What to see in Debrecen – the second largest city in Hungary

23 sights to see in Debrecen

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Debrecen is the second largest city in Hungary, also known as the capital of the Great Hungarian Plain (Alfölda). It is located at some distance from Budapest, but it is worth a trip to see Hungary from a different angle.

Debrecen is also called the “Calvinist Rome”: the history of the city is closely connected with this religious denomination. There are not so many English-speaking people here compared to the capital, but the locals are always warm and kind to newcomers. The most interesting sights of Debrecen are presented below.

Reformed Cathedral

Reformed Cathedral

Reformed Cathedral.

The large church of Debrecen is a symbol of Protestantism and the most important Protestant church in Hungary. It was built in the neoclassical style in the early 19th century and is easily recognizable among other city buildings. Later, Baroque elements were added to the tops of the towers.

Tourists can climb the cathedral’s west tower, climbing 210 steps, to enjoy a magnificent view of the city. At the top of the tower is the Rakoczi Bell, the largest bell in Hungary.

Address: Great Reformed Church, Debrecen, Kossuth tér 1, 4026 Hungary.

Hortobágy National Park

Hortobágy National Park

Hortobágy National Park.

Hortobágy National Park, the largest national park in the country, is easily accessible from Debrecen. The park is known for its rich cultural heritage and long tradition of farming.

Many visitors come there to learn about the development of farming in Hungary and the traditional way of life of Hungarian peasants. Rare breeds of livestock are still bred in the park, and the variety of wild animals and plants is amazing.

The protected area is home to a small population of semi-wild Przewalski’s horses, which are in danger of extinction. In order to preserve the species, they are under constant surveillance.

Address: Hortobágyi National Park, Hungary.

Nagyerdő Water Tower

Nagyerdő Water Tower

The Nágyerdő Water Tower. | Photo: wikimedia.

For many years, the Nágyerdő Water Tower was just a reminder of the region’s bygone industrial era. But in 2015 a modern renovation of the entire building was carried out. The area beneath the tower houses a bar, a restaurant, and an exhibition hall. Concert events are also held here.

The central part of the tower has been converted into a cylindrical rock climbing wall with many climbing hooks. Visitors can also take the opportunity and climb the stairs to the top of the structure, which offers an unforgettable panoramic view of the surrounding area.

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Address: Nagyerdei Water Tower, Debrecen, Pallagi út 7, 4032 Hungary.

Deri Museum

Egyptian collection of the Deri Museum

The Egyptian collection of the Deri Museum.

The Deri Museum is located in the center of the city, in a majestic neo-baroque building. It contains the best collections of cultural and historical heritage of Hungary. The most famous works of art displayed in the museum are the paintings “Calvary” and “Ecce Homo”, which are part of the “Trilogy about Christ” by the artist Mihály Munkácsy.

Next to the museum, you can see four world-famous statues by the sculptor Ferenc Medjeschi, who won the grand prize for his work at the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris. Other exhibitions of the museum are devoted to the history of the city and the description of birds living in the region.

Address: Debrecen, Déri Museum, Déri tér, Hungary.

Ferenc Medjesa Memorial Museum

Ferenc Medjesi Memorial Museum

Ferenc Medyosz Memorial Museum .

Those impressed by the bronze sculptures at the entrance to the Déri Museum may want to visit the Ferenc Medyosz Memorial Museum, which is located in an old apartment building near the center.

It was opened on the centenary of the sculptor’s birth and gives visitors an insight into interesting aspects of Medjesa’s life and work.

Address: Debreceni Irodalom Háza és Medgyessy Ferenc Emlékkiállítás, Péterfia Street, Debrecen, Hungary.

Aquaticum Mediteran thermal complex

Aquaticum Mediteran thermal complex

Aquaticum Mediteran thermal complex.

If you’re looking for something to see in Debrecen with the kids, be sure to visit Aquaticum Meditiran Water Park. The thermal pools of the Aquaticum complex differ from other, more traditional thermal springs in Hungary and are very popular in the city.

The dome-shaped room of the complex is decorated with tropical plants, creating a feeling of endless summer.

In addition to exciting attractions for children, such as water slides and an artificial wave pool, there are also plenty of places for adults to relax and unwind.

Whirlpools and cave pools are included in the ticket price, and a variety of wellness spa treatments can be enjoyed for an additional fee.

Address: Aquaticum Mediterranean Pleasure Baths, Debrecen, Nagyerdei park 1., 4032 Hungary.

