With its varied terrain and water sources, the patchwork Hortobágy National Park, established in 1973 and Hungary's oldest, has some of the best birdwatching in Europe. Indeed, more than 340 species (of the continent’s 530) have been spotted here, including many types of grebe, heron, shrike, egret, spoonbill, stork, kite, warbler, eagle and kestrel. The great bustard, one of the world’s largest birds, standing 1m high and weighing in at 20kg, has its own reserve, with limited access to humans. Some 160 species nest here.
Ask the Hortobágy National Park Visitor Centre about the occasional local weekend birdwatching tours, too. October is a great month to visit; between 60,000 and 100,000 common cranes stop over on the Hortobágy plain during their annual migration. The World of Cranes is one of the exhibitions in the visitor centre.
Park passes, available from the visitor centre, allow entry to three restricted 'demonstration areas' – nature trails, in reality – within driving distance (adult/concession 1000/600Ft), including the trail around the Hortobágy Great Fishponds.