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Szeged, a university city known for its sunshine, paprika, and salami.

Transport | Things to Do | Travel Costs | Famous for | Fun facts | Food & Drink | Best time to visit | Where to stay

Szeged is Hungarys fourth largest city

The name Szeged might come from an old Hungarian word for 'corner' (szeg), pointing to the turn of the river Tisza that flows through the city. Others say it derives from the Hungarian word sziget which means 'island'.

10 Fun facts about Szeged

  • Szeged lies on Hungary’s southern border, about 2 hours drive from Budapest, on the banks of Tisza river.
  • The western side is generally referred to as “Szeged”, while the newer eastern side is called “Új-szeged” (“New Szeged”).
  • It is just 15 km from the Serbian border.
  • According to the 2022 World Population Review, Szeged is Hungary’s 4th largest city.
  • Known as the “City of Sunshine”, Szeged has the most sunshine hours in the whole of Hungary.  Szeged is famous for its Paprika production – more about that later…
  • The city and the surrounding area date to ancient times. The first recorded name of the city is Partiscum, according to Ptolemy. In a document written by King Béla III in 1183, the name Szeged was first recorded.
  • It’s one of Hungary’s main hubs for the food sector.
  • In July 1849, Szeged served as the final capital of the revolutionary government. The town’s leaders were chastised by the Habsburg overlords, but subsequently, the town started to develop once more. The railway arrived there in 1854, and in 1860 the town was granted its former status as a free royal town.
  • South Africans living in Hungary have described Szeged as the “Potch (Potchefstroom) of South Africa”, both being a university town with a similar look and feel. That said, Szeged’s population is much higher at an estimated 160,000 – about 4 times the size of Potchefstroom. So, I guess you can call Szeged the Big Brother of Potchefstroom!
  • Small but famously twinned with Cambridge, England, United Kingdom; Darmstadt, Germany; Kotor, Montenegro; Larnaca, Cyprus; Liège, Belgium; Łódź, Poland; Nice, France; Odessa and Rakhiv in Ukraine; Parma, Italy; Pula, Croatia; Subotica, Serbia; Târgu Mureș and Timișoara in Romania; Toledo, USA; Turku in Finland and Weinan in China.

 

The University of Szeged, founded in 1872, is famous for its research activities and prides itself on numerous notable scientists and researchers. Among them is the Nobel Laureate Albert Szent-Györgyi. He discovered Vitamin C!

Students from across the world come to study at the University of Szeged where instruction is available not only in English but also in French, German, and other foreign languages – depending on the study field.

Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (IATA: BUD, ICAO: LHBP), is commonly known as Budapest Airport.

Szeged has a small airport about 5km west of the city. The airfield is mostly used for private chartered jets and shows.

Szeged is about two hours by car from Budapest, give and take the traffic you may encounter in Budapest. Once you’re on the open road it is an easy drive to Szeged. Because it is such an easy drive, you can easily rent a car without stressing about traffic in Szeged. However, I don’t recommend doing so because Szeged has an excellent public transport infrastructure.

From the airport, book a transfer service through Zöld Transfer. See the review “Travel like a local”.

Once in Szeged, there are taxis everywhere at affordable prices. Use the bus and tram network, which is super clean and safe. 

