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Seven challenging high-altitude points in the country

CsóványosGreater Budapest

Hungary boasts some panoramic viewpoints that are a little harder to reach than traditional lookouts. We’re not thinking of any extreme challenges that only a parkour athlete would be able to overcome, but some that even average people can accomplish. Here are a few places to consider if you’d like to push yourself a bit or choose a route that is slightly harder than average for your photoshoot. 

Bivouacking in the highest lookout

One of Hungary’s most exciting sights, as enjoyable at night as it is during the day, is none other than the Galya Lookout Tower. The highest lookout point in Hungary is also the most adventurous bivouac shelter in the country. A 17-metre-high stone lookout tower has stood here since 1939. The tower, which was originally built with internally closed stairs, was later reinvented and transformed into the current open structure. On the one hand, it was extended, which made it 30 metres high and, on the other, the stairs were placed on the outside, so the interior space freed up accommodates three 9 m2 rooms. The unique atmosphere of the reinforced concrete cells is provided by coloured windows and round metal doors, lending the interiors a constructivist and at times, even a pop-art atmosphere. Thanks to its design – which bears simplicity and respect for nature in mind – there is neither a soft bed nor a heated bathroom, but there is electricity, lighting and Wi-Fi, making it a rather luxurious bivouac shelter. Each minimalist cabin houses up to five people. For those who are less keen on such puritanical conditions and prefer more comfortable accommodation, there is also a tourist hostel right at the foot of the lookout tower. Of course, a night’s stay is a bit more costly here and sadly you won’t be able to stare at the stars over your head.

Volcano tour to Csóványos around the stream

Reaching the top of Börzsöny mountain from the north is a real adventure. Expect a route riddled with stream crossings and rough mountainous terrain, but the sight will make you forget all the difficulties. Following the signs of the National Blue Trail (Kéktúra), the road starts up to the Csarna Valley and then heads to the Fekete Valley. The path leading deep into the romantic valleys is sometimes unyielding and passes through forests with a variety of trees. Walk along under oak trees, beeches, hornbeams and ash trees but be prepared to criss-cross the currents of the Csarna stream, which can be quite wild at times. Thanks to the tranquillity of the valley, rare and protected animal species such as the black stork, the imperial eagle or the Ural owl, as well as the lynx, which leads a rather hidden lifestyle, have found refuge here. Consider yourself very lucky to meet any of them, but spotted salamanders hidden among the stones are a more frequent sight.

Circular panorama from an altitude of 960 metres

From the highest point of Börzsöny, at the top of Csóványos, you can also peek inside the former volcano that formed the central part of the mountains. In the freely accessible concrete observation tower, a safe, steel spiral staircase leads from the hilltop at 938 metres to the observation deck at a height of 22.5 metres. Three balconies have been created between the two points, which are accessible through openings cut in the side of the tower. The lookout tower, surrounded by mountains and forests, offers a fantastic panorama. In the immediate vicinity, you can see the exploded and collapsed ruins of the former crater of the volcanic Börzsöny. From here, you’ll also see the southern part of the mountain range, the Danube Bend and the long undulating range of the Visegrád Hills, as well as the Cserhát and Gerecse, and even the peaks of the High Tatras in clear weather if you have good eyesight.


A boy and a girl – checking caves in the Pilis

Expect a more adventurous panorama than usual at a certain point in the Pilis, where the arch of huge cave entrances yawning between the limestone cliffs also contributes to the sight. This place is none other than the Leány and Legény (Girl and Guy) Caves, which are actually not even as alarming as caves in general, as the more frightening darker passages are not open to the public. The iron gates at the end of the caves here only allow access to professional cavers to see into the belly of the mountain. Accordingly, you can only admire the upper few metres of the cavities. But even this – given the soundless flight of the bats that inhabit the cave as well – creates quite an impression.

The western side of the Pilis conceals secret caves

The area around the Csévi Cliffs promises a really light, yet spectacular hike, and the sight of the Fekete kő (Black Stone), for example, is well worth the effort. When the Turks invaded the area, two caves in close proximity provided refuge for the locals. The women hid in one from the attackers, while the men hid in the other. These cavities provide perfectly dry conditions in both winter and summer for anyone seeking a bivouac shelter. The cave entrances yawning among the white rocks of the Csévi cliffs are impressive enough from the outside, but the interiors, lined with spectacular limestone formations that have been home to both animals and humans for thousands of years, are even more fascinating. At the time of Ferdinand, there was even a well-disguised counterfeiting workshop operating here, or at least this is what the clues found by archaeologists suggest.

Perspectives beneath your feet

These rock cavities, which are easily accessible on hiking trails, yet still hidden away, are cosy and comfortable rest areas during an adventurous Pilis excursion, while the view from the Legény Cave to the Dorog Basin and the Gerecse is majestic. Adjacent to the Leány and Legény Caves are the Ajándék, Bivak and Vacska Caves, but the rocky hillside encloses more deep cavities leading into the depths, which have been found to be connected by labyrinthine passages. Together, they form the third-longest cave complex in Hungary, the Ariadne Cave System. Therefore, the experience of depth and height can be enjoyed together in the area.


Shovel to the top

At Lake Tisza, in a small bay near the Ravasz ridge, stands a brand new lookout point, nine metres high, which is also accessible from the Neptun Port in Újlőrincfalva. The special feature of the larch structure is that it is basically not on land, so the only approach to the lookout tower is over the water on some kind of craft. The tower serves more as a rest stop for kayakers and canoeists, but of course there is a great view of the entire Poroszló Basin from the top.