Hi all, my boyfriend and I will be in Budapest for 4.5 days at the beginning of September. If we manage to see everything we want to see in Budapest in 3.5 days, we're thinking of taking a day trip on day 4. Any recommendations? We'll be 28 and 29 when the trip comes around and we're open to any ideas!
The most popular daytrip is by boat to Szentendre and other towns on the Danube Bend. A little further away, Rick prefers Eger for a small-city visit, 2.5 hours each way by train or 2 hours by bus.
There are a few easy options:
Danube Bend. Research the towns of Esztergom http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esztergom , Visegrad http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visegr%C3%A1d and Szentendre http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Szentendre . These make up the towns of the “Danube Bend” just upstream from Budapest. On these tours you take a commuter boat back into Budapest and Budapest is pretty stunning when entered on the water. http://www.mahartpassnave.hu/webset32.cgi?MAHART@@EN@@115@@GOOGLEBOT
The Danube Bend by tour guide: Usually you are driven to Esztergom, then Visegrad and then Szentendre where you take the boat back into Budapest. This is a pretty long and hard day but is a common day trip. You can do it on public transport too but that makes for an even longer and harder day. http://www.guideinbudapest.com/
Szentendre on your own: Take the M2 Metro http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_2_(Budapest_Metro) to the Batthyány tér metro station in Buda and the transfer to the H5 commuter train (HEV) to Szentendre http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BH%C3%89V , spend as much time as you would like and take the late afternoon boat back. This is a pleasant day.
Gyor http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gy%C5%91r and the Archabbey at Pannonhalma http://bences.hu/en Easy 80 minute train ride http://elvira.mav-start.hu/elvira.dll . Great day or overnight trip .
Gödöllő : Take the M2 to the Örs vezér tere metro stop and transfer to the H8 commuter train to Gödöllő http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6d%C3%B6ll%C5%91 This is more of a half day trip than a full day trip.
Eger: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eger is a flat 2 hour trip by train if you get on the right train. I don't know about the bus. Pretty much at the edge of what I will do for a day trip, but a great place for an overnight visit. Right now there is some construction going on in the main square. I don't know the construction schedule but check before you make arrangements to.
I took the train to Szentendre. Lovely town and some very beautiful churches to see.
check if the river cruise still running when you arrive. I recall it was running in April when I was there a few years ago. I took local bus to Esztergom from Santender, and the bus pass by visegrad. you should be able to fit all 3 in just 1 day.
The route that the tour guides use is Budapest to Esztergom then to Visegrad, then to Szentendre; and from there back to Budapest either by car or on the boat. By car the road time is 2 hours plus another hour on the boat. So that's 3 hours of drive time under the best of circumstances. The only public transportation I have taken is Budapest to Szentendre and that takes about an hour. If you did the whole trip by public transport I am guessing the total travel time is at least 4 hours including the boat. I think the boat out of Szentendre is one of the best parts of the trip so you have to be in Szentendre and through with all your sight seeing by about 4pm to get tickets and get to the dock. Assuming you leave Budapest at 9am (hey I am on vacation. you aren't getting me up any earlier), then add to that the travel time of 4 hours and then subtract that from 4pm and you have a whopping 3 hours to spend sightseeing in 3 different towns. See, for me that's not good. I could spend 3 hours in each Esztergom and Szentendre alone. If you want to enjoy all three in one day, leave at 8 am and hire a guide with a car. That will give you closer to 5 hours of sightseeing; but its a tough day.
One option not mentioned above is Vac, a town on the Danube on the opposite side from Szentendre. It's not in Rick's books; I found out about it from Frommer's Budapest. I actually enjoyed it more than Szentendre (which I also liked). It has the advantage of being untouristed. The mummies under the main square are unforgettable (they were discovered quite recently when the square was renovated), and I had a great meal at a restaurant right near the square (I'm not at home so I don't have more details handy, but can try to get them if you're interested).
One thing to note: there are three trains that go from Budapest to Vac. One goes along the river "express" and takes 25 minutes; one goes along the river "local" and takes 45 minutes; and one goes inland (a longer route with lots of stops) and takes 90 minutes. I thought I was going there via the river express, but actually was on the inland local. So be sure you get the one you want.
I saw Eger as an overnight, and was not that impressed. To be fair, it rained most of the time I was there, but even if I had liked it better, it's a long way to go for just a day. My other overnight trip was to Pecs, which I liked better than Eger (at about 3 hours each way, it's also far for a daytrip).
Harold, what did I miss on the 3 day visit in the other post?
Vac is a good option (I got tired of typing) I am with you on Eger. Its worth it if the weather is good and its much more worth it if you are interested in wine and wine cellars. Pretty and I am glad I went and I wouldn't discourage anyone, but I loved PECS! You have to dig a little deeper in Pecs but when you get orientated its an amazing place. My favorite long one day trip is Gyor and Pannonhalma. I like Szentendre as much for the boat ride back into Budapest as for any other reason. The Parliament rising before you as you come in is exceptional.
If you two are interested in history, I suggest Györ.
Eger for food and drink and relaxing
Gyor for synagogue and the archabbey ..................... and the relaxing
One of my favorites that I didn't list is Tihany. Tihany is a little difficult to get to on public transport so I usually don't mention it but it is one of the most beautiful places in Hungary.
Thanks for all the great information everyone! James, I would love to hear your "must-do" recommendations for Budapest. We've read up on Budapest and have a list of things we want to see/do but would love to hear what you recommend.
@bguay, you know that everyone’s interests are different, but here is my list of memorable moments. I intentionally left off the tourist attractions. You can get those out of a book:
Music. Budapest is all about music.
a. Callas Café has a live band
b. Vak Varju generally has a piano player in the evening
c. The Opera is great, but I love the Operett Theater more. With 4.5 days you should do one or the other (closed mid June through the end of July). Either, book early and get box seats.
d. Dinner and Klezmer music at Spinoza’s (Friday night)
e. Any one of the restaurants with a Gypsy Band. So what if its for tourists. YOu are a tourist after all.. Actually some are more local than tourist.
a. Lunch on the Danube promenade in Pest
b. Lunch from a food booth in the Market Hall
c. Lunch at New York Café
d. Sausage from the little Jewish butcher shop on the pedestrian street facing the side of the Opera House (red store front)
e. Dinner at Haxen Király Étterem
f. Dinner at Macesz Huszar
g. Dinner at Vak Varju
h. Dinner at Paprikavendéglő
i. Dinner and Klezmer music at Spinoza’s (Friday Night)
j. Breakfast at Café Vian in the Gozsdu Courtyard
k. Cooking class in the home of a wonderful Hungarian woman. (Goulash, Stuffed Cabbage and ……. Forgot what it was called, but good)
a. Kadarka Wine Bar
b. Kadarka Wine Bar (half a block from where we stay. A nightly ritual with wonderful people and good reasonably priced wine and gourmet snacks)
c. Alexandra Café in the old Paris Department Store
d. Walking the Danube Promanade
e. The view from the top of Gellert Hill (most stunning city view in the world…period.)
f. Any Ruin Pub
Walking and wandering
a. Antique Shops on Falk Miska utca
b. Anyplace in the District VII (old Jewish Ghetto)
c. Pest’s smaller market halls
d. Half a day in Kerepesi Cemetery
e. Teleki ter shul: marvelous people.
f. The music shop on the pedestrian road down from the Cathedral
g. The quality gift shops in the buildings and side street to the right of the entrance to the Cathedral
Most important is that Cristina got a B in calculus.