Every year, 14 February is an exciting day for all couples. Selecting a romantic spot to spend the day at is a great idea to make Valentine’s Day truly memorable for our significant other. Hungarian nature offers a wide range of fairy tale-like places that all couples can enjoy. Arguably one of the most beautiful sights in Hungary is the Ilona Valley Waterfall, located just a couple of hours drive away from Budapest in the north of the country.
The trail to the Ilona Valley Waterfall starts near the so-called Rákóczi Oak, a large trunk that inspired legends. Francis II Rákóczi (1676–1735) was a Hungarian nobleman and Prince of Transylvania who led the Rákóczi War of Independence to topple Habsburg rule over Hungary. According to local legends, when Rákóczi visited these Northern Hungarian territories around 1710,
he tied his horse to the oak tree that is now known as the Rákóczi Oak.
While this legend can hardly be verified, it has the ring of truth—the oak tree trunk is estimated to be over three hundred years old, so it was already growing when Rákóczi lived and owned the nearby territories. At its peak, the tree was 21 metres tall (some 69 feet) with a circumference of 9 metres. The old tree fell in a storm in 2015. Now couples can climb into and share a romantic kiss inside this legendary oak’s trunk.
On the trail to the Ilona Valley Waterfall there are a number of reservoirs that were mostly used for mining back in the 18th century. Today the Timsós Reservoir supplies water to the nearby hospital in Parádfürdő that is famous for its medicinal waters. Visitors walking on the trail can also taste the Saint Stephen draw-well’s carbonated water on the way to the final, and most exiting spot on the excursion. The very last station on the trail is the Ilona Waterfall that is the highest natural waterfall in Hungary and many would say the most beautiful spot in the Mátra. The waterfall, whose water supply is fed by two smaller springs, falls form the top of a 10-metre-tall vertical cliff, squeezed between the Marhád and Cserpes Peaks, a 606-metre and a 734-metre-high mountain top. The calm silence of nature that is disrupted only by the sound of the rushing water is an ideal spot for couples to stop and appreciate each other and the love that bonds them.
The Ilona Valley Waterfall is part of the Bükk National Park, that was established as Hungary’s third national park in 1977. It is located in the north of Hungary near the city of Miskolc. As the park extends over 430 square kilometres (166 square miles), it is the largest national park of the country. In the limestone mountains of the park there are various karst formations and caves, including the country’s longest (4 kilometres) and deepest (245 metres) Istvánlápa cave. 90 per cent of the park’s territory is covered by forests that are home to species such as saker falcons, lynxes, red deer and Eastern imperial eagles.