Budapest is capable of outshining most of Europe’s capitals, as well all the other cities in Hungary. However, a country is not only its capital, no matter how extraordinary it is. Debrecen is the second largest city in Hungary after Budapest and is one of the most important cultural centers in the country.
It was the capital of Hungary during the revolution of 1848 to 1849 and until the end of the World War II, which makes it a very strong pillar for the Hungarians’ identity. Although it suffered many changes throughout the years, Debrecen is now a very active city, with regular street festivals happening and an energetic nightlife. There are many museums and historic places to visit but Debrecen is also known for its natural beauty. Let’s look at the best things you can do in Debrecen, shall we?
1. See the Great Church
Nagytemplom, the Reformed Great Church in Debrecen, is definitely the city’s most famous postcard. It’s set right in the heart of the city, between Kossuth Square and Kalvin Square, two places you should stop by. The Great Church is not only a beautiful building inside and out but also a symbol of the Protestant Church in Hungary.
As you enter, you’ll be struck by its imposing architecture and amazed at the beautiful organ in the nave. There are exhibition areas inside the church and if you climb all the way to its top, you’ll get the best views of the city. Not to be missed!
The Great Church
Address: 4026 Debrecen, Kossuth tér 1, Hungary
Website: The Great Church
2. Wave through Nagyerdei Park
Nagyerdei Park is set in the center of Debrecen and is the perfect place to go for a walk and admire the landscape. It has a beautiful lake with a walkway over the top where you can get a closer look at the birds and fishes. The park has restaurants and hotels within its grounds, including ice cream shops, so don’t forget to go for a stroll there and enjoy your break from reality.
Address: Debrecen, Nagyerdei körút, 4032 Hungary
Website: Nagyerdei Park
Opening Hours: 6 a.m. to 1 a.m.
3. Learn about the city’s history at the Museum of the Reformed College of Debrecen
The Museum of the Reformed College of Debrecen is already special from the outside. Its characteristic architecture is an illustration of the city’s most beautiful buildings, but the museum itself is a communion between education and art. The Debrecen College was home to many relevant literary, academic and political personalities before turning into a museum. It will present you with fascinating pieces from the history of Hungary and teach you more about Debrecen. The library of the museum is amazing and if you’re a book lover, you’ll fall head over heels with it.
Museum of the Reformed College of Debrecen
Address: 4026 Debrecen, Kálvin tér 16
Opening Hours: Mon - Fri: 10am to 4pm; Sat: 10am to 1pm (closed on Sun)
Prices: 3 USD (800 HUF)
4. Have fun at Kerekerdo Adventure Park
If you have children and are visiting Debrecen with them, you should definitely spend some time at Kerekerdő (Round Forest), Adventure Park. This park offers plenty of indoor and outdoor activities for both children and adults, so every member of the family will surely have a good time. From water sports to a magic land filled with all the characters of the most famous fairy tales, with additional puppet-show stages and adventure trails, this adventure park will be an absolute dream for your kids.
Kerekerdo Adventure Park
Address: 4002 Debrecen, Olimpia fasor 23., Hungary
Website: Kerekerdo Adventure Park
Opening Hours: Tue - Sun: 10am - 6pm
5. Wake your inner scientist at Agora Science Center
If your little ones love science, they’re going to love this place. Agora Science Centre offers incredible experiences to everyone, regardless of their age. You and your children will be able to be part of unique experiments that will spark your curiosity and willingness to learn more about science. You’ll be taught physics, chemistry, biomedical science, hydrobiology, botany, and robotics, but if you’re really into astronomy, you’ll love the center’s observatory. It is another great place to visit if you’re on a family holiday.
Agora Science Centre
Address: 4032 Debrecen, Egyetem tér 1, Hungary
Website: Agora Science Centre
Opening hours: Tue - Fri: 1pm - 6pm; Sat - Sun: 10am - 6pm
Prices: 7 USD (1800 HUF)
6. Watch a game at Nagyerdei Stadium
Nagyerdei Stadium was inaugurated in 2014 and is a great venue to watch different sports events and competitions, as well as concerts. The stadium has a unique modern architecture which includes an incredible suspension sidewalk! Do some research before you visit Debrecen and you might have the chance to watch a game or a concert at this amazing stadium.
Address: 4032 Debrecen, Nagyerdei krt. 100, Hungary
Website: Nagyerdei Stadium
7. See an exhibition at MODEM
This Centre for Modern and Contemporary Arts will satisfy your artistic side. If you really love contemporary art, you can’t miss this museum as it will present you with unique exhibitions and very interesting events. However, don’t forget to check what’s on, as the museum doesn’t have any permanent exhibitions.
