A comprehensive guide to the Hungarian city of Debrecen for tourists planning a trip. I’ll share how to get here, what activities are available, insights on the thermal baths, other attractions in the city, and where to dine. This article will help craft your perfect city itinerary, offering advice and recommendations to address all your queries.

Debrecen: General Information and Interesting Facts

Let’s start with some key points to give you a clear picture:

  • Debrecen is Hungary’s largest city after Budapest, home to 200 thousand people. For comparison, Budapest boasts 1.8 million residents.
  • Founded in 1235, Debrecen is an ancient city whose age is palpable in its historical center.
  • During World War II, it faced significant damage from bombings and took a full 30 years to be entirely restored.
Debrecen for tourists
The city center is adorned with pedestrian streets, monuments, and ancient buildings. However, it’s crucial to note that much of this was rebuilt in the 1960s after the wartime destruction.

Interesting facts:

One of Hungary’s largest universities, the University of Debrecen, is located here and is highly renowned in Europe, accommodating 32 thousand students annually.

Debrecen boasts an international airport receiving flights from the WizzAir low-cost carrier. Article: How to Travel to Hungary by Plane Today, Optimal Routes.

Getting to Debrecen and the Airport

If you arrive in Budapest, like most tourists, getting to Debrecen is quite straightforward. Being a major transportation hub, it’s easily accessible via public transport from almost any part of Hungary, with numerous buses and trains available.

The most convenient way from Budapest to Debrecen is by train.

  • Dozens of trains operate daily, approximately every 20-30 minutes.
  • Travel time ranges from 2.5 to 3 hours depending on the train type.
  • Ticket price: 7-10 euros.
  • Hungarian Railways official website (schedules, prices, tickets): https://www.mavcsoport.hu/en
to Debrecen from Budapest
The photo displays the train schedule from Budapest to Debrecen from 9 am to 11 am: over 10 trains in 2 hours! There are over 50 trains throughout the day.

Debrecen Airport is merely 5 km away from the city center. Two city buses, R1 and R2, run according to flight arrival times. The airport is small, with only a few flights per day.

Regular city transport tickets are needed, costing 450 forints or 1.2 euros as of late 2023. However, bus drivers don’t sell tickets. The simplest way is through the BudapestGO app.


When purchasing tickets on this app, remember to switch from Budapest to Debrecen. Ticket prices vary for each city.

An article provides detailed guidance on using this app. It’s highly convenient and eliminates ticket purchasing hassles for metros, buses, and trams across Hungarian cities.

Where to Stay

Debrecen is a city situated on a plain. There are no mountains or hills, making strolling through the city a pleasant experience. Living in the city center is preferable, but here are some considerations for you to decide:

  • Accommodation for tourists is available both in the center and on the outskirts. The outskirts are more budget-friendly.
  • In reality, the city isn’t too large in terms of area. It’s only 2-3 km from the center to the outskirts, with buses and tram lines running across the city.
  • The city center mainly consists of old buildings, implying high ceilings, no central heating, and it gets very cold, especially if you’re traveling from November to March.
  • On the outskirts, houses are newer, warmer, equipped with modern gas heating systems, and often feature larger kitchens.


Whenever I stay in Debrecen, I opt for apartments closer to the outskirts; they’re far more comfortable for the same price as those in the center. Plus, it’s only a 20-30 minute walk to the center.
  • I book accommodations through a major platform that compares prices among dozens of providers: Hotellook.

Best Restaurants in Debrecen

Hungarian cuisine is delicious, hearty, and meaty. Just think of soups like goulash and halászlé. I’ll provide an overview of the national cuisine and what a tourist should try.

Debrecen boasts numerous cafes and restaurants, ensuring you won’t go hungry. Prices are similar to Budapest, not significantly cheaper. Below are my top Hungarian cuisine spots, offering great taste and traditional dishes.


