Hungary

Visit Kecskemet, Hungary – the Art Nouveau Paradise

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When looking for options for day trips from Budapest, I stumbled across Kecskemet, Hungary – a city located in the heart of the country and easily reachable by train from the capital. Without any big research on things to do in Kecskemet, I decided to go there – and it turned out to be the best decision right away.

I knew the city was the gem of art nouveau architecture in Hungary, but I didn’t expect it to be so great, offering more than just stunning buildings. It’s one of the best places to visit in Hungary, although very overlooked and hardly on the radar of foreign travelers. Yet I can’t recommend visiting Kecskemet enough, for its architecture and vibrant atmosphere, and so you can see more of the country beyond its famous capital.

To share my affection for the city, I put together this guide to help you visit Kecskemet, too. Read on and plan your trip to this art nouveau gem of Central Europe.

visit kecskemet hungary

Where is Kecskemet, Hungary

Kecskemet, a city of around 110 thousand inhabitants, is located in the central part of Hungary, halfway between Budapest and Szeged, both located around 90 km away.

visit kecskemet hungary

A brief history of Kecskemet

The area of Kecskemet was first settled over five thousand years ago. After the destruction of the Mongol invasion in 1241, the town was rebuilt, developed as a trade center, and got the rights in 1368.

Kecskemet survived the Ottoman invasion in the 16th century, mostly untouched. The deal with the Turkish pasha allowed the town to continue to develop during this difficult period. Kecskemet became an important center of agriculture in the region, which led to the enrichment of the city. Still today, the place is known as the Hungarian capital of barackpalinka, a local apricot brandy.

With the growth of wealth, Kecskemet invested in its looks, too, and hence a large number of amazing art nouveau buildings in the city. The 20th century wasn’t so lucky for Kecskemet, and its importance gradually decreased, first with the economic crisis of the Great Depression and then with World War 2 and the change of power in Hungary.

Today, Kecskemet is the capital of Bács-Kiskun County and a vibrant city worth visiting.

visit kecskemet hungary

How to get to Kecskemet

Visiting Kecskemet is very easy. There are regular trains between Budapest Nyugati station and Kecskemet, departing from the capital every hour.

The travel time is one hour and twenty minutes. Second-class tickets (including the seat reservation) cost around €6. You can check the current schedule and buy tickets at the Hungarian Railways website here.

All the trains continue further to Szeged, so if this city is your final destination, you can stop in Kecskemet along the way.

visit kecskemet hungary

How to get around Kecskemet

Most of Kecskemet attractions are located near each other in the center, where you can walk from the train station in around ten minutes. There are city buses, too, if you need to get to places located further away, but I haven’t used them as I was okay with walking everywhere. Google Maps comes in very handy when checking local buses and their routes.

visit kecskemet hungary

Where to stay in Kecskemet

If you decide to stay overnight in Kecskemet, there are some decent accommodation options in the city. Here are the recommended ones:

visit kecskemet hungary

What to see in Kecskemet

Together with nearby Szeged, the city is a real art nouveau gem of Hungary, and most of Kecskemet attractions are connected to this architectural style.

The most impressive one is the town hall, standing proudly on the main square of Kecskemet, which is named after the national hero Lajos Kossuth. The spectacular building was designed by two local architects, Ödön Lechner and Gyula Pártos, and completed at the end of the 19th century.

It is one of the greatest examples of art nouveau architecture in Central Europe. After the 1911 earthquake damage, it was carefully restored to its former glory.

The design was influenced by the look of numerous places in the region (such as Levoca, which is currently in Slovakia) to create a distinctive Hungarian take on art nouveau architecture. I must admit the result was a big success as you can find buildings in a similar style in Budapest or Szeged.

The art nouveau town hall of Kecskemet is beautiful from the outside, but if you have a chance to see it inside too, don’t hesitate as apparently its interior is equally stunning (when I visited Kecskemet the place was going through renovations and was closed to the public).

visit kecskemet hungary

visit kecskemet hungary

visit kecskemet hungary

While you are at Kossuth Square, it’s worth spending a bit more time here as you will find many other interesting landmarks around. The square itself is pretty nice, too, and together with the nearby Szabadsàg Square, they create a lovely pedestrian area. In this green space, you can relax on the benches or in one of the many cafes surrounding the place.

visit kecskemet hungary

visit kecskemet hungary

Standing on the side of the town hall, the Great Temple might not look very impressive, but it’s worth taking a closer look at and stepping inside if you have a chance. The church was built in the late 18th century in the late Baroque style, and its interior is a real beauty, with impressive frescoes and stained glass windows from the early 20th century.

