Tákos

A village must for anyone interested in folk art, Tákos is 10km northeast of Vásárosnamény on Rte 41.

The 18th-century wattle-and-daub Calvinist church has a spectacularly painted coffered ceiling of blue and red flowers, a partly beaten-earth floor and an ornately carved 'folk baroque' pulpit sitting on a large millstone. Outside the church, which villagers call the 'Barefoot Notre Dame of Hungary', stands a perfectly preserved bell tower (1767). The keeper of the keys to this 'peasants' cathedral' lives at Bajcsy-Zsilinszky utca 20.

The Provincial House, opposite the church, sells works by local craftspeople and local plum jam.

Down the road from the Calvinist church is the delightful guesthouse Baráth Vendégház.

Csaroda

A lovely Romanesque church from the late 13th century stands in the village of Csaroda, 3km east of Tákos. A wonderful hybrid, it has Western- and Eastern-style frescoes (some from the 14th century), as well as some fairly crude folk murals (1647) and pews decorated with birds. The nearby wooden bell tower is of a more recent vintage.

You can find repose in these peaceful rural surrounds at the three-room Székely Vendégház. There's more than a little rustic appeal at this long, yard-oriented former traditional peasant house, with its thick whitewashed walls, dark wood, chunky furniture and red geraniums in the windows. All rooms are en suite and there's a communal kitchen. More central (and commercial) is flower-bedecked guesthouse Julianna Vendégház, opposite the church. It has four lovely rooms and is surrounded by a large, well-tended garden. Breakfast/dinner is available for 500/1000Ft.

Tarpa

A bit more of a town than other Bereg region villages, with actual shops, Tarpa lies 13km southeast of Csaroda. It’s known for its plum products, but one of Hungary’s last examples of a working, horse-driven, 19th-century dry mill can also be seen here. Nearby is a decorated Calvinist church.

On a bend in the river, Tivadar (www.tivadar.hu), 5km south of Tarpa, is a quiet little beachfront settlement with alternative lodgings, a campsite and an eatery or two. A good choice here is the flash guesthouse Kuruc Vendégház, which is newer than its traditional style suggests and has five comfortable rooms, a big garden and a swimming pool. It rents bikes as well, which is the perfect way to get around in these parts.

Szatmárcseke

This village is the site of a famous cemetery with intriguing prow-shaped grave markers. To get here from Tarpa, cross at the Tivadar, turn east and carry on another 7km northeast.

The 1200 carved wooden markers that resemble up-ended prows are unique in Hungary; the notches and grooves represent a complicated language detailing marital status, social position and so on. No one knows how the tradition (which is still carried on today) started, but scholars generally agree it’s not Finno-Ugric (ancestral Hungarian). One of the stone markers in the cemetery is that of native son Ferenc Kölcsey (1790–1838), who wrote the lyrics to Himnusz, the Hungarian national anthem.

The Szatmár Fogadó on the main road at the turning to the cemetery has six rooms, and hearty meals from 2500Ft.