As with anywhere else, the farther a restaurant is from the center, the more affordable and cozy it tends to be.
  • Mátyás Pince – a family Hungarian cuisine restaurant. It’s my favorite. Delicious soups, a lunch menu, and no hidden service charges. Very cozy and pleasant.
Best Restaurants in Debrecen
Most family-run restaurants are in building basements, with modest entrances. The photo shows a traditional Hungarian soup from Mátyás Pince: goulash with csipetke – also known as bográcsgulyás – incredibly tasty!
  • Flaska Vendéglő – another Hungarian cuisine restaurant. Closer to the center. The menu includes traditional dishes like pörkölt and paprikash, among others. During peak seasons, it’s advisable to book a table in advance.
  • Csokonai – last but not least, a restaurant with an inclination towards exclusivity. From presentation to dishes and names, everything suggests it positions itself as top-notch. Unlike others, they have libamáj (Hungarian foie gras) on their menu.

These aren’t all of Debrecen’s best restaurants. There are dozens, maybe more. However, I personally enjoy dining in these spots when in Debrecen, especially at Mátyás Pince, where I find delicious home-style food at reasonable prices.

Sightseeing in Debrecen: Top 10 Attractions

If you’ve seen other articles about Debrecen’s attractions, some list the top 30 or even 40. A large portion seems included just for the sake of a list, such as a tree, a monument, or a regular house. These places are stretched just to expand the list, and over half the text is fluff. Such spots can be found in hundreds in any city, so I don’t cover those. I’ll only discuss locations and places that are genuinely worth visiting.

For convenience, I’ve marked all Debrecen’s attractions on a map, including the aforementioned restaurants. The map is interactive, allowing clicking, zooming, etc.

Now, the best attractions, prices, working hours, and most importantly, the author’s assessment of whether they’re worth visiting or not.

  • Reformed Great Church. Located right in Debrecen’s heart, on the main square, it’s Hungary’s largest Protestant church, built in 1824.
    • Coordinates: 47.53208306530128, 21.624335115766044
    • Inside, there are several halls with exhibitions, and you can ascend one of the towers for a panoramic view of the city.
    • Opening hours: 9 am to 4 pm. Ticket price: just under 4 euros.
Debrecen Attractions
Reformed Great Church – situated in the heart of Debrecen on the main square

Author’s rating:

7 out of 10. I’m not particularly fond of temple architecture or religious attractions, but I enjoyed the panoramic view and sights of the city’s center. The interior is modest, following Protestantism’s avoidance of rich décor and gold painting in churches.
  • Déri Museum – Debrecen’s primary museum. A beautiful neo-Baroque building. A green park in front of the museum features four statues by the renowned Hungarian sculptor Ferenc Medgyessy (whom I discovered only in Debrecen, but they say he’s well-known). And, of course, the museum itself, showcasing Hungary’s history and the city.

Useful to know:

This ticket also grants access to the Literary House of Debrecen and the Ferenc Medgyessy Memorial Museum, both located in the same building just 300 meters from the Déri Museum.
Deri Museum Debrecen
Déri Museum and the park with statues. Entry to this park is free.

Author’s rating:

5 out of 10. Recommended for museum lovers, literature enthusiasts, and exhibitions featuring old photographs and reproductions. Others might find it a bit dull. Admire the museum from outside, relax in the park on a bench near the entrance, and continue the journey.
  • Nagyerdő Water Tower. Situated in the park of the same name. There are many such attractions, but more about them below. Those who have visited numerous Hungarian cities have probably encountered such towers. They were constructed across the country in the early 20th century as genuine water towers, supplying municipal water systems. Beautiful structures used to showcase how technical progress improves ordinary people’s lives.
    • Coordinates: 47.55497074649603, 21.630986926553785
    • The tower reopened after reconstruction only in 2015.
    • Operating hours: 10 am to 10 pm, and until 2 am on weekends.
    • There’s a bar on the ground floor, a club and disco in the basement, and a climbing wall above the bar, operational only in summer.
    • You can ascend the water tower to the very top, where there’s a viewing platform overlooking the city. Arguably the best view. Ticket price: 2.5 euros. Purchase at the bar’s cashier. They’ll provide a QR code to pass through the turnstile upstairs.
Water Tower debrecen
Debrecen Water Tower, with a viewing platform at the very top. If you look closely at the central column, you’ll see the climbing wall. And below, behind the glass, is the bar where you buy tickets.

