If you are looking for a perfect day trip from Budapest – Szentendre, Hungary is your answer. The charming, artistic town is located only a short train ride away from the capital and with plenty of things to do in Szentendre it’s definitely worth your time.
Even if I’ve been visiting Budapest frequently for years, I made it to Szentendre only recently. And I fell in love right away. The winding lanes and picturesque corners as well as numerous historical monuments in Szentendre make it one of the best places to visit in Hungary and it would be a pity to miss it.
But since a day trip from Budapest to Szentendre is a popular addition to the Hungary itinerary you might expect many tourists around (not that I blame them, it’s definitely worth visiting Szentendre). Better to start your trip to Szentendre in the morning to avoid crowds so you can be done with the sightseeing before they arrive.
Where is Szentendre, Hungary
Szentendre, a town of a bit over 25 thousand inhabitants, is located on the Danube river (however not on its main riverbed), 20 km north of Budapest, the capital of Hungary.
Why visit Szentendre
If you are tired of the hustle and bustle of Budapest and you are looking for an easy getaway from the capital, Szentendre seems as the best option. This is probably the easiest (hence most popular) of all the day trips from Budapest since it’s very straightforward to get from Budapest to Szentendre and the town itself is really beautiful and packed with attractions.
Szentendre dates back to the early 11th century, the name of the town has its origins in St.Andrew’s church which was the highest point of the settlement. Over the centuries the town developed and served as the shelter for Serbian refugees escaping Ottoman rule. This multicultural mix created the unique vibe that is still present in Szentendre, making it one of the best towns to visit in Central Europe.
The place is also very well preserved and when wandering the winding lanes you can feel like time has stopped there.
In the second half of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, Szentendre became the favorite spot for artists who, tempted by the atmosphere of the place, arrived in the town to create and show their works in newly opened art galleries. This shaped Szentendre too, making it even more interesting for tourists now.
How to get from Budapest to Szentendre
Getting from Budapest to Szentendre is really easy.
The best option is by train since Szentendre is the final stop on the HÉV – Budapest’s suburban railway H5 line. There are frequent trains leaving from Batthyány tér station, with departures every 10-30 minutes (depending on the time of the day) and a journey time of around 40 minutes. You can also board the train at Margit bridge on the Buda side. Keep in mind that only every second train goes to Szentendre so check the destination before boarding the train, otherwise you would have to wait in Bekasmegyer for the next train to your destination.
The train station is hidden underground next to the metro M2 red line station. If you have a Budapest BKV travel pass you only need the extension from the last station in the capital. You can get the ticket at the train station or, at the last stop in Budapest you can get it from the on-board conductor who goes through the train then.
In Szentendre, the train station is located some 10 minutes walk from the Old Town. To get back to Budapest you can take the train from the same station.
You can also take the bus to get from Budapest to Szentendre, they depart from Újpest-Városkapu bus station (on the blue M3 line). I personally think the train is easier and better though.
Another option is the boat that operates every day from May to September between Budapest and Szentendre (in April and October they run on weekends only). This can be a nice and scenic alternative to train and bus. Boats depart from Vigadó square or Batthyány square in Budapest and arrive next to the Old Town in Szentendre.
You can also visit Szentendre with a tour. There are different options to choose from but if you are looking for a fulfilling day trip from Budapest it’s best to combine visiting Szentendre with a few other places further on the Danube bend, like Visegrad and Esztergom.
Here are the best tours from Budapest to Szentendre:
- Danube Bend & Szentendre with Lunch: Day Tour from Budapest
- Szentendre Half-Day Tour from Budapest
- From Budapest: Full-Day Danube Bend Bus Tour with Lunch
- Szentendre: Half-Day Private Tour from Budapest
What to see in Szentendre
Szentendre is known as the town of artists and you can definitely feel this vibe when wandering around the winding lanes in the center. After busy Budapest, Szentendre feels like time has stopped here a few centuries ago. Even if the town is a popular tourist destination, especially as one of the day trips from Budapest, it also is a great and easy escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The center of Szentendre and its main square is Fő tér – a triangle area with the Baroque cross from the mid-18th century right in the middle, erected to commemorate saving the town from the plague.
Around Fő tér you can admire some of the most beautiful townhouses in Szentendre, built in the Baroque and Rococo styles. There are also a few cafes around so it’s a good place to sit down and observe the world around you.
From here you can continue your Szentendre sightseeing in three different directions as each of the streets leads to some of the most important places in the town – Blagovestenška Church, the Town Hall, and the train station.
Szentendre is the place where in the past cultures and religions met. You can still see it in the town’s scenery as there are many temples of various religions. Many of them are Orthodox which might be surprising for traditionally Christian Hungary. The reason why they are here is that over centuries, Szentendre was the asylum for the migrants from Serbia who have decided to settle here.
Besides Orthodox churches, you can also find Catholic churches (with the impressive Saint John the Baptist’s Parish Church, originally from the 13th century but the current look is Baroque) or the smallest synagogue in the world.
The most important place of worship in Szentendre is Blagovestenška Church from the 18th century, located just off Fő tér. It might not look that amazing from the outside but it’s definitely worth visiting it to see the stunning golden iconostasis and original interior. The church was funded by a Greek merchant from Macedonia (another example of the multicultural past of Szentendre).
The town is simply packed with museums and art galleries here, it’s impossible to visit them all. The most popular is probably the Marzipan Museum with the whole impressive exhibition made of marzipan. You can also visit the National Wine Museum where you can learn more about local wines and taste regional drinks.
There is also a well-known open-air ethnographic museum, however, located a bit away from the center so visiting it might be not easy (but worth the effort). Altogether there are over thirty museums and galleries in Szentendre so there is something interesting for each taste.
If you would like to look from above at the panorama of Szentendre and the Danube canal there are two good spots for that.
One is right in the center, only a short walk up from Fő tér. Templom tér (where Saint John the Baptist’s Parish Church is located) offers nice views over the rooftops and crooked houses in the central part of Szentendre. While Fő tér can get packed, here it’s blissfully empty, a perfect place to slow down and reflect on your visit to Szentendre.
Another good panorama spot is a short walk away from the main square. A random viewpoint on Bartók Béla utca, next to a beautiful cross, is where you will find probably the best vista of Szentendre and the Danube canal. Here is the exact location of this place.
But the best thing to do in Szentendre is simply wandering around the narrow, winding lanes and enjoying the artistic vibe of the town. Don’t stay only on the main streets, go to the back lanes as well as that’s often where you can find the most charming corners of Szentendre. Simply stroll around without a map, follow your intuition, and enjoy Szentendre to the fullest.
Where to go next
From Szentendre you can continue your trip north and visit two other main spots on the Danube bend: Visegrad – the former home to the royal house with impressive medieval castle located high on the hill, and Esztergom – known for its basilica, the largest one in Central Europe. Or you can return to Budapest and keep exploring the fascinating capital of Hungary.
I published many articles about Hungary that you might find useful when planning your trip there. Here are some of them:
- 35 Amazing Places to Visit in Hungary
- 50 pictures that will make you want to visit Budapest
- 10 Great Things to Do in Pecs, Hungary
- What to See in Szeged, Hungary – the Art-Nouveau Gem of Europe
- A Complete Guide to Visiting Lake Balaton, Hungary
- and more
If you are looking for articles about a specific destination – check out the map with all the articles I’ve published (and their locations).
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