Hungary is filled with beautiful mountains, valleys, old growth forests and caves, which are well worth visiting and spending a day, or even a week exploring its landscapes and hiking trails. Geographically Börzsöny – after the Visegrád Mountains – is the largest of the North Hungarian Mountains, which lays at the Northern part of Hungary in County Pest and Nógrád.
It covers app. 600km2 area, surrounded by the Ipoly on the north and the west, by the Danube on the south, by the Nógrád-Basin and the Cserhát on the east, and a small part of it extends to Slovakia (Burda mountains). Originally volcanic, like many other mountains in Hungary, geographically it is located in the inner volcanic zone of the Carpathean. It’s easily accessible by car (main road 12) or by public transport (train, bus).
Adventures at the prettiest countrysides of Hungary – Börzsöny and its area
The Börzsöny and its surroundings awaits you with an endless array of experiences! You can visit the prettiest viewpoints, the highest mountain peaks, you can picnic, live your childhood dream on the Börzsöny forest railway (a personal favourite of mine), cycle in fantasy-like nature, check out the local museums and exhibitions, try local gastronomy or canoe on the Danube.
You also have the opportunity to enjoy Börzsöny’s prettiest part in the frames of a wellness-retreat, if you wish to do so. (The nicest hotel is the Szent Orbán Erdei Wellnesshotel, I can recommend it).
All of Börzsöny and its area is rich in attractions, and even a few weeks would not be enough to see everything, but fortunately there are a few spots that can be easily explored. From Kismaros to Nagybörzsöny you will find rarities here such as the Királyrét forest railway and educational trail, or the Draisine Loop (it’s a lot of fun to try to see what it’s like to move the draisine on the rails).
In Nagybörzsöny it’s well worth to visit Saint Stephen’s Church, which was built in the XIII. century and of course the Nagybörzsöny railway, which is unique on it’s own, as it is the only zig-zag railway line in Hungary. In Börzsöny many other forest railways run, it’s worth trying all of them at least once!
Fauna and flora
I recommend for nature lovers to keep their eyes peeled, as Börzsöny gives home to a unique fauna that can’t be found elsewhere in Hungary and in Europe! An example of these is the pannon laposfutó (Parazuphium chevrolatii praepannonicum – insect), macaronius owlfly (insect), purple edged copper (insect), but this is also the home of the endangered – and therefore protected – decorative Clouded Apollo butterfly’s largest population in Europe.
In addition, Börzsöny’s streams provide home to 23 fish species, many of which is protected (common dace, minnow, barbus pelopennesius, spined loach), also many lizards and legless lizard species can be found here, as well as 3 of the 7 Hungarian snake species (aesculapian snake, grass snake, smooth snake).
We can say naturally there aren’t any venomous, or dangerous to humans snakes in Börzsöny – however, us – humans – can be a danger to them if we aren’t careful, so please be kind and always pay special attention to the fragility of fauna and flora – follow the “leave no trace” principle!
And if we are talking about Börzsöny – you definitely can’t miss the famous Börzsöny pie! It’s one of my personal favourites – very tasty and absolutely authentic. There is nothing better than sitting down after a forest railway trip at one of the local farmhouses and enjoying a freshly baked Börzsöny pie. In Nagybörzsöny it’s baked at many locations.
If you are craving a different kind of meal, then I recommend Malomkert Hotel, Restaurant and Event Center in Nagybörzsöny. During summer there are several buffet lunches which you can pay for, but it’s worth to check on the given day personally. If there isn’t a buffet, the restaurant has a very good a’la carte menu, so you won’t stay hungry.
It’s also worth to stay here, as the hotel itself is very pretty and the prices are fairly low too. There is a great playground here for kids and let’s not forget that the hotel is at the centre of the forest railways and hiking trails. Further information about the hotel.
Another personal favourite is the LekvárLak – Édes Otthon guest house and restaurant, which can also be found in Nagybörzsöny. If you are looking for a real countryside, authentic hospitality, then visit here. They always welcome people with a wide, kind smile and the quality of the meals are always super – tastes sort of like home.
Not to mention their homemade jams, teas and dilutes – definitely try them, you won’t regret it! The variety is fantastic, from my personal favourite lavender apple jam, through the carnation-chocolate-orange jam until the rose petak dilute, everything is available.
