Entertaining things to do in Debrecen in One day

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What we talk about in this article

Debrecen, the second largest city in Hungary, is a treasure trove of cultural, historical, and natural attractions. In this guide we will take you through a list of interesting and fun things to do in Debrecen in one day. By the end of this article, you will have a good idea about how to fill up your day in Debrecen and about the things you want to see, or not.

But first: a few interesting things to know, before we take off!

A few interesting facts about Debrecen

It’s always fun to know a few of these interesting facts about a city. They help you to see a place in a different light. Often they help you to understand the importance of certain sites and buildings.

  • Debrecen is often referred to as “The Calvinist Rome” owing to its rich Protestant history and the grandeur of the Great Reformed Church, located in the heart of the city.
  • The city is home to the annual “Flower Carnival,” which is an extravagant display of floral floats, traditional music, and dance that attracts visitors from across the globe.
  • The Deri Museum, situated in Debrecen, houses the works of the renowned Hungarian painter, Mihály Munkácsy.
  • Debrecen is the proud host to Hungary’s first university, the University of Debrecen, known for its beautiful neo-baroque architecture.
  • The city is known for its thermal baths, including the famous Aquaticum water park, offering a wide range of spa and wellness services.
  • Debrecen has a strong sports culture and is home to multiple stadiums, arenas, and sport clubs. The most popular being the Nagyerdei Stadium, which also hosts international football matches.

Morning: Exploring Debrecen's cultural attractions

Start your morning in Debrecen by immersing yourself in its rich cultural history. We’ll start exploring with a walking tour to visit the city’s most significant landmarks and monuments.

The vibrant streets of Debrecen are teeming with heritage and history, making it a delightful place to explore before noon. From the imposing edifice of the Great Reformed Church to the priceless masterpieces at the Deri Museum, each stop on your morning excursion promises a glimpse into Debrecen’s past.

Visit the Great Church (Nagytemplom)

The Great Church, or Nagytemplom, is the emblematic heart of Debrecen, flaunting majestic neoclassical architecture that is bound to leave you in awe. As you step inside, you’ll be greeted by the grandeur of its interiors, featuring an ornate organ, an impressive pulpit, and an array of historical artifacts that narrate the tale of the city’s spiritual journey.

Here’s a fun fact: This monumental church has a viewing platform that offers a panoramic view of Debrecen, making it a must-visit spot for photography enthusiasts.

  • Address: Kossuth Square, Debrecen, 4026
  • How to get there: A short walk from the city center, or take tram no. 1 or bus no. 10 to Kossuth Square.
Great Church (Nagytemplom) Debrecen
Great Church (Nagytemplom) Debrecen

Stroll Through Debrecen's Main Square

Debrecen’s Main Square, or Kossuth tér, is an energetic hub that captures the charming spirit of the city. It’s here that you’ll find locals partaking in their day-to-day activities, set against a backdrop of ornate buildings and vibrant eateries. Historical sculptures dot the landscape, creating a fascinating outdoor gallery. Not to forget, the square comes alive with colours during festive seasons, as it serves as the heart of city’s celebrations.

Here’s a fun fact: The square is home to a captivating musical fountain that performs rhythmic water displays synchronized with popular tunes.

  • Address: Kossuth Square, 4025 Debrecen
  • How to get there: The Geat Church is also located here, so, you’re already there
  • Ticket Price: Free admission! Just bring along your joyous spirit and your love for exploration.
Debrecen's Main Square, with a tram riding by
Debrecen's Main Square, with a tram riding by

Walk along Piac Street

Piac Street is the beating heart of Debrecen, with its bustling shops, cafes, and boutiques offering a slice of local life. A fusion of old-world charm and modern-day vibrancy, this pedestrian-friendly street offers a delightful experience for tourists and locals alike. You’ll find numerous mom-and-pop stores, international brands, and enticing eateries, all contributing to an atmosphere filled with energy and joy. Here, the architecture tells a story of the city’s rich past.

Fun fact: Piac, in Hungarian, means ‘market’, reflecting the street’s long history as a trade route.

