Szentendre — A Perfect Day Trip from Budapest
Szentendre, the quaint heritage town on the Danube Bend is an expanding happy hug of colours, of baroque-style houses painted in yellow, orange or pink and some in white that had been here for some time. The narrow cobblestone main street leads on to shops, museums and places to eat on both sides of the street, with welcoming retailers. The river town’s architecture of simplicity exudes a Mediterranean atmosphere, while the churches and cobblestone streets are testament to the human footprint since time gone-by, as far back as the Romans, I am told. The narrow alleys swirl around the main square as petals to a rose with sunlight keeping the town in ever-glow.
The people here are warm, welcoming, helpful and patient. Proud of their rich heritage, showcasing their priceless collections of art and crafts.
A cultural hot spot, Szentendre is uniquely set apart from its neighbours as a serene neighbourhood for artists, with the number of exceptional galleries and museums that seem endless.
The calm and secluded town of Szentendre, is a welcome escape as one perfect day trip from Budapest, the bustling capital city of Hungary. Located at a stone’s throw from the city at 22 kilometres (13.6 miles), the quintessential town is conveniently reached by boat, bike bus, car or train. Rich in history, cultural traditions and the many gastronomical delights makes this wonderful haven worth a visit.
We thoroughly enjoyed all that Szentendre had to offer on a day trip from Budapest. Know also, that Szentendre is a popular tourist destination, which means gift shops and tourism oriented shops abound here, where one can easily fall into a ‘trap’. Nevertheless, Szentendre is worth the journey if you have the time to venture out of Budapest.
This article and related articles are sprinkled with affiliate links. We may earn a commission from qualified purchases and bookings at no additional cost to you. These links have no influence on the editorial content we produce. Our travel to Budapest, Hungary was 100% self-funded.
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History of Szentender – An Overview
Szentendre, known as St Andrews in English has a rich history that goes way back to the Romans, but the area was largely uninhabited when the Magyars arrived in the 9th century. A settlement was reestablished on the ruins of Roman buildings and fortresses. Not much is known of this little town during the 9th and 10th centuries. Fast-forward to the 17th century, only one family and their staff remained here (according to a census at the time). In the late 17th century, during the Great Turkish War, Serbian refugees were invited to settle in Szentendre. The population continued to increase and Szentendre was recognised as a ‘City’ in 1872.
Over the years, Szentendre became a fusion of Hungarian and Serbian cultures, along with other cultures from the Balkans and Carpathian Basin. The peaceful coexistence, and integration is evident through the city’s unique architectural design and the places of worship of Catholic and Orthodox Christianity. The blending of cultures culminating in a unique community determines the spirit of the town. Today, this quintessential town is home to a multicultural society, with five different active churches and five different religions, all living side by side.
The city’s living heritage is emblematic in the artistic freedom found here. The peaceful rhythm attracted artists and writers since the beginning of the 20th century, with a substantial pool of artists in 1929, including Lajos Vajda, Imre Amos and Jeno Barcsay. In 1977, The Szentendre Old Colony of Artists Cultural Association was formed. It’s purpose is to save and preserve the old colony of artists, to keep the tradition and to continue its spirit.
The active art scene is very much present today, from the numerous galleries and museums dotted around Szentendre. Presently, Szentendre is home to more than 200 fine artists, authors, poets , actors and musicians. Additionally, the city hosts Art Capital, an annual main art event in Hungary.
How to Get to Szentendre from Budapest
You can get to Szentendre from Budapest by boat, car, bus, train or on a guided tour.
The quickest way to get to Szentendre from Budapest is by train. Board the suburban rail line HÉV from Batthyány tér to Szentendre station. Journey time is approximately 40 minutes, and there is one every 20 minutes. You can buy tickets from the machines at the station.
The cheapest way is to take the bus. Board the bus at Budapest Árpád híd M which will take you to Szentendre Autóbusz-Állomás. Costs between €1.20 – €2.40
For a scenic route, take the river cruise. Cruises cost €9.00 one way. Cruises are seasonal and only operate from mid-April to the end of August, sometimes into September. Boats leave Vigado Square in Budapest at 10:30 and return from Szentendre at 5:00 pm. The journey upstream to Szentendre is 1.5 hour and the return journey is 50 minutes.
Join a guided tour. The journey by car from Budapest to Szentendre is approximately 30 minutes. A hotel pick-up is included if your hotel is within the city centre of Budapest. Your knowledgeable guide will highlight the best museums and galleries to visit and take you to some off-the-beaten paths as well. You take the cruise back to Budapest.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN SZENTENDRE ON A DAY TRIP FROM BUDAPEST
Here are some of the best of the city to see and do when you visit Szentendre on a day trip from Budapest.