And the rooms are just so adorable you could almost bite them – you will understand this, when you get there. No other way to describe it, it’s just magical.
Address: 2634 Nagybörzsöny, Hunyadi tér 21.
Hike in Börzsöny near Budapest
Börzsöny – with its diverse landscapes – is one of the best trails for longer hikes, even for people looking for more serious adventures, as you can pick from many different trails. Most of them are part of the national park, so it’s quiet, the tweets of birds and the calming energy of the forest will surround you, providing a perfect break and spiritual recharge.
9 of Hungary’s top 100 highest mountain peaks are in Börzsöny, making Börzsöny Hungary’s third highest mountain in average.
- Csóványos – 938 m,
- Magos-fa – 916 m,
- Varsa-tető – 871 m,
- Nagy-Hideg mountain – 864m,
- Hangyás-bérc 1 – 863 m,
- Hangyás-bérc 2 – 854 m,
- Nagy-Inóc – 826 m,
- Korom-bérc – 825 m,
- Pogányvár – 823 m
All of these are worth a visit – either on a peak-attack tour or individually. The highest peaks are formed by the former crater rim, out of these the highest – and I think prettiest – is the Csóványos with its 938m height.
It’s a fact that it is from Csóványos where we can see one of the prettiest panoramas in Hungary with the Danube Bend and the High Tatras, but another fact that it isn’t easy to reach the peak, but it isn’t impossible, of course. You will have to work for it, but I think the unique view and experience is well worth it.
In this article I will introduce you to a half-day long, medium hard tour, which includes the Csóványos – Börzsöny’s highest – and the Nagy-Hideg – Börzsöny’s most visited mountains.
The hiking trail is very clearly signalled, with a few steep rises – precisely three steep rises until the Csóványos, which after rain (or during late autumn and winter) can be slippery, so I really recommend to wear good quality hiking boots and appropriate clothing.
From Csóványos a more-enjoyable, somewhat sloping and straight line brings you to the Nagy-Hideg mountain, where there is actually an option for a well-packed, tasty lunch / dinner, or a tasty coffee in the Nagy Hideg Mountain tourist house.
Tip: If you are planning a few days long – peak attack style – tour, then you can stay at the Nagy Hideg Mountain tourist house, as it is well equipped, clean and comfortable – not even mentioning the advantage that you can jump straight into the hike of the actual peak early in the morning, without having to travel back and forth. Request for offer and reservation: firstname.lastname@example.org
I, and many other hikers believe that the half day long hiking trail of Csóványos – Nagy-Hideg Mountain is the most fun one: “Királyrét (Cseresznyefa car park) – Nagy-Hideg mountain – Rakodó (those who are only looking for a shorter, enjoyable walk can even turn back here to return to the tourist house) – Hangyás-bérc – Csóványos (it’s worth to start this hike early, so you can enjoy the magnificent view from the top for at least an hour and to have time for a lovely picnic in nature) – Három-hányás (the name translates to “three-pukes”, don’t take that literally!) – Rakodó – Magas-Tax – Királyrét (Cseresznyefa car park).
How to get from Budapest to Börzsöny
By the way, it’s worth to go to the hike’s starting point by car, as you can save valuable time with that, although public transport isn’t bad either. Going by car from Budapest on main road 12, you have to turn right at the Kismaros Királyrét-Szokolya sign, then at Királyrét follow the left junction until you reach Cseresznyefa car park, which is not a free parking lot, but it is nice and shady.
If you are going by public transport, take the train from Budapest (Nyugati railway station) to Kismaros, from then you have two options – take a scheduled bus, or the narrow-gauge railway to Királyrét. The latter options take a lot longer of course, but the narrow-gauge railways at Királyrét, and in Börzsöny in general are just adorable and well worth trying. I will talk about this more in another article later.
The tour can be completed in about 5-6 hours
The tour can be completed in about 5-6 hours, but I recommend leaving more time for it – especially if you have a picnic planned at the Csóványos, or a lunch at the Nagy-Hideg mountain and of course it’s worth to give yourself more time if children are participating as well.
This hike – although only moderately difficult – won’t be a problem for anyone over 12. The full length of the hike is about 16km, the elevation difference is app. 620m (for both up and down).
