Pécs: 8 special spots worth seeing in the "city of culture"
January 1, 1970
About the city of Pécs
Pécs is a marvellous city located in the south area of Hungary. It is commonly referred to as the city of culture, for many simple reasons: it is one of the oldest cities of the country, rich in (ancient) monuments; additionally, the first university of Hungary was the University of Pécs, founded in 1367, which made the city the most important stage of education for many years. If you are interested in cultural traditions, memorable monuments, and ancient buildings, Pécs is the ideal destination for your next holiday in the middle region of Europe. However, I would like to show you some of the unique and modern places of this magnificent city, which brilliantly combines the ancient traditions with a sense of innovation of our days – let’s see a couple of the favourite places of students!
Zsolnay Cultural Quarter
Maybe this is the most well-known area of Pécs. Zsolnay Cultural Quarter is, as shown by its name, an important spot of culture that is worth visiting for foreigners just as much as for locals. As a part of the program ‘European Capital of Culture’, many buildings have been renovated a few years ago, but also the whole Quarter has been expended. And what can you exactly do there? Well, if you are in the mood, you might want to visit one of the several astonishing exhibitions, discover the secrets of the Universe in the Planetarium, or simply have a picnic sitting in the grass among colourful, extraordinary buildings. But you can also go for a walk in the Street of Artisans’ Shops, which offers the unique products made by local artisans. Furthermore, an exclusive Hungarian speciality, Zsolnay Ceramics, is being produced here at an open workshop, which provides an incomparable experience for the whole family.
Király Street and the Main Square
Széchenyi István Square – that’s the Main Square of Pécs, which is connecting to the most popular street (“King Street”). Both places are filled with restaurants, cafés, little, hidden shops – and a lot of people from the most different countries and cities. Personally, I prefer having long walks in this area, because there are many beautiful buildings (the Turkish Dzsámi for example), lovely statues, water fountains – surrounded by children and little dogs, who are playing with the flushing water in the summer – and of course, local students, foreign students and tourists who are getting to know each other spontaneously while drinking a coffee/beer/wine on one of the terraces of these restaurants or loveable cafés. In daylight, if you are near the Main Square, you will surely see a lot of families with their little or not-so-little children walking and playing around, very often accompanied by a dog also – of course it’s not typical only in this area, but in the whole city to see little kids and dogs. As I often come to find out: Pécs is the city of students, freedom and little kids (with dogs). To make sure my statement is true, just go for a walk at Széchenyi Square on an average, sunny afternoon! 🙂
If one says “coffee”, anyone who has lived in Pécs in the last few years will associate to Pécsi Kávé, a unique café hidden into a backyard near the Main Square. But it’s not just the location that makes this place so unique. Firstly, they will welcome you with a real smile, no matter what time it is, what the weather is like or if they have had 20 or 200 guests that day. The boys (and the one girl) in the counter are helpful, communicative and truly kind – all the time. This is a spot which contains the spirit of Pécs, this special medley of the feeling of old and new, comfort and innovation, well-known and unknown things. You can feel this just by looking at the menu: they offer you traditional coffee from the times of the Turkish occupation, a simple cappuccino for a good start in the morning, but they do have quite a lot of specialities, like frappé with real, cooked ice cream, a long and smooth latte made from choosable types of coffee, a fine selection of cheese served with warm baguette, and my personal favourite, delicious sandwiches filled with cooked ham, fresh salad, vegetables and thin apple slices. So, if you like to taste new kinds of coffee, or you would like to sit in a comfy garden or in a finely decorated basement in a hot summer day while drinking some enjoyable refreshment, I recommend Pécsi Kávé for you from the depth of my heart – they love foreigners!
The word Szabadkikötő means “free harbour” – probably that’s why many people think of this place as a place of freedom. I can’t really say what it is exactly: you can drink really good coffee, tea, or almost any kind of alcohol there, but they also offer syrups. The menu is very various if you would like to eat a whole meal for lunch or dinner too, but they also organize concerts, where mostly alternative bands can introduce themselves (these concerts are almost always free to visit), but there’s a quite special and unusual “playground” for children [see the picture below], which is perfect for the little ones just as much as for bigger children – or even teenagers to chill out lying on the smooth, rounded, hand-made “pillows”. The place is about a 10-minutes long walk from the Main Square, and it’s definitely worth to try at least once – but be warned: if you get a sense of this place once, you will always want to go back there again.
Levendula Patisserie and Vegan Restaurant LYR
Both of these places are quite new to the city. The first one, Levendula Patisserie is located in the Király Street, which I already mentioned above. It’s a pure sweet-shop, a violet-coloured place with a violet-coloured bicycle in front of the door, 4 little wooden tables with wooden chairs, and a vivid bench on the right side of the door. As they are selling ice-cream, they are open just in the summer, so you can have a seat only outside. It’s also a great opportunity for you to become part of the city life, look at the people walking around while enjoying your delicious, hand-made ice-cream, which can also be vegan, gluten-free, lactose-free etc., and all these in the most various and unexpected flavours.
Restaurant LYR is a vegan restaurant at Jókai Square (next to Jókai Patisserie, which is also a recommended place to go for a confectionery or an ice-cream!). Although I haven’t tried it yet, but I have heard about it from 3 friends already, however, it was opened only a few weeks ago. According to their experiences, the whole menu that is offered by the restaurant is totally vegan, and it’s surprisingly tasty. They have tried the vegan hamburger made from vegetables only, the American pancake made from bananas and “vegetable-coffee” – and they enjoyed all of them. As I saw it from the outside, it’s a nice place with aesthetical accommodation and consumer-focused employees.
Wandering around in the neighbourhood
Pécs is located in a valley-alike neighbourhood, surrounded by hills, forests and rivers. If you have had enough sightseeing and noise for the weekend and you would like to spend some time in a peaceful environment, you can choose one from the numerous hiking paths (my personal favourite is the one which takes you to the Valley of Melegmány), visit the Television Tower, or walk around the Zoo and be enchanted by the loveable and powerful animals in the middle of the forest. But if you don’t want to get too far from the city, it’s also a nice walk to hiking up the hill called Tettye, which awaits its visitors all year long with an irresistible view on the whole city.