Magyar

Pécs region for Explorers - 5 days



Pécs region
How long it takes?
5 Days
Best vehicle choice for this plan:
bus
bicycle
car
This region is famous for:
World Heritage Sites
Baths, Spas  and Beaches
Museums and exhibitions
Castles, Forts, Palaces
Culture and monuments
Religious sites
Natural values
Hiking
Pécs region
Explorers
Day 1
Treasure-filled Baranya comes from the combination of mountains, lakes and natural values. The centre of the county is Sopianae, a must-visit item on the bucket list of all gourmet globetrotters.
Train tour from downtown of Pécs to Zsolnay Quarter

If you prefer to take your tours with a ‘professional’, just hop on to the little sightseeing train on wheels and listen carefully. The Dotto train is not just comfortable, but is genuinely local, and may even know things that people from Pécs may not be aware of. It takes you around Pécs in 50 minutes, and during your journey you’ll meet many smiling and waving locals, as well as covering a large part of the town: the tour starts on the main square and runs up to the Zsolnay Quarter through the narrow streets so typical of Pécs, and some busy roads as well. The train on wheels operates every day between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., and leaves on the hour every hour from right in front of the Nagy Lajos Secondary Grammar School, returning to the same place. The terminus could not be in a better place, since from here you can start your trip around Pécs and discover the city’s World Heritage relics.

World Heritage relics of the City

As you pass through Káptalan utca, you will see one of the favourite sights of the people of Pécs, the first padlock fence in the country. There are only legends about how it came into being in Pécs and no-one knows anything for sure, but what we do know is that every local youngster and their love put a padlock on the fence. The Cella Septichora Visitor Centre is not far from here. The ancient tombs, which are protected as World Heritage sites, are one of the most important places in Pécs. You are advised to book a guided tour in advance, so that you can learn more secrets about the relics of Pécs.

The Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul

And while on the topic of interesting buildings, we should also mention one of the symbols of Pécs, the Cathedral. When you arrive at Dóm tér, take a moment to appreciate the four-towered symbol of Pécs: the Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul. Few people know that you can climb up into the lookout tower of the Cathedral – not on your own though, but as part of a guided tour. The view is simply unforgettable. If you can tear yourselves away from the enchanting building, walk down the stairs into the secret Bishop’s Cellar. Legend has it that if Bishop József Cserháti had something secretive to discuss, he invited his confidants to the ‘Texas bar’, which meant the cellar that they accessed through a tunnel. During the era of the party state, this was the place to where they retreated from the palace full of bugs, and where they could discuss issues concealed from the state administration. The passage opens into the garden of the Bishop’s Palace, and you are advised to book your place for the guided tour in advance.

Day 2
Villánykövesd wine cellar system

When you are in Baranya county, and whether you are a wine lover or not, exploring this region has to be about more than just sightseeing. The Villány terroir is known far and wide, and is where you will find the very first wine road in Hungary. Those who are familiar with wines know that the products of the Villány wine region are considered one of the best quality and most popular products in the wine market, both at home and abroad. The most romantic wine cellar system in the region must be the one in Villánykövesd. The tiny, romantic village at the foot of Fekete Hill is not only a treat for wine lovers, but is also a favourite destination for photographers, painters and artists, with its captivating beauty. Most visitors want to see the protected wine cellar system, which is the most spectacular complex of the three-level cellar village. Take a look at the characteristic coloured doors of the cellars and you will immediately understand why people fall in love with this tiny village. But let’s see what’s in store in the village for wine lovers: You can see the current phases of wine production in Villánykövesd, learn what tools winemakers use and, of course, also taste the village’s excellent wines

The Centre of Villány terroir

Villány, the ‘doyen’ of the historic wine region, is only a few minutes away from Villánykövesd by car. One interesting fact from history is that most of the vineyards in Villány were destroyed during the Ottoman rule, and were replanted by the Serbs and Germans who immigrated here later on. These ethnic groups were the catalysts in domesticating the grape varieties Kadarka and Blauer Portugieser, although the grape and wine culture of the region has reached its final form in the past several decades. As a result of wineries applying modern technology of European quality, Villány now teems with wine tourism services. No matter which one you choose – either the Bock Winery, Attila Gere’s Winery or the Sauska Winery – you cannot go wrong with any of them when you visit the historic wine cellar system, which is also the main street in Villány. Many wine cellars also have a restaurant, which are also hard to choose from: gastronomy along the wine cellar system varies from bread-based light afternoon snacks to fine dining. But be sure not to rush your decision: take your time and treat your taste buds in different places.

Day 3
The Zsolnay Quarter

The best place to start exploring the Cultural Capital is the ‘miniature town’, built on the site of what was once the Zsolnay Porcelain Manufactory, in the Zsolnay Quarter, the cultural centre of Pécs. Take a pleasant walk along the street dedicated to shops selling handcrafted goods, where one of the obligatory activities is chocolate tasting in the Csoko-láda Chocolate Shop. But this is not the only sweet memory you will collect here, since you can also visit the Nosztalgia Cukorka Látványmanufaktúra, the home of traditional handmade sweets. The ‘candy-man’ of the Quarter is Gyula Kovács, one of the few Hungarian artisanal candy-makers who is truly dedicated to their craft. Visitors can watch how they are made and, of course, can also taste the colourful sweets. If you are a gamer, the place to go is the ‘palace of wonders’ the Labor - Játechtér, where fans of gaming will find everything from Nintendo to state-of-the-art technology. Art lovers will find interesting pieces at the m21 Gallery, and there are two other must-see places: the Gyugyi Collection, with its 700 unique Zsolnay porcelain items, and the Pink Zsolnay Exhibition. Although the Zsolnay Quarter is a whole-day activity with something to see in every square metre, there are other interesting sights on the Pécs bucket list awaiting you. When you are done with your strong black coffee and ready to discover the rest of the town, head to the town centre.

