Budapest was one of the highlights of my travels last year. I loved the Habsburg era architecture, walking around the large squares and parks, and of course the local food. Wandering around Buda, you can’t miss the incredible Parliament building across the Danube as it pops up at almost every turn. Five days wasn’t nearly enough time to experience the city and I unfortunately didn’t have time to do any day trips to nearby towns.
I had heard from a few people that Szentendre, just north of Budapest, was worth a visit so even though I couldn’t manage a day trip, I decided to stop off for a couple of hours while on my way to Prague by car. I didn’t know anything about the town, just that it is one of the most popular day trips from the capital.
I find the best way to visit a city I know nothing about is to head straight to the main square. In the case of Szentendre that meant a short walk along cobblestone streets to the small centre square with its Orthodox church and Memorial Cross.
From there you can choose any of the side streets to explore. Szentendre is a town of artists and the streets are full of little galleries selling local artworks and there are a number of museums too. Unfortunately the galleries are outnumbered by the tacky tourist shops which cater to the bus loads of tourists which arrive each day. It was winter when we went but the place was still crowded with tourists, mostly from Serbia and Japan, as far as I could tell.
I don’t think there is much to do aside from wandering the streets, checking out the art galleries, and relaxing in cafes which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but I think our time would have been better spent back in Budapest.
I was surprised to see a number of Serb restaurants around the town but later discovered that Szentendre was the centre of the Serb community in Hungary a couple of centuries ago so it makes sense that there is still a big Serb influence in the town. I thought it would be nice to eat at what looked to be a popular Serb restaurant at the end of the main tourist drag but F, being Albanian, refused to eat there. In the end we stopped for morning tea at Cafe Christine, right on the Danube, where I had the best hot chocolate I’ve had in years. It gets great reviews on Tripadvisor and we would have stayed for lunch but it was fully booked.
Then it was off to Brno which is another pretty walking city and the perfect place to rest up before continuing our long drive to Prague. If you plan to visit Szentendre for the day, instead of just passing through, you could get a local train direct from Budapest and then take a boat along the Danube back to the city which would take you past the beautiful Hungarian Parliament.