  • The Votive Church and Cathedral of Our Lady of Hungary is a twin-spired church situated on Dóm square next to the Dömötör tower. Construction began in 1913. The outbreak of World War I caused construction to pause. Subsequently, construction only ended in 1930. Address: Dóm tér 15
  • The Szent-Györgyi Albert memorial room, located in the Dean’s Office of the Faculty of Medicine, is a sight of great significance. In short, Albert Szent-Györgyi won the Nobel Prize “for his discoveries with reference to vitamin C”. An achievement that Hungarians are very proud of. Address:  University of Szeged Faculty of Medicine, Tisza L. krt. 109.
  • Saint Demetrius Tower, outside the Votive Church on the side of the Dóm Square, is the oldest architectural relic of the city. Interestingly, the square is the same area as the St. Mark Square in Venice, namely 12,000 square meters. Address: Dóm tér
  • The musical clock can be seen from the Dóm Square on the opposite side of the Votive Church’s main entrance. You would want to be there at 12h15 or 17h45 to hear the tunes of this unique piece of art, dating back to 1936. Address: Dóm tér
  • The Serbian Orthodox Church, with its traditional orthodox interior, is on the northern side of the Dóm Square towards the River Tisza. The rococo iconostas embellished richly with gold is one of the most beautiful pieces in Hungary. Address: Somogyi u. 3
  • Széchenyi Square has a history going back to the 13th century when the western walls of the castle were built on the bank of the River Tisza in the square. Since then, it has been reshaped completely. Despite all the well-preserved historical buildings, the square has a youthful atmosphere with all the students from the various surrounding campuses and is a hub of activities during the summer months.
  • The City Hall was revamped after the great flood in 1879. Go to the middle window of the staircase where you will see the decorated words “Szeged will be more beautiful than it used to be”. Address: Széchenyi tér 10
  • At the New Synagogue (built 1903), find the biblical commandment in Hebrew and Hungarian that reads “Love your neighbor as yourself”. Address: Jósika u. 10
  • Dugonics Square, in memory of the Piarist priest and teacher András Dugonics. In 1788 he wrote the first Hungarian novel, namely Etelka. Just like Széchenyi Square, Dugonics Square is known for all kinds of activities and festivals during the summer months.
  • Indoor activities for rainy days. There is no shortage of indoor activities when the weather is not ideal for being outdoors. Go to one of the many thermal baths or book a massage. You’ll find Thai massage parlors all over the city.

    Alternatively, enjoy a game of tenpin bowling at the Bowling alleys and Szeged center – Szeged TE (Szegedi Teke- és Bowlingcentrum – Szegedi TE). They’re on Derkovits fasor 1-5, and you can check availability by telephone – +36 362 401 410.

     
     
 
Szeged Sightseeing train, Hungary, #TravelAndHome

The sightseeing train will take you on a journey of around 45 minutes, pointing out Szeged’s most important buildings, streets, squares, attractions, and history. From May until the end of October, the morning train leaves from Széchenyi Square every hour, starting at 9h00. (For more information, call them at +36-70/977-1292 or email informacio@szegedikisvonat.hu)

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Follow our “Life in Hungary…“-segment on our Travel and Home Facebook Group! Arina left sunny South Africa for Hungary almost four years ago and shares her “life and living” in what she calls “Paprika-Country”.

A brand-new YouTube channel will also give insight into her beloved pets’ lives in Szeged, Hungary. All three of them are South African-born Maltese “furry children”, now proudly having EU passports!

Sculptures around every corner

You will find plenty of sculptures of great significance everywhere in Szeged. For instance, the statue of Lajos Kossuth on Klauzál Square and an unparalleled golden tie pin. The pin is held in the gold spectacle of the Ferenc Móra Museum. Lajos Kossuth was a political reformer who inspired and led Hungary’s struggle for independence from Austria. The controversial Kossuth visited Szeged in 1848, giving two speeches to about 10,000 residents. “The cheers, music, and cannons had no length-end,” they wrote of the glorious day. Kossuth gave his legendary speech on this day: “The people of Szeged, the pride of my nation, the pillar of my poor betrayed country, I bow deeply before you!”  Later, in 1902, the statue was inaugurated.

szeged hungary little girl statue girl with dog crucian street sculpture art and craft TravelAndHome

Like in all of Hungary, Szeged also has plenty of incredible sculptures. 

