Szeged – a beautiful surprise in your rear-view mirror

Oh, Szeged, it’s been a couple of days since I left you and I think it is about time to tell our story. You are probably so overlooked by travelers and are staying in the shadow of Budapest. But let me tell you, even though I didn’t plan to visit you, I will never regret it.

You were an unexpected and beautiful surprise for me. Where should I begin our story? I should probably start as Hungarians start, so here it is…

Drinking

So drinking might not have been the first thing I did in Szeged, but certainly is one of the things that happened most often. It is a good starting point in this story because it is a starting point for almost everything in Hungary. They start partying, eating and even drinking with a shot. Most often it is a shot of Unicum or Palinka (both really strong alcoholic drinks).

Hungary Szeged shots of unicum

And after that, they go on drinking other things. One of my favorite phrases due to this is now: “So you will have Unicum, and what would you have on the side of that? A beer?”. No wonder most stories from the locals start with: “We had some Unicum, beer, Unicum, beer…”.

Hungary Szeged beers

Also, they have a variety of pretty good local wines. I managed to try those on the wine festival that was happening in the city from 13th to 17th of September. Which reminds me of the second big thing about Szeged.

hungary szeged wine festival september

Events

The wine festival in Szeged was pretty impressive. Especially considering that the population is under 200,000 people, even with the university students. And it turned out that it is actually not the biggest wine festival the city holds. The other one is in May and is even busier.

Apart from that they also have a beer fest (or two), lots of concerts, and all kinds of other activities.

Hungary Szeged music event

I am really not exaggerating. There is a lot happening in the city. This is probably due to all those university students I mentioned. It must not be a coincidence that most major events are held at the start and at the end of the school year, and, actually, at all other times that there are students in the city.

Hungary Szeged hot air balloons in the sky

The following photos are an example of the cool events that happen in Szeged. 

Hungary Szeged hot air balloon

There was even more in the sky than these gorgeous hot air balloons. There was also an air show but that is way harder to catch on camera.

Also, according to the locals, Szeged has a lot of escape rooms. Probably this is also due to the students.

Hungary Szeged escape room

Sightseeing

As I am writing this I realize I didn’t actually manage to do a lot of sightseeing in the city. Of course, I saw the Votive Church (it is really big and really hard to miss).

Hugary Szeged the votive Church

I saw it from other angles, too.

Hugary Szeged the votive Church wine festival perspective
Wine and wine festivals can seriously affect your perspective!

And I saw the river Tisza. It is actually a cool fact that the main streets in the city are following the flow of the river.

Hungary Szeged sunset over Tisza river

But apart from those two, I didn’t manage to really see many of the main sightseeing places. I passed by them at nighttime, but this didn’t help a lot.

I really wanted to watch the walk of the graduating students on the musical clock, but it turned out to be mission impossible for me. Since this happens only twice a day at 12:15 and 17:45 p.m. I couldn’t see it. However, this will just give me an excuse to go back to Szeged and try my luck with the clock once more.

I have left the Paprika Museum for next time, too.

However, thanks to my local guides, I learned a lot about the city. It was fully rebuilt in 1879. When the river Tisza flooded everything and the locals had to start all over again. They managed to do something amazing. Because of this disaster now the city looks completely in sync. You can tell, even without a local guide, that there is a concept behind every building and every street.

The streets are wide and there is hardly any traffic, which brings me to the next point about Szeged.

Calmness, bicycles, and a sense of humor

I loved the way Szeged feels. It is just calm. There are no traffic jams, no people hurrying. It is a great place to relax and enjoy what is around you. In fact, the Hungarians almost never use the horns of their cars. Only in really extreme situations.

Also, there are bicycle lanes almost everywhere. So it is a great place if you are a fan of this means of transportation.

Hungary Szeged bicyclists
Hungary Szeged bicycles

And there are cyclists everywhere… really everywhere.

They can’t even let you take a photo without them.

Some local shops are using the bicycle as a symbol. I feel like it might be one of the unofficial city symbols for Szeged.

Hungary Szeged bicycle symbol

Other shop owners are just funny and imaginative.

Hungary Szeged humor sip happens
Hungary Szeged pipi
It actually means chicken.
Hungary Szeged colorful club
Hungary Szeged food tram
Here comes the food tram!

Food

Time to talk about food. Hungarians eat meat. A lot. All kinds and in all forms. Tripe is one of their favorites. They also have something specific from May to September (that’s what my menu said) – fruit soup. It is a cold soup made of seasonal fruits.

Hungary Szeged Tripe
The tripe!
Hungary Szeged pancakes with brain
Would anyone like some pancakes with a brain? Don’t worry if you don’t see the pancakes at first. It took me a while, too.
Hungary Szeged traditional food fruit soup

As I started my story with drinking, it is just fit that I finish with food. So everything else about the city you can find for yourself!

Never forget, especially if you are doing a road trip, that sometimes the most unexpected places can give you the best memories. So look twice in your rear-view mirror, just in case you might have missed something while you were planning your trip.

Hungary Szeged beauty in the rear-view mirror
Szeged, Hungary, Pinterest photo
Pin Szeged!

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9 Responses

  1. Szeged sounds like my kind of town. I love the drinking culture and the fact that it is so relaxed without traffic.

    • And the possibility to bike your way through the town is kind of awesome!

  2. Carol
    |

    Sounds like you guys had such a smashing time!

  3. Sabs
    |

    Never knew the Hungarians are so adventurous when it comes to food! The wine festival sounds good though!

    • The first signs we saw with those goulash soup with four different kinds of meat… but good wine can make up for any food adventure gone wrong 🙂

  4. That looks like a cool town. And those festivals and escape rooms give it a great student vibe. I love the idea of all the festivals, and the church looks gorgeous!

    • Festivals and an university can guarantee the cool vibes in a places, can’t they?

  5. What a quaint town. Love to visit Votive Church, it looks beautiful.

  6. […] arrived in Szeged and, to our lovely surprise, we found the ONLY free parking area in the city, by the river Tisza, […]