Home Uncategorized Why we chose Nyiregyhaza, Hungary for our summer vacation.

Why we chose Nyiregyhaza, Hungary for our summer vacation.

by Roberto
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Where I hear you say? Nyiregyhaza is a small city in Hungary’s east of around 200,000 people. It’s hardly on the tourist trail. But it’s where Beata calls home, and has now in turn become a second home for me too. However this city has its merits. From its architectural centre, to the huge leisure area known as Nyíregyháza-Sóstó just outside, it may just surprise you. It has also served as a good base for us to explore the lesser seen side of Hungary.

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How to get to Nyiregyhaza

Nyiregyhaza is served by the train service from Budapest-Keleti train station which is located in Pest. It’s a relatively direct trip and takes just over three hours. Tickets should be bought at the station before boarding the train.

We opted to rent a car from Budapest Airport. The process was relatively straightforward, we booked through Rentalcars.com where prices are generally fairly competitive and were met in the arrivals by a representative of U-save who whisked us off to their office. In a holiday already blessed by upgrades, we were now upgraded from a Citroen C-3 to a Suzuki SUV, which was a pleasure to drive. When booking a car in Hungary make sure you take the Highway tag, as driving on the motorway without one will earn you a healthy fine.

The route across Hungary took around three hours. I lamented the month of my visit, there were many sunflower fields scattered across the country but they were now past the ripe stage and had wilted. The trip would surely have taken much longer in an earlier month as I would have left the motorway in search of photos. It’s an extraordinarily flat country with only a few distant hills to the north visible for the whole 230 km journey. Corn seems to be the most planted crop and the fields were alive with harvesters.

So why Nyiregyhaza?

Like yourselves perhaps, it was a city I never heard of until five years ago. Until the day I met Beata that is, as this is her home city. The prospect of bed and board in a foreign country is one of the perks of finding love with a foreign national. So Nyiregyhaza has become my home away from home. We travelled to the prospect of good home cooking by our host, Beata’s mom. Hungarian cuisine is heavy on the stomach but also heavy on the meat. Surely it’s not a cuisine for vegetarians.

Where we stayed and where you should

We arrived at around 7 pm in Nyiregyhaza and spent the evening settling in at Beata’s home and enjoying some of that home cooking, some oven cooked pork was prepared that night.

Nyiregyhaza as earlier stated wouldn’t be the most tourist of destinations. The east of Hungary lags somewhat behind the polish of Budapest or the Balaton. The best of its hotels probably lies in the Sosto area north of the city. The recently renovated Hotel Aventinus and the newly opened Pangea hotel give good access to the plethora of amenities nearby. See all accommodations here at Booking.com.


What to do in Nyiregyhaza

Over the course of our holiday we spent several days in and around the city. The city centre is very compact and certainly isn’t a shoppers paradise despite the presence of a mall and weekly markets. It has in spite of this an attractive centre with broad squares and a good number of buildings constructed during an architectural movement at the end of the 19th century. To the north of the city, the Nyíregyháza-Sóstó or Sostogyogyfurdo area is the city’s main attraction.


Squares and Architecture of Nyiregyhaza

Nyriregyhaza’s main square Kossuth Square, which is called after Kossuth Lajos, the Hungarian leader during the revolution of the 1840’s. The paved square is tree-lined and has most of the city’s beautiful buildings. The arcaded City Hall takes centre place on the square on the square with a statue of Kossuth Lajos to the front. However more impressive is the Savings Palace which was constructed in 1912. It now hosts the OTP Bank. The ceiling is a beautiful coloured glass dome, which can be seen, but you do need to pretend you are a customer. Don’t get caught taken photos or you will attract the attention of the angry guard. Across the street is the Korona Hotel, whose interior has fallen into disrepair, but maintains its wonderful frontage of the 1890’s.

Town Hall in Nyiregyhaza
City Hall
Corona Hotel in Nyiregyhaza
Corona Hotel
Savings Bank in Nyiregyhaza
National Savings Bank

On the far side of the square a fountain known as the Three Graces depicts three ladies taking a bath, and is an iconic image in the city. It was constructed in bronze by Tibor Borbas.

