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Around June I became aware that a few things existed, Hungarian horsemen and their incredible skills, the UNESCO listed Hortobágy National Park, the Puszta and the rare and heritage breed livestock of this unique region. We’ve been trying to make a visit to this area ever since but our first chance came with our trans-Europe, Romania to London 2017 roadtrip. We decided to make this trip fun and an exploration rather than the usual trudge, so seeing these Hungarian blue-clad cossaks with their whip-cracking trick riding, grey cattle and weirdly horned racka sheep became our first destination. We drove south fromm Maramures, crossed the border into Hungary near Oradea and headed to Hortobagy for the first night of our summer adventure in Europe.
Hortobagy National Park
We found it difficult to find accurate information on this region online, most of the websites were in Hungarianin and defeated Google translate also the information they offered was confusing and less than helpful. We decided to head to the Hortobágy Nemzeti Park Tourist Information Centre after breakfast and simply ask how best to enjoy and explore the area. Their top suggestion was the Mata Stud and their 10am tour was about to start, we had a plan!
This post will mostly consist of photos from our tour at the Mata Stud, we’ll also tell you where we stayed and give you more options on things to do and places to visit in and around Hortobágy National Park. This was an incredible morning and absolutely worth doing, you can reach the area easily by road, it’s in central, eastern Hungary, or there is a train station nearby at Mata.
What is the Puszta?
UNESCO say ” Puszta consists of a vast area of plains and wetlands in eastern Hungary. Traditional forms of land use, such as the grazing of domestic animals, have been present in this pastoral society for more than two millennia.”
It’s a fascinating area to drive through, encircled by commercial agricultural land, endless sunflowers, corn and grains, the Hortobágy Puszta is reminiscent of the grassy plains of the UK, even Mongolia. Grasslands and wetlands mingle, giving a diverse habitat and abundant birdlife.
Where to Stay for Hortobágy National Park
We visited the Hortobágy area mid-week, in July and we found it hard to find accommdation through limited availability. We settled on a lower cost small hotel in Balmazújváros, a small town on the edge of the park. Breakfast was included, the family suite had 2 separate bedrooms and the town had a good restaurant and a fantastic swimming pool and natural hot water spa a short walk away. We would recommend this hotel as a good basic choice.
Check out prices and availability for Kerekes Panzió here.
Pictures of Hungarian Horsemen From Hortobagy National Park and the Mata Stud
Is the Mata Stud and Hortobágy Park Good for Kids?
It’s fantastic for kids! The animal park mentioned below gives children the opportunity to interact with baby animals and everything about this region is extremely interesting and educational, from the whip-cracking horsemen to the rooftop crane’s nests. The little museum at the Visitor’s Centre is great too.
Other Things to Do in and Around Hortobágy National Park
Swimming, Thermal Pools and Spa at Balmazújváros
Hortobágy Nemzeti Park Tourist Information Centre and Visitor Centre with Craftsmen’s Yard. (as above, craftsman’s yard only on weekends)
The Annual Crane Migration, see thousands of cranes in the region in October.
The Great Fish Ponds
For you, for Pinterest
So that’s our Europe road trip off to a great start, we enjoyed exploring the Hortobágy National Park and meeting the blue clad horsemen and their animals even more than expected, it was a morning to remember. Onward now into the south of Hungary for Lake Balaton, Hungary’s inland sea, and from there beautiful Slovenia. Stick around to follow!