Debrecen has a humid continental climate, with warm summers and cool winters. Average annual highs come in around 27 C in July and August, with the warm weather beginning in May and lasting until mid-September. As with the rest of Hungary, Debrecen’s peak season is June to August, with some visitors coming in October and around Christmas. Accordingly, the cheapest flights can be found in the off-season. If time and money are no issue, visit in August to witness the city’s most popular event, the annual Flower Carneval. The festival is known for its hundreds of multicoloured floats, covered in flowers, with music, theatre and dance events adding further intrigue to the celebrations.
Hungary’s second city is not only one of Europe’s most under-acclaimed gems, but since low-cost airlines fly to Debrecen International Airport throughout the year, cheap flights are available to visitors whatever the season. The city is characterised by stunning neoclassical architecture set upon grand plazas and wide boulevards, but dig a little deeper and you will discover a culture of fine restaurants and bars, intriguing museums and a wealth of galleries. This is no surprise, either, for Debrecen has a well-established legacy of being a hub of art, the city’s creative streak further enhanced by a reputation for educational prestige. Debrecen University is hailed as one of the finest in the country, its impact on learning embodied by the grand building of the institution’s main campus. Architectural marvels are key to the Debrecen character, with the Nagytemplom Reformed Great Church of Debrecen, being the city’s most famous building. Debrecen is also famed for its spa waters and Hortobágy National Park, a UNESCO Heritage site 45 minutes west of the city.
Yet, for all these interesting landmarks, one of Debrecen’s biggest draws is its rich culinary tradition. Be sure to try the immensely flavourful mangalitza pig, before indulging in a plate of noodles and pork knuckles paired with gomolya or göcseji cheeses. Other specialties include grey cattle goulash, grilled carp, and Debrecen pancakes stuffed with chicken. If meat isn’t your thing, Debrecen does have one vegetarian restaurant, but be careful as the majority of local cuisine is designed with the carnivorous in mind.
Debrecen is served by a tram and bus service. The trams operate around the main tourist attractions, while buses operate across the city. A cheap way to see most of the city is to buy a tram ticket at the train station, and enjoy the round trip that will terminate back where you started. Remember: Debrecen public transport uses local tickets. Don’t try to use Budapest tickets as they will not be accepted.
An airport shuttle bus runs between the University and the Debrecen Airport (DEB) throughout the day. Alternatively, Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD) in Budapest hosts an array of low-cost airlines. However, while there is no direct transport link between Budapest airport and Debrecen, the city lies on the bus line of Budapest-Szolnok-Debrecen-Nyíregyháza-Záhony service, and can easily be reached via an airport transfer.