On April 11th, we celebrate Debrecen City Day. For this occasion, we have compiled a bucket list of 10 tips for visitors to Debrecen, to enable them to get to know the city and discover Debrecen, or for the already familiar, to get to know an alternative face of the city.
Stroll Down Piac Street
Piac Street is the former site of the famous Debrecen trade fairs! Admire the beautiful downtown palaces and trading houses along the way! Our favorites are the imposing semi-detached house on the corner of Simonffy Street, the pink palace of the First Debrecen Savings Bank on the corner of Kossuth Street, the Rickl House at 41 Piac Street, where Magda Szabó’s maternal ancestors operated their famous general store, and the Classicist Town Hall at number 20 from which they have ruled the city for more than 450 years.
Go Behind the Great Reformed Church
If you have already admired the Great Reformed Church from Kossuth Square, peek behind the building! Not only the Great Church, but also the imposing building of the Reformed College offers a wonderful view of the Memorial Garden, which is magnificent in the spring. In the cozy park you will find the statue of István Bocskai, who settled the Hajdú area, the memorial column of the Protestant pastors taken away during the Counter-Reformation, and the monument of the Reformation. Along the way, look for the legendary Lycium Tree, which preserves the memory of folk law, at the corner of Kálvén Square and Museum Street.
Déri Square is an unmissable point in the city center! The former Pap Lake, where a herb garden was once located, is today one of the most atmospheric parks in the city. Here you will find the beautiful neo-baroque building of the famous Déri Museum, with a spectacular flight of stairs and a boulevard in front of it, which is a popular selfie site. In front of the museum you can see four award-winning sculptures of Ferenc Medgyessy, an allegory of Archeology, Science, Art and Ethnography, and three more works in the square. While visiting, don’t miss seeing the special prize pedunculate oak in the Tree of the Year 2020 competition, which has witnessed so many transformations of the space with its age.
Discover the old town of Debrecen! Wander the winding streets of Szentlászlófalva, Mesterfalva and Debrecenfalva, where you can still find old civic houses and cobbled road sections. Notice the eloquent street names – Kétmalom, Ajtó, Kút, Domb, etc. – and immerse yourself in the special charm of the ancient parts of the city! If you are looking for a specific attraction, visit number 16 Domb Street, where Magda Szabó spent the first years of her life, the Tanner House at 6 Nagy Gál István Street, which is the only industrial monument in Debrecen preserved on site, or visit the city’s oldest civic house at the intersection of Kígyó and Lorántffy Streets.
Sit on tram 1 and take a ride from downtown to the Great Forest! Don’t forget to get off at Bem Square, the gateway to the Great Forest, from here it is worth continuing the hike on foot. On Simonyi Road, you will find the most beautiful row of trees in the city, dating back more than two hundred years, with beautiful villas and former summer residences. If you like the area, stroll down the side streets of Simonyi út, where a similar buildings of the period await.
Bike around the Great Forest, then relax on the shores of Lake Békás in the company of wild ducks. Wander the winding forest paths of the park to discover the small wonders of nature and the landart creations hidden among the hundred-year-old trees, or play for yourself in the forest playground made of natural ingredients!
Stroll along the Medgyessy promenade and look for the works of the literary sculpture park hidden among the trees and hedges. Among others, famous Hungarian poets Mihály Fazekas, Árpád Tóth and Endre Ady will “greet” you. In addition to the sculptures, it is worth taking a closer look at the former patinated summer villas, as well as the classicist building of the Old Vigadó, where a bathhouse and nightclub operated in the 19th century.
University of Debrecen
Undoubtedly the most beautiful building in Debrecen is the main building of the University of Debrecen, which is worth admiring not only from the outside but also from the inside. The 700-square-meter glass-roofed Courtyard, surrounded by an arcaded corridor system, immediately impresses everyone. In front of the building you will find the most beautiful French park in the city, with a beautiful fountain and human-sized statues in the middle, and behind the building are the new and modern units of the university. The campus’s botanical garden still awaits visitors on campus, providing a truly fabulous view in the spring.
In Nagyerdő, not only the natural environment but also the built heritage is extremely rich. While you can admire turn-of-the-century villas and patinated public buildings around Simonyi út and the university, the wonders of modern architecture on and around Pallagi út offer so much to discover. It is worth admiring the modern Nagyerdei Stadium with 20,000 seats and the Aquaticum SPA which can also be interpreted as a gigantic landscape architectural work, which is merging into the natural environment almost imperceptibly. If you can, climb the lookout of the more than hundred-year-old Nagyerdei Water Tower, which offers a wonderful view of both buildings.
If you are done exploring the city center and the Great Forest, discover the outskirts of the city! From the Great Forest you can take a pleasant forest walk or bike ride to Pallag, where you can take a closer look at the patinated building and ornamental garden of the former Hungarian Royal Academy of Economics and the modern, award winning building of the International School of Debrecen. Northeast of Debrecen, you can continue your adventures in the fabulous Erdőspuszta, where magical forest hiking trails, sparkling water lakes, lookouts extending far into the canopy of trees, and friendly hiking and places of relaxation promise close-to-nature experiences. The “oldest lady of the city”, the 140-year-old Zsuzsi Forest Railway, is also doing this.