Szentendre: An Unforgettable Day Trip from Budapest

Szentendre, Hungary has become a tourist hotspot in Europe over the last decade. Just 40 minutes north of Budapest, this picturesque artists' village is all about exploring the Old Town on foot, savoring the fairy-tale atmosphere and walking the cobbled streets.

It's easy to fall in love with this quaint town's beautiful setting. Thanks to a conscious effort, remnants of its Medieval and Baroque past are proudly preserved to this day.

Although you’ll have plenty to see, do, and charm to soak up while staying in your vacation rental home in Budapest, there’s a lot more to Hungary than just our famed capital.

Find out why Szentendre remains one of the most popular day trips from Budapest and how you can make the most of your time there.

History of Szentendre

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Until the end of the 16th century, Szentendre was just a small village. However, its fortunes changed when foreigners settled there: Serbs came from the Balkans because of the wars against the Ottomans; Dalmatians, Greeks, and Slovaks followed them.

These people brought their own culture and customs, which gave Szentendre an entirely new look. Many painters, who were influenced by the magical atmosphere and vibrant colors, moved to Szentendre. Today, a large number of art galleries, studios, and workshops help Szentendre earn its reputation as an “Artists' Village.”

Even a short visit to Szentendre will show you a mix of medieval and Baroque heritage, all centered around an appreciation for art.

How to Get to Szentendre

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In order to get from Szentendre to Budapest, you'll have to use one of the lesser-known modes of public transportation: the HÉV Suburban Railway. Since Szentendre is outside of Budapest city limits, you'll need to buy an extension ticket in addition to whatever Budapest tickets you have.

If that sounds confusing, we have good news! The Budapest transport authority has created a special Szentendre day trip package to simplify the process. You can buy the Budapest/Szentendre ticket combo at any ticket machine for 1320 HUF/~€3.20 each way.

In order to get to Szentendre from Budapest, you'll keep to the Buda side of the city and get the H5 from Batthyány Tér or Margit Híd Budai Hídfő. A short 40-minute ride later you'll arrive in the charming medieval town.

Since it’s so close to the city, it’s also easy to visit Szentendre for a half day for those on a tighter schedule. On the flip side, if you have plenty of time and are eager to see even more of Hungary, another great day trip from the city is to tranquil Lake Balaton.

Top Things to Do in Szentendre

Relax in the Main Square

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Located in the city center, you can spend a lot of time in the charming main square called Fő Tér. Indulge in some classic Hungarian food at one of the restaurants, or sit at the fountain and watch the world go by.

Although small, this square has seen many markets, wares, and celebrations through Szentendre's many years. There's no better place to see what the Szentendre of old looked like, as many of the buildings in Fő Tér were painstakingly preserved from the Baroque and Rococo periods.

If you don’t have the time to make it to Szentendre to see the architecture, the only other place historical buildings like these are preserved outside of this town is Czakó Kert right across the street from your rental in Gellért Hill.

Sip on a lemonade or mulled wine, depending on the time of year, and people-watch to your heart's content.

Explore Szentendre's Art Scene

This beloved town by the Danube River is famous for the Szentendre artists and their studios. It's easy to spend half a morning walking through the streets and alleys admiring their artwork. There are plenty of art galleries, such as:

Ferenczy Museum

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Easy to stop at on your way into the town center, this museum provides a snapshot of the 20th century. Based in a mansion (Pajor Mansion, built in the 18th century), this museum was actually opened in the 1950s as a sort of "love letter" to Szentendre.

While a heavy focus is on contemporary art, you can also find temporary exhibitions on visual arts, history, and even ethnographic exhibits. Browse the antique furniture and paintings, as well as contemporary exhibitions from the artists of Szentendre and the surrounding area.

Őri-Art Gallery

Take your time to enjoy the finer things while visiting Őri-Art Gallery. This is a small, exclusive, private gallery and museum located in an old building in the heart of the Old Town.

It offers visitors access to some of the most interesting works of modern Hungarian painting, sculpture, ceramics, glassware, furniture, and jewelry, including Zsolnay porcelain statues.

Kovács Margit Ceramic Museum

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This art gallery is devoted entirely to the life and work of Kovács Margita, a famous Hungarian ceramist who donated her collection of 300 pieces to create the art gallery.

It’s considered one of the top attractions in town, so make sure you make the time to visit. The gorgeous Baroque building which it's housed actually had humble origins: the museum was originally a post office!

Get Some Fresh Air at the Open-Air Museum

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Almost everything about Szentendre is a blast from the past. However, if you really want to immerse yourself in Hungarian history, then a visit to Skanzen, the Hungarian Open Air Museum, is in order.

This open-air museum is the largest of its kind in Hungary and is dedicated to showing the culture and habits of daily life in the Hungarian countryside. The museum showcases Carpathian folk culture, as well as life in various other regions of Hungary.

Although Skanzen was established in 1967, the 60 hectares of land and 312 buildings are made to depict life from 100 to 200 years ago. Stroll through the nature reserve and immerse yourself in the past as you curiously poke through the preserved buildings, buy a souvenir photograph, and even have fun with interactive displays!

This activity is especially suitable for children and young families.

Hunt Down A Lángos

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This classic Hungarian food is a must-try, and Szentendre has two famous eateries where you can do just that.

