Esztergom and Danube river cruse

Our group is looking to do a day trip to Esztergom and then a river cruise back to Budapest. Can anyone recommend a cruise line that may also do a dinner cruse? If the cruise would take to long from Esztergom we would be willing to take the train to a city closer to Budapest. We will be in Budapest the first week of June. Thanks for your help

Posted by James
Frisco
1781 posts

I don't know of any cruise line that picks up passengers along the way; and yes it would be a trip of several hours. There is a river taxi that runs from Szentendre to Budapest. The taxi takes about 45 minutes if memory serves me correctly. Szentendre is accessible by commuter train from Budapest and a late morning trip to Szentendre (great artist community town on the river) followed by an afternoon boat ride back to Budapest is a good way to spend a day. Entering Budapest by boat, past the Parliament Building. I've done it twice I enjoyed it so much.

Take the M2 Metro Line to Batthyány tér and follow the signs to the HEV Commuter trains. You will see a ticket booth along the way. Its about a 30 minute train ride and they leave the station about every 20 minutes if memory serves me correctly. Here is the boat information for the trip back: http://www.mahartpassnave.hu/webset32.cgi?MAHART@@EN@@115@@GOOGLEBOT

As for the dinner cruise. Yes, you can do this. The food isn't particularly good and the eating sort of distracts for an otherwise enjoyable trip. Better to find an observation cruise after sunset so you can see the lights. Pretty special. Then go for a great meal. Budapest has more good food per sf than you can possibly imagine. Need help picking a place?

Posted by Mike
Gilbert, AZ
66 posts

James, thanks for the reply and the link to the cruise line. In researching dinner cruises, I am finding that we would be better off passing on it and enjoying a good dinner in town. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

As for the cruise, it appears that we can take the train one way to Esztergom and the hydrofoil the other way. Have you taken the hydrofoil? Or should we look into the river boat going only to Szentendre?

Posted by James
Frisco
1781 posts

To be honest I didn't know the hydrofoil stopped in Esztergom. I haven't been on it but I have spoken to two tourists that have taken it to Vienna (or was it Bratislava? I honestly don't remember) and they shared the opinion that it was very noisy, very rough and not particularly enjoyable. I guess on a shorter trip it might just be okay. Still I love the lazy water taxi out of Szentendre. You sit on the top deck and watch the world go by. Esztergom is worth the visit. Neat place. Another option is a guide so that you can see all three of the Danube Bend towns: Esztergom, Viesgrad (castle) and Szentendre. Most guides will drive you straight to Esztergom, then Viesgrad and then Szentendre and leave you to take the boat back. Something like a $400 day though. You couild check out Andrew ILLES. He's my favorite guide in town:http://www.guideinbudapest.com/

For restaurants: Good Local Grub or upscale local finery?

Another idea instead of the dinner cruse: I suggest this a lot because i enjoy it. Buy a bottle of wine and two glasses and you call a taxi (City Taxi, http://www.citytaxi.hu/index.php?lang=en ) and you tell them you want a car to take you up to the Citadel for the view; the exact same view that is on the City Taxi webpage. From the Opera House (for instance) to the citadel, then 30 minute wait time, followed by the trip back might set you back 8,000 fts. Drop two zeros and divide by 2 and you have $40.00. You sit on a small stone wall on the side of a narrow lightly traveled dark road and look out over the city lights http://www.fallmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/FALL_Magazine_Budapest_By_Night.jpg

Posted by Mike
Gilbert, AZ
66 posts

BEAUTIFUL VIEW, a must for the group. Point well taken on the noise, glad you know Budapest so well. Will need to rethink the cities to use and maybe use a guide. As for dinner, good local grub. We like the small places with great local food. Heard the wine is great, know a good wine store and a place with a good selection of wine where we can sit back and relax?

Posted by James
Frisco
1781 posts

I just noticed that you used the term “group”. That helps as guides generally charge by the car or van or bus. So 3 people cost no more than 1 person. 4 to 6 people is a little more because the guide generally has to rent a van. So a $400 all day long guided trip to Esztergom might cost $70 a head. There is economy in groups.

Budapest is literally dripping with great grub. There are a few places like Paprika that are worth the effort to make the trip for but if you can give me an address for your accommodations I can maybe give you some good places close to home. I am going to guess that you will be visiting the central Market Hall. This like most of the “tourist attractions” is first serving the locals and then second for the tourists. As such it isn’t surprising that the food stalls and cafeteria style restaurant on the second floor are absolutely outstanding for lunch. Just get there a little early before they fill up. The mix will be 75% Hungarian and 25% tourist. You might also consider one of the more theatrical restaurants like Rezkakas http://www.rezkakasbistro.hu/en/ Excellent food. If you are going to the theater then Callas Café is the place to go afterwards. A Klezmer concert and Hungarian Jewish food is a real treat on Friday nights at Spinoza’s. Breakfast is outstanding at Café Vian in the Gozodu Courtyard. Again, tell me where the group is staying and I’ll give you some good but convenient places.

I know a couple of excellent wine bars. My favorite is Kadarka which isn’t the fanciest but I love the staff and the owner is a pretty exceptional individual. The fact that it is 200 feet from where we stay in Budapest also helps the atmosphere. We sit outside, drink a little wine, eat a little pate, watch people walking past and soak in the culture. If you like it they will sell you the bottle and you can take it home. Just good folks. Another excellent wine bar is Doblo Wine Bar in District 7 http://www.budapestwine.com/eng . The same owner also owns what had been our most recent favorite restaurant; Macesz Huszár but when I googled it today I the webpage was down. I need to make sure it is still open. The place was outstanding and very Hungarian.

