Zalaegerszeg is a city in the western part of Hungary, which is perhaps undeservedly underestimated by many. While most of the locals are familiar with Zalaegerszeg mainly as a county center, where they can do their bits and bobs, there are plenty of sights and beauties to be found here too.
Within a few steps, you can see the stunning nature of Zala county and the bustle of a city with all its enjoyable things. So before we judge Zalaegerszeg, let’s get to know it better: it’s worth it.
History of Zalaegerszeg
Zalaegerszeg has a very good geographical location, as it is at the confluence of two rivers. Thus, it has always been a country rich in fish and wildlife, which is why it is also popular among the surrounding peoples.
Thus, it is not surprising that it was already an inhabited settlement in the Upper Paleolithic times: these are unique ancient finds from the entire county.
There are also plenty of Celtic traces left to us from the Copper Age, in all probability a very important road may have passed through Zalaegerszeg, which was controlled by the locals.
The first written record of the settlement dates back to 1247, and here it is already mentioned as Egerszeg. It was characterized by Turkish occupation and fighting from the 1500s, so its development came to a halt for a while, and the inhabitants had to fight even the event of a plague.
Zalaegerszeg became the county center in the 18th century, as county assemblies were held here in the past. However, real development still had to wait, as it was neither very economically nor culturally significant at these times.
Later, during the 1950s, it began to develop better: light industry investments and the construction of a garment factory made their impact. But the real big changes have taken place in recent years: with the start of several major developments and renovations, Zalaegerszeg has once again embarked on a path of development.
Things to see and do when you visit Zalaegerszeg
Zalaegerszeg is located on the banks of the River Zala and is one of the most flowery cities in Hungary, for which it even received an award in 2008.
It is worth starting the exploration of the city from the city center, Deák Square, where the county hall stands on the site of the former border castle, which no longer operates in this function.
Right on the east side of the square, a good program awaits us: the Göcsej Museum. This building, which today hosts many exhibitions and programs, was once built as a savings bank.
However, this eclectic-style building already operated almost everything we could imagine: an office, a doctor’s practitioner, a nursery, but even a wedding hall. Since 1973, however, it has hosted permanent and temporary exhibitions on the history of Zala County and Zalaegerszeg, and has recently been renovated.
Göcsej Village Museum
The Göcsej Museum also has an open-air ethnographic collection, which can be viewed at the Göcsej Village Museum. It is the first open-air museum in the country to host family programs, city events, and camps from time to time.
This interesting and interactive exhibitions bring today’s generation closer to the past of Zala County and the city.
Baroque parish church of Mary Magdalene
Next to the museum, in the city center, there is also the two-tower baroque parish church of Mary Magdalene. This is also worth admiring.
Zalaegerszeg Thermal Bath
The Zalaegerszeg Thermal Bath has been waiting for visitors since 2007 with an amazing design and diverse service. The arched dome of the spa, built in a unique style, is even more spectacular in the evening.
This is because it receives light therapy lighting, which is good for both the eyes and the soul. The indoor thermal bath has an area of 700 m2 and several pools, as well as night bathing is possible on the second Saturday of each month. The indoor pools consist of three adventure pools, 2 thermal pools, and 3 different children’s pools.
The outdoor pool area also has many surprises. The adult pool can be used all year round, and there is also an adventure pool with a slide for the children to enjoy.
In addition, we have to mention the saunas for complete relaxation and the more and more exciting slides for the adventurous. It is a good choice to visit here in both winter and summer.
And if it is water, let’s paddle a little towards nature. In the northern part of Zalaegerszeg, from the south of the river Zala, we find Lake Gébárti, which is a great favorite of the locals, and it is not a coincidence.
The horseshoe-shaped lake is an exciting place for all ages. The park area around the lake, well-designed walkways and playgrounds are available to everyone.
In addition, there is a free beach on the peninsula, while the other part is for fishermen. Water sports fans can also enjoy themselves here, but for those who would come with their furry friends, there is a dog beach set up for this purpose.
Another attraction of Zalaegerszeg is the TV tower, which stands on the 293-meter-high roof of Bazitai, above Alsóerdő. The TV tower, along with the antenna, is 100 meters high and can be approached through a slightly sinuous serpentine.
It is worth fighting up yourself so far, as a beautiful circular panorama awaits us, which can be seen from the super café and lookout terrace.
The interesting thing about the place is that already in the 1930s there was a small wooden lookout tower, and next to it there was a toboggan run, but unfortunately during World War II, it was ruined.
Enjoying the view of the beautiful Zala hills with a delicious coffee in our hands, I think it is one of the best programs I can imagine.
And if you’re already in nature, the Horhos Road, which consists of three hiking trails, can be a great hiking tip. These vary in length and difficulty, so everyone from families with small children to performance hikers will find the right one that works best for them.
Along the way, we can learn everything about the Csácsi Hill Chapel, the legend of the Kisfaludi Castle, and the flora and fauna of the Zala Forest, and if we arrive during the season we can even pick delicious ramsons. Starting from the 8 km route, up to 23 km, you can find opportunities to explore the area.
Among the seven natural wonders of Zala County, there is the Azaleás Valley, which is a botanically protected area in Alsóerdő, so we have to gradually pay attention to everything when we visit here.
In the 60s and 70s, more and more azaleas were planted into the valley, which seemed like a good choice as it has a proper microclimate and soil.
The azaleas typically bloom from mid-April to the end of May, so it’s a good idea to visit this place during this period. This special forest valley is not fenced like other arboretums, so it is much freer to explore and visit.
And if it is an arboretum, you can’t miss the Csácsi arboretum either. It is located 4 km from the center; an 83 m2 protected area.
Here you can find all the typical tree and plant species of Zala county. Its topography really varies: sometimes steeper, sometimes flatter, – its altitude varies between 196-302 meters – so it’s really exciting to walk around.
Going through the entrance, you will be greeted by a swampy area where swamp oaks and swamp cypresses live. While there are oaks and beeches on the hillsides and the top.
Along the way, we can meet many beautiful plants, while we have the opportunity to relax near two lakes and even springs. The area was once owned by the Zalavár abbey, it was also a popular excursion destination before World War II. If we visit here, of course, the rule is that everything is for the eye, nothing for the hand: just admire the diverse and rare flora.
Jánkhegy lookout tower
If you have always wondered what the view is like from the top of an inn, now here is the opportunity: visit the Jánkhegy lookout tower. This 9.5-meter lookout tower was inaugurated in 2001 on top of the Gyuri inn.
It was said that there was once a belfry here, but time treated it, but maybe we don’t mind that when we admire the landscape from the top of the lookout. It is not only because of the lookout tower that it is worth visiting here, as there is also a small chapel and a calvary, at the center of which we can admire the wooden statues that perpetuate the sufferings of Jesus.
The tower clock on Earth
Returning to the city center, there’s a really special attraction; the tower clock on Earth. This unique work in the world still works today, so we can observe from close the operation of this 200-year-old structure.
It is a much greater experience to read the time from this monumental clock, which still runs smoothly into the street scene. The machine can be attributed to Károly Szerdahelyi, and its dial was designed by the ceramicist János Németh.
Why you should visit Zalaegerszeg
Spend time in the city center, where museums, exhibition venues, and better and better restaurants await us. Or, if you prefer nature, you will find the Zala hills and forests, with all its wonderful sights, at your fingertips.
Zalaegerszeg is unique and special in every season. Whether you enjoy the beneficial effects of a thermal bath or the exciting slides in the theme park, or even the plant specialties in the arboretums: everything is in one place.
Cover photo: zalaegerszegturizmus.hu