A Hiker's Guide to Hungary's Mountains
While Hungary may lack world famous mountain ranges or superlatively high peaks, it does boast a range of stunning landscapes, well marked hiking trails and plenty to keep anyone looking to explore by foot happy. Join us on a tour of the country’s best places to go hiking, from scenic routes and popular paths to more challenging terrain.
The Countrywide Blue Tour (OKT)
Completing this 701 mile (1128 km) long hiking trail, which runs from the Austrian border through Hungary to the village of Hollóháza near Slovakia, is something of a bucket list experience for hikers in the country. The stunning route runs past Tapolca’s extinct volcanoes, alongside Lake Balaton, and along the Danube Bend near Budapest. Look out for the horizontal blue stripe, sandwiched between two white stripes (this is the official route marker of the trail). A book of the route is available, in which hikers can collect checkpoint stamps (147 in total!). if this is achieved, the holder of the book can receive a badge from the Hungarian Rambler’s Association (MTSZ).
Bükk National Park
Those looking for a little more height in the mountains they climb should head to the Bükk National Park, which boasts one of Hungary’s highest mountain ranges. The natural beauty of the area makes for stunning landscapes to explore and a number of shorter hiking paths offer the chance to learn more about the area’s flora, fauna and geology. Take a walk along the four mile (6.4 km) long Szarvaskő Geological Study Trail, which also offers the chance to stop by the now derelict Szarvaskő Castle, or choose the three mile (4.8 km) long Vöröskő Valley Trail to check out informative boards along the way and the chance to visit the Vöröskő spring, a stunning natural fountain.
The Mátra Mountains
This mountain range in Northern Hungary is the location of the country’s highest peak: Kékestető, standing 1,014m (3326 ft) at its tallest point. It offers a little more altitude than others across the country, allowing for a slightly more challenging hike. There’s also a lookout tower at the top for anyone looking for panoramic views across the surrounding mountains.
Aggtelek National Park
Found in Northeastern Hungary, this unique national park offers plenty of opportunity to go hiking. Explore independently thanks to a number of clearly marked trails or, to learn more about the area’s nature and geography, guided tours are also available. The park also boasts a unique and extensive system of caves, which are part of the Aggtelek Karst and were awarded World Heritage Site status in 1995. Guided tours are also available.
Hiking around Lake Balaton
A number of beautiful hiking trails can be found around central Europe’s largest lake, Lake Balaton. For an easy hike, head up to the top of the Tihany peninsula; from here, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views over the lake. Alternatively, the region of Badacsony – which can be found on the northern shores of Lake Balaton – offers an ideal landscape for hiking. Once in the area, head up to the Kisfaludy Lookout Tower atop Badacsony Hill for breath taking views across the lake and beyond, reachable by a moderately challenging hike.
Bakony in the Transdubian Mountains
The Bakony Hills can be found in the Transdubian Mountains of Hungary and, thanks to their large size (in total, the Bakony cover around 1,500 square miles) they’re popular with walkers and can be explored for days. Take a tent and camp in the area for the full experience. The hills are found just north of Lake Balaton and offer a varied landscape. The highest peak in the area is Koris-hegy, standing at a total height of 706m (2316 ft). The village of Tés can also be found in the area with its six old windmills, which are a popular attraction and worth stopping by on your hike throughout the region.
Hiking around Budapest
Budapest enjoys close proximity to a number of great hiking trails suitable for a range of levels, from family friendly walks to slightly more challenging routes. While hikers shouldn’t expect anything too extreme here, there’s still more than enough to keep any walking enthusiast occupied. The beautiful natural surroundings of Normafa, a green hilly area found in Buda, provide the most popular place to escape the city and go for a hike while the nearby town of Budaörs offers a number of marked hiking trails to enjoy.
Resources and advice
For those looking to design their own itinerary, the country’s hiking areas offer a number of clearly marked trails. Hungary’s National Park service maintains these routes, to ensure ease of exploration for hikers.
A number of groups in the country organise hiking trips, offering a social atmosphere and doing all the planning for you. Budapest Hikers organise excursions on a regular basis and will take care of everything, from the route to the transport. All you need to do is turn up and enjoy!
Wikiloc offers a list of possible hiking routes uploaded by users who have already completed them.
“Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures”. One important piece of advice for anyone hiking and camping in Hungary is to respect the surrounding landscape and follow common hiking and camping etiquette: most importantly, don’t litter and don’t remove anything from the natural landscape.
For a comprehensive list of camping sites in Hungary, check out the Euro Campings website.