July 09, 2021 12:54
The path of the One and half million steps – The National Blue Trails

If you are a hiker, maybe you heard about the most famous Hungarian trail, the National Blue Trail (Országos Kéktúra) between Írottkő and Hollóháza, the two endpoints from the Western side to the North-Eastern mountains. During your studies, you can discover some parts or the whole one. Let’s get some details for your exciting journey!

A brief history

Hungary has more than 21 thousand long marked net of hiking trails and the Kéktúra is among the oldest long-distance path in Europe (set in 1938). In 1930, the Hungarian Hiking Association set the trailheads and the direction of the Blue Trail crossing the whole country. Setting the route and marking the trail progressed slowly and was interrupted by World War II, leaving one-fifth of it unmarked. It reached its final length after the political changes of 1989 as the western trailhead (Írott-kő) on the state border became accessible.

The Blue Trail gained nationwide fame via the legendary hiking documentary series filmed in 1979 by Pál Rockenbauer (One and half million steps in Hungary – Másfélmillió lépés Magyarországon). The 10-member crew of the Hungarian Television completed the 1,124 km long path in 77 days from East to West and shot the raw materials of the 14 parts  film  during the trip, which made the trail popular among Hungarians. Even now, the fame of the trail is growing year by year while more than 15 thousand hikers begin their journey. In 2020, the National Geographic ranked the Blue Trail among the 25 most recommended trips in the world.

The features of the National Blue Trail

Usually, blue-trail hiking (kéktúrázás) means more than walking in the Northern mountains of the country. Although the Blue Trail is the most well-known path, there is the National Blue Circle, which consist of 2 other independent, coherent trails beside the classic one: The Pál Rockenbauer Transdanubian Blue Trail and the Great Plain Blue Trail. The trail’s special units are the sections which start from Kőszeg mountain,  go across Kisalföld, reach Balaton and the capital, and continue in Mátra mountains across Bükk mountain finally finishing in Zemplén mountains.

According to the latest GPS survey conducted in 2020, the National Blue Trail’s total length is 1168.2 km and the total elevation change (climb) is 30,213 metres in a Western-Eastern direction over the whole route. It takes appr. 344 hours hiking and has 27 sections with different levels and various landscapes, and you can find 151 stamps of checkpoints.

Completing the trail and hiking is free for everybody at any time, without an age limit or membership. Only children from 6-yearsold can get an official certificate. There is not any deadline and it is your own decision when and which section you complete. The only condition is you have to complete the trail by walking or hiking, i.e., on foot.

The maintainer of the trail is the Hungarian Hiking Association and it’s a route-following hiking trail, which means if you want to get from A to B, you should follow the route marked with a blue stripe on the white background. The trail has its certificate booklet ( you can buy it in their shop) in different editions and you should use the stamps of the checking point and write the date to prove that you’ve completed the section(s). The official stamps during your hiking are in a box at the checkpoint. If you cannot use the stamps, you have two official opportunities to get the certificate: (1) make a selfie at the checkpoint or (2) go to the closest shop, railway or bus station or churches and use their stamps including the name of the place.

These tools need to be with you besides the gears: the stamp book (certificate booklet), stamp pad, ink and a pen. You can find information about each section here. Your journey ends when you complete the whole route and your certificate booklet is full of stamps and dates. You will have a nice trail diary, which you can send to the Hungarian Hiking Association for checking and get the certificate with its badge and your name will be among the official Blue Trail Hikers.

So, take your boots and backpack, and have a good journey from Kőszeg Mountain across Kisalföld, reach the Balaton and visit the capital. Go across the Danube and shout from Kékestető and Mátra, have a good rest in Bükk, and discover the wild Zemplén. If you completed it, let us know!

Links and sources: Országos KéktúraNational Geographic: Here are the best trips to take in 2020 Kéktúra szakaszok ; Wikimedia commons: National Blue Trail Hungary