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10 Reasons You Should Visit Szeged in Hungary

Marianne is from Edinburgh in Scotland. She enjoys travelling and has visited Hungary at least once or twice a year for the last few years.

Szeged is Hungary's third largest city.

Szeged is Hungary's third largest city.

In the southern portion of Hungary, near the borders of Serbia and Romania, lies Hungary's third largest city: Szeged. Don't miss this city if you find yourself nearby!

10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Szeged

  1. It's known as the "city of sunshine."
  2. It's full of beautiful avenues and squares.
  3. It's got lots of incredible architecture.
  4. Including an open-air theatre!
  5. It's home to many festivals
  6. It has a great cafe culture
  7. There are lots of swimming options.
  8. You'll find plenty of paprika!
  9. There's still more!
  10. It's not Budapest.

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1. Szeged Is Known as the "City of Sunshine"

Szeged is known as the "City of Sunshine, " because it has the highest number of sunny days in Hungary. There are usually over 2000 hours of sunshine a year. So, chances are you will get good weather!

The best times of year to visit, in terms of weather, are May or September. During these months, it is usually still summery, but not too hot to walk around and explore.

2. Beautiful Avenues and Squares

The city centre of Szeged is a lovely place to walk around, with open spaces and wide, pedestrianised streets lined with Neoclassical and Art Nouveau style buildings.

However, there is a somewhat sad history behind these well-planned spaces and beautiful neoclassical buildings. In 1879, a Great Flood swept away around 6000 buildings leaving only a few hundred standing. At the time, Hungary was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Emperor Franz Josef visited the devastated town, famously declaring that Szeged would be rebuilt to be more beautiful than it had been. Thanks to funding from all over Europe, Szeged was rebuilt.

Here are some of the top places to see—all of them are within walking distance of each other:

Széchenyi Square

Széchenyi Square is one of the largest squares in Central Europe. The square is a beautiful park with flowers, fountains, and statues. Events are often held in the square.

Notable buildings around the square include

  • the Town Hall with its own mini "bridge of sighs" (1883), and
  • the "iron house," an Art Nouveau style building dating from 1912-1913.

Dugonics Square

This is my personal favourite square. There is a fountain in the middle with a loudspeaker that is usually blaring classical music. The fountain was built in 1979 on the centenary of the Great Flood, and the main building on the square belongs to Szeged University. Additionally, you can see an Art Nouveau masterpiece from Ede Magyar: the Unger-Mayer House.

Klauzál Square and Kárász Utca

This is another Hungarian square and a sweet one at that! Here, you will find a number of patisseries where you can sit outside (or inside) and enjoy an ice cream, coffee, or beer.

The square and adjoining Karasz street won the Europa Nostra Prize in 2004—a European Union prize for excellence in protecting cultural heritage.

Dom Square

Dom Square is one of the largest squares in the whole of Hungary at over 12,000 square metres in size. The square includes the "Szeged Dom," or cathedral, as well as University of Szeged buildings, a musical clock, and the Szeged National Pantheon, which is lined with statues of famous Hungarians.

3. Architecture

Szeged has beautiful architecture—below are some of the top buildings.

The Reok Palace

Szeged's standout building is the Reok Palace. It is both a beautiful and unique example of an Art Nouveau building, built in 1907 by the architect Ede Magyar. It was commissioned by a rich man named Ivan Reok. The building was designed to include flats for his sons and daughters, a restaurant on the ground floor, and other space to be rented out by shopkeepers or craftsmen.

Today, the Reok Palace hosts a regional art gallery. If there is an exhibition going on, it is worth going in, both to see the exhibition (which are usually excellent), and also to have a look inside the building. There is a stylish iron staircase with lilies.

Szeged Synagogue

The New Synagogue was built in 1907 in an art deco/ historicist style and is the fourth largest synagogue in the world. It is open to the public at certain limited times (not Saturdays) at a small cost (equivalent to approximately $2). Male visitors are asked to wear a cap, and all visitors are asked to cover their shoulders.

The Dom

The two towers of the Szeged Cathedral are one of the most recognisable features of the Szeged landscape. Officially known in English as the "Votive Church of Szeged," the Dom is a very young building for a European cathedral. It was built between 1913 and 1930. You can go up the towers for a view over Szeged.

4. Open-Air Theatre

In July and August, Szeged hosts a famous open-air theatre festival. Since 1931, a temporary theatre has been assembled in Dom Square for the event. The programme changes each year, usually including opera, musical theatre, blockbusters, and Shakespeare.

If you are in Szeged at the right time, I definitely recommend you go. I have found it a special and magical experience to sit outside and watch the theatre. Prices depend on where you sit. Most shows are performed in Hungarian, but usually with English subtitles on screens at the side.

5. Festivals

Don't worry if you miss the Open Air Festival, as most weekends Szeged hosts some sort of festival. For example, there is:

Bridge Fair

This usually takes place on the third weekend of May. The "Old Bridge" over the river Tisza closes to traffic so that stalls can sell crafts. Sellers can also be found in Széchenyi Square.

International Tisza Fish Festival

During the first week of September, fishermen gather at the foot of the Old Bridge and sell Szeged's speciality fish soup.

Wine Festivals, Hungarian Craft Festivals, Beer Festivals, and Palinka Festivals

In addition, throughout the year there are frequent festivals. In most cases, the festivals involve Széchenyi Square and other areas of the city filling with stalls that sell different wines, Hungarian crafts, beer, or palinka (peach schnapps).

6. Cafe Culture

One of the best things to do on holiday in my opinion is sit outside in the shade, sip a lemonade (or coffee or nice cold beer), and eat an ice cream while watching the world go by. Then, after a few hours, move on to have a tasty meal at a restaurant, followed by a few drinks.

Szeged is a university town, so it has a cosmopolitan feel with plenty of cafes, restaurants, and options for going out.

Restaurants vary from the traditional, like the Old Bridge "Regi Hid" restaurant, to the higher end hotel food. The hotel,Tiszavirag, is probably the best for modern restaurant food, but there are also more trendy places like Oldies. There are also some confusing places like the "John Bull Pub", a Hungarian restaurant, which for unknown reasons, is decorated like a British pub.

7. Swimming and Bathing

If you enjoy swimming and bathing there are lots of options.

Anna Thermal Baths

The Anna thermal baths are based in an exceptionally beautiful building built in the early 1900s. These baths include natural thermal water, saunas, plenty of bubbly and jacuzzi-type options, and a small, normal pool.