MODEM: Centre for Modern and Contemporary Arts
Address: 4026 Debrecen, Baltazár Dezső tér, Hungary
Opening Hours: Tue - Sun: 10am - 6pm (closed on Mon)
Prices: 3 USD (800 HUF)
8. Enjoy the Flower Carnival
Debrecen has had the Flower Carnival for decades and it was only fair for it to become one of the most popular festivals in the country. Nowadays, it is more of an international festival than a local one, with many foreign groups participating and adding to its charm. The Flower Carnival really is a flower event, with stunning parades of flower cars and dance groups.
Address: Debrecen, Hungary
Website: Flower Carnival
The following content is contributed by April Gabayan, Trip101 Writer
9. Stop by Deri Museum
Step back into the past when you visit Déri Museum, located in Debrecen, Hungary. Its structure may be small but it houses a number of rooms showcasing different themes. Find Italian, Persian, and Indian weapons exhibited in one room and 17th to 19th-century paintings in another. “Inhabitants of the Starry Sky” features archeological artifacts and in the room themed “Debrecen Underneath”, you will find everyday local objects that were preserved from the past 12 years. Then there’s also local craft displays and a chamber of wonders. Déri Museum will give you an insight into how life was in this part of the world, years or decades ago. It won’t take a full day to tour the whole museum so drop by whenever you can!
Address: Debrecen, Déri tér 1, 4026 Hungary
Website: Déri Museum
Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 10am - 6pm (closed on Mon)
10. Explore Hortobágyi National Park
A significant cultural landscape and a World Heritage site: it makes sense that Hortobágy Puszta is consistently one of the top destinations to visit near Debrecen. The vast landscape is a picturesque treat, especially for photography enthusiasts waiting for the morning light to rise. Of course, there is also an opportunity to capture shots of wildlife. The Puszta is a part of Hortobágyi National Park and here, one will surely appreciate the flora and fauna that has been preserved for thousands of years. The park is vast and one can take a jeepney ride or a horse carriage for a comfortable sightseeing experience.
Hortobágyi National Park
Address: 4024 Debrecen, Sumen u. 2
Website: Hortobágyi National Park
11. Enjoy yourself at Aquaticum Mediterranean Pleasure Baths
Karneváli Aqua Manó Party! 💃 📅 2019. július 27. (szombat), 14:00-17:00 Hűsítő vízi játékok, zumba, salsa és kézműves foglalkozások az Aquaticum Mediterrán Élményfürdőben - Téged is várunk! 😊Posted by Aquaticum Debrecen on Friday, 26 July 2019
It’s a summer paradise at the Aquaticum all year round! Challenge the waves, slide along one of the 12 water chutes, or simply take a relaxing dip in the large pool - this popular waterpark is perfect for families with kids or even if you come here alone, you’ll make friends in one of their regular pool parties. And if you’re looking for a more relaxing aquatic experience, try several facilities such as the thermal bath, or the Thai massage center, or even visit their Mediterranean sauna complex. These water activities provide healing for both the mind and the body: something that will make your Hungary trip extra memorable.
Aquaticum Mediterranean Pleasure Baths
Address: 4032 Debrecen, Nagyerdei park 1
Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 11am - 8pm (pool closes at 7:30pm); public and school holidays: 10am - 9pm (pool closes at 8:30pm)
12. Admire nature's beauty at Debrecen University Botanical Garden
If you happen to be at the University of Debrecen, pop by behind the main campus and discover the Botanic Gardens which feature nearly 6,000 plant species. Among these, you will find a large collection of succulent plants but unfortunately, you can’t take any of these home, since they are prized possessions and the collection itself is renowned worldwide, with several rare species included. Just enjoy the company of nature and the time spent here is more than enough to takeaway.
Debrecen University Botanical Garden
Address: Debrecen, Móricz Zsigmond út, 4032 Hungary
Website: Debrecen University Botanical Garden
Opening hours: Arboretum: March 21 - Oct. 20: 8am - 6pm (daily); Oct. 21-Mar. 20: 8am - 4pm (daily) / Palm House: 8am - 3pm (daily)
13. Attend an event in Kossuth Square
Kossuth Square commemorates one of the significant figures in Hungary who was involved in the country’s fight for national independence. Here, aside from the statues of Lajos Kossuth, one will also find the Millenial Fountain as well as the view of Hotel Aranybika in Art Nouveau architectural style. The square has become Debrece’s main symbol, with several events taking place here all throughout the year. Take part in celebrating Turkey Days, watch flowers bloom in the Flower Carnival, or be mesmerized by the city’s Christmas Tree every holiday season. It is best to celebrate your new year here too, and join in the countdown!