The City of Arts

Art is an intrinsic part of Pécs and there have been many great artists who were born in the town. Just think of Janus Pannonius, who was inspired by an almond tree in Pécs and wrote one of his famous poems ‘To an Almond Tree in Transdanubia’, but Ferenc Martyn, Mihály Babits, Sándor Weöres, József Angster and Marcell Breuer were also born here. There is also, of course, Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka. Whether you like the art of painting or not, the works of the most remarkable Hungarian painter will take your breath away. Visit the gallery located on Janus Pannonius utca, and let the paintings take you to another world. They travelled a long way before arriving in Pécs, having been auctioned off after the painter’s death. Once you’ve enjoyed The Lonely Cedar in the Csontváry Museum on Janus Pannonius utca to your heart’s content, you should take the plunge and leap head-first into the world of op-art and analytic geometry. That’s right. Victor Vasarely (or Győző Vásárhelyi, to use his Hungarian name) was also from Pécs. The world-famous ‘Zebras’ are stationed in Káptalan utca, where you can find them after exploring the museum. Spend a little time with them as well.

Day 4
The hiking routes of Mecsek

You’ve been wandering the streets of one of the most beautiful cities in Hungary for four days, but perhaps it’s time to make your way outside. After all, the region hides a thousand secret treasures of its own. If you packed your hiking boots, then now’s the time to begin wandering the depths of the forest. The winding hiking routes of Mecsek attract thousands of walkers every year. It’s no wonder, since the flora and fauna of the region are unique, so much so that it even fascinated famous Hungarian nature-goer Pál Rockenbauer. This is why the South Transdanubian Blue Trail – which cuts right through the Mecsek Mountains, leading you straight to the most beautiful natural sights of the Baranya region – was named after him. The trail also includes the Abaliget Dripstone Cave, which is one of the most interesting sights in the region, at almost 500 metres long. There is also a legend about the healing cave and stream, according to which the people of Abaliget hid in the cave when the Ottoman army roamed the land, but the Ottomans found the hideout and tried to smoke the locals out. They did not succeed, because the people of Abaliget were a smart lot and found an exit in the back of the cave, and once they were out, they attacked the enemy from behind.

Lake tour on Orfű

After the dark depths of the cave, it’s time to warm up a bit, and Lake Pécs is a great place to do it. In truth, the lake is related to Pécs in name only: it is actually located near Orfű. It is also the location of one of the most fun Hungarian festivals, Fishing on Orfű, but at all other times in the year, it is exceptionally quiet and still. If you smell the tantalising scent of freshly baked bread, that can only be coming from the Orfű Mill Museum. While you are here, you can learn about the history of milling, starting from ancient times when they used the saddle querns, right up to modern grinding technology. The guided tour of the mill will give you a chance to see how the paper mills, the horse-driven dry mills and the grain-grinding watermills worked. You should also walk along the Vízfő educational trail, which is only 1 kilometre long and starts at the Orfű Mills. The trail follows the route of the Orfű stream and takes you through the protected alder-tree marsh on a row of planks, ending at the Vízfő spring. Take some time here to admire the special Spring House designed by György Csete, today considered to be an early emblematic building of Hungarian organic architecture. Then you cross the stream twice, before arriving at Mecsek House, the headquarters of local speleologists. If the weather is right, make sure you try the Orfű Waterpark, which was named Bath of the Year in 2016. The facility has seven slides, a fun swimming pool, a pool full of attractions, a jacuzzi, kids’ pool, water games and a pool for babies. At the end of the day, visit the Horgász bar on the shore of Lake Pécs to try the hake which, according to locals, is the best in the whole world.

 

Day 5
Harkány and Siklós

To top off your visit to this part of the country, visit the Thermal Bath of Harkány, one of the best places in Hungary to heal. You can soak your tired body in the healing thermal water, as well as enjoying the monthly family and night activities. Spend as much time in the water as you can, for the thermal water in Harkány is unique in Europe, with its mineral content exceeding 1,000 mg per litre. From a medical point of view, the most important mineral in the water is carbonyl sulphide, which helps to rebuild and replace the sulphur-containing compounds that make up joints. Water comes from a depth of 50-70 metres, with an average temperature of 62°C when it reaches the surface, making the hours of healing truly relaxing. Our tour ends in Siklós Castle, at the southern foot of the Villány Hills. Discover the dungeon and the torture chamber, then relax and recharge in the wine museum’s wine shop. At the end of the day, enjoy a good meal near the castle to end this really exciting tour.

 

During your visit

Wine
People from Baranya county will claim that their land produces the best wines in the world. Though you cannot persuade them otherwise, you should definitely try the wines! For instance, the internationally recognised Villányi Portugieser, a variant of which is matured in new barrels and is tapped at the St Martin’s day wine festival. Villányi Franc is another must-taste wine. The Villány wine region seems to be the natural habitat of Cabernet franc, and a premium quality wine is produced here.
Gastronomy
Wild garlic is a very healthy and tasty spice. Locals love the aromatic leaves and in season, they are literally used in everything. The ‘wild garlic ice cream’ might not be to your taste, but cream soup is a popular dish in most restaurants in the town. Swabian communities moved to the region in the 18th century, bringing some excellent recipes with them, such as ‘sufnudli’ (potato dumplings with poppy seeds), and the plum jam you can try in many places in Pécs

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