The Camino de Santiago, or very often simply called “el Camino”, is probably the world’s most well-known network of pilgrimages leaving from France and arriving in Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
It comprises several shorter and longer pilgrimage routes all leading to the same Spanish city. Despite de average length of 700 kilometres, it is said to be a wonderful and very rewarding experience where you disconnect from the world and reconnect with nature and other travellers, thus finding something inside yourself that has been hidden all this time. But what if 700 kilometres just sound way too exhausting and France and Spain are too far away? Well, you can start with the Hungarian “Camino” aka the Hungarian Pilgrimage.
I bet you had no idea you could travel across Hungary on foot and discover all the beauty this little country has to offer.
The Hungarian edition is a significantly shorter journey of 431 kilometres.
Still sounds too much? Let me convince you why the Hungarian Pilgrimage is the perfect plan for this summer, even with Covid-19 lurking in the shadows.
For a start, as I already said, the distance is almost half of its more famous friend’s. The Hungarian route also follows the same direction, from North to South. It starts in the city of Esztergom on the Northern border, just a step away from Slovakia, and leads through the country until it almost reaches the Southern border, a bit more than one step away from Croatia, in Máriagyűd.
Normally, this distance is absolutely doable in around 14-16 days if you walk about 25-30 kilometres a day. If you are not at your fittest you have ever been, of course, it sounds crazy, but let’s see the bright sides (yes, it has more than one). First of all, all pilgrimages require a certain period of preparation, so under no circumstances do I advise you to start this journey without at least some consecutive hiking days, at least 20 kilometres a day. Or, you can start by discovering the National Blue trail, which was named one of the 25 most recommended travel destinations of last year.
Second of all, no one is forcing you to conclude this quest in 16 days if you do not want to.
Take as many rest days as you require, and take some detours if you feel like you want to see a bit more of the country. Hungary has so much more to offer than what you can discover during a weekend in the capital.
Hungary, being a small country and its Pilgrimage being less known – even among Hungarians –, makes the journey calmer, more disconnecting, and more spiritual than if you were hiking on the Iberian Peninsula with thousands of people every day. The experience, however, is by no means less beautiful or significant, whether you are travelling alone or with a friend. Sleeping in a different village in a safe pilgrimage accommodation every single night is an experience everyone should have. Even if the final destination is given, you never know what the new day and the road will bring, what you will see, who you will meet.
If I have not managed to convince you to rush to this website and plan your next big – but not at all expensive – late spring/summer trip, I have some help. She is called Anilla Till, and she is the Hungarian expert of trips, hikes, and pilgrimages. She walked from France to Santiago in the summer of 2019; last summer, she had the experience of what only the Hungarian route can give, and she is planning on embarking on a journey crossing Sweden and Norway. Even more amazing, she is a blogger who records all her adventures and gives tips to fellow or wannabe travel addicts. She shares her experience and includes all the downsides of every place she visits (if there is one, of course). Though she vlogs in Hungarian (only for now, I hope), she does have English subtitles for several of her videos.
Head over to her YouTube page to check out how she spent those two weeks, who she encountered, what she discovered, some interesting facts about the country itself, and a bunch of beautiful and breathtaking shots of our little country and its hidden gems.