Budapest is, of course, a highly sought after destination. As the Danube passes by its shore, the city is alive with 2,000 years of history. You can read all about the details in another article. However, the outskirts of Budapest are waiting for those to see castles overlooking small villages, magnificent houses of aristocrats, medieval castles, and vineyards that stretch to the horizon. All along the Danube river bend, the atmosphere of these towns is one of pure beauty that only Hungary and its history can offer.
Just a train ride away from Budapest, Szentendre is a quaint city retaining its town-like identity. The area has been a haven for artists since 1929, and it is easy to see why. Pedestrian streets let the people roam freely, while narrow alleys create a feeling lost in modern architecture. The bohemian feeling that permeates the streets is accented by exhibition halls and galleries containing works of contemporary artists. Skanzen, a large open-air museum, showcases for the traveler the ways that past generations lived.
With trains leaving Budapest every 10 minutes, Szentendre is an easy day-trip for the traveler — and worth seeing the church towers overlook cobblestone streets in this romantic city.
Visegrád is a perfect setting to relive medieval times passed. It was once the seat of medieval Hungarian kings, its name meaning “the upper castle.” A visit to the restored palace of King Matthias I, a revered ruler, lets the traveler in on a view of the Hungarian golden age that was the 15th century. Also to check out, the ever watchful citadel at the top of a mountain gives a full view of the Danube river bend. And, for something unexpected, a canopy course let’s the traveler soar over trees and see the stunning scenes from a wholly different angle.
Hosting one of Europe’s largest medieval festivals in the summer, July to be exact, the traveler will find parades, jousting tournaments, and many people dressed in period costumes. Visegrád is a delightful trip through time, and offers the traveler an added bonus to Budapest.
One of the oldest towns in Hungary, Esztergom was chosen as the Hungarian prince’s (Géza) residence. The town is the birthplace of Christianity in Hungary, following an international peace conference with the Roman Empire in 973 AD. This shows in the magnificent basilica that overlooks the Danube River, which also hosts a cellar system beneath where the traveler can learn more about the wine culture that flows through Hungarian history. The traveler can also walk across the Mária Valéria bridge, which connects Hungary and Slovakia over the Danube.
As the seat of Roman Catholicism in Hungary for more than a thousand years, Esztergom has collected culture from the centuries and bares them forthright to the traveler on a day trip from Budapest.
Vác is a town also found along the Danube. Like the rest of the small towns in the area, its simplicity in architecture and layout is the draw. Though, there is more to Vác than the triangular main square and tiny streets. The only Arc de Triomphe in the country stands tall, while one of Hungary most beautiful bike path stretches along the river — ready to enhance the experience.
But, there is plenty to do within the square itself. The Nagypréposti Palace, Art Collection of Vác, Temple of the Whites, Episcopal Palace, and music pavilion are all centrally located in the historically all-important main square.
Whether departing from Budapest by train or a leisurely cruise down the Danube, the outskirts of Budapest will entice the traveler to stay a bit longer. That’s why the Hungarian Tourism Agency wants the advisor community to rethink what a trip to Budapest offers the traveler. These small towns filled with history, fortresses, Hungarian dishes to sate culinary adventures and excellent wines, are worth the extended stay around Budapest.
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