What’s definitely worth taking with you is – good hiking boots and appropriate, layered clothing – at least 1.5l water, 2-3 sandwiches per person (in the heat I only recommend taking “kolbász” – Hungarian sausage – or salami sandwiches, as ham might go off during the trip), sweet and savoury snacks, chocolate (always comes in handy), tea or coffee in a thermos, first aid box (have at least the minimal with you, such as disinfectant cloth, plaster, bandage), a charged phone with a well working GPS (although you probably won’t have signal in some places), pack a paper map as well just in case, and a compass (the hiking trail is perfectly signalled, but you can never be sure), maybe a thin rain coat.
Detailed route of the hike
So it’s worth to leave your car at the Cseresznyefa car park, which is 3km from Királyrét – this isn’t a free car park, there is a daily ticket – app. 1,000Ft/day. From here you can start your hike by following the blue crosses. The walk is nice, easy to follow and goes beside the Királyrét stream in the Vasfazék-valley.
The path brings you though many footbridges, but there are also places where you have to jump over rocks. Follow the blue cross until the next junction, then turn off and follow the blue squares from here, which will take you to the Nagy-Hideg mountain (the blue cross takes you to the Magas-Tax by the way).
So continue to follow the blue squares, the route is still comfortable, but there will be some steeper hills. As I mentioned before, be careful on the slopes as they could be muddy and slippery. Soon you will reach the route that takes you to the Nagy Hideg Mountain tourist house, from here the trail will start becoming steeper and you will soon reach the bottom of the ski lift at the southern side of the mountain. (This is where the red sign also joins).
From here – one of the hardest bits of the hike – walk up on the path next to the ski line and you will reach the tourist house. It’s worth to take a rest here, have a coffee and walk to the grassy peak next to the tourist house, from where you will see a beautiful panorama. In nice weather you can see the Szentendre Island, the Pilis and maybe the Visegrád castle.
Continue the hike by going down from the peak and follow the country’s blue and red signs towards Csóványos. Be prepared for a fairly steep climb, which will take you to the Égés-tető. From here there will be a small detour to the left, which will take you to the Hangyás-bérc lookout. It’s worth to visit as the panorama from here is unmatched.
After the detour we can get back on the same route to the red and blue signs, from where you can continue the rise – besides, this is possible the prettiest part of the hike. Until the end you are going on a rocky ridge of the high mountain. From here there will be another steep slope, which will take you to the awesome lookout at the top of Csóványos.
Definitely don’t skip the lookout, dare I say, you will get to see one of Hungary’s most beautiful panoramas from here – and from the top of Csóványos in general. They opened the lookout in 2014, and after 133 “easy” steps, you will get your reward for climbing so much! I recommend to have your camera with you – even though the cameras won’t do justice of the view, but it will serve as a memory. I always stop here for at least an hour, as I mentioned above – to have a picnic, or at least eat a sandwich comfortably and enjoy the beauty of the scenery.
From here, the peak of Csóványos, pick the red triangle signs, which will take you down towards Rakodó, making you pass the funny, or even bizarre named Három-hányás (Three-pukes) peak. Until Három-hányás there is a red and green sign too, you turn left at the crossroads.
The path here is very interesting and special, as it brings you between many rock formations and soon you reach the Oltár-kő (Altar stone), which bends over the road. I’ll note that the route signalled with the red triangle from Csóványos to Rakodó is one of the prettiest, most spectacular route of Börzsöny, which brings you through centuries old beech trees – reaching the Spartacus spring, from which you shouldn’t drink from, unless you have a special water filtering straw.
From Rakodó you will follow the blue cross again, which takes you on a very comfortable and wide road to the Magas-Tax clear. It’s important to pay attention here, as to find the red signals you will have to go through the clearing and the road, then you will find the red sign a little to the left.
This – actually named Grófi út (Count road) – goes around the peak of Magas-Tax and brings you down to the Királyrét like that (the peak of Magas-Tax is strictly closed off for hikers). You will reach Királyrét and Cseresznyefa car park by following the red signs, until the road on the left meets the tourist route, then turn off from the red sign – from here you will reach Cseresznyefa car park in about 5 minutes (the red sign brings you to Királyrét by the way).
Hopefully the hike will be pleasantly tiring and also refills you enough to visit again soon – for another peak attack this time! Enjoy your time and if you liked my writing, please follow me in the future too – I trust that I provided you with fun, but also valuable information!
Photos: by Dömsödi Áron & Kirándulástippek