When I am travelling abroad, I like to visit big cities. I like to observe their culture, technology, modern and/or historical places, taste local cuisine and enjoy the noisy nightlife. Therefore, whenever I can, I am always looking for a possibility to have a one-day trip outside of the big city.
This usually gives a completely different perspective on the country. For instance: on its inhabitants and their lifestyle, on culture, architecture and nature. Everything that usually delights in a big city: splendour, momentum, bustling streets, loud clubs and sumptuous restaurants – disappears as soon as you leave it. Only then, you can see a full picture.
I love such trips. I’m always excited about them because I never know what really to expect and what will happen. Such places are rarely described in popular guidebooks and there are no tourist crowds. In conclusion – I love them and recommend to anyone who wants to see something more than the usual paths trodden by tourists. The trip: “Budapest one-day outside city” is a perfect occasion for me to see Hungary from a different perspective.
Budapest one-day outside city. What to choose, where to go?
There are several offers on the market and it is not easy to make a choice. You can decide, among others, for:
- Royal Tour (Sissi) Gödöllő – visit the former summer residence of Queen Elisabeth (Sisi) & Emperor Francis Joseph. Guided tour through Godollo’s former Royal Palace (4 h). Price 11.000* HUF (38,5 $)
- Puszta Tour: Puszta on the Hungarian Plain, is one of Europe’s largest expanses of protected prairie. Tour guarantees a visit in an authentic Hungarian horse ranch, a horse carriage ride and horse show (8h). Price 19.000* HUF (66,5$)
- Lake Balaton Tour: a day trip to see the largest freshwater lake of Central Europe, Lake Balaton (10h). Price 18.000* HUF (63$)
- Danube Bend Tour: an excursion into Hungary’s history along the Blue Danube, with a visit in Esztergom (Center of the Catholic Church) and Szentendre called: Artist’s village (9,5h). Price 18.000* HUF (63$).
*Prices valid in 2019
Danube Bend Tour
„Danube bend tour” is a Budapest one-day outside city trip around the Danube river. This tour was organized by the Eurama travel agency. I booked it several weeks in advance. I also received all confirmations and vouchers a few days after. The trip plan included a visit to three historical places:
- Esztergom, where the largest and the most important Christian Church in Hungary is located
- Visegrad – ruins of the royal palace and citadel, and a panorama of the Danube valley from the nearby hills
- Szentendre (St. Andrews) – colloquially called “Artistic Mecca” – considered as the most beautiful small town in Hungary and one of the most beautiful in Central Europe.
The trip was about 9.5 hours long. We left Budapest on a tour bus and returned by a cruise ship. Price of the trip included lunch and entrance tickets to the Basilica in Szentendre.
It is one of the oldest cities in Hungary. The city was founded in the year 960 by Prince Gejza. In the place of the former Roman border watchtower, he has established the first capital of Hungary. St Stephen was baptized and coronated in Esztergom (in 1000). In 1224, the daughter of King Bela IV – St Kinga was born in this place. Esztergom is a primatial seat of the Roman Catholic Church in Hungary
On the other side of the Danube, there is the Slovak city Štúrovo (Párkány). Our first stop was on the Slovak side because from the other side of the Danube river bend, it is the best place to see the basilica towering above the city.
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption and Saint Adalbert in Esztergom was created in the years 1822-1869. Its total area is over 5600 m2. The basilica is 118 m long and 49 m wide. The main dome has a diameter of 33.5 m and its height measured from the outside is 100 m.
You can visit the basilica every day, but during the year there are different hours and days of the church opening, underground crypt, treasury or viewpoint on the roof of the dome.
A detailed schedule can be found on the website of the basilica, which is also available in several languages
- visiting the Church is free of charge for individual visitors
- Treasury (closed due renovation works, planned to open at Pentecost 2019) – 900* HUF (3,1$)
- Dome Lookout – 700* HUF (2,5$)
- Panorama Hall – entrance is free of charge with a combination ticket to the Treasury and the Dome Lookout and with a tourist guide ticket. For Individuals, entrance fee is 300* HUF (1$).
*Prices valid in 2019
Beware: the liturgical space of the Cathedral will be closed for tourists 30 minutes before Mass. During services, the Church is open for worship only.
During the Roman Empire on the rock towering over today’s Visegrad – the Romans has built a border fortress. Later, a Slavic settlement was established here, and in the 9th century, it was taken over by the Hungarians.
In the first half of the fourteenth century (1325), King Charles I erected a castle in Visegrad, which was the main residence of successive kings of Hungary. The Upper Castle also served for the safekeeping of the Hungarian royal insignia.
