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Essence of Hungary | Tokaj

The Tokaj–Nyíregyháza region is an enchanting area in north-eastern Hungary. Tokaj is located in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county, where the Tisza and Bodrog rivers meet at the foot of Kopasz Hill, while Nyíregyháza is one of the North Great Plain’s most significant towns and the capital of Nyírség.

Tokaj is known for its world-famous wines, but the nearby Zemplén Mountains are also an attractive destination with beautiful ranges and iconic castles (Rákóczi Castle, the Castles of Boldogkő and Füzér) for tourists, who also like discovering sights by bike. The Upper Tisza region’s attraction stems from its active touristic and ecotourism options, as well as its medieval churches. Máriapócs is a popular pilgrimage shrine, and Nyírség offers fantastic opportunities for families, thanks to its active recreational, health tourism, religious and cultural diversity. The Tokaj-Hegyalja wine region, a World Heritage site, is the most emblematic part of the region with its multi-story cellar systems and its lovely vineyards. You can also make good use of your hiking boots in this area: Megyer Hill Tarn and Blessing Jesus Statue in Tarcal are attractive destinations, but Bodrog is great for touring by kayak as well. Nyíregyháza Zoo and spa welcome visitors from all over the country.

photo: László Balkányi

Első Mádi Borház—Első Mádi Borház offers a seasonal selection of Hungarian and international dishes in a welcoming interior and, of course, a fine selection of the best wines of the region. The goal here is to provide a forum for the wineries of Mád where they can get together and promote their brands and products. The no-compromise approach towards quality that emanates from every minute detail here is also apparent in the beautifully served food, which is accompanied perfectly by the region’s wines, fruit juice made from locally sourced fruit and specialty coffees. The dedicated service includes information on the dishes as well as the wine-specific characteristics of the region. 

address: 3909 Mád, Hunyadi János Street 7 

photo: László Balkányi

Rákóczi-Aspremont Kúria—This Mád manor can offer a princely experience as its imposing building looks back on a rich history. The archaic, yet authentic spaces, evoking the 18th-century, display contemporary paintings making them a bit more modern and truly unique. Embark on a trip back in time while wandering the baroque halls or spend a few nights in the suites shining with regal magnificence.  

address: 3909 Mád, Rákóczi Street 81

photo: Bálint Hirling

Zemplén castles and castle tours—Tokaj is not just famous for its wine region, as there are also numerous castles in and around this northern Hungarian city that you can visit during your excursions. The castles of Boldog-kő and Füzér are perched on fabulous tall rocks and peaks, and it’s no wonder the latter is considered one of the seven natural wonders of Hungary. Regéc Castle is one of the most popular tourist destinations of the Zemplén Hills, whilst Rákóczi Castle in Sárospatak is one of the most precious renaissance monuments in the country. 

photo: Botond Wertán

Szepsy Winery—It is centuries-old experience that makes one of Hungary’s best wineries renowned, not only at home but also worldwide. Szepsy Winery has guarded its secret—which enables it to “boil down” the true essence of the Tokaj region into a glass—through historical eras and generations. The family has been making their wines ever since the 1500s and they make no compromise when it comes to growing and harvesting their own grape on the best terroirs. Even an afternoon wander among the vineyards can be wondrous, but the culmination, or rather the crowning of any excursion, is a visit to the Szepsy Winery.

address: 3909. Mád, Batthyány Street 59

illustration: László Bárdos

Water tours on the river Bodrog—It’s a rare experience canoeing in Hungary alongside mountains as large as the Zemplén. Meandering softly but with large bends, the Bodrog flows towards the River Tisza unobstructed and the ranges of the scenic mountains flanking the paddlers from the right, whilst the slower flow of the water provides ample opportunities for taking in the scenery. There are no major vortices, so even rookie paddlers can courageously tackle these waters. Thus, no matter whether visitors are here for only a one-day excursion or a long weekend, the range of paddling possibilities is vast.

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