  • Address: Piac Street, Debrecen, 4024
  • How to get there: A short walk from the Main Square, or take tram 2 from Kossuth Square to the Old City.
  • Ticket Price: Absolutely free! Just bring along your curiosity and a keen eye for detail.
Piac utca, the major street in Debrecen city, Hungary
Piac utca, the major street in Debrecen city, Hungary

Discover the Treasures at Déri Museum

The Déri Museum is a cultural powerhouse in Debrecen, housing an extensive collection of fine art, natural history exhibits, and archaeological finds. Within its elegant neoclassical walls, visitors are transported on a journey that spans centuries, offering a unique insight into Hungarian and international history, art, and culture. Notably, the museum is home to the world-renowned ‘Christ Trilogy’ by the celebrated Hungarian artist, Mihály Munkácsy. Here’s a fun fact: The museum also hosts the largest collection of Samu Pecz’s architectural drawings. Exploring the Déri Museum is akin to walking through a treasure trove of knowledge and creativity, making it a must-visit destination in Debrecen.

  • Address: Déri tér 1, Debrecen, 4026, Spain
  • How to get there: Take tram no. 1 or bus no. 10 to Déri tér station.
Deri museum in Debrecen
Deri museum in Debrecen

Experience the Magic at MODEM Centre for Modern and Contemporary Arts

Immerse yourself in the world of art at the MODEM Centre for Modern and Contemporary Arts. This is one of the most significant cultural hubs in Eastern Hungary, showcasing a wide array of artworks from national and international artists. With seven exhibition halls spanning over 3,500 square meters, you’ll be lost in a sea of creativity and inspiration. Don’t miss the chance to join one of their intriguing art workshops or enlightening guided tours!

  • Address: MODEM Centre for Modern and Contemporary Arts, Debrecen, Baltazár Dezső tér 1, 4032 Hungary
  • How to get there: Take bus no. 1, 2 or 11 to Baltazár Dezső tér station.

Explore more Architectural Heritage of Debrecen

Depending your walking and sightseeing speed, there might still be morning left, or it might be noon. So, we’re listing a few more places that you can visit in the same area without having to travel too far.

  1. Csokonai Theatre: Named after the famous Hungarian poet, Mihály Csokonai Vitéz, this traditional theater building adds to the city’s cultural charm.
  2. City Hall: This stunning structure, located in the heart of Debrecen, perfectly captures the spirit of the city.
  3. Hotel Aranybika: This art nouveau building is not just a place to stay but a sight to behold.
  4. St. Anne’s Cathedral: The baroque-style architecture is a visual treat for all history and architecture enthusiasts.

Lunch time: Indulge in some local flavor at Hal köz Market

After a fulfilling morning of exploration, the Hal köz Market is the perfect place to refuel and experience the authentic taste of Debrecen. As you step into this bustling market, your senses will be overwhelmed by the symphony of colors, aromas, and flavors. From traditional Hungarian dishes like goulash and langos to fresh produce and artisanal cheeses, the market offers a gastronomical journey through Hungary’s culinary heritage. A fun fact: Hal köz Market is also known for hosting regular culinary events showcasing the best of local cuisine!

  • Address: Hal köz, Debrecen, 4025, Hungary
  • How to get there: From the Déri Museum, it’s a pleasant 20-minute walk through the city’s picturesque streets. If you prefer public transport, you can take bus no. 11 to the Hal köz stop.
  • Ticket Price: Entrance to the market is free, but do keep some Forints handy to indulge in the delightful food offerings!
Make sure to try Hungarian Goulash when traveling to Hungary
Make sure to try Hungarian Goulash when traveling to Hungary

Afternoon: Relax in the Northern Park Area

As we bid farewell to the vibrant Hal köz Market, our journey continues to the green expanses of the northern park area. A stark contrast to the bustling city, this area offers a serene retreat into Debrecen’s natural beauty.

Visit the University of Debrecen

The University of Debrecen, one of Hungary’s oldest and most prestigious higher education institutions, is a must-visit. The sprawling campus, with its lush green spaces and remarkable architectural beauty, makes it more than just an educational hub. Walking through its corridors is like stepping into a time machine, taking you back to the early 20th century when the main building was erected. A fun fact? The university’s library is home to a staggering collection of over 6 million books!

