Due to its religious, political and economic strength, the settlement, which functioned over the centuries almost like a city-state, served as the capital of Hungary twice in its history. Today, Debrecen is the dynamically developing centre of the North Great Plain Region.
Today Many cafés in the mood of the fin-desiècle, intimate tea-houses, alternative “hangouts” and music clubs have proliferated in recent years. Bubbling fountains, picturesque parks and countless terraces in the main square pedestrian area await those in search of relaxation from early spring until late autumn.
The tower of the Protestant Great Church proudly standing on the main square of Debrecen offers a breathtaking view of the city.
Debrecen was once famous for its craftsmen and merchants, who lived and worked in separate streets, each according to their trade. Their memory is preserved today by names like Tímár (Tanner) and Varga (Cobbler) Street, while their modernday successors still carry on some of the centuries-old traditions. The row of workshops in the Tanner’s House offers a glimpse into the secrets of cloak appliqué trimming, embroidery, bead-threading, bonelace making, pottery, blue-dyeing,
and other crafts, where visitors can even try their hands at some of the tricks of these trades. This provides, in addition to some insight into the lives of local craftsmen of a bygone era, also a taste of the joy of creative, manual work.
Medicinal water is one of the most important treasures in nature’s pharmacy. Hungary is a country with countless baths, as well as one of the largest reserves of thermal and medicinal water in the world. Bath culture in Debrecen looks back to a history of 180 years. The medicinal bath, which played an important role in the history of the city, was built in the Great Forest, the country’s first nature conservation area. The thermal bath, which is part of the Aquaticum Medicinal and Bathing Centre, has 63 °C thermal water and offers 40 different treatments, supported by the professional background provided by the nearby medical school. The medicinal water of the bath is excellent for the treatment of rheumatic, dermatological and gynaecological problems. More and more people worldwide recognise the importance of a healthy lifestyle in the prevention of illnesses and ensuring long-term well-being. The wellness island of Debrecen offers some 60 different traditional and special services, ranging from slimming and detoxifying algal treatment to tropical medicinal baths and oriental-style pampering.
To the north from the downtown area, the 50-year-old Debrecen Zoo is a fun place for all members of the family: spreading over an area of 17 hectares, it showcases 1500 animals belonging to 165 species of five continents. Among the special assets of the zoo, Linda and Siegfried, the hippo couple should be mentioned: their daughter grew up to be the leading female at Disneyland in San Diego, USA. Summer camps have a long tradition at the zoo, which also has
a petting zoo section. Those in search of even more excitement can set out on a thrilling night-time walk around the first zoo of the countryside featuring exotic
Stuffed cabbage Debrecen style, spare-rib soup, meat-filled pancakes, beef specialties made from famous Hungarian longhorn cattle, fish soup from the organic fish farmed at Hortobágy, “lángos” bread, meals cooked or baked in an oven… In the ambient restaurants of Debrecen, one can choose from an offering not to be found anywhere else. In the summer, the Debrecen Turkey Days, a festival of gastronomy, is awaiting lovers of great food. In the pastry shops of the city, the traditional Dobos cake, the Rákóczi cheesecake, as well as the sugar-free pastries and the scones made from spelt flour are definitely worth tasting. In addition to the many local and Hungarian specialities, of course, the gastronomic offering of a city cannot dispense with the flavours of international cuisines, and Debrecen, with its Greek, Kurdish, Chinese, Mexican and Italian restaurants is no exception.
The famous puszta, the Hungarian steppe, now constitutes part of the Hortobágy National Park, and is a World Heritage Site. The presentation of its natural assets is facilitated by the visitor centre, which serves as the starting point for explorations by those favouring eco-tourism. Horse shows and exciting pleasure rides on horsedrawn wagons are popular with kids and adults alike.
Debrecen is bordered on the north by the gentle slopes of the Nyírség, and on the east by the Erd?spuszta, an extensive forestland featuring lakes (such as Vekeri Lake, best known for its summer festivals of pop music), as well as the arboretum of Bánk. This region can be explored by way of the small-gauge “Zsuzsi” train,
but also lends itself to bicycle or on foot. Lovers of horseback riding can experience, for example, the freedom of Western riding in a wonderful rural setting. The 82 settlements of Hajdú-Bihar County offer many unique and valuable sights to visit, including more than 200 nationally protected monuments, such as the
Bocskai Castle in Nagykereki, the Calvinist Church of Nyíracsád, originally built at the turn of the 13th and 14th century, or the NineHoled Bridge and the Shepherds’ Museum in Hortobágy.