In this post you will learn about Gyula and its palace and castle. I visited Gyula to spend an afternoon at the spa but before that I visited the other two main local attractions. Watch the video (subtitled) to find out how to get to Gyula and what to do there. Underneath the video there are more ideas and photos for your visit.
Getting to Gyula, Hungary
If you are travelling from Budapest the only way to get to Gyula by train is via Békéscsaba. Békéscsaba is a major railway hub in the south of Hungary, connecting Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey to the EU. It is about two and a half hours by train from Budapest. Most Hungarian trains have bicycle loading facilities and offer a convenient way to see the country by bike. Békéscsaba is also a major freight hub, bringing goods from Turkey all the way to Germany and other parts of western Europe.
The government recently renovated the station, offering disabled access and higher platforms so you can reach the trains easier with your bicycle. The station dates back to the first half of the 20th century and is right next to the bus terminal. You can see an old steam engine on the video, which is just in front of the train station.
Things to Do in Gyula
Gyula used to be the capital of the county, until the First World War. Today the main attractions are the Almássy Palace, the former home of count Almássy and the adjacent Castle. The ticket costs 3,400 Hungarian forints to enter the castle, the palace and see all exhibitions. The cost of the ticket includes four exhibitions, one inside the palace, entrance to the tower and also to the castle. The palace has been around since the 19th century in its current form, but the original structure dates back to the 17th century. It was the main home of the Almássy Family until the Second World War.
The Battle of Gyula
One of the most important battles in Hungary’s history was in Gyula in the 16th century against the Turkish Empire. Unfortunately Hungary lost. The battle of Gyula took place in 1566 when the Turkish Empire invaded Hungary. The tour of the castle takes about an hour during which you will learn about the battle. You will also see many rooms and displays from the medieval ages. There are signs both in Hungarian and English throughout the castle.
The Hungarian defenders managed to hold off the Turks for 62 days. Unfortunately the castle fell and it was only in 1695 when the Austrians and Hungarians retook it. Gyula is also famous for the summer theatre on the lake and during the summer the castle also functions as a theatre.
The Gyula Spa
Another main attraction in Gyula is the spa, which you can see in more detail on the video. The spa first opened in the 1960s during the communist times. The local council renovated the entire spa a few years ago, adding slides and other amusements. During communist times, Gyula was an important meeting place for Germans from eastern and western Germany. In recent years, more and more visitors from Romania and Serbia have also started to visit.
A lot of visitors buy a package holiday staying at nearby hotels for a week as the package includes access to the swimming pool and other attractions in town. There are several indoor and outdoor swimming pools at the spa with hot and cold water. Because Hungary doesn’t have direct access to the sea, a lot of people use these pools to cool down during the summer.
There is fun to be had by everyone. From young and old, every will find something to do here. And if you like sports, you can swim in the Olympic size swimming pool, or practice swimming with your kids in the smaller pools. You can also play football or just lie down on the grass and enjoy the sunshine.
The Former Almássy Palace Grounds
The spa is in the former grounds of the palace. The original owners of the palace first discovered hot water with its healing properties here during the Second World War. The water here is famous for its healing properties and a lot of patients from the nearby hospital come here for treatment.
The healing properties of the water help patients recover from arthritis and joint pain and also speed up recovery after an accident or operation. I know this personally because both my grandmother and father came here after an accident. After the spa you can go around town for an easy ride and try one of the famous cafes in Gyula.
After a fun day in Gyula and Bekescsaba, I made my way back to Hódmezovásárhely. It was on the way home when I caught glimpse of a beautiful sunset in Békéscsaba which you can see at the end of the above video. The last time I saw such a vibrant sunset was in Naples in Florida in 2017. Now, if you thought Budapest was the only place worth visiting in Hungary then I hope this video has somewhat changed your mind.