Just 19 Kilometers north of Budapest along the Danube Bend is a charming little town called Szentendre. It’s an unassuming town, dwarfed by the glamor and grandness of the Hungarian capital. If anyone didn’t do their research (like me) or told of its existence, it would be a location you easily can miss.
Why One Day In Szentendre?
During my stay in Budapest for two months, I met a local who told me about the town. I’ve become very familiar with the railway lines in they have used it almost daily crossing the Danube towards Buda and back to Pest looking for ideal photography spots of the city. At Batthyány-Ter, one of the stops I use, is a transfer line towards Szentendre and it’s a mere 40-minute ride to the town with great views of the Danube along the way. So it was an easy decision to make, I would take a day off and spend it in Szentendre.
What’s There To See In Szentendre?
Szentendre hosts a picturesque town center with cobblestone streets and colorful houses. The town is home to many artists who came to find inspiration in the town’s uniquely different atmosphere, well at least different than Budapest. The area has been inhabited until the Hungarians came in the 10th century. The Mongols raided and pillaged the town in the 13th century and then the Ottoman Turks destroyed the town in 15-16th century.
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These Asian invasions seem to be the common theme on the Balkans. I’m of Asian origin and fortunately, I’m not running around brandishing a scimitar or a composite bow. Though the thought sometimes crossed my mind.
The Serbs helped the Christians during a war on the Turks and they began to settle in or around Szentendre. The town eventually became their political center and prior to World War Two, a large population of Serbs lived in Szentendre. Today, you can still see some of these cultural impacts in town. There’re a few Serb restaurants offering traditional cuisine. The persecutions during the First and Second World Wars has diminished the Serb population and now there’s only a few, numbering in the hundreds, living in Szentendre.
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Szentendre boasts well-preserved 18th-century Baroque era architecture and it persists through today after it was rebuilt during the Ottoman conquest. The main square has a cross that was erected to commemorate the town from being spared from the plague. From there multiple cobblestoned streets winds its way to various artisan shops, restaurants, galleries, churches, and museums. There are also historic colorful merchant houses on one side of the square that was rebuilt after a fire.
What Things To Do In Szentendre?
Strolling past these attractions eventually lead to the promenade in the Danube river. A good option in the hot summer months when the town gets crowded with day trippers from Budapest. There’s a rocky beach on the river just at the edge of town where you can cool off from the heat. A myriad of restaurants near the Danube river bank offers you an option to cool off with a beer if getting wet in the river doesn’t suit your fancy.
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I tried the cherry beer and Gulyas (Goulash) over at the StE Pub and then a greasy Langos (deep fried dough) with bacon in one of the fast-food joint near the river bank. My stomach started to churn after trying to digest all that grease so I did what a knowledgeable dude with indigestion would. I got more beers at Café Christine! Which by the way, has a great view of the Danube. There I watched countless tourist and people go by enjoying my cold mug of Hungarian beer.
Why Just One Day In Szentendre?
Szentendre is charming but very small. You can even explore it on a half-day trip. It’s just a stone’s throw away from Budapest and worth exploring. But once you’ve got your fill of the sights there’s only one left to do. Eat, drink, and be merry.
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How To Get To Szentendre?
- From Budapest take the metro line to Batthyány-Ter and from there follow the signs that will lead you to the train to Szentendre. It runs every 10-30 minutes. I believe this is also the same train that you take to get to the Sziget Festival. You can purchase the ticket inside the train. There’s a conductor who will sell you one on the way to Szentendre.
- From May through September you can travel in style by boat on the Danube river. You can also catch this boat at Batthyány-Ter.
- By car or bike, take motorway 11.
A DAY IN BREAKDOWN:
- Train from Budapest to Szentendre – $1.50 (round trip)
- Greasy Langos with Bacon – $2
- Lunch Pub. Cherry beer and Goulash – $8
- Dinner at Restaurant with beer – $12 (splurged on beer)
- TOTAL: $23.50