Stage 17 From Koszeg to Budapest

If I make it to Hungary I guess I'll feel like running to Budapest. I'll be desperate to finish and get home. The pre-occupation with finishing could be a shame as the last stage of the walk looks completely different to anything that has gone before and special. The E4 in Hungary follows the route of the Countryside Blue Tour which can claim to the first long distance hiking trail in Europe (although other E4 parts can make that claim) and is without doubt the most important walk in Hungary. After crossing a whole series of mountain ranges since leaving Tarifa it has also has the attraction of being relatively flat.

The Countrywide Blue Route
After struggling to get quality information on the E4 route through Austria, alignment of E4 with the Countryside Blue Tour means you don't have this problem in Hungary. The information available online is the best so far with two outstanding sites, available in English and both called Countryside Blue Tour, one maintained by Peter Istvan Papics and the other by Horpolin and Son.   I used both to develop my proposed itinerary.

Have been to Budapest twice before, the first time about 15 years ago and the second 5.   The first time I stayed in the famous Hotel Gellert and swam in the Gellert Thermal Baths which are a definite once in a lifetime must.  Budapest is a really lovely city which given the quality of the buildings must have been very properous in the period running up to the First World War. It feels to me a bit like Paris.

Although I never got out of the city on either visit I did visit the Budapest Central Market.  As well as another wonderful building, buzzing like markets should, it is full of "produce" all pointing to a lush and rich Hungarian countryside.

Budapest bears witness to the prosperity of the country running up to the First World War but after that it went through a period of sustained turmoil from which it only emerged following the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Although the country's economy is suffering following the recent recession its success over the last twenty years has been huge.

Given that I will inevitably be looking to home and the end of the trek the route from the border to Budapest is not very direct.  In fact it meanders both at the macro level, heading south then north and finally south again, and at the micro level, with some of the loops being so complete they almost form circles.  As well as linking the country from border to border (I'm justing doing the western half) the aim is clearly to visit as many of the local highlights as possible.

This is not a mountainous walk but nor is it completely flat.  Based on the huge quantity of pictures on both web-sites there is almost the look of some English countryside with the long views, hills protruding from what would otherwise be a plain and very green.  The architecture is completely different and we are back to hill-top towns and ruined castles.

The itinerary I have developed assumes both fairly level walking, body fully functioning, and a desire to get to Budapest quickly.  It assumes 16 days of walking which is not going to break any world records but is cracking on.

The itinerary is attached and involves identified accommodation at every stop-over (assuming you can stay at the Gyangyosi Inn on Day 5).

After Koszeg particular highlights look like being the hill top towns of Sarvar, Sumeg (with Hungary's best preserved hill top fortress) and Nagyazsony; the huge inland Lake Balaton and the special landscape of the Balaton National Park as well as what looks like lots of protected woodland.

Budapest of course, as well as the end of walk,  a highlight for that, is also a special place to visit.

Some of the sites along the way.



Rock formations in the Balaton National Park

Lake Balaton


  1. Hi John. I came up with your idea and blog and i think it's great. I wish u enjoy every minute of your long walk.
    I also want to ask why u don't include in your walk the Greek section of the E4?

    With regards, George from Greece

  2. Hi George

    Great to hear from you and thanks for you comments about the blog. Would love to do the Greek section - maybe the next year (although I don't want to miss the Olympics in London!).

    Keep in touch

  3. Dear John,

    The best source for the Blue Tour in Hungary is a small series of atlasses published by Cartographia Földgömb- és Térképboltjában. I guess that the stretch from Kószeg to Budapest is just in one book. Although the text is in Magyar, the maps are very clear and detailed (1:50,000) and contain lots of symbols for the services you need. You got an offer from a Hungarian Janos to help you; the best he could do is to send you the relevant issue(s) as these publications are difficult to get abroad.


  4. Dear John,
    Can you please tell me from where the picture titled "Lake Balaton" was taken?

    Kunal from Budapest

  5. Sorry I can't help, it is used on lots of sites

  6. The 'Lake Balaton' photo was taken from Tihany.

    Tibi from Budapest

  7. If you need online maps you can use these
    Look for the blue stripe sign.

  8. The Tihany abbey shown on the picture is located on a peninsula in the north-eastern part of the lake Balaton. The blue stripe marked trail doesn't go through this peninsula, so if you want to see that place which is highly suggested you should modify your plan or find another way to get there.


    ps. By the way it's hard to imagine that if somebody (Kunal)writes from Budapest how he or she doesn't recognize the Tihany abbey...

  9. Hi!

    People please do not confuse the Országos Kéktúra (OKT/Countryside Blue Tour) and the Balatoni Kéktúra (Blue Tour of Balaton). They also have a same sign but not the same route.

    Blue Tour of Balaton:
    So there is difference.