Hungary normally doesn’t pop up as a world-class climbing setting, but that doesn’t mean you should write it off. On the contrary, it has some surprisingly promising spots, and it’s unlikely that you’ll have to compete with crowds to conquer them.
Upon arrival, you will quickly learn that the Hungarians are very liberal with the term “mountain,” so it would probably be more accurate to say they have ranges of hills. However, this hasn’t stopped the creation of some magnificent limestone formations that offer fun and challenge to climbers of all levels.
Budapest, the capital city, is growing in popularity because of its beauty, nightlife, and ease as a tourist destination. More promising news is that it’s extremely easy to complete some climbing while visiting the city. There is a protected national park in the Buda Mountains, and it’s just outside of the suburbs.
The local rock climbing community particularly loves Kecske Hill (“Goat Hill” in Hungarian), and many of the members head there multiple times per week. It isn’t a very difficult climb, but it allows climbers to really immerse themselves in nature and feel somewhat meditative. Also, regular usage on the crumbly rocks keeps it a constantly changing and evolving climb.
Csókako Castle Hill
Hungary has seen more than it’s fair share of European wars, and thankfully it has a castle or two still standing. In the northern section of the country, there are the ruins of a castle that was first mentioned in 1299, and held an important role while fighting invading Turkish armies in the 16th century. Its main purpose was as an advanced lookout post which means the ruins still have an incredible view.
The ruins are now in the Balaton-felvidéki National Park, and they are perched atop some steep cliffs. It’s a very challenging climb up sharp and slippery stones, and there are even options to scale the walls of the castle when you reach it. But, before making the even more difficult journey back down where you’ll battle large tree branches and bushes, enjoy the scenery that caused this castle to be built.
The small Gerecse Mountain Range sits close to the border with Slovakia. Öreg-kő is a hill which split into two pieces leaving a steep, vertical limestone cliff to challenge ambitious climbers. Not only that, it’s famous for many caves in the region, some of which have been found to contain bone tools from the Neolithic Ages.
Lake Balaton is the largest lake in Central Europe, and it’s sitting right in the middle of Hungary. It’s lovingly referred to as the Hungarian sea, and it’s a surprisingly diverse setting. Aside from the natural beauty, the north shore is characterized by volcanically influenced hills that host many quality wineries. The southern shore, on the other hand, is more for sun tanning and nightlife.
Roughly halfway through the narrow lake is the Tihany Peninsula, and it is home to one of the most popular villages (that shares the same name). Nearby, you can find a limestone rock named Kő-völgy which has some great climbing routes. They’re a little more on the challenging side, but there are plenty of places for relaxation while celebrating the success upon completion.