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White Rose of Revolution Monument

White Rose of the Revolution Monument

Monument of the White Rose of the Revolution.

This beautiful monument was erected on the campus of the University of Debrecen to commemorate the Hungarian uprising of 1956 and the people who died in that struggle. The attempted revolution was made to free the Hungarian people from Soviet influence, but the uprising was suppressed by Soviet troops.

The sculpture was created by Miklós Melocco, a member of the Hungarian Academy of Arts.

Address: Debrecen, Debreceni Egyetem, Egyetem tér, Hungary.

Botanical Garden of the University of Debrecen

Botanical Garden of the University of Debrecen

Botanical Garden of the University of Debrecen.

The botanical garden of Debrecen brings together all the rich flora of Hungary as well as some plant species from other regions of the world. Visitors have a huge space for walks: about 8 hectares with shaped gardens, orangeries and garden sculptures, surrounded by natural local flora.

Approximately 2 hectares of land are occupied by the pristine oak forest of Nagyerdő. The Botanical Garden also has a greenhouse with the largest collection of succulents in Central and Eastern Europe. The garden is open all year round – opening hours are shortened only in winter.

Address: Debrecen, Botanikus kert Debreceni Egyetem Természettudományi Kar, Egyetem tér, Hungary.

Flower clock

Flower Clock.

The Flower Clock was first presented to the public in 2009, marking the 500th anniversary of the birth of Jean Calvin. The opening of the installation also coincided with preparations for the Debrecen Flower Carnival.

The hands of the clock are decorated with elements in the form of phoenix wings, which are one of the symbols of Debrecen. The sundial is now located on the grounds of the house where Ferenc Kölcsey, the author of the words of the Hungarian national anthem, once lived.

Lake Fancika

A trip to Lake Fancika near Debrecen is a great vacation option for fishing enthusiasts. The lake is home to many different fish, although most anglers mostly come to catch the local carp. Next to the lake there is a wooden fortress, a playground and a huge park area where you can retreat for a rest and a bite to eat.

Address: Debrecen, Fancsika I. víztároló, 4002 Hungary.

Debrecen Reformed Theological University

Museum of Debrecen Reformed Theological University

Museum of the Debrecen Reformed Theological University.

The Reformed College has existed for more than 450 years. More than once the fate of a nation has been decided behind its doors. In 1849, for example, the Declaration of Independence, aimed at overthrowing the Habsburg dynasty, was adopted in the building.

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Its alumni include prominent Hungarian scientists, writers, and political figures. In the building there is a memorial museum, dedicated to the college itself, as well as the history and religious art of Hungary.

Address: Debrecen, Debreceni Református Hittudományi Egyetem, Kálvin tér, Hungary.

Saint Anne’s Cathedral

St. Anne's Cathedral

Saint Anne’s Cathedral | Photo: wikimedia.

Although the Reformation has strongly influenced Debrecen’s religious past, the city also has a Catholic church, the famous St. Anne’s Cathedral. It is amazing that this huge Catholic church still exists: there are so few Catholics left in the city that this faith has all but disappeared here.

The church houses an exhibition on the history of Catholicism in Debrecen, and inside you can see a reproduction of the Shroud of Turin.

The address is: St. Anne’s Cathedral, Debrecen, Szent Anna u. 15, 4024 Hungary.

Lake Veceri.

Lake Vecheri

Photo: András Májinka / Flickr.

The lake is located 13 kilometers from the center of Debrecen. It is an ideal place to relax in the countryside on a day off. Veceri is very popular among fishing enthusiasts. However, in order to fish on the lake, you need to buy a fishing permit.

The most favorite entertainment of the locals in the warm season is to rent a boat or take a walk on horseback along the shore. Every summer a small music festival is held here. For those who want to spend a few days on Lake Vekeri, there are camping sites on the shore of the lake.

Address: Debrecen, Vekeri-tó, 4002 Hungary.

Nine-arch bridge

Nine-yard bridge

Nine-arch bridge.| Photo: szotsaki / Flickr.

The Nine-arch bridge is the most famous landmark of the Hortobágy National Park and the surrounding area. This arched stone bridge was built between 1827 and 1833 and was considered to be the longest bridge of its type in the whole country (including territories that are not currently part of Hungary).

The bridge has nine arches and is approximately 168 meters long. The beginning and end of the bridge are wider than its central part. This is done so that herds of domestic animals can safely cross it.

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Address: Hortobágy, Kilenclyukú híd, Hungary.

Kossuth Square

Kossuth Square

Kossuth Square. | Photo: wikimedia.

