If you appreciate rural tourism and distinct ethnic traditions, you will certainly enjoy visiting the hilly country of northeast Hungary, the home of the Palóc people.
Palóc traditions combine folk elements of Turkish and eastern origins with a Hungarian way of life. Their rather peculiar dialect of Hungarian is famous for its long vowels. Each village has its own twist on the Palóc heritage and especially on the beautifully embroidered folk dress: Kazár is renowned for beautiful bonnets; Rimóc for the shortest skirts.
Although the Palóc are now largely Roman Catholic, relics of pre-Christian traditions survived until the 1960s, and are still recalled. In the past, girls in village hall cubicles received the courtship of fully dressed young men lying down alongside them, a relic of the medieval legend of Tristan and Isolde.
The easiest way to reach the region is to travel by bus to the largest Palóc village, Hollók?, a UNESCO World Heritage site. At weekends an express bus leaves for Hollók? from the central bus station in Budapest, adjacent to Stadionok metro station. The trip takes two hours and costs HUF1400 (€5.60; $7.50).
Alternatively, the Palóc Route Society arranges a variety of tours around the region and to special events in individual villages.