  • Address: University of Debrecen, Debrecen, Egyetem tér 1, 4032 Hungary
  • How to get there: The campus is a quick 10-minute drive or a 40-minute walk from the city center. Public transport is also available; bus lines 11, 24, 24Y, 26, and 52 all stop here.
  • Ticket price: As a public institution, entrance to the campus grounds is free. However, certain buildings may have admission fees for visitors.
University of Debrecen
University of Debrecen

Explore the Great Forest Park

A true oasis in the heart of the city, the Great Forest Park is the perfect afternoon stop in your Debrecen exploration. This expansive park, with its verdant landscape and tranquil lake, serves as a sanctuary for both locals and visitors seeking a respite from city life. Here, you can stroll along the shaded pathways, rent a boat for a leisurely lake ride, or simply enjoy a picnic amidst the park’s serene beauty.

Fun fact? The Park is home to the renowned “Floral Clock”, a unique timepiece adorned with blossoming flowers that change with the seasons!

  • Address: Nagyerdei Park, Debrecen, 4032 Hungary
  • How to get there: The park is a leisurely 20-minute walk from the University of Debrecen. Alternatively, you can take bus line 11 from the university, which drops you off right at the park entrance.
  • Ticket price: Free. There may be a small rental fee for boats and other recreational equipment.
Entertaining things to do in Debrecen in One day
Fountain in the park. Debrecen, Hungary.

Relax in the Aquaticum Mediterranean Thermal Baths

After a day of exploring, unwind at the Aquaticum Mediterranean Thermal Baths. Situated in the heart of Debrecen’s Great Forest, this wellness haven offers a unique blend of relaxation and adventure. With thermal water rich in minerals, it provides a natural remedy for ailing joints and muscles. The indoor baths, reminiscent of a Mediterranean beach, offer an ideal escape from the city’s bustling energy. For an added thrill, there are water slides to enjoy.

Fun fact: The thermal waters here originate from a depth of 1,200 meters and maintain a cosy temperature between 30 to 38 degrees Celsius all year round!

  • Address: Aquaticum Debrecen Mediterranean Experience Baths, Debrecen, Nagyerdei park 1, 4032 Hungary
  • How to get there: A short 10-minute drive or a 35-minute walk from the University of Debrecen. Public transport is also available; use bus lines 11 or 24 from the city center.
  • Ticket price: Check current prices and deals at the official website

Dinner time

After a long day of soaking up the city’s charm, it’s time to treat your taste buds.  From cozy corner cafés to esteemed fine-dining establishments, there’s something to suit every palate. Whether you’re looking for a delicious breakfast, lunch, dinner or late night snack – the options are endless!  

Relaxed evening activity in Debrecen

In Debrecen, relaxed evenings blend seamlessly into vibrant nightlife. If you’re looking for a serene yet engaging evening experience, visit the Nagyerdei Park, an urban oasis perfect for an evening stroll, or take a leisurely ride on the Nagyerdei Water Tower’s panoramic elevator to witness Debrecen’s skyline come alive under the night sky.

For those with a penchant for the arts, the Csokonai Theater offers a variety of performances that will leave you captivated. This esteemed institution is a testament to the city’s rich cultural heritage and a hub for drama enthusiasts.

If you’re more inclined towards a social evening, Debrecen’s nightlife does not disappoint. Rózsakert, a popular spot located on Egyetem Street, is known for its live music and outdoor seating, making it the perfect choice for a laid-back evening with friends.

Budapest’s famous ruin bars have made their way to Debrecen, and Roncsbár is one of the best. With its unique ambiance, diverse music, and wide array of drinks, it promises a memorable night out.

Finally, end your day on a high note at Butiq, arguably the most elegant cocktail bar in Debrecen, offering a wide range of cocktails in a stylish, intimate setting.

No matter your preference, Debrecen offers a myriad of options to ensure your evenings are as eventful, or as peaceful, as you desire. Remember, these are just a few suggestions, Debrecen is a city teeming with life and vibrancy, ready for you to explore and enjoy.