First things first though, what is a lángos? This wide disc of fried bread is the perfect vehicle for tasty toppings. The most classic Hungarian option is a sajtos-tejfölös lángos, which has a base of garlic (always lots of garlic) and then is spread with sour cream and topped with a soft, mild cheese.

While this is the most popular option, stands often offer more toppings, from vegetables to sausage to even chicken paprikash.

The first, and perhaps most famous, lángos stand in Szentendre will take you on a little adventure. While standing in the colorful main square, you'll spot a narrow alley shortcut that leads you up onto the hilltop. Halfway up the alley there's a small courtyard where you'll find Álom Lángos. It's a tight squeeze (especially when there's a long line of lángos-seekers), but the wait is worth it.

After you're nice and full, continue up the alley to Church Hill, which is crowned by a Roman Catholic church and a lookout over the city.

If you prefer to eat in the open air, head to Fantázia Lángos Büfé close to the river. Enjoy your lángos and then promenade along the Danube.

Indulge Your Sweet Tooth

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Those who love the sweeter things in life surely won't be disappointed with their visit to Szentendre. One of the longest-lasting establishments in town is the Szamos Marzipan Museum. It actually happens to be one of the most-visited attractions in Szentendre!

If you haven’t yet tried marzipan, it’s a popular sweet consisting mainly of sugar, honey, and almond meal. It’s soft, chewy and has a sweet, nutty flavor.

Hungarians take their marzipan very seriously and this confectioner is famous for taking it to the most renowned levels. A visit to the Marzipan Museum will show you statues made from the sweet almond paste--even a few life-sized statues of celebrities.

Move over, Madame Tussaud!

Connected to the museum is the Számos confectionery, so you can sit and enjoy a fortifying espresso along with one of the many traditional Hungarian cakes in this stylish cafe. Don't forget to stop by the museum gift shop so that you can take some of this sweet treat home!

Celebrate Christmas

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Preserving Christmas magic in Szentendre, Hungary is a charming little museum along the cobblestone roads of this historic town. The Christmas Museum and shop in Szentendre offers visitors a chance to experience the holiday spirit year round.

Visitors can enjoy the festive and enchanting atmosphere for 365 days. There is an amazing assortment of Christmas decorating items which are unique and traditional, cleverly designed, and well displayed.

Overall, the Christmas décor, including Christmas cards, tells the story of the past two centuries of festive tradition. It's the perfect place to pick up your own memorable ornament for this year's tree!

Time Travel to the 70s

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Among the most prominent attractions of Szentendre is the nostalgic Retro Design Center, which takes visitors back to the 1970s.

Visitors can walk through this impactful era by observing a huge assortment of Soviet-era household goods—from toys to television sets and clumsy cassette players—which are arranged in a way that makes these objects look both fun and useful. Peruse the items on their own or enter one of the themed rooms--such as the kitchen which has utensils laid out as if someone was just about to make dinner!

Another eye-catching exhibit is the rows of Trabants--the sturdy Soviet car.

Have a Peaceful Moment in the Churches

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In a city as old as Szentendre, you can bet that religion has left its mark. Resultantly, there are a few--nine to be exact--architecturally astounding churches from days past.

However, arguably the most popular is Blagojevića Church. Located just off of Main Square, Blagojevića Church is one of the oldest in Szentendre. Its architecture is predominantly Baroque Rococo style and was constructed during the 18th Century by the local Greek community.

The exterior of the church is decorated with colorful frescoes depicting scenes from the life of Christ. Inside, visitors are welcomed by an impressive iconostasis featuring paintings by Mihailo Zivanović.

The church also contains a collection of icons dating back to the 15th Century.

Pick Up a Souvenir

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Szentendre has too many handcrafted goods by talented Hungarian artists to leave empty-handed! Don't miss out on taking a piece of this colorful medieval village with you.

As you wind through the streets and alleyways, look into the colorful souvenir shops, which sell everything from handmade ceramics to traditional Hungarian sweets. We suggest stopping by the Art Mill, which offers a wide range of creations from the “artists’ colony.”

Best Time to Visit Szentendre

Much like deciding when to visit Budapest, Szentendre offers different programs throughout the year, making it an interesting Budapest day trip no matter the season! Keep your eyes open for seasonal programs that line up with your visit!

Summer is especially flush with programming. For example, there are Ister Days, which focus on water sport competitions and riverside activities and fun. This isn’t surprising as Szentendre is just beyond the Danube Bend (which also flows past Esztergom and Visegraád, other day trips for your consideration). There's also open-air theater performances all summer long.

Finally, the last weekend of summer, the town stays up late and has a mini-festival until the wee hours, bringing everyone out into the streets to enjoy the last bit of good weather.

During the winter you can find peaceful Christmas markets and later, Carnival celebrations. Learn more about seasonal programming in Szentendre here!

You’ll Love Your Day Trip to Szentendre

You don't have to travel far away from Budapest in order to have an adventure, and the town of Szentendre is one of the most popular Budapest day trips for a reason!

Although it's a small town, it’s easy to spend a full day appreciating the art, craftsmanship, and history of this medieval gem.

No matter which season you're visiting in, this charming town is only 40-minutes away, and will surely be a memorable addition to your magical time in the Hungarian capital.