The region of endless horizons

East of the Danube and south of the mountains lies the flattest and quietest land of Hungary, and the largest continuous grassland in Europe,called the Great Plain. Rivers run through it, national parks divide it, Hungarian cowboys and herds of animals roam it, and spas fill it with life. This is the land where life is hassle-free and where horizons are endless.

The Hortobágy National Park area offers you the experience of getting out into some big open space right here in the heart of Europe, with nothing else in sight but loads of cranes and other birds, plus the native horned grey cattle. In the summer, the quivering hot air over the endless grassland creates funny illusions and mirages. This is where gulyás (aka goulash) was invented, by herdsmen who dumped all their food in one pot over a fire, added some paprika, and there it was.

This region, and the park, is also home to Lake Tisza, a wildlife wonderland as well as a sports paradise. You can go hunting, fishing, boating, hiking, horseback riding, biking, swimming, jet-skiing and even banana-boating in this idyllic environment. The Bird Reserve in Tiszavalk is not only part of the Hortobágy World Heritage Site but is home to around 200 bird species, including herons, egrets, and wagtails.

Bird and bike lovers can also ride on bikes through Körös-Maros National Park starting in the town of Szarvas, or make a pilgrimage to the historical centre of Hungary. If you hike around the area, you'll see plenty of tiny mounds along the way. These are not just welcome changes in the landscape, but the places where the first human inhabitants of the land used to live, love and die.

The Plain is not only about rural idyll though. There are cities too with all the mod cons, culture and fun. Debrecen, Hungary's second largest city, known as the Calvinist Rome, stands on the edge of the prairie with its gorgeous main square and huge university. For a culture fix, check out the centre of contemporary art with the largest exhibition hall in Central Europe, Modem. Visit Szeged and its cathedral in brick almost as red as the native paprika, salami and fish soup. For a truly Hungarian experience, hop on the yellow tram that runs in both cities.

Although the Great Plain is the driest and sunniest part of the country, there are plenty of spa cities here where you can soak, splash, and heal. Why not start with the largest spa complex in Europe, in Hajdúszoboszló, where they know the secret of how to cure back pain? Or how about heading to Gyula where the beautiful spa was built with spectacular views in mind? A tropical spa in the greenest part of Debrecen where you can recuperate and take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city sounds like just the ticket, right? But if you need more space, there's a 4400 m2 of water paradise in Szeged to refresh you after all those Puszta explorations.