The Votive Church

Szeged travel and home Hungary Hongarye

“It is a cathedral, a family-friendly church, a destination of pilgrims, a sacred space, an exclusive conference and concert venue, home of the Szeged Open-Air Festival, and an open and receptive community magnet.”  -Szegedidom.com

 

The Maros River

To quote Luther Vandross: “The best things in life are free”. There are many things in life that are FREE and breathtakingly beautiful. One of those is a walk on the banks of the river Maros.

Maros River is one of two primary rivers flowing through Szeged Hungary Things to do in Szeged

Heroes' Gate, opposite Arad Martyrs Square

First let me clarify that this square is not the traditional square shape, as it’s slightly irregular. Once you’re here, you cannot miss Heroes’ Gate, in memory of Szeged’s soldiers who died in World War I. This free sightseeing attraction is an absolute must-see with war-theme frescos painted by Vilmos Aba-Novák.

Address: Boldogasszony sugárút

 
Visit Szeged Hungary history Szeged culture and historic sightseeing sites things to do in Szeged

Hungary's City of Festivals

SZEGED THE CITY OF FESTIVALS visit Hungary things to do in Szeged Hungary. Festivals in Szeged Travel Hungary
Festivals in Szeged, Hungary, travel, travel and home

A typical year in this festival city ends with new year celebrations such as concerts, street parties, and spectacular fireworks.

This city comes alive in Spring and usually has at least one sizeable festival every month until the end of summer. Of course, soon thereafter the Christmas markets start (end-November to end-December). But that’s a discussion for another time.

Due to the pandemic, most of the festivals were canceled in 2020. Many of them for the first time since it started. This was a great loss to vibrant Szeged and its people. 

 

Plan Your Trip around the Szeged Festival Calendar

The festival season usually opens with The Pork and Pálinka Festival in Mid-March. This is where you taste Hungary’s traditional pork dishes and taste its renowned and strong liqueur. With Hungarian artists making music in the “background” you’re surrounded by cabbage cooking and pig slaughter competitions. Only once you’ve been to this festival, you, and everyone else, are officially in the summer mood and counting the days to full-swing summer!

 

Another one is the vibrant mid-May Szeged Wine Festival and the Day of Szeged (21 May, and first held in 1931) with the best of Hungary’s wines, and eateries from the line of kiosks. The atmosphere is warm and friendly with everybody joining in 10 days of celebration.  

In early June the city finds itself in the ‘90s in Újszeged Partfürdő, at the Déjà vu Festival. 

In Szeged, every summer the square in front of the Votive Cathedral transforms into a huge open-air theatre to host the Szeged Open-Air Festival. It’s usually from June to August. With 6,000 seats per show, this cultural festival is the second largest of its kind in Hungary featuring opera, fold dancing, classical music, ballet, rock opera, and many more shows.

July has its very own 3-day International Beer Festival usually around mid-July.

August is the city’s anniversary month and the month for the Szeged Youth Festival

One of the popular festivals – being a university town, quite frankly, they’re ALL popular festivals! – is the 4-day Hungarikum Festival in August, attracting around 60,000 visitors looking for Hungarian products or simply to enjoy the Hungarian culture.

Brandy lovers get their special treat of soul-warming fruit brandies with the Toros Brandy festival, while fish lovers’ highlight is the International Tisza Fish Festival on the banks of the Tisza River. This is also the best time to taste Szeged’s famous fish soup, cooked from several types of fish. The fish festival is usually held on the first weekend in September.

The Szeged Air Show, at Szeged Airport, is a long weekend around the second week of September about aviators, aircraft, and flights from across the world. 

Usually, you meet up on Dom Square shortly after mid-September for the Wine Square, a festival of the best of Hungary’s winemakers combined with culinary specialties and excellent concerts.

Hungarian Cuisine | Food & Drinks

What to eat in Szeged Hungary Goulash Dumpling travel and home
What to eat in Hungary? Goulash Dumpling!
Szeged Hungary Hongarye Magyar Ice cream what to eat travel and home
Ice cream is BIG in Hungary. The ice cream market is worth over 35 Billion HUF, or over 1.7 Billion ZAR! The variety is ENDLESS - you just HAVE to try Hungarian ice cream.

