Szentendre is a cute little town that sits on the banks of the Danube Bend, and it’s also one of the easiest day trips you can plan from Budapest. Having already spent a few days sightseeing around the capital, we decided we wanted to plan a day escape somewhere quiet but not too far away and Szentendre fit the bill.
Being the foodies that we are, we skimped out on the attractions and instead came prepared with a list of restaurants, food stands, a wine cellar and a marzipan museum we wanted to visit. This turned out to be a fun way to explore the town while getting better acquainted with Hungarian cuisine.
For anyone else who loves their food more than their museums, here’s a look at how we spent the day in Szentendre. I hope it’ll give you some ideas!
Wandering the town on foot
Szentendre is the perfect little town to wander on foot with winding cobbled streets, white-trimmed buildings painted in cheerful pastel shades, and flower boxes overflowing with blooms. It also has quite a few churches, art galleries, and souvenir shops for its size, which means you could spend hours walking around and we did exactly that!
Should you start to crave a little something sweet, you’ll be glad to know that the town is full of gelato shops. Levendula is a really popular one right on the main square and they have artisanal ice creams that come in unique flavours like lavender-lemon and strawberry-balsamic vinegar.
Looking for the lángos shop
Lángos is a popular Hungarian street food snack best described as a deep-fried flatbread. It’s made using flour, yeast, salt and water, and it can be served with either sweet or savoury toppings.
There’s a little shop in Szentendre called Álom Lángos that specializes in this snack – in fact, I read that it’s considered one of the best in the whole country! – so we had to track it down. We made our way to the Main Square (Fő tér) and looked for a narrow little alley staircase that discretely breaks away from the crowds. Halfway up, we spotted the little stand serving lángos with a myriad of toppings.
We ordered the classic lángos with cheese and sour cream, and we also got some cinnamon pancakes after we saw those on the menu. I can’t say I was a huge fan of the fried bread, but I’m glad I tried it seeing as it’s a Hungarian speciality.
After enjoying our snacks, we continued up the alley and found that it leads to Saint János, a church on a hill, which happens to offer great views of the city.
Touring the National Wine Museum
Having had a taste of Hungarian wine in Budapest, we decided to hit up the National Wine Museum in Szentendre.
The National Wine Museum looks at the development of Hungarian wine, and they have information boards that showcase the various wine producing regions with plenty of old bottles and barrels thrown in. We were the only ones there when we visited, so we had fun just wandering around and taking pictures.
The museum is located in the cellar of the Labirintus Restaurant. Admission to the museum is free of charge, but you can pay to do a wine tasting.
Since it was around lunch time, we decided to skip the wine tasting in the cellar and have lunch in their restaurant instead. Here we enjoyed a hearty Hungarian meal with some of their red house wine.
If you want to try Hungary’s most popular wine, that would be Egri Bikavér. This is a red wine blend produced in Eger and the name translates to Bull’s Blood.
Enjoying a big bowl of goulash
“Goulash again?” you ask.
Yes, again! It’s delicious, it goes great with a glass of red wine, plus it’s hard to resist when in Hungary.
Hungarian goulash has a few variations, but the classic recipes is more like a soup than a stew. Ingredients include diced beef, onions, carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, and of course, lots of paprika! It’s quite hearty and filling – the ideal meal to have on a cold winter’s day – but that didn’t stop me from ordering a big bowl in the middle of summer.
We ate the Labirintus Restaurant mentioned above and we were very happy with our food. Service was quick, portions were large, and the food was oh so tasty!
Visiting the Marzipan Museum
Another place we couldn’t miss was the Marzipan Museum . In case you’ve never tried it before, marzipan is a sweet made from sugar and ground almonds.
I don’t love the taste of marzipan, but it does bring back childhood memories. When I lived in Argentina, I remember that my mom’s cousin would visit us from Germany, and he would always bring the cutest assortment of marzipan animals. Picture little pigs, bears, and sheep all moulded out of sugar and almond paste. I never wanted to eat them, but I always looked forward to seeing what animals we would get on his next visit.
Visiting the Marzipan Museum was pretty cool because they have these elaborate life-sized creations made entirely out of marzipan. After paying our admission fee we went up to the second floor, where they had Michael Jackson and Princess Diana marzipan sculptures – it looked like something out of Madame Tussauds. They also had a replica of the Hungarian Parliament Building, as well as portraits of King Stephen and numerous Austro-Hungarian rulers.
After touring the museum we went back downstairs to their cafe, where we indulged in some cakes, and then we bought a bit of marzipan for Sam to try. Spoiler alert: he didn’t love it either! I guess it’s a bit of an acquired taste.
Lounging on the Danube Bend
After wandering and eating our way through town, we needed a little break so we decided to go for a walk along the Danube Bend (a curve that breaks away from the main Danube River) in search of shade.
We somehow chanced upon a beach a couple hundred meters from the main dock and we spent a nice chunk of the afternoon there (it reminded me a bit of summer on the banks of the Vistula River in Warsaw, Poland). There were a few pop-up stands where you could buy food and drinks, so we ordered ourselves some lemonades, grabbed a couple of beach chairs, and then unintentionally had a mid-afternoon siesta.
It was the perfect way to end our day trip to Szentendre.
How to get to Szentendre
On the way from Budapest to Szentendre, we took the HEV train from Batthyány tér, which is on the red metro line. The suburban railway runs quite frequently (every 10 minutes during peak times) and it took us around 40 minutes to reach Szentendre. Note that the Budapest metro tickets are not valid on this line – we made that mistake so we then had to pay the right fee on board.
On the way back, we decided to take the boat back to Budapest. This is a great option if you’re visiting during the summer months, or if you’re visiting on a weekend during the shoulder season (you can view their schedule here). We opted for the 5:00 p.m. departure and it took us 1 hour to leisurely cruise back to Budapest. It was a beautiful journey that went past riverside beaches and summer cottages. As a tip, if you’re short on time, take the boat in the afternoon since it takes twice as long to travel upstream to Szentendre in the morning.
Staying in Szentendre a little longer
Even though Szentendre is a popular day trip, you can also find accommodations should you wish to turn your visit into a weekend escape. The town has a selection of guesthouses and hotels to meet all budgets, but even the higher-end properties are quite affordable including Bükkös Hotel & Spa and Hotel Matthias Rex.
The Danube Bend is also lined with cute little summer cottages, so if you’re craving a few days of lounging by the river that’s certainly an option. AirBnB has a few nice listings and if it’s your first time booking through them, you can use my $40 discount here.
Have you ever visited Szentendre?
What are some of your favourite day trips from Budapest?