Hungary has 9 national parks and nearly 1000 protected areas. Hikers
can head for the mountains in the north and northwest of the country.
The Börzsöny, Mátra and Pilis
ranges not far to the north of Budapest are popular, with the Mátra
mountains containing Hungary’s highest peak, Kékesetö
Less strenuous walking is possible around Lake Balaton
and in the hills in the south of the country. Hungary’s many
wetlands, rivers and lakes attract large numbers of water birds
and birdwatching is very popular. A particularly good area for this
is Hortobágy National Park in the Great
Plain in the east of the country, where different types
of warblers, storks, eagles and herons can be seen. A guide is required
for visits to parts of the park, and motor vehicles are not allowed.
Other wildlife to be found in the country includes rare wild cats
and lake bats, boar, otter and deer are also common.
The River Tisza, by the Kisköre reservoir,
is regarded by many as Europe’s second-best angling area.
Accommodation for anglers is readily available, and guides can be
hired when required. Species such as bream, carp, pike and trout
are abundant. There are rules and regulations governing fishing
seasons and licence's and for further information, contact the Hungarian
National Tourist Office details in the Contact Addresses section.
Budapest alone has over 100 thermal springs and around fifty
swimming pools and medicinal baths. The culture of bathing has been
established since the Roman times, and today a wide variety of therapeutic
treatments, both ancient and modern, is on offer.
Hungary’s bath houses are also of great architectural interest:
the Király Medicinal Baths, for example,
date from the Middle Ages, while the Rudas Medicinal Baths
feature a fine dome dating from the 16th century.
Outside Budapest, notable spa resorts include Debrecen
in the far east; Hévíz, near Lake
Balaton, Harkány in the south, and Eger,
northwest of Budapest. Treatment is cheaper than in western Europe
or North America, and many foreign insurers pay part of the cost.
Hungary has a long tradition of equestrianism, horseriding is particularly
good and popular. Long-distance riding in areas such as the Great
Plain with its wide open spaces is popular, and riders
are well catered for. Hungary is the only European country, apart
from Ireland, which places no restrictions on riders and there are
many riding schools all over the country which can organise all
types of excursions.
The Great Plain contains several famous stud farms,
and horse shows take place regularly. Carriage driving is also very
popular, and tourists can arrange to have tuition in this art through
Cycling is a good way
to see the country. Local tourist offices can assist in the organisation
of cycling tours by providing bicycles, transporting luggage and
arranging picnics and sightseeing and bicycles can be hired in many
places, those planning to do longer tours should bring their own.