Among the best-known Hungarian towns after Budapest, Tokaj is the capital of its historic wine region. Few places in the world can boast, as Tokaj can, that thanks to its wine its name is mentioned in the National Anthem. In 2002 it was listed a Word Heritage Site along with the Tokaj-Hegyalja Wine Region.
From Sigismund to Matthias, most of the Hungarian kings visited the town. Moreover, the Turkish, the Hajduk foot soldiers of Bocskai's army, Bethlen's troops, Rákóczi's Kuruc soldiers, and the German and other nationality mercenaries of Basta and Caprara were all here at one time or another. After the Szatmár Treaty the settlement was passed to the Treasury as a confiscated Rákóczi Estate, and remained so until 1860 when the village redeemed itself.
From the late 19th century, Tokaj became one of the centres of viticulture in Hegyalja. Today the settlement has preserved its small town atmosphere and it is an attractive tourist destination.
Its natural setting is stunning and its architecture reflects centuries of flourishing trade and loving care. A walk in Tokaj could well start with the wine cellars, continuing on to the centre which is full of architectural heritage buildings. The townscape is dominated by 18th- and 19th-century town houses and churches.
The public beach on the Tisza shore and the landing stages serve fans of water sports, while the protected natural assets of Kopasz Hill (Great Bald Hill), which stands above the town, offer plenty to see during outings here.
The town offers numerous cultural and leisure-time events from spring through to autumn, such as the Wine Festival (borfesztivál) at the turn of May and June, and the autumn Harvest Week (szüreti hét) in late-September, early October. In July the campsite over on the other side of the River Tisza is the venue for the Hegyalja Festival, one of the most highly-ranked pop events for the young. At the same time, Tokaj is also home to the Writers' Camp (Írótábor).