Address: 4024 Debrecen, Kossuth tér
14. Catch a performance at Kölcsey Center
A center for cultural events, Kölcsey Center opened in early 2006 and it is a popular venue for even professional conferences. The building has Scandinavian feels, evident in the wood, glass, and stone elements. Check their website for schedules and you might just be able to catch free art exhibits or watch local actors perform amazing plays and even attend concerts within the center’s modern facilities.
Address: Debrecen, Bethlen u., 4026 Hungary
Website: Kölcsey Center
Opening hours: 9am - 7pm (daily)
15. Tour Ferenc Medgyessy Memorial Museum
Located just inside Deri Museum is the reconstructed studio of the renowned sculptor, Ferenc Medgyessy. Among his famous works include the Standing Woman in Debrecen. The studio is a must-visit for all ages especially for art enthusiasts because it features Medgyessy’s statues, drawings, voice archives, and photos. Be inspired by a well-organized exhibition and take a glimpse into the life of an artist that has shaped Debrecen’s 20th-century art culture.
Ferenc Medgyessy Memorial Museum
Address: Debrecen, Péterfia u. 28, 4026 Hungary
Website: Ferenc Medgyessy Memorial Museumn
Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 10am - 6pm (closed on Mon)
16. Check out the exotic animals at Debrecen Zoo Park
Have a relaxing getaway to Debrecen’s Zoo Park where the whole family can enjoy interacting with animals. Spot Himalayan bears, red pandas, lemurs, and giraffes, among others. They also have an aquarium and a walk-through enclosure where you will find the ever graceful flamingos. The zoo is not grand, but for its affordable price, it is definitely worth visiting, especially because it is usually not crowded. Come in groups to enjoy discounted rates while students automatically get a discount. The park is also home to an amusement park and botanic gardens so bring your whole gang and enjoy the company of nature and friendly, happy animals.
Debrecen Zoo and Amusement Park
Address: Debrecen, Ady Endre u. 1., 4032 Hungary
Website: Debrecen Zoo and Amusement Park
Opening hours: 9am - 7pm (daily)
Price: from 9 USD
17. View the masterpieces at László Holló Memorial Museum
László Holló is a renowned local painter with a surrealist style as seen in his dramatic, expressive, and sometimes impulsive brush-works. Besides seeing samples of his works, guests can also take a glimpse into his personal life with several documents and personal references. László Holló received several awards including the Kossuth prize, cementing his reputation as one of Hungary’s most iconic artists of his time.
László Holló Memorial Museum
Address: 4031, Debrecen Holló László sétány 8.
Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 10am - 4pm (closed on Mon)
Price: 0.34 USD
18. Admire the architecture of Debrecen Cathedral
Did you know that Pope John Paul II visited Debrecen in 1993 and that a certified replica of the Turin Shroud is on...Posted by Goto Debrecen on Tuesday, 25 November 2014
One of Debrecen’s pride, St. Anne Cathedral is an iconic landmark that features double belfry or towers. Its imposing architecture can be seen even from afar but going inside will make one appreciate the intricate details and ornaments. The original church tower was once damaged by fire in 1834, but it has since been renovated with the addition of a wide staircase as well as the statues of St. Emeric of Hungary, St. Stephen and the Virgin and Child Jesus. If you’re passionate about architecture or simply want to know more about Debrecen through its major landmarks, St. Anne is a beautiful masterpiece that needs to be appreciated up close.
St. Anne’s Cathedral
Address: Debrecen, Szent Anna u. 15, 4024 Hungary
Website: St. Anne’s Cathedral
19. Marvel at the White Rose of the Revolution
"The White Rose of Revolution" memorial in front of the University of Debrecen.Posted by Natalia Pogrebinsky on Saturday, 19 March 2016
Standing in front of the University Reformed Church is the highly intriguing marble sculpture aptly named “The White Rose of the Revolution”. This iconic art was made by Miklós Melocco and it is a significant symbol to remember the 1956 revolution as well as the heroes behind it. During your visit to the Reformed Church, make sure to make a halt and marvel at the beauty of this sculpture, staring deep into the story behind its unquestionable aesthetics.