1 | Exploring Szentendre
The best way to explore Szentendre is by just walking. Szentendre is a perfect little town where you could walk the main street, explore the narrow alleys, stop at the many museums and galleries while completely embracing the slow rhythm of the city. Look out for the hidden stairs that lead to more charming cafes. The colourful umbrellas, and buckets turned upside-down will no doubt, bring on a smile. The gentle pastel along with vibrant colours of the houses, the cobblestone streets and the whimsical architecture of the past gives a feeling of travelling back in time. You could spend hours wandering around this peaceful town.
While you wander, wonder, ponder, smile, stop for coffee, chat to the vendors and click-away for some amazing memories, also experience the following 11 highlights along the way.
2 | Hungarian Open Air Museum | Szentendre Skanzen Village Museum
If you wish to explore the history of the Hungarian way of life, a visit to the Hungarian Open Air Museum is the best place to be. It is the largest outdoor museum in Hungary dedicated to the cultural and historic preservation of Hungarian villages and way of life. Founded in 1967, the museum showcases Carpathian folk culture and life in various areas of Hungary.
Situated within a nature reserve, at the foot of Pilis Mountains, the Skanzen Village Museum covers an area of 60 hectares. Home to about 312 buildings and all buildings are open to the public. The permanent old buildings are exhibited in a traditional settlement pattern, depicting life some 100 to 200 years ago. Set amidst peaceful natural surroundings of flora and fauna makes a visit to the Hungarian Open Air Museum that much more special.
Skanzen Village Museum is perfect for family day out. Kids learn the Hungarian way of life, participate in interactive displays in the Little Shop and Photographer’s Studio.
Opens: 9:00 A.M.
Where: Szentendre, Sztaravodai út 75, 2000 Hungary
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3 | Ferenczy Museum
Visit the famous Ferenczy Museum located inside an 18th century historic building, Pajor Mansion. The museum was established in 1951 to house paintings and art featuring scenes of local Szentendre. Presently, the museum features artworks of Károly Ferenczy and his family along with temporary exhibitions, including history, visual arts, ethnographic exhibits and mostly on contemporary art.
Opens: 10:00 A.M.
Address: Szentendre, Kossuth Lajos u. 5, 2000 Hungary
4 | Őri-Art Gallery
An exclusive, private art gallery and museum tucked away in a peaceful street, in the oldest part of the city, surrounded by medieval buildings and churches. Őri-Art Gallery features contemporary Hungarian Art created by local artists. The exhibition includes remarkable paintings, bronze and ceramic sculptures, Zsolnay porcelain statues, jewellery, wood carvings, and so many more unique artistic objects.
Enjoy a cup or two of freshly brewed tea while unhurriedly, you look for a one-of-a-kind art piece or art jewellery for that special someone or a unique piece to brighten up your wall at home. Őri-Art Gallery is the place to head to.
Georgina: Visiting Őri-Art Gallery was a breath of fresh air. The atmosphere was inviting with bright and airy space along with the warmth of freshly brewed tea. We were unhurried throughout our visit and Ori was on hand to give as much information on each piece of art that caught our interest.
Opens: 9:00 (by appointment only)
Contact: Mr S. Ori
Szentendre, Kör utca 3.
2000, Hungary +36-30-756-0088
If you do not have one day, why not visit Szentendre in Half a Day? Find out more and check availability on how to experience the best of this artists’ haven in half a day>
5 | Szentendre ArtMill
The ArtMill showcases temporary exhibitions of contemporary art by Hungarian and international artists. Three floors are dedicated to exhibitions while a spacious courtyard is used for special events.
Opens: 10:00 A.M.
Address: Szentendre, Bogdányi út 32, 2000 Hungary
6 | Szabo and Szamos Marzipan Museum
An extraordinary food museum established in the 1930s by Matyas Szamos and Karoly Szabo that is completely dedicated to the making of marzipan, from history to the finished product. Marzipan, as you may know is a light confection, made with finely ground almond, sugar, honey or syrup and egg whites. Often made into fruit shaped sweets or covered in chocolate. The shop window displays a delectable assortment of beautifully crafted marzipan that beckons visitors to enter the shop. Once inside, sweets are not the only thing you will find here. This is no ordinary museum.
Exhibited over two floors, are meticulously crafted marzipan depicting scenes from fairy-tale, cartoon characters, bible stories, kings and queens of Hungary, celebrities, trains, and so much more. All immortalised using confection as a medium. Every piece exhibited is a wonderment and will have your attention, for sure. The impeccable creations to look out for are the models of the Hungarian Parliament Building, Princess Diana, 101 Dalmatians, and the Nativity scene. Each creation details the number of man-hours and its weight.
After the exhibition, there is a little shop where you could purchase some marzipan. The coffee is recommended. There is also a cafe next door with seating.