Of course Budapest is about coffee shops too. My two favorite are the coffee shop in the old Paris Department Store building on Andrassy ut http://digitalcosmonaut.com/2013/budapest-alexandra-bookcafe-lotz-terem/ and the New York Palace Café http://www.newyorkcafe.hu/bemutatkozas?lang=en . Both opulent and stuffed with amazing history.

You are in luck coming in early June because the theaters generally don’t close before the 15th of June. I always encourage a trip to the Opera or the Operett.

Posted by Mike
Gilbert, AZ
66 posts

Thank you James. There are 6 in our group, we are staying at Erzsébet korut, 11 ajto. Hopefully i have the correct format of the address. We have our tickets for the Opera, we purchased box seats for the 5/31 show. We will be packing sports jackets, are ties proper attire or should we leave the ties home?

Posted by James
Frisco
1781 posts

The Bosolco New York Palace claims to have blocks 9 – 11 so I assume that is where you are staying? If so, you have picked one beautiful hotel. A little removed, but stunning!! The suffix ajito is "door" so maybe its a walkup adjacent to the hotel? Love to know. Even if you are just next door to it still, stunning.

You guys are really going to need metro passes. The group travel card is good for five people. So that’s a bargain. Still that might crimp the style of some of your group and the individual passes are pretty reasonable. Just don’t buy a “Budapest Card” I really don’t think they pay for themselves. I will email you some more info on how to use the metro.

24 Hour travel card, 1,650 ft http://www.bkk.hu/en/budapest-24-hour-travel-card/24 Hour Group Travel Card 3,300 ft http://www.bkk.hu/en/prices/budapest-24-hour-group-travel-card/
72 hour travel card 4,150 ft http://www.bkk.hu/en/prices/budapest-72-hour-travel-card/

Posted by James
Frisco
1781 posts

The Boscolo, home of the New York Palace Café is worth a night just for the experience. The apartment you found is also stunning. Well done on that count; and at 99euro it’s a bargain. But yes, they are all a little far out. This is subjective and I might get an argument and I guess it also has something to do with how much time you have and how much you want to capatilize on your time.

From the hotel or the Boscolo you can reach the Parliament or the Chain Bridge or the Central Market or the Dobb Street Synagogue in less than 30 minutes by public transport and foot. Not terrible. The tram that runs past both the hotel and the apartment is really convenient, it runs all the way to Margaret Island and Buda with some interesting landmarks and antique shops along the way; as well as connections to the M1 and M2 metro lines. It is one of the more crowded trams in town and the most modern. I guess if there is a shame it is the evening. I tell people to look closer to Andrassy ut because it’s very comfortable in the evening for walking, cafes, etc. But I am real biased. After many years of staying all over Budapest we decided we just felt most comfortable closer to the Opera. Your apartment is near Kiraly utca which will take you to Liszt Ferenc tér in just a short walk and that’s a nice evening place as well. A little further down Kiraly utca is Kadarka wine bar (at the corner of Vasvari Pal) which I enjoy a lot in the evening. Your apartment also doesn’t put you too far from several of the good Ruin Pubs http://ruinpubs.com/ Here, this is interesting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vApAmydLjjo

Restaurants nearby. Again, you are sort of on the fringes. I tried to come up with some you could reasonably walk to for dinner. For lunch it really depends on what part of town you are in.

Bock Bistro (higher end) http://bockbisztropest.hu/en/
Mensa http://www.menzaetterem.hu/
Kádár Étkezde as local as it gets
Haxen Király Étterem a little pricey but authentic and I love it. http://www.haxen.hu/
OH!!! The New York Café of course!!
Kádár Étkezde as local as it gets http://www.kispipa.hu/alapoldal.html
Két Szerecsen another very local grub place. Well respected too http://ketszerecsen.hu/

Since you mentioned you enjoyed wine and since you seem to be looking for a day trip then you might really consider an overnight trip to Eger and a tour of the wine cellars and maybe a winery. http://www.dangerous-business.com/2012/07/eger-and-the-valley-of-the-beautiful-women/ I am pretty sure that Andrew Illes can arrange this for you http://www.guideinbudapest.com/index.html If you are interested and if he is booked or unable let me know and I will find another for you. Great trip. Take the train up, stay at the Senator Haz Hotel on the main square beneath the fortress on the hill. Have the guide do the tour and bring you back to Budapest (or take a late train). Actually if you go to the wineries make it a two night stay.

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
678 posts

Last year we took the hydrofoil from Budapest to Esztergom and back. It is operated by "Mahart", their landing stage is central on the Pest side. It was a day trip, not a dinner cruise.

It took about 90 minutes each way. I don't recall it being noisy or uncomfortable (though I have heard that said about the Vienna - Budapest hydro', perhaps that one goes faster?). On board, you can get up and wander around inside - and lean out of the doors which are left open, but there was no outside deck to walk on which was a shame. The views were good and there is an occasional commentary that tells you where you are. The boat also stops at Visegrad, but only briefly to pick up/let off passengers.

Esztegom was interesting - you get about 5 or 6 hours there which was enough to visit the Basilica (which is huge, out of all proportion to the town these days, but of historical significance), see the castle (not very impressive, to be honest - although its apparent highlights were all closed for refurbishment when we were there), stroll around (in the "lower town", below the basilica/castle there is the remains a mosque from the Ottoman period, plus elsewhere some churches dotted around and a couple of museums) and get something to eat (plenty of choice), and so on. You can also walk across the bridge into Slovakia. Its all very compact and apart from the walk up to the Basilica, mostly flat.

It was an enjoyable place for the half a day we were there and we enjoyed the overall trip (about 9 hours). If we'd only had, say, three days in Budapest I don't think we would have bothered (there is plenty in town to see), but with five days it was a pleasant and worthwhile day trip out and the views along the way were indeed impressive (much better than the Vienna - Bratislava portion of the Danube we did a couple of years ago).