City Profiles: Debrecen

You can check out what you can study as an international student at the University of Debrecen here.

Discover the Eastern part of Hungary

Debrecen is the second biggest city in Hungary, home to more than 200 000 people, and an important place in the history of Hungary. Because of its location, it’s the perfect place both to study and as a holiday destination. Debrecen is 220 km east of Budapest, which is a mere 2 and a half hours train ride. It is also only 35 kms from the Romanian border, which makes it a perfect starting point to discover two amazing countries at once. Debrecen is part of the Great Hungarian Plain, also known as Alföld, a plain occupying the southern and eastern part of Hungary. It’s okay if you’ve never heard about it, as it is at the same time a very specific and a completely everyday region. Alföld is huge, it covers about 56% of the country: this means that as long as you are not in the North Hungarian Mountains or in Transdanubia, you are probably walking the Great Plain.

Pannonian Steppe

Debrecen is located nearby Hortobágy National Park, one of the only places left where you can find the original Puszta landscape. The Puszta is a grassland biome, an exclave of the Eurasian Steppe. The word in Hungarian simply means ’plains’, which reflects the landscape pretty well, in which your eyes can roam for miles without anything breaking the horizon.  The puszta is characterized by saline steppes and salt lakes, and includes scattered sand dunes, low, wet forests and freshwater marshes along the floodplains of the ancient rivers. There aren’t many trees in sight, the wildlife, however, is amazing. There are hundreds of different bird species, which makes it an ideal place for bird watching. If you visit Hortobágy National Park, you can also learn a lot about the region’s agriculture, and see the famous Hungarian grey cattle, racka, hucul horses, wallowing buffalos, goats, and other domestic animals.


In 1849, Debrecen was the capital of Hungary for a short time when the Hungarian revolutionary government fled there from Pest-Buda (modern-day Budapest). What is more, in April 1849, the dethronization of Habsburgs and the independence of Hungary was proclaimed here by Lajos Kossuth at the Great (Calvinist) Church (Nagytemplom). But it’s not only history that makes Debrecen so interesting when is comes to culture. Home to the University of Debrecen, the city has been the intellectual center of the region since the 16th century. The city also hots a number of festivals, such as DESZKA, a theater festival celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2016, which features audience talks, professional lectures, a workshop and an exhibition. One of the most popular events int he summer is the Flower Parade, which has been around for more than 40 years. This is a one-week celebration of flowers, displaying both international and HUngarian performers.


One word: Tankcsapda. You probably cannot live in Hungary without knowing them. At this point, the band is almost a Hungaricum, and guess what – they are from Debrecen! Being the home of the influential rocka band, and many others as well, Debrecen is famous for its indie music scene, and even has a Rock School! If you prefer to just hang out, however, you can enjoy the by now almost tradition ruin pub feel in Roncsbár, which doubles as grill garden in the evening. If you want a bit more ecotic location, you can also visit Lovarda, a huge cultural and conference centre converted from a military equestrian facility, conveniently located on the Kassai Street campus of the university.


There is something about Hungarian cities and sausages. Am I right? All joking aside, Debrecen has a flavor of its own, the famous Debrecen double sausage. Why have one when you can have both! The sausage comes in four different versions: pork, beef, a mixture of pork and beef, and (kosher) lamb. You can’t go wrong with either. Although you can get “debreceni” in most supermarkets and even some eateries in Budapest, it’s best to go the source and enjoy it in style in Debrecen, with a beer to chase it down with.

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