An introduction to Walking in Hungary
Country - Hungary
Author - Walk in Hungary
Hungarians have a natural love for the outdoors. They love to cook outside, they enjoy the outdoor thermal spas and not surprisingly, given the varied terrain of their country they love to walk.
In fact Hungary is home to a large part of the European Blue walking trail, E4. Here in Hungary it is known as the Country wide Blue tour, or the Országos Kéktúra and it visits some of the most beautiful natural and man-made sights of Hungary. This includes more than a dozen forts and castles, lookout towers, three World Heritage Sites, Lake Balaton, the Danube Bend, and the spent volcanoes of the Basin of Tapolca. It is 1128.2 km in length and the total elevation change (ascent) was found to be 30,213 metres in a West-East direction over the whole route.
The Countrywide Blue Tour was the first long distance walking route in the whole of Europe. Its path was first signed in1938, and back then its length was 910 km. During the 1980's Hungarian TV broadcast a series about the route of the Tour and from that it gained its popularity and since then the tour has been been well known, especially within Hungary. It is possible to obtain a badge upon completion of the Country wide Blue tour but you will need to have stamps to prove it. There are 147 checkpoints (stamping places) on the route of the Blue Tour.
The route of the Blue Tour begins on the top of the Irottk Mountain (884 m) at the foot of the lookout tower exactly on the Austrian-Hungarian boundary and continues in a north easterly direction passing through the Highlands of Balaton, the Bakony Mountains, Vértes Mountains and the Gerecse Hilly Country, Börzsöny Mountains and Hilly Country of Cserhát, Mátra Mountains, B*uuml;kk Mountains and the Hilly Country of Aggtelek, and finally the Hilly Country of Cserehát and the Mountains of Zemplén.
You may find the booklet Országos Kéktúra, útonanvázlat és igazoló füzet useful if you decide to do this trail. However paths are usually well marked and are shown by a simple horizontal blue stripe on a white background. Please do bear in mind that the markings are looked after by a group of voluntary activists who made and who also take care of the trail.
Of course there are many other areas worth visiting and there are several National Parks within Hungary, all unique in their own way. Heading up to the North of Hungary you will find the Bükk National Park famed for its stunning panormas, wild flowers, birds and butterflies. It is also home to more than 800 caves and offers hundreds of trails criss crossing through the entire park, many of which can be done by walking, cycling or on horseback. Aggtelek lies further to the North and on the border with Slovakia, in fact part of the underground cave system lies in Slovakia and it is possible to eneter the caves form either Slovakia or Hungary.
When walking in Hungary you will find most of the local people are only to happy to try and help, offer you words of advice or indeed a "palinka" (brandy) to help you on your way but you will find that many of the older generation don't speak English. However many of the younger generations will be only to happy to try out their language skills on you. Food is extremly cheap, if you buy typical Hungarian foods such as a langos (a type of savory doughnut) it will cost about £0.30, dining in a restaurant will cost about £2 for a soup and around £3 to £4 for a main course. Eating in and around the capital, Budapest, will of course be much more expensive.
Typical prices for accommodation (again not in the capital) will set you back around £25 for a double room in a bed and breakfast but there are options such as sleeping in caves (with basic facilities) in the Bükk National Park which cost only £2.
More information on walking in northern Hungary can be found at www.walkinhungary.com
French IGN mapping is available in digital format by area and 'cut your own' maps. For more information and availabilty go to the Anquet website.
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