Kossuth Square is one of the main squares in Debrecen. It serves as a venue for public events and festivities. In winter it hosts the city’s Christmas tree, and in summer it hosts gastronomic festivals.

On the square there is a majestic monument-memorial to Lajos Kossuth, who was an important figure in the history of revolutionary Hungary in 1848.

Address: Debrecen, Kossuth tér, 4025 Hungary.

Craftsmen’s House

The Craftsmen’s House is a historical museum dedicated to the development of craftsmanship in Debrecen. The museum features exhibitions of various types of crafts and handicraft items. There are exhibitions that introduce visitors to tailoring, pottery, lacemaking and fabric dyeing.

A separate place is occupied by the exhibition of traditional embroidery and applique, which decorates the Hungarian folk costumes. In the museum there are workshops, where you can see how craftsmen work and learn the secrets of each profession.

Address: Debrecen, Tímárház – Kézművesek Háza, Nagy-Gál István Street, Hungary.

Kerekesztalep thermal spa complex

Thermal Spa Complex

Kerekesztalep thermal spa complex.

A thermal spa complex with spa treatments and pools located in a natural environment, designed for quiet rest and relaxation. There are two main thermal pools with a water temperature reaching 43℃ and one multilevel pool with cold water.

The thermal pools surrounded by lush, colorful greenery are perfect for summer relaxation. There is also a tennis court, camping area and restaurant.

Address: Debrecen, Kerekestelep Thermal Camping, Szávay Gyula Street, Hungary.

Debrecen Zoo

Debrecen Zoo

Zoo in Debrecen.

Debrecen Zoo has about 1500 individuals of 165 different species of animals. On the territory of the zoo on an area of 17 hectares there is also an amusement park. Visitors have the opportunity to see a variety of animals from all over the world, as well as some of the local fauna.

The zoo visitors are most impressed with the house of butterflies, where you can see the most colorful insects in the world. When you are done admiring the animals, you can go to the entertainment zone and let off steam at the attractions, among which is also a race track.

Address: Debrecen Zoo and Amusement Park, Debrecen, Ady Endre u. 1., 4032 Hungary.

Choconaiai Theatre

Choconaia Theatre

Choconaiai Theatre. | Photo: Istvan / Flickr.

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The Cokonaia Theater is a beautiful place for cultural leisure activities in the heart of the city. The theater building was built in the 19th century and serves as a venue for various theatrical performances.

Foreign visitors might be more interested in going to see an opera, as operas are usually performed in their original language.

The address is Csokonai Theater, Debrecen, Kossuth u. 10, 4024 Hungary.

Debrecen Football Club

Debrecen Football Club

Debrecen soccer club.| Photo: wikimedia.

In this century, the Debrecen soccer team made the history of Hungarian soccer by winning the national championship eight times. Subsequently, the team won silver and bronze three more times in the Hungarian championship.

Despite the fact that the soccer club failed to reach the group stage of the UEFA Champions League, Debrecen remains a well-recognized player on the European soccer scene. Tickets for a home game are inexpensive, so it’s worth taking the chance and going to the match.

Address: Nagyerdei Jégpálya, Debrecen, Nagyerdei krt. 100, 4032 Hungary.

Small Reformed Church

Small Reformed Church

Small Reformed Church.| Photo: wikimedia.

The original Little Reformed Church was built in the 17th century, but in 1727 most of the cathedral was damaged in a fire. In 1907, during a violent storm, the church was damaged again: the onion dome of the tower was destroyed. The dome was never rebuilt, and the building was nicknamed the “Decapitated Church.” The cathedral is open to visitors from June to September.

Address: Reformed Small Church, Debrecen, Piac u. 35, 4025 Hungary.

Laszlo Holló Memorial Museum

Laszlo Holló bust

Bust of Laszlo Holló. | Photo: wikimedia.

The Laszlo Hollo Museum is another place for art lovers. Visitors to the museum can admire the artist’s works as well as learn interesting facts about his life. From time to time, paintings by other painters are also exhibited here, including works by the surrealist artist Ernő Hrabéczy.

Address: Holló László Emlékház, Debrecen, Holló László stny. 8, 4031 Hungary.

Irini House

Irene House

Irene House.

The chemist János Irinyi, famous for inventing safety matches, lived in this house between 1872 and 1892. During the Hungarian uprising of the time, Irinyi supported the protesters and headed the production of ammunition and explosives. After serving time in prison, he returned to science and became a renowned Hungarian chemist.

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