16 November 2021 / Dániel Ercsey
Let’s start with the fact that there is more to do in Tokaj than simply drink wine, but whoever wants to do that, will surely find a way. So, I’d rather talk about additional activities. Of course, who knows what is “additional”…
The first place that comes to mind, obviously thanks to the good weather, is the Tengerszem lake on Megyer Hill in Sárospatak. It makes a perfect autumn excursion, whether you leave the car at the Ciróka Recreation Park or at the nearby Harsányi Dűlőbisztro. I think it’s rather worth popping into the Harsányis’ on the way back for a glass of wine or even a chilli and ginger pumpkin cream soup. You won’t regret it! A somewhat steep path leads from the carpark up to a lake one kilometre away; it’s not actually a lake, rather an abandoned millstone quarry filled with rainwater. There is a via ferrata trail along the rocks, and you can hire equipment from the Quarry Centre.
The lake is nearly 7 metres deep in places, and the rock walls that surround it are sometimes 70 metres high.
While we’re in Sárospatak, let’s not forget its sights: its castle is probably the most beautiful Renaissance building in Hungary, while the library of the Reformed College was voted one of the ten most beautiful libraries in the world and can fortunately be visited for a nominal entrance fee. You can also eat in town at the Boros wine bar and restaurant, where you can taste almost all the wines from the northern part of the wine region.
The library of the Reformed College of Sárospatak
However, if you want to go to the southern part of the Tokaj region, the best choice is clearly Kopasz Hill, which can be approached from both Tarcal and Tokaj. You can reach it by car from Tarcal, but only on foot from Tokaj – it’s a steep climb, but the beautiful view makes up for it! Once you’ve had your fill of the view, make sure you stop at the statue of the Blessed Christ in Tarcal and walk down to the nearby quarry lake too. In Tokaj, a cultural programme might include a performance at the Paulay Ede Theatre, whereas the interactive rooms of the Tokaj World Heritage Wine Museum are also a good place to visit, as is the restored old Greek merchant house of the Tokaj Museum. If you crave a good coffee, then the Tokaji Kávépörkölő Manufaktúra (Tokaj Coffee Roasting Manufactory) is a must, and you can also taste the wines from Erzsébet Pince here too. There are several wineries near the main square, including Tokaj-Hétszőlő and Hímesudvar, but the Prés Winebar is also worth a visit, while in Tarcal, it’s worth visiting Tokaj Kikelet or the Basilicus Estate after your tour. Not far from the former, you can also find Tibor Szilágyi’s cheese workshop, a must for fans of artisanal cheeses with character!
The first-class vineyards of the Tokaj Hetszőlő estate are located at the southernmost point of the region, on the outskirts of the town of Tokaj.
In Tokaj, you can and should paddle along the Tisza or take a trip on a holiday boat. The base harbour for holiday boats is on the River Bodrog, near the Hotel Kelep, which is a turn-off to the river next to the water tour base, while if you fancy some kayaking, check out the Éles Kayak website for paddling trips on the River Bodrog. I have also kayaked with them; it’s a really great experience to explore the Bodrog flood basin from the water.
Whichever way you head, to the north or south of the wine region, you are guaranteed an exciting time!
Related: You can find more information about the Tokaj wine region and wine tours here. It’s worth browsing through the 1, 2 and 3-day tours!