With its newly restored town centre of 19th-century exterior; set alongside modern-day offices and shopping malls with bike-friendly lanes leading to all the important landmarks, Miskolc is as good as anywhere else and really has much to offer.

With an approximate two-hour train ride or M3 drive, it's easy to reach Miskolc from Budapest. And you are then in close range of the illustrious Lillafüred, the wondrous Bükk valley and the momentous Gothic Diósgyőr Castle, which are all in the same westerly direction from town. In addition, the Miskolc-Tapolca holiday resort rounds it all off, making Miskolc an ideal must-see for a long-weekend break.


Miskolc city centre

The first prominent site you will see, coming in by train to Miskolc Tiszai railway station, is the towering 72-metre-high TV and Observation Tower. This stately landmark upon the Avas Hill became the symbol of the city after it was constructed in 1963. It operates today and is very much worth a visit.

Once in the central part of town there are various ways of accessing this peak. In my case as a curious spectator, I made my way to the light, genteel Erzébet tér/ Elizabeth Square, with tower top in same line of sight as the trees, all behind the Kossuth statue. From this point I proceeded upwards until final completion.

Once there, one can really capture the aura and splendour of the immediate area in a panorama, more than 180 degrees round. On a clear day one can see as far as the Zemplén hills 50 kilometres further on, near the Slovak borderline.

Miskolc city centre may not be so historically rich and overflowing with exquisiteness, as compared to nearby Eger and other such places. But what there is to see within a casual, atmospheric stroll along the main promenades such as Széchenyi utca, Városház tér and Erzsébet tér, with their eclectic styles, is all most pleasing and splendid.

There are various Baroque buildings in view as well as some Art Nouveau. The Miskolc Gallery is Late Renaissance, the Avas Reformed Church is of Gothic style. Further touristic endeavours continue with setting one’s sights on the resplendent Almassy Mansion, the Classical Reformed churches, the Palace of Music and a pristine wooden church.

Alongside the various bars and restaurants that also line the streets is the Tourist Information bureau. All these respectabilities are accessible along the number 1 and 2 tram lines.

Miskolc is still known for its industrial past, having been famous for steel-making in former times. But this defining era is now over, as new companies and industries have come into place, such as the German Bosch company, which makes car parts, the Japanese Takata company, which constructs safety equipment, and the Swiss Nestlé company, which produces chocolates.

There are also various local firms such as Miskolci Likőrgyár Zrt., which specialises in making liqueurs, and the Diósgyőri Papírgyár paper factory. And then there are the Zip beer factory followed by the Zip Brewhouse, a trendy restaurant in town.

Miskolc with its university, which opened in 1949, is now wanting to go beyond being referred to as “Steel City” and make new, further gains to promote tourism and cultural events. There are various international arts and musical events throughout the year. One of the biggest is the international opera festival every summer, as well as the international festival of young film makers each September. Further information is to be found on Miskolc online sites.

Should you be a sports enthusiast, then Miskolc, famous for such events, is the place, with football leading the way. Also there are nationwide women's basketball and volleyball tournaments. The first-division Miskolc “Ice-Bears” hockey team often plays at the newly opened Ice Arena with its 1500-seat capacity.


Diósgyőr Castle

Beyond the city centre and proceeding westwards with the Number 1 tram, is the monumental and symbolic castle at Diósgyőr. The first castle there was built in the 12th century but soon destroyed by the Mongol invasion. The current castle was then built afterwards and reached its peak of importance during the reign of King Louis the Great in 1342-1382.


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Later it became a wedding gift for various queens of Hungary and remained functioning until the Ottoman invasion in the 16th century. By the late 17th century Diósgyőr Castle was in ruins. Archaeological excavations started in the 1960s. In 2014 the castle was finally restored, which came with new “medieval themes” throughout the vicinity.

In summer there are special events and open-air theatre, reviving the Middle Ages and Hungarian history. Also the legendary Kaláka Folk Festival, every July.

Miskolc's football team got its name from Diósgyőr, as the stadium is nearby.


Lillafüred

Anyone who ventures to the Bükk Valley will surely come across the Palotaszállo/Hotel Palota. This deluxe, top-end hotel, 12 kilometres from Miskolc, with its terraced gardens, was built between 1927 and 1930 in Neo-Renaissance style. It is a wonder in itself, and a vintage selfie awaits, in order to impose onto your social networks where you went for afternoon tea.


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Should rowing be your thing, then “take to the oars” and circle around Lake Hámori while taking in the splendour of the lush green, forested views. Caves, a waterfall and children’s play area are all within easy reach.

In addition to the bus services between Miskolc and Lillafüred is the rattling “Lillafüred Forest Train”, which proceeds at the end stop of the Number 1 tram, a little further on from Diósgyőr Castle. This also makes its way to the Bükk valley, stopping at Lillafüred. But should you wish to get away from the crowds at Lillafüred, then proceed further along railway line in the direction of end stop Garadna. Or await the next train to take you further into the valley.


Miskolc-Tapolca

Miskolc-Tapolca with its distinguished thermal cave-baths is one of the biggest holiday resorts in Hungary. This opens all year except January. Nearby accommodation is plentiful and accessible online.


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Bikes. Miskolc city centre is very bike-friendly. If you have a good bicycle, you could accomplish seeing all these sites. But if you really fancy a challenge, it is 50 kilometres over the valley peaks to Eger. Or, in the opposite direction, vast, open flatlands await.

Personal tip. For those who need to retreat from the summer heat as much as I do, this is another perfect reason to be in Miskolc, with its cooler climate and slightly lower temperatures than to other comparable places.

For further information about Miskolc and surrounding areas, see www.hellomiskolc.hu

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