Sunday, 21 August 2016

DANUBE BEND, Hungary.

The Danube Bend is a picturesque, hilly region of northern Hungary incorporating the quaint historic towns of Szentendre, Visegrád and Esztergóm.  The name comes from the curving Danube River as it flows from Slovakia southwards into Hungary.  Although popular with Hungarian and international tourists, this area has retained its rural charm.  Close proximity to Budapest and an abundance of things to do make this area an ideal place for a day trip from the capital.

Lots of people try to visit all three towns in one day and end up rushing trying to fit it all in.  Instead I would urge you to pick just two in a day (I would say Szentendre is a must and then either Visegrád or Esztergóm), spending half a day in each before returning to Budapest in the early evening.  In this post, I will give a brief description of each town and explain how to easily and cheaply access this rural area using public transport.

Danube Bend from Visegrad

Szentendre

I really loved Szentendre.  The cute medieval centre is a tangle of charming cobbled streets of pastel-coloured cottages, churches, shops and restaurants.  Stroll through the pretty streets and alleys, browse through the little gift shops or take in one of the town’s many museums – Szentendre is home to a marzipan museum as well as the Hungarian Open-AirMuseum, which gives visitors an insight into life in rural Hungary through the ages. [Pronunciation: SEN-TEN-DREH]

Colourful streets of Szentendre



Visegrád

Visegrád is by far the smallest of the three towns, but don’t dismiss it for its size!  The main attractions in Visegrád are the upper and lower medieval castles, perched upon a steep hill above the Danube.  Assuming you are visiting without a car, there is a steady, but steep hike between the castles, but it really is worth it as the view from the top is spectacular.  The well-preserved ruins offer a window into history and panoramic views of the Danube River and surrounding countryside.   Other attractions include the Royal Palace and the waxworks.  [Pronunciation: VEE-SHEH-GRAAD]

Lower Castle, Visegrad


Esztergóm

The main attraction in Esztergóm is the huge catholic basilica which stands proud above the town – the seat of the Catholic Church in Hungary.  Esztergóm has been an important centre of religion throughout history and remains so today.  Other attractions include the Christian Museum, Royal Palace and proximity to the Slovakian border.  The old centre of Esztergóm is picturesque, but much smaller than that of Szentendre.  [Pronunciation: ES-TER-GOM]


Public Transport

I’ve decided to include this section for those like myself trying to navigate this area without a car.  When you know how, it is actually pretty easy to see the Danube Bend by public transport.  Szentendre has the easiest access to Budapest as it is linked directly to Batthyhány tér by the HÉV suburban train.  Esztergóm is also linked to Budapest by train – take the local train from Nyugati (Western) station. 

However, there are no trains between Szentendre and Visegrád, Szentendre to Esztergóm, or Visegrád to Esztergóm.  The fastest and cheapest options where there is no train is to take the bus.  Use the Volan buses.  They depart from Szentendre bus station (right next to the train station).  At the main stops there are ticket machines to buy bus tickets before you get on the bus, but at the smaller stops you can buy tickets from the driver.

Riverboats are a relaxing way to see the Danube Bend

 
A more relaxing and way to see the Danube Bend is by taking a riverboat.  Each of the three towns has a pier and you are able to book in advance or pay on the day.  However, the boats are more expensive and much slower.  I’ve put together a map below to make it a bit simpler!

Danube Bend by public transport



I hope this has helped! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below and I’ll get back to you.  For my guide on Budapest, follow this link.  Thank you for reading!


Elis Griffiths. x