Why Visit Szentendre?

Ever since I first came to Budapest, my Hungarian friends kept telling me that I should visit Szentendre. But why would I want to spend time away from my beloved Budapest, just to see a small provincial town? The only thing I really knew about Szentendre was that it’s home to some nice small museums and cute souvenir shops, but that didn’t impress me too much. So for a few good years I totally ignored it. Until last September when my sister came along with us to Budapest and strongly insisted we go visit Szentendre. I was reluctant at first, but then  I gave in. To my surprise, I discovered that Szentendre is actually a very nice place.

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The main square in Szent Endre

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Cobblestone street in Szent Endre

 

 

A Little History

This area was initially populated by Illyrians, then some celtic tribes moved in and then the Romans came and built a castle here and called the town Ulcisia Castra. Later on the Avars, Serbs, Hungarians and Bulgarians arrived. Much of the town’s history is connected with the Serbs who built eight  orthodox churches here. Today Szentendre has about 25,000 inhabitants.

 

Proximity to Budapest

Truth is that if you’ve seen most of Budapest you may want to escape for a day trip to Szentendre. The town is ideal as it is located only 20km north of Budapest on Danube bend.and can be easily accessed either by train,  by boat, or by bus. The only train going to Szentendre is the HÉV suburban railway line from Batthyány tér (on the Metro red line). The trip is relatively short, it takes about 40 minutes to reach the town. From May to September you can also reach Szentendre by boat. The river cruises depart from Vigadó square or Batthyány square. This may be an even more enjoyable way to get to Szentendre during the hot summer months months. Another option is the bus that leaves daily from Budapest’s Újpest-Városkapu bus station (on the Metro blue line) and takes about 25-30 minutes to arrive. 

 

Biking

If you are a bike enthusiast, biking to Szentendre makes a very enjoyable day trip. The total riding time is 1.5-2 hours  and the terrain is almost level, with mostly smooth concrete. Once in Szentendre you can can stop for a bite and then continue exploring the town by bike. If you want to continue biking, be advised that almost all the streets are cobblestone and some are even uphill, so it may get tiring. But you also have the option to park your bike somewhere and continue on foot. On the return, if you are tired, you can just load your bike onto the HÉV and ride back to town.

 

Galleries, Shops and Museums

Szentendre (pronounced Sen-ten-dreh, St. Andrew) is a very popular tourist destination for people visiting the Hungarian capital. Arguably, the cute little town is very touristy, but that doesn’t take away from its charm. The lovely cobblestone streets with colorful houses will take you back in time. Szentendre is small enough to be explored by foot. From the train station it takes only a few minutes to reach the the main square and the promenade. You can wander around the whole day looking at the art galleries, browsing the arts and crafts shops, or tasting the local foods. 

 

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View of the Saint János Roman Catholic Church in the background

 

There are some great churches that you can visit and numerous small museums. We particularly liked the Marzipan Museum which has a very interesting collection of pastries made entirely out of marzipan. There is also Margit Kovacs ceramics museum (the most famous ceramic artist in Hungary) and the Mikro Art museum that has very unique collection of microminiature works.  If you want to buy authentic artisan souvenirs like table linen, handwoven kitchen towels, or old crochet laces, Szentendre is the best place to find these country style articles.

But if you really want to experience the town’s flavor, you should wander off the main streets to find hidden shops, beautiful old homes and baroque churches. At the top of the hill, from the Roman Catholic churchyard, you’ll have a beautiful view of the town below and the red-tile rooftops. And before you call it a day, take a little stroll along the Danube for a blissful view of the river. 

 

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View of the Danube from the Roman Catholic churchyard

 

Szentendre is beautiful year-round, but in summer swarms of tourists flood the streets for a few hours of exploring. If you don’t like the crowds, you should visit it in late fall or early spring.

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Have you visited Szentendre? If you did, let me know how you liked it. I’d like to hear about your experience.

 

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23 Comments on “Why Visit Szentendre?

