If you’re like me, you’ve seen bears on some documentary and decided that you’d like to get close to one. If you bear further similarity to me, you are also fortunate that you have a brain that tells you not to get out of the car when you see a bear and to be smart about preventing an encounter with one while camping. After all, you and your lovely, delicious brain would like to see a bear again, one day. So let the bear do its bear thing – you can do your human thing from afar. Right?

Prepare to geek out, animal lovers, nearly-guilt-free brown bear feeding awaits you, just a 40-minute train ride from Budapest, Hungary, outside the small town of Veresegyház.

Medveotthon Budapest Bears - JP Nikota 4

Wait, is this place legit?

Medveotthon (literally “bear home”) is a sanctuary for bears who were previously mistreated in a variety of circus and circus-like acts. If you just thought “How many of these bears could there possibly be?”, you’ll be saddened to learn that Hungary actually still has a lot of travelling circuses with big tents and animals doing all sorts of bizarre tricks like you might have expected to see in the 1920’s in North America. So why is it OK to feed them now?

As this blog post outlines well, the bear sanctuary provides an important refuge for bears that are unable to (re)join their natural habitat, and tourists paying for honey or snacks goes a long way towards paying for the upkeep of the animals. Moreover, there is no breeding at Medveotthon, and there is much more space for the bears to to do bear things than in any zoo you’ll ever come across. In short, this is the best possible outcome for a lot of animals who were in much worse circumstances not so long ago.

Medveotthon Budapest Bears - JP Nikota

So is it really that cool?

Do you like animals? Especially ones that are big, cute, and also terrifying? Yeah, it’s that cool.

Medveotthon provides long, wooden spoons free of charge onto which you can drizzle honey, and stick through the chain-link fences that keep the bears in their generous enclosures. Bears’ mouths are surprisingly dextrous, and can strip the honey off a spoon as cleanly as any dishwasher can. As soon as a bear clamps onto the spoon, their strength is immediately obvious. It’s like your spoon is temporarily stuck in a concrete wall. I once tried to feed a bear half of a long carrot and soon found myself in a very brief tug-of-war with a large male brown bear. He was going to get the whole carrot whether I liked it or not.

Medveotthon Budapest Bears and Wolves

As an added bonus, Medveotthon houses not only bears, but also wolves of several different varieties. If the large pack ever gets excited, it’s rather chilling to watch a dozen or so of them start howling all at once. As with the bears, the large pack has a large enclosure full of trees in which they can run and although you are not allowed to feed them, it is possible to get quite close.

In short, if you want to get away from the castle/cathedral/cobblestone trail while traveling  Europe, be sure to check out Medveotthon. Really, where else are you going to do this?

Medveotthon Budapest Bears - JP Nikota 3

Nuts & Bolts

Trains to Veresegyház (the town close to Medveotthon) leave from Nyugati pályaudvar (Budapest’s downtown train station) every half hour. Train tickets are cheap (under $5) and the entrance fee is 500 Forint (roughly $2.50). Afterwards, the train can be caught at the same spot on the opposite side of the tracks to head back to Budapest.

Some websites will tell you that getting a cab is necessary from the train station, but this simply isn’t true. If you are willing to go for a pleasant 20-minute walk (signs are posted everywhere telling you where to go), the site is easy to get to.

Make your next trip the best one.

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Departful is a full service travel agency for busy professionals seeking unique and transformative custom travel experience. We create memorable holidays that are 100% tailored to our clients, saving them time & energy by handling all of the little details while providing value by leverage our expertise and network of travel partners. We are based in Toronto.

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Departful is affiliated with TravelOnly.

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TICO Reg #4316071

Head Office:
202-325A West Street, Brantford
ON, Canada N3R 3V6

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