Open: Daily from 10:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.
Address: 2000 Szentendre, Dumtsa Jenő u. 12
7 | Christmas Museum and Shop
Preserving Christmas magic is a cute little museum along the cobbled streets of this familiar small city founded by the Hubay family. The Christmas Museum and Shop in Szentendre is a place where visitors can enjoy the festive and magical Christmas vibe for 365 days! There is an incredible collection of Christmas decorations, unusual and traditional, cleverly crafted, beautifully adorned and well presented. Some exhibits are collections from the 1950s, simple and delicate while some others showcase intricate details. Overall, the Christmas decorations, representing various craftmanship along with Christmas cards tell the story of the last 200 years of festive history.
Open: 10:00 A.M.
Address: Szentendre, Bogdányi út, 2000 Hungary
8 | Annunciation Church in Szentendre
Locally known as Blagovestenska Church, the Annunciation Church is a Greek Catholic Church. Blagovestenska was originally a Serbian Orthodox Church, built in the mid-18th century when the Serbian and Bosnian people settled in Szentendre, fleeing the Turks.
Designed by Hungarian architect András Mayerhoffer, the Annunciation Church replaced a previous wooden church in 1752. Dedicated to Our Lady of the Annunciation, the church has a twenty-eight metre tower, topped with a bronze spire and represents the Rococo and Baroque style. The main entrance is an elaborate stone gate and oak doors.
Blagovestenska is conveniently located in the Main Square.
Open: Everyday from April to September. A small fee is charged.
Address: 2000 Szentendre, Fő tér 5
9 | Main Square | Széchenyi Fo Tér
The heart of the town is the triangular main square where an elaborate memorial cross stands. Erected in 1763 by the Serbian Trade Organisation in gratitude for being spared from the 1763 plague. Surrounded by delicate wrought-iron railings, the cross has inscriptions of the dates and its renovations across three centuries.
10 | Church Hill Szentendre
From the main square, a narrow cobblestone path leads up to a hillside, called Church Hill. A Roman Catholic church sits here with a statue dedicated to St John the Baptist in the foreground. The church is one of the oldest buildings in the town, with parts dating back to the thirteenth century.
*Georgina: The Church was closed when we visited in late March.
11 | Stroll the Danube Waterfront
The Danube waterfront is a short walk from the Main Square. Prominently signposted, so you are unlikely to miss it. Lined with terrace restaurants, deck chairs and benches, it is a popular spot to relax, people-watch or to simply enjoy a cup of coffee.
12 | Czóbel Park
If you have time, make your way to Czóbel Park, all the way down Angyal Street. The park is dotted with playful statues made of bronze.
Where to Eat at Szentendre
The town has a great selection of stores, cafes and restaurants selling Hungarian, Mediterranean and European food and beverages. You could try Hungarian chimney cake, Tokaji wine, Pálinka, salami, paprika powder and cheese tastings. If you are looking for specific places to go to, then we would suggest the following four.
1 | Álom Lángos
Álom Lángos is said to be the best for a popular Hungarian street food called Lángos. Eaten as a snack, Lángos is a deep fried flat bread topped with either sweet or savoury topping. The flat bread is made with flour, yeast, salt and pepper.
Where: Váralja lépcső, Szentendre 2000 Hungary
*Located near the Main Square
2 | Bistro St.André
Bistro St.André serves French, European, Central European, Hungarian, and International cuisines alongside Vegetarian and Vegan options. The mushroom risotto is very good.
Where: Duna Korzó 20., Szentendre 2000 Hungary
3 | Folt Café
Folt Café is Szentendre’s best kept secret. It is a Café, Art Gallery, and Beer Garden all in one, hidden away in a quiet part of town. Many local artists come here for their morning coffee or in the evening to socialise with other artisans.
Folt is popular for its craft beers and turogomboc dessert. Turogomboc is a Hungarian cottage cheese dumpling blanketed in sour cream, fruit and a dusting of powdered sugar. Its flavour reminds you of cheesecake.
Where: Szentendre Kucsera Ferenc u. 11. 2000
4 | Adria Cafe
Welcoming and cozy, Adria Cafe is perfect for Greek or Mediterranean meals. They are also popular for their fruit tea.
Where: Kossuth Lajos utca 4., Szentendre 2000 Hungary
The unassuming town of Szentendre welcomes you to a charming community that comes from strong roots that include history, culture and art. The town gives a feeling that you have just slowly travelled in time. It may have been the cobblestone streets or the community itself that calls the riverfront their home. Whatever the reason may be, we were happy to have visited the lovely town of Szentendre, on a day trip from Budapest.
Just me, Georgina at the Danube waterfront, Szentendre
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Have a splendid time exploring and discovering the lovely town of Szentendre xoxo
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