- 20 Oct 2023 6:10 PM
This is the first time that a Hungarian village has appeared on the annual list. Tokaj, which celebrates the 950th anniversary of its founding this year, was competing with 260 villages on five continents for the title.
The renowned international prize is a recognition of refurbishments already completed in the village, and will encourage further tourism developments which aim to make the world heritage wine region one of the most popular destinations in Hungary.
What is the UN World Tourism Organisation?
The initiative launched by UNWTO in 2021 recognises rural destinations where tourism preserves cultures and traditions, celebrates diversity, provides opportunities and safeguards biodiversity.
Also included on this year’s list is Schladming in Austria, Slunj in Croatia and Saint-Ursanne in Switzerland, along with destinations in Chile, Japan and Ethiopia.
Why is Tokaj special?
Its name synonymous with Hungary, Tokaj is both a wine-producing region and a UNESCO World Heritage site, its renowned sweet dessert variety produced here for the best part of a thousand years.
The unique microclimate, with its misty mornings and sunny afternoons, creates the ideal conditions for the development of noble rot, a beneficial mould that shrivels the Furmint grapes and concentrates their sugars.
This natural phenomenon gives Tokaji Aszú wines their distinctive sweetness and complexity, making any winery visit a fascinating exploration of the generations of craftsmanship that goes into the whole process.
Tokaji Aszú is classified by the number of puttonyos (measuring the sweetness level) it contains, 6 being the sweetest.
Tokaj also produces dry white wines, szamorodni, and late-harvest wines.
What else is there to see in Tokaj?
Autumn is the most popular time of year for a tour of the Tokaji region, to take a guided tour of the vineyards and cellars where these wines are produced. It’s also worth visiting for the lively craft market on the second Sunday of every month at the Sárga Borház Restaurant on the Disznókő estate.
This provides a great opportunity to buy genuine hand-crafted products and sample the unique, sweet Tokaji Aszú wine in situ, where it is produced according to age-old methods.
The handmade products are brought by 40 local craftspeople from a 40km radius, allowing you to discover local cheeses and cured meats, jams and honeys, vinegars and oils, organic fruit and vegetables, chilli and fresh/dried mushrooms, chocolates and homemade cakes, as well as jewellery, clothes, wooden toys and tools, pottery, soap and much more.
The next one takes place on Sunday, 12 November.
Photo: Xpatloop readers visited Izabella Zwack in Tokaj
Words by Peterjon Cresswell for Xpatloop.com
Peterjon has been researching the byways of Budapest for 30 years, extending his expertise across Europe to produce guidebooks for Time Out and his own website liberoguide.com