There are not too many people who wouldn’t think of wine instantly when hearing the name of Tokaj, and it’s for good reason. The history of Tokaj and wine became one almost a thousand years ago, as this area was already a grape producing land in the 11th century. However, in addition to the cellars of the wine region of Northern Hungary, the romantic castle ruins and natural treasures such as the Bodrog river or the tarn of Megyer Hill should not be left our from our itinerary either.
Owing to their location on the southern hills of the Zemplén Mountains, the wines of the Tokaj-Hegyalja grapevines are world famous. The development of the city of Tokaj located at the meeting point of the Bodrog and Tisza rivers is also owing to this, in addition to its important strategic and commercial role in medieval times. The city was one of the gates of the traffic between East-Upper Hungary and East Alföld, and today the city and its area is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. This is where we are going to guide you in the fourth part of our Indulj el! series.
The tarn of Megyer Hill
The magical tarn of Megyer Hill is the result of the “work” of both man and nature. It was established for a grindstone mine in the 15th century due to its hard, volcanic rocks, and when the mining activity stopped, a picturesque lake was formed amidst the 70 meter high cliffs. Even though it is not suitable for swimming, the tarn still offers adventures, as a via ferrata was opened at its shore this year, inviting both beginners and advanced level climbers to conquer the cliffs.
Kalóz Kikötő / Pirate Harbour
We came across Kalóz Kikötő at a small village along the bank of the Bodrog river, at Bodrogkisfalud. The eco-friendly facility offers many ways to enjoy the river. One can rent various types of water vehicles from motorboats to canoes, including a self-propelled fishing pier and a 12-person party pontoon, with grill option and speakers.
Zemplén Adventure Park
The Zemplén Adventure Park at Sátoraljaújhely, located 46 kilometers from Tokaj, offers additional opportunities to those looking for active relaxation. It includes suspension bridges, a bobsled track open both during the summer and the winter, climbing walls, a chairlift and ski slopes, and its biggest hit is the high ropes course hanged between Szár Hill and Magas Hill. If you’re brave enough, you can travel the 1036 meter distance within seconds.
Cellars of Gombos Hill and Götz Winery
After all the adventures, we finally arrived to the most authentic activity offered by Tokaj: winetasting. The most special place to taste the wines of the region is located in Hercegkút, where visitors find tiered cellar rows with unified looks that cannot be seen anywhere else. The cellars of Gombos Hill listed as a World Heritage site also welcome visitors with cellars carved into the hillside. This is where the Götz family ages their wine for their traditional family winery. Tasting their classic Tokaji wines like the 6 puttonyos aszú or Muscat Lunel is a must.
Castle tours in the Zemplén Mountain
It’s safe to say that this part of the country gives home to the most castles. These include both romantic castle ruins, like the Boldogkő Castle also known as the Castle of the Seven Fairies, or Ilona Zrínyi’s favorite, the Regéci Castle, and renovated ones like the Füzéri, Szerencsi or Rákóczi Castle at Sárospatak. These can be accessed by car, but you can also take a nice, long walk to get to them, as they are surrounded by spectacular mountains.
Before you’d say farewell to Tokaj, make sure you visit Labor Bistro in the city center, located next to the Church of Jesus’ Heart in Tokaj. The wine bistro and fine dining restaurant is the best place to get to know Tokaj’s authentic cuisine, as they select and combine the best ingredients produced by local farmers and the finest wines of the region for visitors.
Illustration: Gergő Gilicze