For those who’re going to find themselves in Veszprém or the region of Bakony-Balaton (Hungary) soon, this post offers practical tips on exploring exciting cultural destinations. Following my visit to the region, I’m happy to prepare the 4th post (!) about fresh trip ideas to Veszprem! This time my text is inspired by Katinka Hasparai, an amazing tour guide and passionate storyteller. The secret of her skillful guidance – her stories and tours always leave lasting impressions because she continues creating long-weekend tours for herself and her friends.

The first sweet taste of Veszprém-Bakony-Balaton

I met Katinka and the Veszprém-Bakony-Balaton team at Plovdiv – 2019. Together with other creative professionals from past and future European Capitals of Culture (ECoC), we prepared an event for International Volunteer Day, December 7. 

The Veszprém-Bakony-Balaton 2023 team prepared an unforgettable presentation and tasty original Hungarian snacks. The image below is one of my favorite and sweet memories of the encounter with Katinka in Bulgaria:)

Go local in Veszprém-Balaton with a tour guide Katinka Hasprai: A lovely weekend in a new European Capital of Culture - 2023
Show & tell session at Plovdiv 2019: teams of Plovdiv 2019, Kaunas 2022, Tartu 2024, and Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 enjoy the chocolate symbol of Balaton.
Photo: Katinka Hasprai

Since 2019, I’ve prepared 4 articles for my blog with creative practitioners from Veszprém that develop modern cultural practices in their home region. 

Find the links to the previous posts and to the new program of Veszprém 2023 at the bottom of this article. 

Although I have heard from Katinka stories about the Veszprém landmarks numerous times, her recent guided tour around the region was full of new details and anecdotes.

She’s never tired of telling about Veszprém Old Town Square, Castle District, Galleries of the House of Arts, and the Veszprém Valley. 

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Go Local in Veszprém-Balaton with a Local Tour Guide Katinka Hasprai: A Lovely Weekend in a New European Capital of Culture - 2023

‘What I really love about my job is the endless diversity – the tourists never have the same interest, age, or cultural background, – says Katinka. – It’s challenging to create a route for the group which fits all the needs and expectations. So, I favor personalized trips for smaller groups’.

Fascinated with the glorious heritage of her homeland, Katinka chose to study Tourism and Catering at the University of Pannonia in Veszprém.

From the very beginning, she organized small tours around the town. Since 2015, Katinka has been working as a licensed tour guide for Tourinform Veszprém and Idegenvezetők Veszprém showcasing the Bakony-Balaton Region.

This year is going to be particular for Katinka because this year her hometown is holding the prestigious status of European Capital of Culture – 2023. Just several weeks ago, Veszprém celebrated the opening ceremony.

The event coincided with another significant celebration – the Day of Hungarian Culture. 200 years ago, on that day, Ferenc Kölcsey completed the Hungarian National Anthem, one of the Hungarian symbols.

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Katinka helped dozens of people to celebrate the festivities with a specially developed tour to the picturesque Séd Valley, below Castle Hill, where the group visited the ruins of the Saint-Catherine Monastery, a renovated mill admiring the Baroque buildings from beneath. 

3 must-visit places in Veszprém-Balaton

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‘I feel very honored to be part of this journey, – admits Katinka. – My mother is from the Balaton region, my father grew up in the Bakony Mountains, and I spent 27 years in Veszprém. As a local tour guide, I cannot wait to welcome new visitors and bring them behind the scenes of our history and culture’.

On my request for readers of Cultural Insights Katinka Hasprai provided useful suggestions on visiting Veszprém-Bakony-Balaton:

Go local in Veszprém-Balaton with a tour guide Katinka Hasprai: A lovely weekend in a new European Capital of Culture - 2023

Fire Lookout Tower’s garden: Learn about local arts!

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I could write a whole book on the many must-see spots in the City of Queens. However, this time, I want to highlight one of my favorite “hidden” areas. It is the Fire Lookout Tower’s garden next to the center of the House of Arts Veszprém, which is located in the historic castle district. 

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It is a charming small ‘island’ that brings back lovely personal memories from the past. I used to work as the office manager of the House of Arts for years. 

The art scene in Veszprém has always represented freedom and intellectual heights, where contemporary artists and painters take turns in presenting new exhibitions.

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The garden is a scene for many cultural occasions, perfect for opening ceremonies, music-, dance-, theater performances, writer-audience meetings, and so on. This venue has a special atmosphere, where you can simply sit down, pause, enjoy the moment and take a breath. 

Lake Balaton: Start with a sunrise! 

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Another must-visit place on my list is Lake Balaton, Tihany-peninsula.

I am in love with this lake, the villages, and the heels surrounding it! Tihany can be reached by car within 30 min from Veszprém. Without a doubt, it is one of the most attractive destinations among tourists.

Extinct volcanoes, turquoise Hungarian Sea, fabulous lavender fields, authentic village, Benedictine Abbey with Mediterranean landscape filled with white sailing boats. 

I highly recommend getting up early in the morning so as not to miss the breathtaking sunrise. Believe me, it is worth a while, yet 99% of the tourists are not willing to get up that early…

 I remember a few years ago with my dad, we jumped into the car to catch the first glimmer of the Sun. The colors were amazing! 

Badacsony and its surroundings: Enjoy Hungarian wines!

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Badacsony is a lovely, charming village. 4 years ago, my friends and I started a new tradition there. Every summertime we go on holiday and spend a long weekend there. It is not just a village, it is more! It is one of the most beautiful hills in Hungary (at least for me). Its characteristic shape has a symbolic significance, representing at the same time the Lake Balaton. I always think of the two together.

And I have to admit that the wines are so delicious here. I was not a wine person until I tried the wines of this region. I guess the Wine Festival made a huge impact on me.

 One of my favorite places here is the famous Laposa Gastro Estate. They make wine tasting an authentic experience. The Badacsony wine region is mainly known for its white wines, such as Italian Rhine Riesling. 

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Katinka Hasprai: a passionate tour guide and enthusiastic tourist of Veszprém-Balaton

Laposa Gastro Estate has the most breathtaking panoramic terrace of the mountain. I recommend it to everyone who loves beautiful, good wines, fresh air, homemade cheese, and nature.

More Veszprém-Balaton? Useful resources

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Pick one of the thematic tours in Veszprém and in Balaton Uplands by the Idegenvezetők Veszprém for different ages and interests. From Mother and Baby Walks to Evening Tours with torches, excursions are in Hungarian, German, and English. 

The participants can participate in games and activities built around the history and culture of the city, throughout the whole year.

You can join Classical Castle Sightseeing Tours, Creative Tours for kids, Mother and Baby Walks, Evening Tours with torches, walks based on local legends, bishops, modern art, medieval times, and many more. 

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Katinka together with her colleagues, tour guides Boróka and Brigitta
Photo: Idegenvezetők Veszprém

Useful Resources

  • Start preparing for a visit to Veszprém-Bakony-Balaton 2023, by exploring the official website of the new Hungarian ECoC!
  • Explore other posts on my blog about Veszprém-Bakony-Balaton and prepare for a visit to one of the most original, picturesque regions in Europe: 

Veszprém-Balaton 2023: Exploring Impressive Culinary Landmarks with Local Architect

The sparkling creativity of Veszprém-Balaton 2023 is wired by students

Building a Personal Brand on Instagram: Useful Ideas from Hungarian Designer czikkcakk, Veszprem-Balaton 2023

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Images: Katinka Hasprai