Hungarians love their bathhouses and a country break to a hotel that has it’s own spa sounded like a perfect plan for our break from cities. We stayed in 2 different spa hotels, the first in Tarcal in the wine country region near Tokaj, and the second in Tiszafüred in the northern Great Plains near Hortobágy National Park.
Top Experiences in Tarcal
- The cave spa at Andrássy Rezidencia Wine & Spa
- Fresh local fish at a roadside stand in Tokaj
- Driving through the Hungarian countryside between Boldogko and Sarospatak
Andrássy Rezidencia Wine & Spa, 2 nights in a luxurious standard room, breakfast included.
After 18 nights in 3 different apartments we opened the door to our room at the Andrássy and said YES! The standard room I’d booked through Booking.com was terrific and we were ready for some pampering and daily maid service. Too bad it was only 2 nights.
Tarcal is about 1.5 hours from Eger, the countryside is a patchwork of bright yellow canola fields and we opted for the smooth, flat, most direct route rather than than the longer way winding over the hills through the Bukki Nemzeti National Park.
Even though it was the May 1 Labor Day holiday weekend, apparently it was still off season in this part of Hungary. We were able to check in early and head out to Tokaj, the renowned wine town 15 minutes down the road from Tarcal. But we wouldn’t be tasting any wine, there is ZERO tolerance for drinking and driving in Hungary.
Relaxing Sunday in Little Tokaj
Tokaj is a very pretty little town on the Tisza River, quiet on Sunday after a big bus of tourists left. A little café for doppio espresso, a little visit to the little museum across from the café, then we were ready for a little lunch. What do we find? A little fish stand on the main road with a line of people standing at the window to order. Of course we want some! So we stood in line and tried to figure out what and how to order.
One of the 2 ladies in the fish stand helped as best she could – I said the names of a couple of different fish (the names were on the pictures on the side of the stand, not that I had a clue what they were except fish and they looked good) and she held up the fish for approval. OK! Then she said “pomme frite?” Ah yes, french fries are the same in any language! We had Süllő and Hekk, Süllő my favorite – delicious! Behind the stand overlooking the peaceful river are covered picnic tables to enjoy the meal.
Tip: You pay for the fried fish by the kilo, our 2 huge fish and 2 orders of french fries were about $20. It was a late lunch – and dinner! The other offerings on the sign that plenty of people had were Döneres, (Döner kebab, döner pita) which is meat like Gyros, that was a fixed price.
Tip: English isn’t widely spoken in the local places, but everyone we ran into was very friendly and did their best to help us communicate. A big smile, pointing and pantomime goes a long way.
Spa Time at Andrássy
Off to the Spa! The spa at Andrássy spoiled us. There were only a few people in the hotel and we had the Cave spas practically to ourselves. When we emerged and actually walked behind the main pool we discovered the steam and sauna cabinets. This spa scene is the way to relax, those Hungarians really know their stuff.
Day Excursion to Boldogko Castle and Sarospatak
A lot of Hungarians seem to stay put in the spa hotels relaxing and “taking the waters”, but nope, not us. We had the car for a reason and seeing the Hungarian countryside was a big one. This day our destination was Boldogko Castle 35 minutes north of Tarcal.
When you first catch sight of the castle ruins perched on top of the hill you feel like you HAVE to stop and take a picture. The castle itself is good for a clamber around and the beautiful views but doesn’t take long to visit.
With the rest of the afternoon before us, how about heading east to Sarospatak? We set the GPS for that destination and ended up on some pretty interesting tiny roads to get there. Through woodlands and rough roads next to fields on short cuts the GPS chose, about 45 minutes later we arrived at Sarospatak castle – to find it closed. Oh well! The restrooms were open and we walked around the beautiful grounds.
Last Spa Night at Andrássy
One last delicious spa night and dinner at the hotel, the next day we were headed to the Puszta (the northern Great Plains), and Tiszafüred for 3 nights.