Three Graces Fountain in Nyiregyhaza

Continuing beyond here we came across the Jose Andras Museum. this museum contains many relics of the city and the surrounding countryside of the county of Szabolcs. Admission is 1000 HUF into the museum and it is only moderately interesting with no information in English.

Josa Andras Muzeum in Nyiregyhaza

Back in the centre Hosok Tere (Heroes Square) is a beautiful colourful area with flower beds and monuments surrounded by some eclectic buildings. A monument to World War I, strangely depicts a soldier fighting a dragon but it’s a beautiful bit of sculpture. The squares main building is the County Hall which has a wonderful bright yellow facade.

Heroes Square in Nyiregyhaza
County Hall in Nyiregyhaza
County Hall

Churches of Nyiregyhaza

I love the churches of Hungary. Their steeples are so different from the cold grey stone that I see in Ireland. Nyiregyhaza doesn’t disappoint and with a number of religions vying for the population’s beliefs there are indeed many to see.
The most imposing of these is the Roman Catholic Church, with its red brick twin steeples. It is located on Kossuth Square. The interior is arranged in three naves and its worth visiting to see the rostrum. Admission is free during open hours.

Roman Catholic Church in Nyiregyhaza
Roman Catholic Church

There are a number of other noteworthy churches within the city, but opening times are a problem, and it’s difficult to see their interiors. They are usually only open during mass times. Three other churches that are also worth the effort to see the exterior are the Evangalist Church on Luther Square which was consecrated in 1786, the Reformed Church from 1882 on Kalvin Square, and the Greek Catholic Church from 1895. This is on Bethlen Gabor Street, and after trying my luck I was able to visit one morning. There is only a limited view of the interior behind a glass wall, but the decoration is very byzantine, with ceiling frescoes. It was definitely worth the visit.

Evangalist Church on Luther Square Nyiregyhaza
Evangalist Church on Luther Square
Reformed Church in Nyiregyhaza
Reformed Church on Kalvin Square

For more on what Nyiregyhaza has to offer the towns website is a good source.


Nyíregyháza-Sóstó

We also took several trips out to the Sostogyogyfurdo area north of the city. This is a complex located within an oak tree forest and was to be the principal focus of our attention. It’s actually the city’s main attraction. The complex is built around a lake and its main pulling point is the thermal waters that now heat the pools of the Aquarius Experience and Park Bath.

With waters naturally heated up to 36 degrees, the area has attracted patrons seeking its healing abilities since the 16th century. It slowly evolved and is now a sprawling area consisting of innumerable indoor and outdoor pools, including a host of eateries, and also where Nina and I would spend several days, an excellent water park. The addition of a zoo, an open-air museum, hotels, and restaurants have further enhanced the area. Bus number 8 from Nyiregyhaza railway station serves the Sosto area.


Aquarius Experience and Park Bath

This sprawling area covers 1.7 hectares on the banks of a lake. Admission to Aquarius Eperience is currently 4500 HUF for adults and children over six, with a discount for locals. Sounds like a lot until you convert it. At the time it was just €31 for three of us to visit. The sheer volume of things to do convinces you of a bargain, and there really is enough to keep you entertained for the day. It caters for those who want to sunbathe with a large outdoor area, and four outdoor pools that I could count, 3 indoor, numerous spa facilities, and a plethora of both indoor and outdoor water slides and wave pools. The thermal pools were particularly relaxing.

We met Beata’s friend Klarie here with her boyfriend and his kid (whose names I lost along the way). I played the part of adventurous dad, making full use of the torrent pool, wave machine and water slides. Great opportunity to use my action cam too and release my inner child.

Nyíregyháza-Sóstó
Nyíregyháza-Sóstó

There is a good selection of food options available here too, from the interior restaurant to a vast selection of stalls selling fast food. We opted for langos on the days we were here. Its a local speciality of deep-fried dough best served with cheese and sour cream. It’s one of my favourite options in Hungary. Healthy? God no, but delicious. Lunch options were all priced around the 700 HUF mark. You can’t go wrong with a €2 lunch.

