Szilvasvárad is one of the most popular weekend excursion spots in north-east Hungary. It is not hard to see why as there are a lot of sights and activities gathered into a relatively small area.
There is the Szalajka Valley, the 'Veil' Waterfall, the Istalláskő Cave, the Millennium Walk, the National Lipizzaner Stud with its museum, a fine neoclassical church, a prison museum and a whole lot more.
The Szikla Spring - one of the many sights along the trail snaking through the Szalajka Valley
It has become a bit of a tourist trap over the last few years with the entrance to the valley packed with restaurants and dubious souvenir shops selling all manner of tat. However, if you can get past these, then it is a pleasant place to take a walk and enjoy the Bükk.
Due to the sheer volume of things to do and see in this small village, I have had to sift through them here I present what I believe to be the sights and activities most deserving of your time.
Szilvásvárad's round neoclassical church
Szilvasvárad is home to the National Lipicai Stud where it is possible to trace the story of this classic breed in Hungary in the museum adjoining the Baroque stable block. If you’re lucky and the horses are in, you can see them in their stalls.
Horse riding and coach driving instruction is also available.
The Stud is open from Monday through to Sunday between the hours of 09.00-12.00 and 13.30 - 16.00.
Admission to the museum is 500huf for Adults and 400huf for children.
Hungarian National Stud, home to Hungary's Lipicai
One of the biggest draws for visitors is the Fátyol (Veil) Waterfall, made up of a series of naturally-formed limestone steps which the Szalajka stream tumbles down.
After the hype the falls are a bit of an anti-climax really but in the winter, when the water is frozen, it is quite beautiful.
The karst (limestone) Fátyol Waterfall
About 1 km from the last stop on the forest train is the Istállaskő Cave which would be nothing to write home about except that prehistoric remains were discovered here in 1911. Remains of bison, bears, mammoths and deer were discovered along with tools fashioned from their bones.
’Istállas’ from which the cave gets its name, is the Hungarian for stable – it was used as a stable in the 18th and 19th centuries which made excavating it extra difficult.
Most of the finds are now exhibited in the Orbán House (see below)
There are two options to get up the valley: walk (takes about an hour and is not especially demanding) or take the forest train. A good compromise is to take the train up and to walk down.
Running for 4 km through the valley, the forest train is a good option for those who don’t fancy walking, the kids love it too. Originally used to bring lumber down from the hillsides, it is now a firm favourite among visitors to the valley.
The train runs from April to October, a one-way ticket for an adult costs 800huf and for a child 460huf (as of 2015)
Halfway up the Szalajka trail sits the Forestry Museum detailing the life of the forest and man’s relationship with it. Admission costs 400huf for adults and 200 for children and its doors are open from 09.00-16.30.
Further along there is an open-air museum which has all manner of exhibits such as petrified trees, charcoal burners, reconstructions of forester’s huts and so on.
A renovated peasant house, this museum provides a fascinating glimpse into the life of the peasantry and, in particular the Palóc people, it also contains some of the finds from the Istállaskő Cave (see above).
Open from April-October (closed Mondays) from 09.00-16.00. Admission: 300huf for adults, 200huf children.
As mentioned above, there are lots of other attractions in and around the village among these are Forest Adventure Park, Extreme Bob, the Millenium Trail, the viewing tower and the round, neoclassical church.
The Millenium Viewing Tower
Due to the village's popularity, there are plenty of signs advertising ’Zimmer Frei’ (Room to let) in house windows. Generally, this option is cheap, clean and a good way to get a taste of real Hungarian life (and perhaps food, also).
There are also hotels such as La Contessa, the Szalajka Liget and the Lipicai Hotel (housed in the top floor of the Baroque stable block – see above) which add an extra level of comfort and superior facilities - at a price.