Looking out the window, there is no snow – but who knows? By the time you read this, the weather could turn quite nasty. However, it’s winter in Tokaj and very quiet. Is it worth it to come to Tokaj during these times? Considering that the museums are closed during quarantine and the restaurants only offer take-out? The answer is yes.
It is worth it, for a breath of fresh air and to take a long walk to clear our heads. Where should we start? Towards the mountain or down the riverbank, or shall we just walk along the city? Each locale can provide us with at least 2-3 hours of exploring.
We arrive by train. From the station, along the end of the Szerelmi cellar range, we can start off in two different directions. (The range is quite approachable by car as well, but parking can be tricky.)
Going straight along the paved road, we reach the Hétszőlő trail. According to our stamina and mood, we may choose one out of 3 color-marked paths; red, green or yellow. They follow the vineyard together on paved pathways, eventually forking out. There might be vehicles working on the way, so proceed with caution!
The green square barely elevates, only surrounding a small vineyard. The yellow one has a few more exciting parts but we can take a breather at any of the information boards or resting sites. While finding our strength we may learn a thing or two about the local grapes of Tokaj. Our destination is the Hétszőlő sign, from which we descend back to our original starting point. Following the red square brings us onto a very steep journey all the way to the top of the property, reaching the Kusajd vineyard. A beautiful view greets us at the top of the Hétszőlő vineyard, panning to Tokaj’s southern area as well as the Taktaköz. If the weather is good enough, we can even see the chimneys of the Tiszaújváros Chemical Works.
If we’re hungry for adventure or just obsessed with nature, turning towards the mountain at the end of the cellar range brings us to Szerelmi vineyard along a semi-paved road. The first part of the path consists of gentle serpentines, but the last straight part rises to a more serious uphill walk. Reaching the end of the former and keeping right, we reach Tehéntánc top. Following the instructions of the guiding signs here, we may go to the TV tower, or keep on towards the Finánc Hill Overlook (although this area isn’t precisely marked). From here on we can decide to decend via the Overlook’s stairs or take the concrete road leading downward. Taking the first leads us to the Erzsébet bridge, while the second takes us to the Employment Center’s parking area, behind the Tokaji Ferenc High School.
Find the vineyards on the map here!
From the Szerelmi range and choosing the green tourist trail, we end up at Szeles top. If we seem less tired and more energetic, we may head east and marvel at the rivers slithering on the Alföld, the Great Plain. From Szeles we have three choices: 1) follow the red sign towards the TV tower. 2) Moving along the green marking and moving around Hideg-side vineyard we reach the Fesztiválkatlan, descending back into the city next to Torkolat lodging, which used to be the city’s northern gate some time ago. 3) The red tourist sign leads us to the cemetery on Dózsa György street. This area has a very steep elevation, making it difficult to travel through in, or after bad weather. However, it’s worth it to take this path, since the doors of Hímesudvar open to this very street, inviting weary travelers in to rest and have a glass of wine in the welcoming garden.
Going back to TV tower, following the asphalt road takes us to Tarcal. From Tarcal, we can return to Tokaj by either taxi or train. Going down the same road leads to the ski-range. Unfortunately, the city has no snow cannons, but in ideally snowy weather, the range is great for beginners.
The Borostyán trail, which eventually forks into the green trail, starts from Szerelmi cellar row as well. A rest may be taken at any of the marked resting sites, where one can find more information on the Kopasz mountain’s flora and fauna.
For these trails I definitely recommend the appropriate clothing, perhaps even a hiker’s stick. Straying from the signs is not advised, since deep trenches and tide-washed crevices aren’t far from the hiking trails.
From the „large” parking lot on Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Endre street one is met with many opportunities to explore. For those who only wish to climb a bit of th emountain, the Finánc Hill Overlook is the closest landmark, although the staircase leading up to it can be slippery and is a little steep. The correct footwear, safe for keeping the ankles in place is highly recommended for this one. The overlook provides a wide view of the Tisza and Bodrog rivers’ fork and the neighbouring settlements towards the east.
Taking off to the south from the parking area, on Széchenyi walkway, along the Tisza’s ramparts, we may move on behind the once Salt Customs Building / Rákóczi-Dessewffy castle and continue near the football field. In front of the ÉVIZIG headquarters is the monument of the flood, which commemorates the great rising of the Tisza in 2000. The record level of 928 cm is still unbroken. Moving south from here won’t allow us to see any other impressive landmarks, although the fishing lakes further away from the city or the Ively-stream’s pass can be exciting in their own ways. However, those who venture this far will be met with the serenity of the Kopasz mountain’s looming presence and the quiet calm of nature. If one happens to be by car, we may drive along the riverbank to reach the neighbouring settlement, Tiszaladány.
Going north from the parking lot takes us to the „old town”. Until the 19th century – when the city’s southern area was built, called Kis-Tokaj – this was the only place which was known as Tokaj by multiple names (Tisza-Tokaj, Nagy-Tokaj). In the old town, every building has its story – but this is for another time
The beauty and atmosphere of the hikes can only be experienced if you take them yourself, so put your boots on - Tokaj awaits!
Translated by Áron Várhelyi