Hungary lies in a low plain surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains to the north and east. But in the north-east of the country, you can find foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, which are known as the North Hungarian Mountains. Nature lovers and hikers can discover exciting landscapes here, such as the Bükk Mountains and the Bükk National Park of the same name. Bükk means as much as beech and it is precisely these trees that can be found in the national park. It is the largest forest-covered national park in Hungary and the lungs of the country. No wonder that the region is very popular with tourists and hikers. Countless caves, idyllic waterfalls and other natural spectacles await visitors in the park. In addition, well-marked hiking trails guarantee an unforgettable hiking experience in the forests and on the highest peaks in Hungary. Lillafüred, which belongs to the city of Miskolc, is a recreational area in the east of the Bükk Mountains and the starting point for many hikes. A trip to Lillafüred is like a trip into a fairytale forest. Particularly popular is the Hámori lake, which is located directly on the romantic village, and where you can take a boat tour. The splendid old palace hotel sits enthroned on the shores of the lake. Moreover, there is also the highest waterfall in Hungary and several beautiful caves. In this blog post I will introduce you to the idyllic Lillafüred that I visited during my trip through Hungary. I am very happy that you found my blog. Have fun reading.
Overview of Lillafüred
Lillafüred is the recreational area of Miskolc and lies on the edge of the Bükk Mountains. In the 19th century, when the Garadna brook was dammed, the picturesque Lake Hámori was created. This forms the center of the idyll. More and more wealthy people from the city were drawn to the beech forests and mountains on the outskirts of the city. After the magnificent Palace Hotel was built, tourism increased steadily and the small forest railway for goods then also transported tourists. The stream behind the hotel was expanded and this is how the highest waterfall in Hungary was created in Lillafüred. Furthermore, more and more caves were opened to the public. Today in Lillafüred there is the St. Stephan cave, the Anna limestone cave and the Szeleta cave. Hiking trails that run through the beech forests were built and today guarantee a wide range of hiking opportunities. Lillafüred has a lot to offer and is a wonderful destination for your trip to Hungary. I have marked all the important sights for you on the map.
Getting to Lillafüred
Travel by car
Lillafüred is on the road 2505 that connects Eger and Miskolc. This winding tourist route leads through the middle of the Bükk National Park and impresses with the beauty of the Bükk Mountains even before you arrive. The journey from Eger takes about an hour, while the route from Miskolc only takes 20 minutes. Parking spaces are signposted in Lillafüred and cost approximately 400 ft per hour. There is also the possibility to park for free on the hard shoulder if you arrive early.
Travel by public transport
Anreise mit den öffentlichen Verkehrsmitteln
Two city buses from Miskolc (lines 5 and 15) operate in Lillafüred. You can find timetables and further information on the website of the transport company. Furthermore, the bus routes 1383 and 3755 run through Lillafüred. There is even a bus from Budapest (line 1053), but only on Sundays. Current timetables can be found on the following page. I have marked the bus stop on the map.
With the forest railway to Lillafüred
An exciting alternative is to take the forest railway, which runs as a narrow-gauge railway from Miskolc to Lillafüred. Originally the railway was expanded to transport wood and coal, but today it is only used for tourist purposes. The forest railway runs several times a day from Dorottya utca station in the city of Miskolc. The drive to Lillafüred takes about 35 minutes. Then the train continues to the Garadna terminus. Current timetables can be found on the following website and the fares under this link.
The romantic Palace Hotel Palotaszálló
As early as the 18th century, the affluent urban population used Lillafüred as a local recreation area. However, tourism was only really spurred on by the construction of the palace hotel. The hotel, built between 1927 and 1930 in the neo-renaissance style, attracted more and more people to the Bükk Mountains. You can stay overnight at the Hunguest Hotel Palota even today. A view of the large lake is guaranteed, because the hotel is located directly on the shore of Lake Hámori. But also from the outside, the hotel blends in well with the idyll of Lillafüred.
Boat tour on Lake Hámori
Lake Hámori lies in the middle of the green forests and mountains. This originated in the 19th century when the Garadna brook was dammed to regulate the water supply in Miskolc. Today a 2.2-kilometer-long circular hiking trail leads around the lake. The route is easy to tackle and promises picturesque views of Lake Hámori. There is also a beautiful vantage point in the north, which is about 100 meters above the water level. I marked the point on the map but wasn’t there myself.
At the lake there is a boat rental (see map), where you can rent a rowing boat for a romantic boat tour. Half an hour costs 500 ft for adults, while children 14 and under pay only 300 ft. Children under 6 travel for free. The boat rental is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm from mid-April to mid-October.
