National Blue Trail
Start: Irrott-kö Mountain
Total length: 701 miles (1,128 km)
Time to Complete: 10-12 weeks
Surface: Forest / Mountain Paths
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Number of sections: 27
Stamping places: 152
Total elevation: 31,550 m
Total descend: 32,130 m
Number of people who have completed: 6739 (as of Aug 2020)
Official Website (Hungarian)
Fan Website (English and thorough!)
Created in 1938, The National Blue Trail claims to be Europe’s oldest long-distance path in a country known for its large, flat plains and with a history of rural peasantry that meant walking was often the only way to travel. Hungary is proud of its rural traditions, so it should come as no surprise that this tiny country has more than 13,000 miles (21,000 km) of walking trails, of which this trail is justifiably its most famous.
If you want to begin the National Blue Trail at the official starting point, you first have to climb (or drive to) a mountain – Irrott-kö (2,900 feet/884 m) on the Hungarian-Austrian border. From there you descend to the 700-year-old town of Köszeg before crossing the Little Hungarian Plain, a 3,088-square-mile (8,000 sqkm) tectonic basin and part of the giant Pannonian plain, which encompasses most of the country and makes for easy, flat walking. There are ascents on this trail, mostly through the Northern Hungarian Mountains (Börzsöny, Mátra, Bukk), but this is not the Alps. Hollókö is a village nestled in a valley in the Cserhát Mountains, whose ethnographic history is so intact, it has World Heritage status. You also pass the stalactite caverns at Aggtelek, another World Heritage Site. The trail ends in Hollóháza in northeastern Hungary, the last of its hundred-plus villages and rural hamlets.