City of Sunshine
If I mentioned in the previous travel guide about Timisoara that we left Szeged only in mind should we have time for visiting it or not, well, here I am writing the guide for it. Yes, we did have the time for it, and yes, it was actually the best decision we could have done. We did not expect such a beautiful city at all, and in this occasion it was actually a proper surprise for me. If I always like to check pictures of the places I am going to visit before hand, for the Szeged it was not the case. I though we would not have the time to go so I decided not to find any further information. Now after the trip, I am extremely happy that we did go! Not only myself, but everyone of my friends we travelled with too.
Located on the eastern part of Hungary, it does actually borders not only with Romania but to Serbia. It’s the last city in the country on the east, and the 3rd biggest, and it’s curious nickname, the Sun City, comes because it is the city with the most hours of sun through the year! Who would have thought the more the east the more the sun, but this is due to its geographical location, with no nearby mountain ranges. Another unexpected fact, the incredible large amount of art-nouveau architecture everywhere in the old town. From modest to absolutely amazing examples that seem to be taken from Barcelona.
Due to its extremely compact historic old town core, where the streets follow a perfect orthogonal grid pattern, and right by the edges an inner ring road avenue divides it from the “newer” areas by the west, and the river to the east, it is very easy and straightforward to visit and enjoy every sight without needing too much time. To give you an idea, we arrived to Szeged from Timisoara at around 16.00pm, and left the city slightly before 20.00pm in order to have the first section of driving with some daylight before night. If I must confess, this was a bit too short time; an entire half a day would be perfect for anyone as there are no further important sights once you are out of the small historic core.
Because our short time and how planned this trip, we did not have to even change currency to Hungarian Forints. We spent no money while in Szeged, so I cannot recommend either any place for good food. However, being in Hungary there is always a dish served almost everywhere, the Hungarian Goulash; a stew of slow cooked beef with vegetables in a pepper sauce (paprika). The city is the “home of paprika”, brought here in around year 1600 as an ornamental plant, then cultivated and introduced into the Hungarian cuisine. Truly delicious, they are specialist in such dish.
Other than this, not much more to be said for this brief introduction to the city. Below as usual, you will find on the important sections of what to see and do and transports. For more information about Szeged check Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. Hungary’s currency is the Forint (HUF). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
What to see and do in Szeged
- Castle Garden Facing directly to the river, it is the former site of the castle, from which a small portion remains, and aligning parallel to the river very elegant buildings.
-Volt Kass Szálloda At the northernmost corner of the garden, this triangular building splits the road and garden in 2.
-National Theatre Large for the size of this size, in beautiful Central European classical style.
-Ferenc Móra Museum The next palatial building in this area, is the main museum of the city. Completed in 1896, has a large garden and fountain at the front.
- Szechenyi Square The largest square in the city, 2 streets west from the Castle Garden. It is located right in the very centre of the historical old town.
-City Hall With its beautiful clock tower. The current building dates to 1883, in the site of the previous ones that stood from 1728 and 1804.
-Buildings around Most of which in perfect state of restoration, some modernist, others classic.
- Anna Thermal Bath Just few meters northwest from the Szechenyi Square. The largest thermal spa in the city house in an impressive art-nouveau building. By one of the sides you will find the Anna Fountain, with water coming directly from the thermal well.
- Gróf Palace From 1913, in modernist style, is the next building after the thermal baths.
- Rooster Church Right in the little square between the thermal baths and Gróf Palace.
- Cathedral Square Walking south from the Castle Garden along the pedestrian main street Oskola utca, you will reach the third square in Szeged.
-Votive Church The cathedral of Szeged, a much newer construction from 1930 on the site of the former structures that stood before.
-Dömötör Tower At the front of the Votive Church is this small tower from the 11th century.
-Faculty of Sciences Part of the larger building that encircles in full the Cathedral Square are the University buildings.
- Dugonics Square When passing through the Cathedral Square southern gate and then heading west towards the street Jókai utca, you will reach this beautiful square.
-Main Building of the University With its nice garden and fountains at the front.
-Unger Mayer House From 1911, at the corner of the square with the nice pedestrian street Kárász utca. One of the major modernist landmark buildings.
-Reök Palace From 1907, the most impressive modernist building in the city, seems to be taken from Barcelona. Not directly in the square, but at the western side along the street Feketesas utca.
- Railway Station Farther south of the city, well outside the inner ring and outer ring roads.
Being at a perfect location in between 3 countries to which it shares the borders with, coming from either west Romania and north Serbia is matter of few minutes. From Timisoara is less than 2 hours drive for the 110km distance, including the border crossing.
By air, unfortunately the airport is very small and served limited national destination, none international. However, nearby Arad and Timisoara are your nearest airports. By train or by bus, is the same as coming by car. You have a good link from Serbia and Romania, and from within Hungary. A train ride to Budapest is 2 hours 30 minutes only.
Once in the city, and due to the reduced size of the historical old town, there is absolutely no need for taking any public transport. Walking from one end to the other is no more than 20 minutes (when walking direct and not stopping along the sights). However, if you need to access the outskirts neighbourhoods, the city boats a good network of buses and trams.
As we did not stay over at Szeged but in our base in Timisoara, I will be describing our experience in this city. There is a great selection of hotels even that the city is not of a large size, and is really easy and straightforward to find a nice deal too! And at a good hotel. You have plenty of choice around the city centre and along the main ring of gardens surrounding the city from where it is a short walk to the old town. Now, if you want something bigger of with more facilities, you might need to consider staying in the outskirts and commute from there (which if you have a rental car would be your perfect bet).
This was our idea, since we know this weekend would not be that hectic and busy walking kilometres everywhere visiting sights. No, it was all the opposite, a nice and relax weekend, visiting small cities hence why we decided to get a SPA hotel, enjoy the pools, bubble baths, steam room, sauna, etc.
We stayed at the SPA Ice Resort, in str. Calea Lugojului, nr. 27A. Located not fart east from the city, half way between the old town and the airport, it had all I mentioned above. And this was a great selection what we did. The staff was great, the facilities all perfect, and a nice included breakfast. Very quiet at night and comfortable bed. What else you really need?.