Debrecen Travel Guide
Debrecen is an off-the-beaten-track Central European treasure just waiting to be discovered. Its churches make this place historically significant, but its many parks steal the show. In this guide, we’ll fill you in on the many things to see, do, and eat in Debrecen.
Debrecen is a centre of Protestantism in Hungary. As such, make the Reformed Great Church of Debrecen your first stop. As the largest Protestant church in Hungary, locals refer to it as the “Calvinist Rome”.
Hyperbole aside, this massive structure offers much to intrepid travellers. Prior to its construction in the 19th century, three other churches preceded it. Shortly after its completion in the mid-19th-century, Lajos Kossuth read Hungary’s Declaration of Independence from Austria from its steps. Today, this Neoclassical masterpiece is worth visiting for its looks as well as its history.
After that, learn about the history of Hungary by visiting the Museum of the Reformed College of Debrecen. Open since the mid-16th-century, local historians say this college played an integral role in the rise of the Hungarian nation. In its exhibits, you’ll learn about the school and its role in shaping this country.
In this attraction, you’ll also find religious art and information on the spread of Calvinism in Hungary. Before entering, note that the captions in this place are entirely in Hungarian. An English pamphlet is available at the reception, but take Google Translate or a Hungarian friend as a backup.
If you’re in the mood for another museum, take in the Deri Museum next. In this institution, you’ll find ancient artifacts from Hungary and around the world. On top of that, you’ll get to check out local art and folklore items.
Before moving on from Debrecen, set aside an entire day to explore Hortobágyi National Park. This conservation area protects semi-natural grasslands that form part of a vast steppe that stretches across Central and Eastern Europe.
At night, this sparsely-populated region is perfect for stargazing. Because of this, authorities recognize part of this park as a dark sky preserve.
If you love sports and want to blend in with the locals while in Debrecen, attend a football match at Nagyerdei Stadion. Typically, this sports stadium is the home field for the Debreceni Vasutas Sport Club. However, as the third-largest football stadium in Hungary, it also hosts international matches as well.
Here, the lower costs of Central Europe play in your favour. At this stadium, a VIP ticket costs less than a normal ticket in Western Europe. By spending the same as home, you’ll gain access to more room, better food, and superior sightlines.
If you’re travelling as a family through Hungary, visit the Debrecen Zoo and Amusement Park. Located in the Great Forest outside of Debrecen City, this park stretches over 17 hectares and is home to 900 animals from 170 species.
From pandas to giraffes, there’s plenty here to pique the interest of your children. Afterwards, an attached amusement park will continue the fun. By day end, rides like carousels and roller coasters will do a good job of tiring out your kids.
Up for round two? The next day, take your little ones to Kerekerdő Adventure Park. Here, you’ll find rides and attraction suited to children of all ages. From paddleboats to rope courses, set your brood loose while you recoup your sanity.
Admission to this park is 1,500 HUF per person or roughly 4.50 EUR. At this rate, you’ll achieve the rarely-attained goal of having fun and saving money while on vacation.
During your time in Debrecen, take a minute to catch your breath in Nagyerdei Park. Also known as the Great Forest, locals call it the lungs of Debrecen. Get in a stroll on its nice walking trails, or simply watch the world go by.
What To Eat
As you sightsee around Debrecen, you are bound to work up an appetite. Around midday, find a street stall and order a Debreceni Kolbász. This sausage consists of ground pork seasoned with paprika, marjoram, garlic, and pepper. Some cooks also smoke this sausage – if you get one, consider it a treat.
Virtually every traditional Hungarian restaurant offers Gulyás on their menu. Also known as Goulash, this world-famous stew combines shredded beef simmered for hours in a paprika-seasoned broth. Accompanied by vegetables such as peppers, onions, and potatoes, you’ll return to this dish repeatedly while in Hungary.
End your day on a sweet note by having Krémes. This square combines puff pastry with custard in a fashion that we can only describe as heavenly. Often finished with powdered sugar, you will struggle to not order seconds.