White Rose of the Revolution
Address: Egyetem tér 1Debrecen, 4032 Hungary
20. Watch a performance at Csokonai Theater
Felújítás előtt is gyönyörű, mi nagyon szeretjük :) Hát még felújítás után! 😎 Fotó: András Endi #nézőtér #CsokonaiSzínházPosted by Csokonai Színház - Debrecen on Wednesday, 26 June 2019
Even if you’re not yet a fan of plays and acts, visiting Csokonai Theater will most definitely make you one. The theater itself is beautiful from the inside to the outside, thanks to a grand renovation. Here in the oldest and largest theater in Debrecen, you can watch theatrical performances worthy of standing ovations, that will make you crave for more. After enjoying the play, you can chill at their in-house pub or participate in other culture-centered events and exhibitions.
Address: Debrecen, Kossuth u. 10, 4024 Hungary
Website: Csokonai Theater
21. Attend an art workshop at Tanner’s House
Debrecen’s culture can also be reflected in the manufacturing industries that have shaped it over thousands of years. Tanner’s House of Artisans features works of the real pros from each region. These crafts include dressmaking, “szűrrátétes” or the art of making traditional Hungarian felt cloaks, pottery, and many others. If it’s not enough to learn, you can have a visual workshop suitable for adults and children where you will be able to learn more about the practical aspects of each trade or craft.
Address: 4024 Debrecen, Nagy Gál István utca 6
Website: Tanner’s House
Opening hours: Tue - Fri: 10am - 5pm; Sat: 10am - 2pm (closed on Sun & Mon)
Price: 1 USD
22. Check out the iconic Nagyerdei Water Tower
A bit out of town but definitely worth visiting: climbing the Nagyerdei Water Tower will make you brave a lot of stairs but it will all be worth it, especially since it has been renovated to create more functional and social spaces. Come at night and enjoy the views from the observation deck. The ambiance of the cafe is also remarkable and if you prefer, you can also grab a beer at the bar. The whole experience is a tranquil take on the usual nightlife that we are usually accustomed to. Because the tower is located inside a park, you can, therefore, expect a pleasant and well-spent evening.
Nagyerdei Water Tower
Address: Pallagi ut 7., Debrecen 4032, Hungary
Price: 2 USD
23. Dine at Csokonai Étterem
Csokonai Étterem is a top-rated restaurant in the whole of Debrecen, thanks to its friendly staff, pleasant atmosphere, and of course, drool-worthy menu items. Try their original unsalted butter soup, savor the highly recommended beef tartare, and drown in a wide selection of drinks. They serve other tasteful European dishes and of course, traditional Hungarian specialties. Dine here after watching a play at Csokonai Theater - both landmarks are close to each other. Discover and enjoy elegant tastes at reasonable rates, together with your family or loved ones, for a more memorable and true European holiday.
Address: Debrecen, Kossuth u. 21, 4024 Hungary
Website: Csokonai Étterem
Opening hours: 12pm - 11pm (daily)
24. See the Statue of Lajos Kossuth
If you’re wondering where to take a picture that’s proof of your visit to Debrecen, taking one with the statues of Lajos Kossuth as the backdrop is a 100% evidence. He is the great Hungarian leader, after all. After taking your gram-worthy shots, you can relax and enjoy a nice cup of coffee or perhaps eat ice cream. It’s a great place to just chill or people watch since the statues are located in Kossuth Square and just in front of Debrecen church - a site which is already a part of the locals’ daily lives.
Statue of Lajos Kossuth
Address: Debrecen, 4026 Hungary
25. Go on a shopping spree at Debrecen Plaza
Shop for souvenirs at Debrecen Plaza or just pop by if you want to see the local shopping scene. The plaza features over 50 stores as well as several other experiences and facilities such as a movie theater, pharmacies, a food center, a bowling club, and even a grand casino. So if you need a break from your cultural tours or you want to bring your kids for entertainment, perhaps reward yourself with a well-deserved shopping spree; head on to Debrecen plaza to have some fun!
Address: Debrecen, Péterfia u. 18, 4026 Hungary
Website: Debrecen Plaza
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 9am - 8pm; Sun: 10am - 7pm
Travel like a local in Debrecen, Hungary
Being the second-largest city in Hungary, it’s difficult to explore Debrecen without a comprehensive and detailed travel itinerary, especially if you only have limited time. With this list of the best things to do in Debrecen, Hungary, you will be able to experience the warm and inviting culture as well as the vibrant nightlife of this city, just like a local.
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