Author’s rating:

9 out of 10. Fantastic location, an unusual tower, and the best panoramic view of the city. You can grab coffee at the bar or enjoy a hamburger.
  • Aquaticum: water park and thermal baths in Debrecen for the entire family. There’s a water park with slides for kids, thermal baths (6 in total) for adults, and a Sauna World area with 5 or 6 saunas. You can confidently spend half a day or even a whole day here. Detailed photos, prices, and visit tips will follow.
    • For your reference, my rating is 10 out of 10, and this is a must-visit attraction in Debrecen
  • Immediately, a cluster of attractions in one place: the University of Debrecen, the White Rose of the Revolution, and the university’s botanical garden. A place for walks: beautiful architecture, historic monuments, and the green botanical garden.
white rose of revolution debrecen
On the left photo: the main university building. On the right: the white rose of the revolution and the primary Reformed Church. There’s a very large student campus here; feel free to wander around the inner courtyards.

Author’s rating:

5 out of 10. A casual stroll for an hour through the student campus and the botanical garden. If time permits, come here; it’s peaceful, beautiful, and serene. If you’re in Debrecen for just a day, it’s skippable.
  • The Debrecen Zoo is also located within the Nagyerdő Park. Zoos are quite popular across Hungary, almost every major city has one.
debrecen zoo
At Debrecen Zoo

Author’s rating:

8 out of 10 if you’re traveling with kids. Downsides: the zoo is very small, you can tour it in 40-50 minutes. Upsides: clean, well-maintained animals, and there are many of them: hippos, lions, giraffes, lemurs, camels, and so on. It’s definitely interesting for kids. If you’re without children, it’s better to relax at the thermal baths across the road; the zoo won’t astonish you.
  • Kerekestelep Thermal Baths – a place highly praised online. Located on the outskirts of Debrecen, it’s a tourist campsite where you can stay with your tent or motorhome. The campsite has thermal baths: 2 hot pools. You can visit the baths without staying at the campsite. For those staying at the campsite, access to the baths is included in the price.
    • Coordinates: 47.50781929512492, 21.637002811255194
    • Operating hours: from 10 am to 6:30 pm, extended to 8 pm in summer.
    • Website: https://kerekestelepifurdo.hu/
    • The water temperature is around 38 degrees Celsius throughout the year, a bit hotter in summer.
    • Ticket for thermal baths only (without camping): around 7 euros. No time limit.
thermal baths in debrecen
This place might not be suitable for those uncomfortable around crowds. The dark pool in the foreground holds thermal hot water, while in the background is the swimming pool. There are hardly any people here in the morning.

Author’s rating:

5 out of 10. Very crowded. Enthusiastic reviews come mostly from those staying at the campsite. I agree, waking up in the morning and going to the thermal baths or sitting there at sunset is cool. But if you’re not staying at the campsite, there’s no point in coming here. It’s better to visit the Aquaticum water park, which is 20 times better. And for those wanting more, 19 kilometers from Debrecen, in the village of Hajdúszoboszló, is Europe’s largest Aqua complex, but that’s a whole different story.

Review of Hajdúszoboszló and its massive aqua park with thermal baths in the article linked.

Here’s where else a tourist can go in Debrecen without high expectations or excitement:

There are dozens of cathedrals, churches, houses of famous people, monuments, but I won’t list them. These are stretched attractions that one could easily overlook and not notice. It’s unclear why they’re written about.

Aquapark and Thermal Baths in Debrecen

Let me paint a vivid picture of what awaits you at Aquaticum. This is a place for the entire family, not just for adults as often seen in Hungary. It’s genuinely enjoyable for both kids and adults alike.

The Aquapark comprises four zones:

  • Outdoor Water Park: A vast area with pools, slides, plenty of loungers, green lawns, and jacuzzis. Open from May to September, perfect for the whole family.
  • Indoor Aqua Park: Over 10 slides, numerous kid-friendly activities, a lazy river, jacuzzis, and more. Only about 3 slides are for adults; the rest are for the little ones. Ideal to visit with kids.
aquaticum debrecen prices
Indoor Aqua Park: Abundant entertainment options for children.
  • Thermal Bath Zone: 5 indoor pools under and one outdoor pool. The depth of all thermal baths is 120 cm. Water temperature ranges from 33-38 degrees Celsius indoors and 38 degrees in the outdoor pool. Children under 6 aren’t allowed. It’s more of a relaxation area rather than a place for kids who can enjoy the slides and other fun in the aquapark.
debrecen bath price
This zone features thermal baths. Notice the two baths in the foreground and two more visible in the arched areas on the left and right. This constitutes the entire thermal zone, along with a moderately sized outdoor pool. For those planning to buy tickets solely for this zone, spending the entire day here might be challenging due to limited space. Consider a combined ticket instead.
  • The 4th zone is the Sauna World – a territory of saunas, including two Finnish saunas, two steam rooms, an infrared sauna, a salt chamber, and a Kneipp path.