Another interesting church is Saint Nicholas Franciscan, which was built at the same time as the Great Temple and is located on the other side of the town hall.

visit kecskemet hungary

visit kecskemet hungary

There are more landmarks worth checking in this part of Kecskemet; the most impressive ones are located next to each other at the edge of Szabadsàg Square.

The elegant white structure is the former synagogue, built in 1864 in the Moorish style. Today, it is the House of Science and Technics and hosts conferences and other events.

visit kecskemet hungary

visit kecskemet hungary

On the opposite side of the street, you will notice Cifra Palace, which is probably the second most impressive art nouveau building in Kecskemet. The name of the building literally translates as gaudy, ornamental palace, and the place lives up to its name with bright colors and somehow eccentric decor.

Unfortunately, during my visit, the place was undergoing renovations, and I couldn’t fully admire its beauty, but what I could see through the scaffolding was pretty amazing. Cifra Palace was built in 1902 as an apartment building; today, it is home to the Kecskemet Gallery.

visit kecskemet hungary

The last of the impressive trio is the Former Old Reformed College, with the stunning secession building from 1913, which still functions as a school today. The beauty of this place is undeniable; it might have been my favorite art nouveau structure in Kecskemet.

visit kecskemet hungary

visit kecskemet hungary

When you wander around the center of Kecskemet, you might want to check out the hidden passage at the corner of Kossuth/Szabadsàg Squares—you can enter it next to the coffee house. The passage itself is pretty random, but on the walls, you can see some old pictures of Kecskemet, showing the beauty of the city at its glory. You can see that not so much has changed in the center, and Kecskemet has retained its style until today.

visit kecskemet hungary

visit kecskemet hungary

visit kecskemet hungary

While the center of the city is where you will find most things to do in Kecskemet, there is more to see outside the pedestrian zone, too.

Only a few steps away from the town hall, you can find Katona József Theatre, another beautiful place, built in the late 19th century in the eclectic style. In front of the building, there is a Holy Trinity Column from 1742, a structure typical for Central Europe, commemorating the victims of the plague that hit the region.

visit kecskemet hungary

visit kecskemet hungary

Kecskemet is also home to a few museums, the most interesting one being the Hungarian Photography Museum, the only place of that kind in the country. Inside, you can see a collection of photographs taken by Hungarian artists as well as an overview of the equipment used to take pictures.

But even if you are not a fan of photography, it’s worth visiting the museum because of the building in which it is located. In the past, this was the Orthodox Synagogue, and still today, you can see numerous distinctive architectural features and carefully restored Jewish details inside.

visit kecskemet hungary

visit kecskemet hungary

visit kecskemet hungary

Once you are done exploring the main Kecskemet highlights, you can just wander around and check the backstreets and hidden passages. You might be surprised how many gems you will find all over the city, many of them, of course, in the art nouveau style.

Or you can sit in one of the cafes in the central part of Kecskemet and simply enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the place.

visit kecskemet hungary

visit kecskemet hungary

visit kecskemet hungary

visit kecskemet hungary

Kecskemet is also a really green city, which was such a nice addition to the place; it made visiting the city so much nicer. I must admit I didn’t expect such a charming place, but Kecskemet surprised me in the most positive way!

visit kecskemet hungary

visit kecskemet hungary

visit kecskemet hungary

Further reading

Hungary is one of the most underrated countries to visit in Europe. While most travelers focus on Budapest only, there are more amazing places to see there (you can go to many as day trips from the capital).

If you are looking for articles about a specific destination – check out the map with all the articles I’ve published (and their locations). Below, you will find some of the articles I published about places in Hungary:

visit kecskemet hungary

Travel Resources

Below you can find the brands I trust and use when planning trips:


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visit kecskemet hungary


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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Valentin
    23/04/2024 at 20:27

    Well written guide about Kecskemet.
    I visited the city twice. First time as a daytrip from Osijek, second time as a weekend trip. Although you can see a lot of sights in few hours, you will not get bored in few days. Staying few days in city, you can make some daytrips in nearby towns like Kiskunfelegyhaza, Dunafoldvar or Abony.
    Outside of Kecskemet center, to the west, there is a lake Domb. You can climb on artificial hill and admire the view. More to the west there is arboretum. I visited both places in few hours.
    So, I was in Kecskemet twice, but I could easily come again.
    I wish you happy travels!

    • Reply
      kami
      11/05/2024 at 12:37

      Thank you so much for your comment, I really appreciate your input. Kecskemet is such a great destinations yet not many people know about it.

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