And then, Lángos (pronounced langosh). An absolute must. The classic Lángos is brushed with garlic first, then topped with sour cream and cheese.

The name for Hungarian Lángos comes from the word láng which means flame.

Have You Had Your Lángos Today?

When in Hungary it is almost compulsory to try the country's national street food.

Pálinka

And then there is Pálinka, a fiery fruit brandy usually distilled from plums, apricots, and pears. There are endless different variations. 

Kecskemét is famous for its Pálinka distilleries. It’s about 91 km from Szeged (1 hour by car), towards Budapest. And since it’s on your way to Budapest, it makes for a nice added excursion.

Festivals in Szeged, Hungary, travel, travel and home

PICK Salami

Szeged is also home to the famous PICK factory. This popular Hungarian brand has been in operation for about 140 years, using a secret recipe.

“Made from pork and spices, winter salami is cured in cold air and is slowly smoked. During the dry ripening process, a special noble mold is formed on the surface of the product.”

Hungarian Salami Pick Szeged food and drink in Hungary what to eat

Paprika-country

Szeged (together with Kalocsa) is the home of Paprika, also referred to as “red gold” by locals, in Hungary, where it’s a culinary staple. For example, sweet paprika has an exquisite flavor and is a delicious addition to rubs and marinades, potatoes, classic chicken paprikash, traditional goulash, and much more.

This premium spice, usually harvested from September 8th to the beginning of October, is also exported to countries such as the USA.

A visit to a few paprika venues is necessary to get that authentic paprika experience.

Like the privately-owned Paprika Museum. Here you’ll see a small display of collectibles relating to paprika. Best you phone before you go, because they are not always open to the public. They’re at Röszke, II. körzet 50/B and you can call them at +36-62/272-788 or email paprika@paprikamolnar.hu.

Hungarian Paprika - What To Look For...

"If you are looking for products made from Hungarian paprika, it will be a very easy task, as there are dozens of delicacies on the shelves of the shops that are based on this spice. But should you even start? Do not miss out on these products if you are in Hungary!" - The Hungarian Paprika.

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Best Time to Visit Szeged, Hungary

The length of the day in Szeged varies significantly over the course of the year. For instance, the shortest day is December 21, with 8 hours, 36 minutes of daylight. In contrast, the longest day is June 20, with 15 hours, 47 minutes of daylight. 

Summer has beautiful warm sunny days between June to August, generally ranging from the upper 20’s to around the mid-’30s. Lately, even reaching the upper-30s. The humidity in July/early August can be quite high, sometimes exceeding your comfort level. For instance 80% plus.

In autumn (September to November) you have the warm autumn-colored leaves (especially around end-October / mid-November), putting on a spectacular display.

Winter is most definitely not a season for tourism in Hungary. Days are grey, there’s little sunshine, daylight hours are short, and it is cold. In addition, most noteworthy attractions close during the winter months.

Snow Time!
You can expect snow in the winter season, subject to the impact of climate change! December 2019 and January 2020 had almost no snow - certainly not enough to throw salt!
Summer
Szeged is the city with the most sunshine hours in Hungary. Temperatures are rarely below -12°C or above 34°C.For warm-weather activities visit Szeged from late May to mid September.
On the Maros River Bank
The Maros River is one of two primary rivers flowing through Szeged.
Autumn in Full Swing
In 2020, the shortest day is December 21, with 8 hours, 36 minutes of daylight; the longest day is June 20, with 15 hours, 47 minutes of daylight.
Winter Wonderland
Winter lasts from end November to March 1. Expect temperature averages between 8°C and -4°C.
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How expensive is Szeged

The official currency in Hungary is the Hungarian Forint (HUF). That said, your master or visa card will be accepted or payment in Euros.
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