Panoramic Evening view over Debrecen
Panoramic Evening view over Debrecen

Things to do in the area if you have more time in Debrecen

If you find yourself with some extra days in Debrecen, consider spreading your wings a bit further to explore the surrounding regions. There are numerous day trip opportunities that are just a short drive away from the city. These excursions offer a mix of natural beauty, historical significance, and cultural experiences that you won’t find anywhere else. So, ready to set off on a new adventure? Let’s dive into some of the best day trips you can take from Debrecen!

Step into nature at the Hortobágy National Park

Just a short trip from Debrecen lies the magnificent Hortobágy National Park, the largest protected area in Hungary and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This day trip will engulf you in the unspoiled landscapes of the Hungarian Great Plain, where the sky stretches as far as the eye can see. You’ll marvel at the traditional pastoral life, mingle with local herders and marvel at the unique flora and fauna.

Don’t forget to look out for the iconic Hungarian Grey cattle or ‘gulyás’ (herdsmen), who are as much a part of the scenery as the grassland itself.

Read more about the different National Parks in Hungary

Fun Fact: The park is home to the Tisza Lake, one of the largest artificial lakes in Hungary, a haven for birdwatchers with over 200 bird species.

  • Address: Hortobágy National Park, Visitor Center, H-4071 Hortobágy, Petőfi tér 9.
  • How to get there: You can reach the park by train from Debrecen to Hortobágy, which takes around 30 minutes.

Discover the Majestic Boldogkő Castle

For traveller who like to explore some of the greatest castles in Hungary, a day trip from Debrecen to the Boldogkő Castle is a must. This castle offers, by far, the most breathtaking views.

Perched atop a hill, this historic fortress offers panoramic views of the picturesque Zemplén Mountains. As you explore the 13th-century castle’s winding corridors and towering ramparts, you’ll be transported back in time. Don’t miss the fascinating exhibition of medieval weaponry!

Fun Fact: The name ‘Boldogkő’ translates to ‘Happy Stone’ – a nod to the castle’s enduring charm.

Read our in-depth guide about Boldogkő Castle

  • Address: Boldogkő Castle, 3934 Boldogkőváralja, Vár út 5, Hungary.
  • How to get there: From Debrecen, catch a train to Miskolc, then switch to a local bus headed for Boldogkőváralja (3h). If you have your own car, that’s definitely a better option (1.5h).
  • Ticket Price: Check actual prices at the official website

Experience the historic charm of Eger

Eger, a city rich in history and culture, is an unmissable day trip from Debrecen. Known for its Baroque buildings, the city boasts the Eger castle, thermal baths, and the northernmost Ottoman minaret. Wine lovers will rejoice at the Valley of Beautiful Women, home to the famous Bull’s Blood wine.

Fun Fact: Eger once heroically withstood a month-long siege by the Turks in the 16th Century, inspiring the creation of the Bull’s Blood wine. Eger has a lot of wellness hotels where you can enjoy some of the famous thermal baths.

Read about how to spend one day in Eger

  • Address: Eger, Heves County, Hungary.
  • How to get there: Trains from Debrecen to Eger run regularly, taking approximately 2.5 hours. A more direct route is by car, which takes 1.5 hours.

A day trip to Szeged

Bask in the vibrant glow of Szeged, affectionately known as the ‘City of Sunshine.’ A day trip from Debrecen to this sun-drenched city delivers an immersive Hungarian experience like no other. Wander through the charming streets, admire the stunning Art Nouveau buildings, and savor the city’s famous fish soup, a culinary delight. Don’t forget to visit the Votive Church, an impressive architectural wonder featuring exceptional frescoes.

Read more about the things you can do in Szeged

Fun Fact: Szeged is home to Hungary’s most prestigious university and is considered the intellectual hub of the country.

  • Address: Szeged, Csongrád County, Hungary.
  • How to get there: Regular trains run from Debrecen to Szeged, with a journey time of around 2.5 hours. If driving, expect a journey of approximately 2 hours.

