If you can drag yourself away from the beauty of Budapest, there are a few interesting day trips an hour or less from the Hungarian capital. Szentendre is the closest but Esztergom, Visegrad and Vac are also popular day trips. These towns are known as the Danube Bend towns and you can either visit one or two in a day or make a road trip out of it and visit them all.
Day Trip to Szentendre
The first thing you’ll notice on arriving in the centre of town are the pretty coloured Baroque houses which line the cobblestone streets. The architecture is similar to other towns in the region but there are also many Orthodox churches which you won’t see elsewhere. These date back to the 16th century when the town had a Serb majority but nowadays there are only a hundred or so Serb residents.
Being so close to Budapest, Szentendre is packed with daytrippers during the summer months. If you can’t visit in the early morning to avoid the crowds, at least get away from the main street which is overrun with souvenir shops. Stick to the quieter side streets which are just as pretty but a little more peaceful.
Alongside the souvenir shops are art galleries and unusual museums like the Marzipan Museum and the Dobos Chocolate Museum. The Dobos Chocolate Museum celebrates the Dobos Torta which is a layered sponge cake with chocolate buttercream and topped with caramel.
If you don’t fill up on marzipan and cake while visiting Szentendre you can get a proper meal at Cafe Christine. They serve modern Hungarian food and it’s one of the most popular restaurants in town so you might want to book ahead if you plan on having lunch there. Cafe Christine has free wifi which can come in handy if you’re like me and can’t stay offline for more than a couple of hours. There are also a few Serb restaurants if you want to try some local specialities but I didn’t get a chance to try them out.
You have a couple of options when driving to Szentendre from Budapest, either taking the motorway or a secondary road. They take more or less the same time so it just depends if you want to pay the toll on the motorway or not. If you already have the Hungarian vignette (toll sticker) you may as well take the motorway as it’s a more straightforward drive.
If you’re not sure if you even want to go to Hungary, you might be inspired by these night photos of Budapest or this post on things to do on a weekend in Budapest. If you are planning a trip, this post might help you choose the best place to stay.