Either it is wild camping or inside a camping area, it means the feeling of unlimited freedom: home rules are not valid on the sites. If you go on holiday by car or bicycle, you can even leave for unknown places and camp in the first camping area that comes in your way. Especially on lakeshores: there are a number of tenting opportunities on the shores of Lake Balaton, Lake Velence or Lake Fertő.
The ‘Forest Law’
Wild camping is legal in Hungary – on certain conditions. For example, you need a special licence to tent in a nature reserve or in a national park. You should check the laws of different countries, because it is penalized in the majority of Europe, like Croatia or Italy, if you try to ‘wild camp’. According to the ‘Forest Law’ (2009/ XXXVII), you have to ask the forestry for a permission if camping exceeds 24 hours. It means that for a shorter period, for one night, you can spend the night in a tent if evening falls. Naturally, you have to keep the unspoken rules of wild camping: putting your tent on a suitable place and collecting your waste.
‘Back to nature’
During the 20th century, due to the spreading of means of transport, more and more people could afford to go on holiday and not only some privileged social strata. As of the middle of the century, car transport became increasingly popular and many people went on their well-deserved holidays by cars. This favoured the operation of camps, because it was one of the cheapest accommodations for people on holiday. Car camps were established: those who preferred more comfort could find their accounts in mobile homes or caravans. In the 1970s, the growth of living standard also favoured cheap accommodation possibilities within the country. Nowadays, camps not necessarily belong to the cheapest category, because you can find more affordable rooms or apartments on Airbnb.
From Palma mattress to Camping cheese
In Hungary, the first camps expected nature-loving tourists along Lake Balaton as of 1959. From then on, this type of accommodation attracted more and more guests. The capacity of camps grew and achieved a tenfold increase during a decade. We must also mention the classical accessories of camping: the unstable but ultralight camping stool that is excellent for angling; the more comfortable camping chair; or the blue and red checked or multi-coloured, textile-covered Palma mattress, which was almost undestroyable and elevated the standard of bathing. The air mattress that determined the summers of the seventies and later decades – owing to its hardwearing material – was the most important worldwide famous product of the National Rubber Industry Company (later Taurus Hungarian Rubber Works) and was exported to the USA and Australia as well.
Besides all these, we have not mentioned the camping gastronomy yet: tinned food besides bacon roasting like the good old pig liver paste, and the camping gas-ring that was perfectly suitable for warming up the food. And if we think about camping, the Camping cheese also comes to our minds, which was one of the titbits of the seventies and eighties. It is still available, thus the knowledge of how to eat it can be transmitted to young generations: you have to hole it and spread the cheese on a roll.
If you feel like having nostalgia or just want to get out of the city heat: go to a beach and (wild) camp out! Of course, you will need a good tent, polyfoams and sleeping bags, or if you still have the Palma mattress, all the better!
Translated by Zita Aknai
- István Kollega Tarsoly, szerk.: Magyarország a XX. században II. kötet. Szekszárd. Babits Kiadó, 1996-2000. Magyar Elektronikus Könyvtár
- Hatályos jogszabályok. 2009. évi XXXVII. törvény az erdőről, az erdő védelméről és az erdőgazdálkodásról (2018.07.06.)
- Országos Kéktúra honlapja