I have been thinking for a long time about how I could draw up, why is Hungary a good hiking destination? Hungary is a small country in the centre of Europe, without seaside and high mountains. Why is it worth coming here and walk many dozen or many hundred miles among hills and small villages? I have found an answer on the blog of a German hiker and globe-trotter, Christine Thürmer, who hiked on the National Blue Trail. I would like to quote a few thoughts from her description:
Did I like this hike? Yes, indeed! I liked it tremendously. This has been an incredibly pleasant and relaxing hike. Although it has not been very spectacular it has been very enjoyable - and Hungary has surpassed my expectations be far! Why? I had expected a rather flat country and was positively surprised to find the Kektura landscape to be relatively hilly in parts - especially in the Eastern part. So I had plenty of really beautiful views. Plus the forest was extremely pittoresque in Indian Summer. Would I recommend this hike to a friend? Yes, absolutely and I would go even further: Kektura is a real insiders' tip for outdoor novices. Why do I recommend it especially for beginners? There are several reasons:
Wild camping is legal and easy: Most beginners are worried about wild camping which is illegal in most of Europe. Therefore they tend to go Scandinavia or Scotland where wild camping is legal under the “every man's right”. But what hardly anybody knows: Wild camping is legally allowed in Hungary - except in National Parks. I was so surprised about that that I double checked it various times but all my sources agreed: German guidebooks, the English Kektura website, my Hungarian friends and even a forester I met on the way. And it is dead easy as well: on the Kektura you walk through forest most of the time. And as the landscape is rather flat or hilly at best it is usually very easy to find a flat spot for your tent! So no need to go to Scandinavia or Scotland especially out of reason number two:
Hungary has a high margin of error: Let me explain what I mean with this. Beginners tend to commit more mistakes than experienced hikers. And if things go wrong you somehow have to get out of the situation. In Scandinavia this can be tricky: The weather is usually adverse, in the North there is not much shelter from forest and if you have to bail out it will cost you a fortune due to the high price level in Scandinavia. Hungary is so much more “forgiving”: The weather is moderate, there is not much altitude or exposed areas and you are mostly walking in forest where you are sort of sheltered from the elements. Plus the waymarking is so good that is difficult to get lost. But if you have to bail out it will be cheap: Hungary has a great and very cheap public transportation system that serves literally every little settlement. The infrastructure is great with little shops in almost every village. Water is not an issue due to an abundance of public water fountains in every settlement. But most important: Accommadation is plentyful and cheap: I usually paid between 15 and 25 EUR for one person. So if the weather turns bad or you are simply too tired you can just treat yourself with sleeping in a bed under a roof!
High fun factor: Due to the relatively low price level you can easily treat yourself once in a while - with sleeping in a cosy bed or eating in a restaurant. I loved the food which was always really good quality at cheap or moderate prices. As you can see I especially liked the desserts. And I should not forget to mention that a glass of wine will set you back less than 1 EUR! Plus Hungary is full of thermal baths and it is so relaxing to soak in hot water after a long day of hiking. A visit to a thermal bath will set you back something between 5 to 10 EUR - just bring a swim suit.
Honestly, I don't understand at all why Hungary is not more popular as a hiking destination. Ok, it lacks alpine scenery, but it offers an abundance of beautiful decidouos forest where you will probably not see a single soul in days but plenty of wildlife. In no other country I have seen so many deer, wild pigs and mufflons. Hungary is very sparsely populated and you will definitely see a lot less people on the Kektura than on the Kungsleden in Sweden. Plus it is so cheap and easy to get there. Both low cost airlines Ryanair and Easyjet fly from Germany to Budapest.
So if you look for an interesting new hiking destination go to Hungary - you won't regret it!
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