A notable feature of Sauna World:

It’s quite uncommon in Hungary—bathing suits are prohibited here. Each guest is given a towel upon entry. Many people sit in the saunas wrapped in towels, but not everyone. When stepping out of the sauna to rinse off in the shower or cold pool, you’ll have to remove the towel. Keep this in mind; it might not suit everyone’s preferences. And of course, taking mobile phones into the Sauna World is prohibited. Surprisingly, children are allowed here!

Aquaticum in Debrecen: Prices and Visiting Tips

debrecen aquapark
Main entrance to Aquaticum in Debrecen (coordinates below):

Useful to know:

Separate tickets are required for each zone. There are combined tickets catering to various preferences. You can buy a full access pass, only thermal baths and sauna, or aquapark and thermal baths. You’ll surely find a suitable ticket. Below is a photo example with prices.
price water park debrecen
At an exchange rate of 380 forints = 1 euro, an adult ticket for all zones costs around 25 euros. For aquapark and thermal baths only, it’s about 17 euros. Thermal baths and saunas, excluding the aquapark, cost 13 euros. There are no combined tickets with the Outdoor Water Park since it’s closed in winter, but they will be available in summer.

Visiting Tips:

  • The ticket only grants access to the complex. Slippers, towels, shampoo—none of this is provided. Bring everything you need. Towels are only provided in the sauna area.
  • The locker number is already tied to your bracelet. Don’t occupy any random lockers. At the entrance to the changing room, there are screens where you can scan your bracelet to find your locker number.
  • There’s a hotel near the aquapark. Staying here grants access to thermal baths and discounts to other areas of the aquapark. It’s amazing to step from your room straight into the thermal baths wearing your robe. The hotel is called Aquaticum Debrecen Thermal & Wellness Hotel, a 4-star accommodation starting at 180 euros per night for two with breakfast and dinner.

Perhaps you might find an article on Hungary’s hotels with thermal baths interesting.

Author’s review:

The aquapark is fantastic. If you’re traveling with kids, they’ll adore the Indoor Aqua Park and the outdoor section open in summer. For adults without kids, the thermal bath zone is the way to go. Saunas are more of an optional thing. Despite the need to undress completely, the sauna complex isn’t vast, with only about 3 saunas to choose from, essentially offering limited diversity. I didn’t have any lasting impressions from the saunas.

For those in Hungary for an extended period, heading beyond Debrecen, there’s an immensely useful article: the country’s best thermal baths, including those underground in caves.

In conclusion: Debrecen is a beautiful Hungarian city with its 17th-18th-century history and architecture. I can’t say there are hundreds of landmarks here. You can easily explore the entire center in half a day, much like any other city in Hungary except Budapest. Spend the second half of the day at the aquapark. I recommend planning for 1-2 full days here. That should be more than sufficient. There’s not much else to do here.

Wishing you vibrant experiences in Debrecen!

IMPORTANT: Below are useful links that will help organize your trip to Hungary and Budapest:

  • Flight: Aviasales – compares prices for flights among 30+ airlines flying to Budapest.
  • Tours and excursions:
    • Viator and GetYourGuide – the best services for finding tours in Budapest and Hungary with the largest database of activities in Hungary. They offer river cruises on the Danube, tickets to baths, and 1000+ tours (available in different languages).
  • Accommodation, apartments, hotels, hostels:
    • Hotellook compares the prices among dozens of other booking services and offer the best price
    • Booking – the most popular booking platform
    • Agoda – even more accommodation options in Hungary
  • Car rental: DiscoverCars – the leading and largest car rental service in Hungary.
  • Travel Insurance: EKTA.
  • eSIMAiralo virtual SIM card in Hungary.
  • Taxi and airport transfers: Intui.Travel