Nyiregyhaza Zoo

Locally it is believed that this zoo is the best in Hungary and it is a source of great pride. It’s an amalgamation of a zoo and an aquarium, and so there is a great variety for your hard-earned cash. Admission for adults is 3900 HUF and for little adults, its 2600 HUF (correct for Summer 2020. The zoo maintains opening hours for daylight times.

As one would expect the zoo presents animals from all corners of the earth and is organised respectively. It’s a large area and a walk to see all takes half a day. It had some great highlights, there were live shows featuring parrots and seals which are presented in Hungarian, but the animals are the star of the show so it’s not a deterrent. Large water tanks allow penguins, sea lions, and polar bears more freedom, and underwater viewing decks allow us to see them at their most natural.


The indoor water tanks have the same feature with a huge tunnel carved through it. Sharks swim within metres of your head and they are such an imposing sight. It’s surely the most awesome image within the park.

Nyíregyháza-Sóstó
Sharks!!!!!!!
Nyíregyháza-Sóstó

Through the rest of the zoo, the different varietals of monkeys always entertain and remind us of how genetically similar we are.

The most endearing of all the animals was a two-month-old elephant. The idea of captivity had no bearing on him, and his playful antics drew a large crowd.

Nyíregyháza-Sóstó Zoo

Sosto Open Air Museum

The Sosto Museum is a recreation of a Hungarian village atmosphere of the 19th century. The museum contains a full village from houses, farm buildings, a church, a school through all the different facilities available to the lower class of the day. The interiors are faithfully recreated and all the buildings can be visited both out and in. It’s a great way to spend an hour or so when in the area, and there is a sizeable number of buildings to visit. The same construction materials and techniques were used in bygone times. A wooden bell tower of a church was also built and this was the highlight for me.

Nyíregyháza-Sóstó
Wooden church bell tower – I love the design of these
Nyíregyháza-Sóstó
Thatched covered animal buildings
Nyíregyháza-Sóstó
A fantastic wooden barn
Nyíregyháza-Sóstó
Thatched Buildings

Where to eat

We enjoyed the benefit of good home cooking for the duration of our trip. Our delicious meals included husleves, oven roasted pork, porkolt with nokedli, and lecso. I am a big fan of trying the cuisine of where I visit as much as the culture. Hungarian cuisine doesn’t try to be aesthetic on the plate and focuses more on the palate. Trying to introduce my daughter Nina to it was challenging but at the end worthwhile, as she discovered often to her surprise that she liked it.

We also ate out on a few occasions and the food was of a good standard. We can certainly recommend Szechenyi Etterem where we all tried the Rantott Hus stuffed with smoked , the Hungarian version of Schnitzel.  It is located on Szechenyi Street, has a sheltered patio area and is moderately priced.

Rantott Hus in Nyiregyhaza

The best restaurant we visited in the town was Sziklakert Etterem, which is slightly outside but has a great menu. My personal favourite food to order here is the Ciganpecsenye, or gypsy roast in English, a combination of different cuts of pork.

Ciganpecsenye in Nyiregyhaza
Nyiregyhaza

Day trips from Nyireghyhaza

Having our own wheels we used Nyiregyhaza as a base to discover much of Eastern Hungary.

Tokaj is an interesting part of Hungary, that has yet to be overrun by tourists and is fully worthy of a few days of exploration.

Between Nyiregyhaza and Budapest is the stunning city of Eger. Revered as one Hungary’s finest, its architecture, food, and wine certainly live up to that billing. We stayed for a a night in the city, and I asked the question, Is Eger Hungary’s Most Beautiful City?

Tokaj Wine Region

To the north of Nyiregyhaza, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Tokaj Wine Region is an excellent trip. With some of the world’s best sweet wines, and a interesting landscape surrounding, two days in the Tokaj Wine Region is an excellent escape.


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