  1. We loved Szentendre and stayed in a very good hotel there for three or four nights, driving into Budapest to visit during the day. We also had our best meal in Hungary in a little restaurant called Muvsez (pronounced movies!) on the main street. We cycled in both directions along the river and it was most enjoyable.

    Mathias Rex Panzio, Kossuth Lajos utca 16, Szentendre 2000, Hungary. http://www.mathiasrexhotel.hu info@mathiasrexhotel.hu

    • Oh, Rosemary, I want to forget the reason why you ended up staying in Szentendre… Makes me feel very, very guilty! I just hope you had a good time there.

  2. I forgot to say that most people only go there for the day which means there is pratically no one before 10 and after 5 pm, even in the summer so staying overnight can be a lovely experience.

  3. I can’t believe I spent a week in Budapest and didn’t visit Szentendre. It looks like such a beautiful town, and I would love to travel there by boat. I love Budapest and hope to return. When I do, I will visit Szentendre – thank you!
    Nancy recently posted…Special Places in LondonMy Profile

  4. This looks like a lovely day trip, I think it’s definitely somewhere I will keep in mind for when I make it to Hungary 🙂 I really like to explore away from the main cities.

  5. I have to say that it really sounds worth a trip as it’s so near to Budapest – it looks rather gorgeous and I love the idea of a marzipan museum in particular!

  6. Lovely – the cobbled streets make for perfect afternoon walks (although a bit uncomfortable ones).
    I only know Budapes, because of the stopover I had, but one day I hope to go to Hungary again.
    Monica recently posted…God Bless You!My Profile

  7. What a cool place to visit! I love quaint, charming towns like this. I was reading the comments and I saw that you mentioned that the town is pretty empty before 10 and after 5, but I bet it’s awesome at any time!
    Mia recently posted…Make Time for the Markets of MadridMy Profile

  8. Szentendre sound fabulous – thanks for the tip Anda. I only spent a few days when we were in Budapest last, though I also fell in love with the city so am dying to get back. Might take the bike out for a day trip – 2 hours to get there really isn’t that bad at all! Thanks for the inspiration 🙂
    Meg Jerrard recently posted…My Sydney Skydive AdventureMy Profile

    • Thank you, Megan. I appreciate your comment. If you have more time in Budapest you definitely should visit Szentendre. It’s a charming little town that will make a beautiful day-trip from Budapest.

  9. Anda, I have not heard of, let alone gone to Szentendre, but we are hitting a few more spots in Hungary this summer, so it’s now firmly on the list. Thanks!

  10. Perfect timing for me to read this post as my husband is headed to Hungary later today. He visits Debrecen twice a year on business and is beginning to feel that he’s seen almost all there is to see in Budapest on his weekends off. The town should be easy to remember as my husband’s name is Andrew. He would really like that Marzipan Museum. Thanks for linking up with #WkendTravelInspiration.
    Michele {Malaysian Meanders} recently posted…In Search of Barbarian Days: A Surfing LifeMy Profile

  11. Pingback: The Best Things to do in Budapest | StefanRTW

  12. Such a nice article about Szentendre! I’m planning a few days trip around Budapest, and friends told me that Szentendre is really close, so one day could be there… But what I dont know, what is the best way to get from the airport to madrid city centre? I don’t want to lose much time of travelling and getting lost… How are the taxis? And the transfers? I found this company: transfer2airports. Do you know anything about them? Is the public transport easy enough? Thank you a lot!

    • Hi Patty, I’m glad you enjoyed my article about Szentendre. Are you asking how to get to Budapest city center from Budapest Ferihegy International Airport? I’m a little confused because you said ‘Madrid’. Anyway, the cabs are not very reliable in Budapest, unless you know the right company. I personally always use the Minibus from the airport. It’s cheap and very good. Buy a round-trip ticket to save money. They will give you a business card with a phone number to schedule the pick up date and time for your return. I hope this helps.

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