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Day trip from Budapest

Hello,
We are going to be in Budapest for 4-1/2 days early next month (yes, really coming up soon!). We are mulling over which one or two of the countryside towns Esztergom, Viserad, and Szentendre we should take. They all appear to be nice small towns to visit but we feel that packing them all in one day would be too much. We like art and museums, castles and palaces, churches, historic sites, walking around town, etc.
We will not have a car, we will use public transportation. Which two towns would be easiest to reach by train and/or bus and most worthwhile to see?
TIA!

Posted by
10648 posts

With just 4.5 days I would shoot for one of the three.

Take the commuter train up to Szentendre around noon and the boat back at 5pm. Great way to spend a half day.

If you must do two of the Danube bend towns transportation gets a bit more interesting. To be honest, I wouldn't do it without a car (guide or just a driver).

Another option is Gyor. Its 1.5 hours by train. Gyor its self is pretty amazing. But then you can take a taxi to the Archabbey at Pannonhalma which is well worth the trip. Between the two its an all day thing. https://pannonhalmifoapatsag.hu/ http://www.world-guides.com/europe/hungary/gyor-moson-sopron/gyor/

Posted by
759 posts

Hello from Wisconsin,
Not on your list, but at the top of my list, EGER. You should spend the night. This is a great little compact city. Castle on the hill, square below it. A minaret from Ottoman times. Some impressive churches. Wine caves without billionaires. And the Hotel Senator where the staff are the most impressive I have ever encountered.

I have been to all three you list. Each has something. But Eger is what did it for me. Look it up. You can take a bus there and and a train home to Budapest.

But don't undersell Budapest. With 4.5 days, I would be inclined to stay there the whole time. It has too many coffee shops to visit in only 3.5 days. Szechenyi Baths alone takes a full morning and will be remembered the rest of your life. Oh gosh, and book tickets to a performance at the Opera on Andrassy Ut. Just wear clean clothes, you will be OK.

wayne iNWI

Posted by
16545 posts

I believe the Opera building is still closed, undergoing some sort of repair/construction. I think you can tour it, but performances are being given at a different location.

And I agree that 4.5 days isn't too many for Budapest at all. You can tentatively plan a day-trip somewhere and see how you feel on the 3rd day of your trip.

Posted by
447 posts

Really, only Szentendre is a town. Ezstergom is a basilica and Visegrad is an old ruined castle. You might look into getting there via boat. I know you can to Szentendre. See below.

Last summer, a group of 6 of us took a private Danube Bend tour thru Viator that included all three of those stops in one day.

Guide picked us up at our hotel in her van. We drove to a view point across the river to see the Ezstergom basilica, then toured it. From there drove up to Visegrad - great views. Then drove to Szentendre for a 3 course lunch (included) and a couple of hours on our own. Guide left us there but the tour included a ride back to Budapest on a local tour boat.

Day went very well until right after lunch when it starting pouring with rain and we couldn't see alot on the boat due to the rain/fogged up windows. Szentendre was nice enough but not as "artistic" as hoped for. Spent alot of time in the shops dodging the rain. Also, sadly that was the night a Viking river cruise ship hit a different tour boat killing a group of Korean tourists. Interesting start to our river cruise.

Posted by
10648 posts

Really, only Szentendre is a town. Ezstergom is a basilica and Visegrad is an old ruined castle. You might look into getting there via boat. I know you can to Szentendre. See below.

Esztergom is a pretty interesting town.

Take the boat back, not to. Has to do with time and river current.

Posted by
32 posts

Thank you all for the reality check! We might still consider James E.’s suggestion-half day in Szentendre. I really like the idea of coming back to Budapest by boat - do they run in the winter too? We’ll be there Mar 6-11.

Posted by
32 posts

Just an update on how the day trip went.
Today was a perfect day for a day trip to Esztergom and Szentendre. It was sunny and warm, in the low 50’s. We took the train to Esztergom, then walked from the train station to the Basilica. It is undergoing some restoration so there was scaffolding all over the front. We still enjoyed the visit and the views.
We did not take the bus to Szentendre from Esztergom. We ended up taking the train to Aquincum, then changed to the H5 train to Szendentre. It was after 4pm when we arrived and there were only a handful of shops that were open. We would have enjoyed a more lively, vibrant atmosphere...
Thanks!
Mila

Posted by
10648 posts

Sorry you got there so late. Esztergom to Szentendre is difficult. Thats why I suggested a driver, but I know $$$$.
But sounds like you enjoyed the day.

Posted by
14 posts

My vote is for Szentendre. I took a train up and back. Someone told me the time involved getting back to the city on the boat just isn't worth it. Instead, Budapest has an evening cruise on the Danube right there in the city environs which sounded wonderful. I myself didn't take it but I think it would give you the taste of the Danube river trip without too much time invested.

Posted by
1887 posts

We went to Szentendre in 2019 (just after the terrible river boat accident referred to above; we landed in that rainstorm, and it was a very powerful storm). We enjoyed it. We bought the "all museum" pass for a very modest fee. Using that, we toured possibly 20 small museums. They varied a lot in quality. Some were completely amazing, and some were "meh". The absolute highlight was the museum devoted to Kovács Margit. She was a folk art potter during the Commie-time. She was the same age almost exactly of my grandmother. She made a huge amount of pottery sculptures, many of which were religious. Amazing stuff. The whole town was fun, and not expensive. We had a coffee on the river, and dinner on the square in town. Then we returned on the train. Really enjoyed the trip.