This is a difficult year this year, especially now that theaters, cinemas, museums and restaurants are still closed, events are lagging behind and curfews are making it difficult for us to move around. We look forward to moving out of home again soon and traveling for a long domestic weekend or a smaller foreign vacation. Until then, all we have to do is tour at home and explore our own city, Debrecen, with a slightly different eye.
In this, we will be helped by key players in the local tourist life, who, among other things, “ask” week by week what their favorite places in the city are, what secret travel tips they can still discover while walking in the city, and why Debrecen is a good place.
This time, Richard Johnson, the Co-Founder of Debrecen Today, the English language city newspaper, answered our questions.
What were you Amazed-by last in Debrecen?
Debrecen is well kept secret, like a secret beach that you only tell your loved ones about.
The city has been my home for several years now, and it never ceased to amaze me how livable the city is. It is without doubt the most family friendly city in Hungary, with plenty of programs for kids and families. It is also easily accessible from overseas, and so in normal times, I can visit my family, with direct flights to and from London Luton.
What is your favorite place – attraction, building, street, etc. – In Debrecen?
I really like the Deri Museum, although it looks small from the exterior, it is bigger than it looks, and is split over several different locations, they really do have some fantastic collections by anybody’s standards.
I would particularly recommend seeing the works of sculptor Ferenc Medgyessy who was born and raised in Debrecen. He is famous for his spectacular horse bronzes which are just breathtaking to see.
Do you have any “secret” places in Debrecen that you would like to recommend to locals or visitors to Debrecen?
Well, I’m not so sure about it being a secret, but I really do like the Black Sheep Café. They roast and serve their own coffee beans onsite, so if you like a freshly brewed coffee, then this place is unbeatable. Their cakes are pretty fantastic also!
You’ve been to many parts of the world. Based on your travel experience, what makes Debrecen an attractive destination for foreign tourists?
Debrecen is less well known, which adds to its appeal for me. This is because while Budapest and other capital cities I’ve been to have their excitement, and other attractions, they also have pollution and are exhausting, especially when travelling with a family.
In every country I’ve been to, I have found that its best to leave the capital to avoid the tourist traps, and to have a truly authentic cultural experience.
While Debrecen, is still a major city, its retains its charm, and it is a safe city. The city center for example is full of art deco buildings which I appreciate, and it’s a green city, surrounded by forest where we like to walk, run or cycle.
If I were to ask you to help shoot a feature film in Debrecen, what locations would you suggest for shooting?
I would suggest movie scenes could be shot at the University of Debrecen, it would raise awareness of the university and the city as center of high technology and innovative learning.
The city has a young startup vibe as well, with many software developers, it would be great to capture this vibe for a movie also.
Which season is the best in Debrecen?
Well only January and February are unpleasant weather wise, if you exclude those then its a matter of preference, between hot and sunny or warm and sunny.
Consequently, I think Spring and Autumn are best here, it is usually dry, sunny and warm, especially when compared to the United Kingdom when it is often cold and wet. For this reason I would recommend travelers come in Spring and Autumn.
If I had to pick a month, then I would choose September, while the Aquaticum Water Park is still open. You can’t come to Debrecen without enjoying a thermal bath outdoors.