One of the things I love in Debrecen is its international spirit. There are almost 6000 international students of 113 different nations studying at the University of Debrecen. You can meet them not only around the campus, but all over the city. I believe that gastronomy is one of the best ways to get to know each other’s cultures. The best occasion for this in Debrecen is the International Food Day held every year in May in front of the main building of the university. There you can taste the international students’ traditional national foods prepared and served by the students themselves, usually wearing their national costumes. Besides the culinary delights, live performances entertain the public, so the UD’s international students can demonstrate not only their cooking skills but also how talented and colorful they are. If you like trying new tastes and experiencing different cultures, don’t miss this festival!
As an expat living and working in Debrecen for several years, I have an outsider’s perspective to living and working in the city. Since moving here for work reasons, I have come to love the city and how family-friendly it is. My wife and I can often be found at the Great Forest Park at the Froggy playground, talking while our son plays. Afterwards, we like to treat ourselves to lunch at “Krudy” a restaurant nearby which is known for their great daily specials which are always good. Opposite the restaurant is the thermal baths we often visit to ease away our aches and pains. There is always something to do in the city if you know where to look.
Due to my folk-dancer past, I visited Hortobágy quite often to perform on festivals, study folk dance in camps, or just go on an excursion in the beautiful “puszta” whose history had been closely linked to Debrecen for centuries. The memory of the magical world of the puszta-safari with the wild horses and the aurochs, the sight of the Hungarian grey cattle herds, and the taste of the famous Hungarian Puszta-dish, “slambuc” prepared by local horsemen will remain in my heart forever. If you want to take a break and escape the noisy city, it is a must to visit Hortobágy, located only a half an hour drive from Debrecen. There you can observe the everyday life of herdsmen and taste the most authentic Hungarian goulash in the “Nagycsárda” (Big Inn), where the famous scamps used to eat and drink hundreds of years ago.
Visiting the Great Forest is a daily part of our life; therefore, there is no week without going to the Krúdy Restaurant with my little daughter. You can’t just pass the restaurant placed in an old villa, located in the middle of a protected natural environment, which recalls the atmosphere and the flavor profile of the old time of Krúdy Gyula. On summer days it’s a pleasure to sit on its terrace, drinking a cooling lemonade or tasting a delicious wine under the shadow of old oak trees. One of its advantages is to meet the needs of families with small children; we finish the day here after the neighboring playground many times with a kid’s menu or with the popular dessert called “devil’s pill”. And as has very often been the case, I can’t avoid ordering my favorite food, the Catfish fillet in a crispy coat with lemon flavored brown butter, roasted paprika salad and parsley – a buttered potato. A hotel and a wellness section also belong to the restaurant, but we can organize here birthday parties or company retreat as well.
I love walking in the old town of Debrecen. Szentlászlófalva, which is situated between the downtown and the Great Forest, reminds me of the old Debrecen. The winding streets, the expressive street names, the old civic house fronts and the spirit of the beautiful gates fascinate me every time. After a pleasant walk, I like sitting in the Incognito Bar on the corner of Eötvös and Rákóczi Streets, which was converted from an old civic apartment. There is always a good chance to bump into an intimate concert here in the evenings.
One of my favorite pastimes is attending board game parties with my boyfriend. The Youth House is an excellent venue for this program on Saturdays. We are lucky, because an LvL Up Esport bar opened in Gambrinus Alley recently, where, in addition to PC and console games, we can try a lot of board games and even taste thematic drinks and cocktails inspired by the games. If any of the games winds its way into our heart, we can borrow or even buy it from the store of the Game Guild, right next door.
In the main street of Debrecen, there is a coffee shop called Volt Egyszer (“Once Upon a Time”) where I often start my day. The divine coffee specialties are always accompanied by kind and flexible service, so refreshment is guaranteed. Sitting behind the huge glass shop window, I usually admire the continuously developing city center, mothers pushing their prams and children running around the fountains. However, if I am in a hurry, I prefer their coffee-to-go service.
I grew up in the Great Forest. I used to go there to attend football matches and athletics training when I was younger. As I returned to Debrecen a couple of years ago, now as a grown-up, I try to spend again as much time in the park as possible. My favorite place is the running track around the Great Forest Stadium, where a lot of people run their laps at twilight. Young and elderly runners, local people and tourists alike, no matter if they are active athletes or just hobby joggers, are guaranteed to have a good time. On the northern side of the running track, you can even run at the level of the tree leaves and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the surrounding natural environment while running.
I like wandering around the city, in the old streets and hidden squares of the historic city center that is full of beautiful old buildings and lovely fountain displays. One of my favorite public squares is Ady Park, right behind the Csokonai Theater, because its centrally located fountain display provides a nice atmosphere in the summer and I can taste delicious cakes and ice-creams in one of Debrecen’s oldest confectioner’s, Kismandula (“Small Almond”) there. I also love Hal köz, again to be found in the city center, where I often meet my friends in one of the trendy bars or just drink a cup of coffee on a lovely terrace while admiring the spectacular arcades of water of the square’s central fountain display. The most spectacular water attraction of Debrecen is definitely the Mist Theater in the Great Forest Park where you can enjoy amazing lightshows in the summer at night. It is also a must-visit selfie-point.
The most beautiful moments of my life are connected to the Reformed College of Debrecen, as it was the venue of our wedding’s civil ceremony and our wedding photos were also taken there. Personally, if I had to choose one from the great number of sights of Debrecen, it would definitely be the wonderful Grand Library and the historical Oratorio of the Reformed College of Debrecen. The Grand Library is listed among the most beautiful libraries of the world due to its amazing sight and its collection of 600,000 books, while the Oratorio is a place of historical importance for all Hungarians as it was for two times the venue of the sessions of the Hungarian Parliament.