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  • Writer's pictureKristin

Day Trip from Budapest | Szentendre, Hungary

Looking for a relaxing and laid back short break from the city of Budapest? Szentendre is your ticket! Located just north of Budapest this little tranquil town provides a laid back vibe and beautiful Old Town. It's the perfect day trip from Budapest!

Getting There

We had a car so we just drove there. While Google said it would only take about 30 minutes, we ran into some traffic leaving the city and it took us closer to an hour. Once arriving in Szentendre we found paid parking on the outskirts of the Old Town. You can also take the HEV Suburban Rail Line from Budapest to Szentendre and then get to the Old Town from the train station. The train ride is supposed to take about 40 minutes.

What Makes Szentendre Different?

The town has a bit of a different feel from Budapest, as it was largely settled by Serbian, Dalmatian and Greek immigrants fleeing the Ottoman Turkey in the late 17th century. The Emperor at the time granted them civil and religious liberties here and Szentendre began to grow. Therefore, you’ll notice orthodox churches, Slavic-sounding names and Mediterranean-feeling alleyways. However, nearly 200 years later many of the Serbs returned to their motherland, so there is only a dozen or so Serbian families left. So many of the Serbian Orthodox churches have been converted to Roman Catholic and Calvinist churches.

In 1926, there was also an artist's colony that was started up in the area, so there is a lot of focus on the the arts and handicrafts, as well as several artisan vendors selling some of their goods today.

There are many artisan shops around Szentendre, Hungary.

Szentendre Old Town

The Old Town of Szentendre has a unique charm, especially with the beautiful banners hanging across the walkways. The different kinds of banners were some of the most unique I have seen - from umbrellas to cooking utensils to flags to lampshades.

There were a few different little cafes and restaurants to enjoy a meal or coffee at, as well as several ice cream stands. We actually ended up getting two ice cream cones within 2 hours in our time in the Old Town. By doing so, we discovered that real estate and decor can increase the price of an ice cream cone. One ice cream stand not near the main square was 300 HUF ($1 USD) and then the other was in the main square with a cute little display was 400 HUF ($1.30 USD) per cone. However, I can see why they can charge more - they had a fabulous display and a unique offering where they had lavender flavored ice cream flavors. Connor tried the Lemon-Lavender!

Levendula Kézműves Fagylaltozó Ice Cream Shop in Szentendre

The main way to explore Szentendre is just to walk around the Old Town Streets. You can also get a view of the Old Town from the elevated church in the square of the town.

Szentendre Old Town Square

The Old Town is situated along the river so you can also head down to the walking path along the river.

Skanzen - Hungarian Open Air Museum

Just a 3-minute drive away from the Old Town is the Skanzen - Hungarian Open Air Museum. This museum is a living-history museum situated on 60 hectares with 312 different buildings arranged in 8 regional units. The amount of space that it covered was quite large! They actually have bicycles you can rent to get around. We decided to get a wagon for 900 HUF (about $3 USD) for the kids to get around and we're glad we did - it helped us get back to the gate as the museum was closing for the day. [The website also mentions that they have a train that can take you across the park, but when we were there in early August 2021 we didn't even see a running engine on the track.]

In their rented wagon in front of the Skanzen Windmill Display

The main focus of the exhibits is to display the architecture, farming and way of life of Hungary from the 1750s to 1950s. The focus is on rural communities within different regions of Hungary and they have done that by relocating houses to arrange into old settlement patterns as they would have been set up in those communities during that time. The houses also show how the families lived in them during that time and even showed how they celebrated Christmas.

Exploring one of the mini villages of Skanzen - Hungarian Open Air Museum

There are several kid focused activities as well, unfortunately our timing didn’t work out and we missed out on those, which the kids were a little disappointed about. They also have people dressed up in the era and sold goods at the bakery and gingerbread cookies that a lady was making in a kitchen in one of the houses. However, I think the kids’ favorite area was the farmyard. They had an interesting looking (and smelly!) pig though! But the goats and the super friendly barnyard cat made up for it.

We spent about 3.5 hours and we didn’t complete all the different regional displays – so if you really want to immerse and get something out of your visit probably allow more time. However, part of our problem was that they have several playgrounds located around the area that as you go around you can stop and play as well. There were some unique playgrounds as well, including the racing barrel one!

However, we were grateful for the opportunity to learn just a bit more about the history of Hungary and all that its people have had to endure. For me personally it was especially interesting to learn about how they were forced to join Cooperatives when the Soviets took over and the hardships that many of the farmers had to endure because of this. It definitely makes you appreciate the period of time that we live in.

While we ran out of time for it, not too far from Szentendre is Dobogoko in the Visegrad hills. There is a great lookout point over the Danube Bend.

So if you're looking for a little change of scenery from Budapest, make sure to keep Szentendre on your list!


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