2. Watch Debreceni VSC!

Loki are the local team in Debrecen and they have won the Hungarian League 6 times in the last 10 years so they are a good team to watch. The stadium might be hard to find but a trip there is worth it. The local fans are proud and they make some noise! Hungary were twice the runner up team in World Cup Finals.

3. Drink with the locals near the square

Hungarians like to drink beer. In summer months, the square and the main streets in Debrecen are alive with outdoor beer bars. The Bakelit Music Cafe is one to note down and the non descript beer gardens are much better than you'd ever believe. Hungarian beer is top notch.

4. Head to the Theatre

The theatre is recommended - it's the Csokonai Theatre in Debrecen which is famous worldwide. Recent performers such as Noemi Linzenbold have danced away there. It's a top place to watch an opera too. There is always something going on.

The famous poet from Hungary grew up in Debrecen and his statue sits in the main square here - the theatre is also named after him.

5. Head on a tram to the University

To get away from the city centre, head to the University on the outskirts. Get a tram out there and take in the wonderful architecture while relaxing by the lake.

One final thing to do:

The Deri Museum - although hardly the most exciting museum of all time, it's a good way to pass an hour or two to get the history on Debrecen and Hungary.

Getting there, to Debrecen:

Most of the tourists will be visiting from Budapest by train or bus. But another option is coming in from Romania as you are close to the border.

Head to Budapest and then on to Debrecen and you have seen a good mix of Hungarian city life.

Where to stay in Debrecen:

Now I was there with a local girl so I stayed with her family in a wonderful tower block on the edge of the city. But there are lots of decent hostels and hotels to choose from.

Some odd facts about the city of Debrecen:

- It was once manned by the Romanian army after World War 1

- Debrecen used to be the capital of Hungary!

Food and drink in Debrecen:

The Hungarian Paprika Chicken is outstanding and the cream chocolate cheese bars called Turo Rudis are very unusual and local.

Reasons for visiting Debrecen?

It's a real tourist gem which is unknown so worth seeing. My ex-girlfriend took me there so I got a local experience but head on your own and you will love it!

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