Flanked by the Bükk mountain range, which has the largest contiguous forested area in Hungary, Eger offers abundant opportunities for outdoor activities, including hiking. The most popular activity is a walk through the Szalajka-völgy [Valley of Szalajka]in the village of Szilvásvárad. This forest walk features water cascades, including the famous Fátyol-vízesés [Veil Falls], as well as lakes, an open-air forestry museum, and an adventure park. From the Felső-tó [Upper Lake], visitors can take a short but steep hike to a prehistoric cave that is an important archaeological site, as it contained the remains of two Stone Age men: Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon. In addition to walking, the valley can be explored by narrow-gauge forest train, bike, or even horse-drawn carriage. Szilvásvárad is also known for its trout farming and Lipizzaner horses.
In addition to Eger’s swimming pools and spas, visitors can also venture into the valley of the Laskó-patak [Laskó Stream], better known as the Gyógyvizek völgye [Valley of Medicinal Waters]. There are two spa centers in the area: Egerszalók and Demjén. The history of the spas began when, in 1961, engineers were looking for oil in the valley. However, instead of oil, they found a 27,000-year-old, mineral-rich, 68°C thermal water. Since then, this water has been classified as a medicinal water in 1992, and is suitable for the treatment of joint problems such as rheumatism and arthritis, as well as for post-injury rehabilitation. The main attraction of the valley is the Sódomb [Salt Hill] in Egerszalók. As the mineral-rich thermal water flows down the hillside, the salty sediment creates stunning limestone terraces that resemble a miniature version of Turkey’s famous Pamukkale.
For centuries, Eger has been renowned for its historic vineyards, which were established by Italian and Walloon settlers in the 13th century. Bikavér [Bull’s Blood] is the region’s most famous wine. According to local legend, during the Ottoman siege of 1552, the defenders of the Egri vár were able to fend off the excess force by drinking Bikavér, as the Ottomans were unable to consume alcohol.
Today, visitors to the city can sample these legendary wines at the Szépasszony-völgy [Valley of the Beautiful Woman], which is widely regarded as the best place for wine tasting due to its stunning scenery and charming atmosphere. Although the origins of the valley’s name are shrouded in mystery, some suggest it may have been named after a Venus-like love goddess of an ancient religion, while others believe it was named after a beautiful woman who sold fine wines in one of the cellars, or even after a woman of questionable morality. Regardless, the valley remains a must-visit destination for wine enthusiasts.