Short Facts for your Trip
The main season in Lillafüred is from April to October. In the winter months the caves are less open, and the boat rental is closed. Hiking trails can be closed due to ice or snow. The place with its beech forest certainly looks particularly beautiful in autumn, when the leaves change color. We were in Hungary in July, and it was very hot and dry. Many tourists come to the Bükk Mountains at this time, so come to Lillafüred in the morning or in the evening.
The highest waterfall in Hungary
The Szinva Brook flows at the back of the Palace Hotel. In the course of the river, the water falls 20 meters under large beech trees. Therefore, Lillafüred waterfall is the highest waterfall in Hungary. There are several viewing platforms from which the roaring masses of water can be observed. In the pictures you can see the deepest level right next to the entrance to the Anna cave. A visit to the Lillafüred waterfall is particularly worthwhile after heavy rainfall.
Visit to the stalactite cave Szent István-barlang
There are over 1000 caves in the Bükk Mountains and there are also three noteworthy caves in Lillafüred. The Szent István Cave or St. Stephen’s Cave is located near the parking lot directly on the thoroughfare. Allegedly a dog fell into a hole here at the beginning of the 20th century. Villagers were able to locate the dog by whimpering and discovered the stalactite cave. Nowadays you can book a 30-minute tour of the cave. This always starts on the hour. The price for this is 1700 ft while children only pay 1200 ft. In summer the cave is open until 5 pm, in autumn until 3 pm and in winter until 2 pm. You can find more information on the website of the St. Stephan Cave. Inside, a well-developed path with sufficient lighting awaits you, which meanders through a sea of stalactites and stalagmites. The tour guide tells something about the cave, but unfortunately, we caught a tour in Hungarian. However, the visit was very impressive.
Anna limestone cave
At the lowest level of the Lillafüred waterfall is the entrance to the Anna cave. It was formed by the underground watercourses of the Szinva River and there are several limestone tufa deposits inside. Moreover, the walls of the cave are covered with moss and roots, creating a wonderful atmosphere. The Anna cave can be visited on a tour. This always starts on the hour. The price for this is 1700 ft while children only pay 1200 ft. In summer the cave is open until 4 pm, in autumn until 3 pm and in winter until 12 pm. You can find more information on the Anna Cave website. I didn’t visit the cave myself, as I had already booked a tour in the St. Stephan cave.
Szeleta Stone Age Cave
Outside of Lillafüred is the Szeleta Cave (see map). A steep ascent marked “P” leads up a mountain slope to the cave, which can be visited free of charge at any time of the day and any time of the year. Excavations have shown that humans and prehistoric mammals must have lived here in the past. Furthermore, from here you have a great view of the beech forests and the village below.
Conclusion on Lillafüred
Lillafüred is really an idyllic place on earth. The lake with the rowing boats and the magnificent Palace Hotel on the shore conjure up a very special atmosphere. Additionally, the green forests and mountains in the area make this place perfect. You can stay here all day long, there is a lot to discover. But like any beautiful place, Lillafüred is very crowded with tourists at peak times. Accordingly, there are also many overpriced tourist offers, but you don’t have to take advantage of them. If you just want to enjoy the beauty of nature, you are also very welcome here. Except for the tour around the lake, I didn’t go hiking here. However, there is a large selection of hiking trails, and the Bükk Mountains are absolutely inviting for a tour through the forests. Overall, I can highly recommend a visit to Lillafüred. You should definitely plan this place on your trip to Hungary. Lillafüred will be remembered.
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Highlights in the surroundings
If you are in the region, I definitely recommend visiting the Szalajka Valley. This beautiful recreational area borders the village of Szilvásvárad and is located in the west of the Bükk Mountains. You can expect great viewpoints, picturesque lakes, several waterfalls, and hidden caves. There are also good hiking opportunities in the area around Szilvásvárad. Take a look at my blog post about the Szalajka Valley and see for yourself.
About 5 kilometers south of Szilvásvárad is the village of Bélapátfalva, which can be easily reached by car or public transport. There are also some hiking trails and sights here. For example, the magnificent Cistercian abbey in particular attracts many visitors, but the former limestone quarry and the 815-meter high Bél-kő also invite you to hike in the region. Please take a look at my blog post about a beautiful hiking route in Bélapátfalva.
A little further south on the edge of the Bükk Mountains lies the baroque town of Eger, which is surrounded by small vineyards. The picturesque streets invite you to explore and give the city a special charm. Popular sights in Eger are the neoclassical domed basilica, the Minaret or Dobó Square. A visit to Eger Castle, which is located on a hill to the west of the city center, is also worthwhile. There are also several thermal springs and baths in the area for relaxation.
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