How to get around in Debrecen

Navigating through the city of Debrecen is a breeze, thanks to its efficient and user-friendly transportation system. From public buses and trams to bike rentals and cabs, there are numerous ways to explore this enchanting city. Let’s delve into a few practical options, ensuring your one-day trip around Debrecen is nothing short of an unforgettable adventure.

Walking in Debrecen

Debrecen is a pedestrian-friendly city with its charming streets, picturesque squares, and compact city center. Walking allows you to fully absorb the unique atmosphere of this historic city, with ample opportunity to stop off at cafes, shops, and cultural attractions along the way.

Metro in Debrecen

Although Debrecen doesn’t have a metro system, it has an efficient network of trams and buses that serve the city and its suburbs. The public transport in Debrecen is reliable and punctual, making it easy to navigate the city.

Other Modes of Transportation in Debrecen

For those keen on cycling, Debrecen offers a bike-sharing system, making it a breeze to cycle around the city. Taxis are also readily available and offer a convenient way to get around, especially during the night when public transport services are limited. Car rental services are available for those who prefer driving. However, be mindful of parking regulations in the city center.

Tram in Debrecen
Tram in Debrecen

How to get to Debrecen

Debrecen has great transport links and can be reached from any corner of the world. Whether you prefer flying, taking a train or driving, there are various options available to you.

By Air

Debrecen International Airport is the gateway to the city for international travelers. It offers regular direct flights to several key destinations in Europe, including London, Munich, and Moscow. Several airlines, such as Lufthansa and Wizz Air, offer services to Debrecen. From the airport, the city center is just a short taxi ride or bus journey away.

Check flights into Debrecen

By Train

Debrecen is well-connected to the Hungarian rail network, making it easy to reach from any major city in Hungary. Direct train services are available from Budapest, the country’s capital, with a travel time of around 2.5 hours. The city’s main station, Debrecen Railway Station, is centrally located, making it a convenient entry point to the city.

By Car

If you prefer the freedom of driving, you can easily reach Debrecen by road. The city is connected to Hungary’s major motorways, making it accessible from all parts of the country. From Budapest, the journey by car takes approximately 2 hours. However, keep in mind the parking regulations once in the city.

If you also want to explore the area around Debrecen, renting a car is a great option.

Where to stay in Debrecen

When it comes to accommodation in Debrecen, there’s a plethora of options to suit every traveler’s need and budget. For a dose of luxury and personalized service, consider staying at one of the city’s boutique hotels. These establishments offer a unique blend of comfort, elegance, and local flair, making your stay in Debrecen a memorable one. To find the perfect boutique hotel for your stay, check out this comprehensive guide on boutique hotels in Debrecen.

Régi Posta

Entertaining things to do in Debrecen in One day

Mercure Debrecen

Entertaining things to do in Debrecen in One day

Aquaticum Termal & Wellness

Entertaining things to do in Debrecen in One day

Combining your visit to Debrecen with a trip around Hungary

Debrecen, often referred to as the “Eastern Capital” of Hungary, makes a great addition to any Hungarian road trip. It is located approximately 221 kilometers east of Budapest, a drive that should take around 2.5 hours.

Debrecen’s location also puts you within reach of several other intriguing destinations. To the west, explore the rich cultural heritage in Szeged, or head north to explore the vineyards of Tokaj. Our Hungary itinerary, encompassing locales from the vibrant capital city of Budapest to the historic charm of Pecs and the charming architecture of Sopron, ensures an all-encompassing experience of this culturally rich nation. With Debrecen’s strategic location, you are at the heart of a network of cities that provide diverse and rich experiences, making your Hungarian adventure truly memorable.

Conclusion: things to do in Debrecen in one day

In conclusion, there’s a wealth of things to do in Debrecen. From its rich history to unique cultural sights, the city guarantees a day packed with excitement and discovery. Whether you’re exploring the grand architecture of Debrecen’s churches, immersing yourself in the local art scene, or savoring the flavours of Hungarian cuisine, boredom is not an option. Just one day in Debrecen will leave you longing for a next visit. So, pack your bags and embark on a trip to Debrecen, the charming Hungarian city that never fails to enchant its visitors.

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