Holidaying abroad is fun. But what can be even more fun is holidaying at home! And by that I do not mean opting for a staycation (although, believe me, that can be so much fun, too) but discovering your own country’s hidden or not so hidden gems with friends or family.
Data suggest that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a boom in domestic tourism worldwide. In 2020 and 2021 it was obviously harder and riskier to travel abroad because of the pandemic, so many probably chose to visit domestic destinations from constraint or because of safety considerations, or both. But there is another aspect to staying in you home country for leisure – low carbon motivation! This is something for us all to take into account in this era of climate crisis, because let’s face it: flying is not a very environmentally friendly way of travelling. According to 2020 data, around 2.4 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions come from aviation. Together with other gases and the water vapour trails produced by aircraft, the industry is responsible for around 5 per cent of global warming. This might not seem like large contribution, but we should not forget that only about 3 per cent of the global population flies regularly. This is not to say that we should give up on it entirely, but at least we need to understand that flying is a privilege and consider alternatives when possible. Like going to places that are at an easier reach!
And that is what I did. Hungary is a treasure trove of less known natural beauties, and this summer I was lucky enough to explore some of them.
Have you ever heard of Alsópere? Probably not, and I confess I had not, either, before I went there with my family this summer. In the heart of the Bakony mountains, this little village offers great hiking and cycling opportunities. It is an ancient settlement, with written records of it (in the form of Pere) dating back to the Middle Ages, with the lands around it having belonged to the Nádasdy aristocratic family from the 18th century until 1952, when the Nádasdys were forcibly removed and their property nationalised. In happier times, it was Count Ferenc Nádasdy who had established the Alsópere Arboretum, which, slowly returning to is original splendour, can be visited free of charge.
The forests around the village are rich in game, so the local restaurants offer special culinary experiences for those who like game meat. Also, there are plenty of cultural activities one can pursue in the vicinity of Alsópere, as neither Zirc, with its beautifully restored Abbey, nor Bakonybél, with its famous Benedictine monastery, are far.
After the mountainous beauties of Veszprém County I had the pleasure to experience the beach feeling in Csongrád-Csanád County. My other domestic destination this summer was in fact the Körös-torok holiday resort near Csongrád, where the Körös and the Tisza rivers meet. This is still a less known spot in Hungary, undeservedly! There is a free-of-charge sandy beach, which is breath-takingly pretty, with a camp site just next to it, where my friends and I stayed. We even tried SUPing, and swam a lot in the clean river water.
It is worth noting that Körös-torok is part of the so-called Körösszög region (Körös angle), where tourists can go on amazing canoe tours, paddling in the usually slow-flowing waters of the Körös and Tisza rivers, amidst a virtually untouched nature rich in wildlife, especially water birds.
So, if you are Hungarian, reside in Hungary, or are coming here for a longer stay this autumn, and you are adventurous enough to break with the routine of visiting famed tourist sights thronging with visitors, go to Alsópere, explore the Körös-torok – believe me, you will not be disappointed. You can also visit exciting, less hyped autumn festivals this year such as the Szarvas Plum Days (Szarvas, with its unique Lutheran heritage and beautiful botanical garden merits an entire separate article) or the Kerekdomb Festival in Tállya in Zemplén County, where the villages vineyards and wine cellars become the venues of exciting concerts, theatre and musical performances this September. Why go to far-away lands when such beauties are so close to you?