Visegrad has lost his importance after Hungarians lost the battle with the Ottoman army in Mohács in 1526. In 1543 the castle was seriously damaged by the Turks and was never used afterwards. The city was reborn again in the seventeenth century but regained its municipal rights in 2000.
At the time when Visegrad was the capital of Hungary, it was the place of Visegrad congresses, that is meetings of the kings of Hungary, Czech Republic and Poland (in 1335 and 1338). The tradition of cooperation in Central Europe is being continued by so-called The Visegrad Group, created by the presidents of Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland. Presidents of these countries meet in Visegrad every year beginning in 1991. Since 2016, on February 15th, the International Visegrad Day is celebrated.
Currently, the tourist attraction in the town is a citadel and the ruins of the royal palace, which is a rich archaeological site. Above all, however, it is worth seeing the panorama of the Danube valley from the nearby hills.
Visegrad Nagyvillam Restaurant
In Visegrad, we stopped at the Hungarian restaurant Nagyvillam, where we had dinner. It was included in the price of our trip. A place worth my recommendation – both because of the tasty food and the beautiful views extending from its terraces.
More about Visegrad and its attractions you can read on the official website.
Szentendre (St. Andrews)
Szentendre is located approx. 20 km from Budapest. You can easily get there from the city – directly by suburban train from Batthyany Ter station, or a cruise passenger ship across the Danube.
Szentendre is a picturesque town of artists. A place with an unforgettable atmosphere, with numerous museums, art galleries, narrow streets, interesting architecture and a picturesque view of the Danube Bend. During summer months, the town is teeming with life. It is often visited not only by tourists but also by the inhabitants of Budapest.
Szentendre is so-called “city of artists” or “city of painters”. It is because of the many artists who came here at the beginning of the 20th century.
In the town, next to several sacred objects there are also many interesting museums.
Ferenczy Museum Centre
Ferenczy Museum – established as the local history collection of the town in 1951 and named after artist Károly Ferenczy. Today the Ferenczy Museum Centre owns a uniquely rich collection of Szentendre’s painting, graphic art, sculpture, and numismatic art. Open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. Entrance ticket 1400* HUF (4,9$).
Kovács Margit Ceramics Museum is one of Szentendre’s most popular museums, opened in 1973. Museum presents the lifework of Kossuth Prize-laureate ceramic artist Margit Kovács. During summer months it is open on a daily basis (closed on Mondays), from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. Off the season it closes at 4.00 p.m. Entrance ticket 1400* HUF (4,9$).
Open Air Museum
Hungarian Open Air Museum presents the folk architecture, culture and lifestyle of Hungary in 8 regional units on 60 hectares. It is the biggest its kind museum in Hungary. It is located 3 km away of the Szentendre. The Museum covers 312 different buildings arranged in 8 regional units. For the comfortable transport, Skanzen train goes from the Entrance Building to the Study Collection and back. It runs every hour, on the 2,2 km long road and has five stops from which all the regional units are easy to reach. You can buy online tickets and avoid the queue. Daily train ticket cost is 500* HUF (1,8$). More about the train you can find here: skanzen.hu_train.
- The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9.00 a.m. till 5.00 p.m., between months of April and October.
- Entrance ticket to the museum is 2000* HUF (7$). You can read more how to get there from Budapest, on the Skanzen website.
*Prices valid in 2019
During our trip, in Szentendre, we had a walk with a guide, who told us the history of this place and described its main attractions. Then, we had about 1.5 hours of free time for independent sightseeing and shopping.
We returned to Budapest by a river cruise which leaves Szentendre marina once a day at 5.00 p.m. The return journey was about 70 minutes long.
Budapest one-day outside city. Final summary
The tour was fully professionally prepared and carried out. During such trips, there is always a lack of enough free time for self-sightseeing. However, in the case of this trip, I think that we had enough time.
Within a few hours, we had the chance to get to know Hungary from a different perspective. We saw small towns, green suburbs of Budapest, beautiful churches, picturesque views. During the trip, we also met interesting people – other participants of our trip and we got to know their motivations to visit this part of Hungary.
Yes, travels can educate us, show different perspectives, broaden our horizons, let us meet interesting people and better understand the reality around us. I am very happy that I found this trip and took advantage of it. Therefore, I recommend this form of sightseeing to anyone who has similar needs as me: to expand endless horizons of knowledge and feed a constant hunger for visiting new places. In conclusion: Budapest one-day outside the city is a great opportunity to meet those expectations.
Budapest – my other posts
I also encourage you to read my other posts about Budapest: