If you spend a longer time in Budapest, we recommend that you get away from the busy capital for a day or two to explore the surrounding countryside. With its baroque architecture, colorful houses, cobblestone streets and delicious confectioneries, Szentendre is one of the best day trips you can plan from Budapest. Located 25 kilometers north of the capital on the Danube riverbank, this picturesque little town is also famous for its restaurants, souvenir shops and art galleries.
How to Get to Szentendre
There are many ways to reach Szentendre from Budapest depending on what means of transport you prefer. The most convenient way to discover the city is though an organized tour. Guided tours can be booked online and usually include a free hotel pick up, an air-conditioned bus and a professional tour guide. You can also book a river cruise to Szentendre, but beware that the boat ride is quite long, and you’ll spend most of the day on the river. If you prefer to explore the city on your own, take metro line M2 to Batthyány tér, then change to the suburban railway H5 (HÉV) in the direction of Szentendre. Trains depart every 20 minutes during the day and the ride takes about 40 minutes. There’s also a local bus from Budapest Újpest-Városkapu to Szentendre, the ride takes 30-35 minutes. (For a detailed schedule, visit the Bus company’s website) With a car, take Váci Road from the city center until you cross the Danube through Árpád Bridge, then follow road 11 (Szentendrei út) until you reach your destination.
The Town of Artists
Many people call Szentendre a town of artists. The town’s artistic offerings are exceptionally rich, even in international comparison. This small Danube settlement has attracted a great number of painters and sculptors throughout the centuries and many museums and art galleries have opened in their honor. Szentendre is considered one of the most prominent locations in the visual art scene and even has its own art school. Today, more than 150 artists live and work in the town.
Every year from May to September, Szentendre gives home to the biggest visual art festival of Central-Eastern Europe. During the “Art Capital” event series, more than a dozen thematically linked international exhibitions and a great number of related programs – including literary evenings, film screenings and musical concerts – await visitors in downtown Szentendre.
Things to Do in Szentendre
Take a walk down the Danube riverfront and enjoy the town’s relaxed, idyllic atmosphere. Get lost in the narrow, cobblestone streets, visit the churches, pop into the little gift shops and choose a souvenir or have a delicious cake or ice cream at one of the confectionaries or dine at a cozy, riverside restaurant. There are also several museums worth visiting, our favorite picks are listed below.
Kovács Margit Ceramic Museum – 2000 Szentendre, Vastagh György utca 1
One of Szentendre’s most popular museums presents the lifework of the famous Hungarian ceramic artist, Margit Kovács. The over 300 works, donated by the artist in 1972, are beautiful figural compositions. At the second-floor gallery of the new wing presents the reconstruction of Margit Kovács’s home with her potter’s wheel.
Czóbel Museum – 2000 Szentendre, Templom tér 1
Béla Czóbel is an internationally recognized representative of modern Hungarian fine arts. The artist who spent most his time in Szentendre besides Paris is considered to be the most French among Hungarian painters. He was the first artist in Hungary to have a museum dedicated to him in his own lifetime.
BKV Urban Public Transport Museum – 2000 Szentendre, Dózsa György út 3
The exhibition informs visitors on the development of public transport with 45 different vehicles on display. Visitors are allowed to get inside some of the exhibited vehicles and there’s also a children’s corner and a museum shop.
Kmetty Museum – 2000 Szentendre, Fő tér 21
The permanent exhibition features the lifework of János Kmetty. It holds graphics, atelier sketches, oil paintings, glass window designs as well as some exceptionally valuable contemporary paintings. The artist’s legacy was donated to the museum by his widow.
National Wine Museum – 2000 Szentendre, Bogdányi u. 10
Located in the 650-square meter cellar system of the Labirintus Restaurant, this museum looks at the development of Hungarian wine, showcasing the various wine producing regions of the country. Admission to the museum is free of charge, you only have to pay if you do a wine tasting or buy wine at the wine shop.
Micro Art Exhibition – 2000 Szentendre, Fő tér 18-19
This permanent exhibition features 15 pieces of unique miniature artwork. Each is enclosed in an airtight canopy and can be examined through a microscope. It takes about six months for the artist to prepare one artwork using a special technique. The result is mind-blowing.
Dobos Chocolate Museum – 2000 Szentendre, Bogdányi utca 2
This sweet exhibition honors one of Hungary’s most famous confectioner József Dobos, known for his famous caramel topped chocolate layered sponge cake called Dobos torta. The museum also has a café, where the Dobos cake is prepared according to the original recipe of the confectioner.
Christmas Museum Shop – 2000 Szentendre, Bercsényi utca 1
This museum is guaranteed to put you in a festive mood. It showcases a large variety of traditional Christmas decorations, completely decorated Christmas trees, dolls and various garlands. You can also find pieces on sale. Admission is free.
Szamos Marzipan Museum – 2000 Szentendre, Dumtsa Jenő u. 14
Dedicated to Matyas Szamos, founder of the Szentendre Marzipan Factory, this museum offers a glimpse into the wonderful world of confectionery. Exhibition pieces include scenes from Disney films, world-famous buildings, and life-size sculptures of famous people like Michael Jackson and Princess Diana made entirely from marzipan. In the confectionary you can taste dozens of different cakes, strudels, pies, mignons, ice cream and coffee specialties.
Skanzen – Hungarian Open-Air Village Museum – 2000 Szentendre, Sztaravodai út 75.
Located at the foot of the Pilis Mountains, the 50-year-old Skanzen is Hungary’s largest open-air village museum. To reach this out-of-town attraction, take the hourly bus 878 from the Szentendre HÉV/bus station (stop nr.7). The exciting open-air museum portrays what life was like in the Hungarian countryside in the previous centuries. While walking through the squares and streets of the museum village, visitors can learn about the daily lifestyle, traditions and folk architecture of Hungarian villagers.
Events in Szentendre
Spring & Summer in Szentendre
Szentendre offers plenty of events to its visitors all year long. Spring arrives with a Mayday Beer Fest with beer, sausage and concerts, then comes Szentendre Children’s day which is then followed by the Szentendre Summer Festival from late June to late August offering plenty of jazz and folk music, dancing, and theatre performances.
Autumn in Szentendre
27-29th of September
Szentendre awaits the autumn season with the Szentendre Jazz and Wine Festival. During the three-day event series more than 20 well-known Hungarian wineries will be offering their produce on the promenade by the Danube, while great concerts, culinary delights and plenty of cultural programs will be available for the whole family.
Community Grape Harvest
5th of October
Gergő Hidegkuti, a winemaker in Szentendre, decided to restart local wine production a couple years ago and also started the tradition of community grape harvest. This year, he is harvesting kékfrankos for a red wine called Dézsma and invites anyone who is interested in winemaking to be part of the rebirth of an old tradition! The harvest starts at 8:00 am and ends with a warm lunch. Location: Pilisborosjenő vineyard, Kőfuvaros út 4.
Live Tinder Experiment
5th of October
Tinder is a partner finding app helping users find potential partners by swiping left or right on their phone. The live Tinder experiment wonders if it’s possible to do the same thing live. Imagine a boy and girl standing face to face, having to decide in a fraction of a second if they like each other or not by throwing a piece of stone in the appropriate direction. The result is usually hilarious. After the program, you are invited to join a campfire, see a movie or dance at the local open-air disco. The program starts at 15:30. Location: Dömörkapu Rengeteg, Dömörkapu, Szentendre Getting there: Buses depart from the Szentendre HÉV station to Pilisszentlászló, which will take you to the Dömörkapu stop. From there, it’s a 20-minute beautiful forest walk towards Dömörkapu.
Winter in Szentendre
The advent season in Szentendre opens with a beautifully decorated historical town center, an Advent market, open-air concerts and various art programs. On the four Sundays of Advent, locals light a candle on the large wreath placed around the cross on Main Square. The series of advent events ends with the new year’s concert in the functions room of the Town Hall. In February, an end-of-winter carnival is organized in the streets of the town center to shake up the town from the winter greyness. After dusk, the buildings of the square are illuminated with colorful Carnival lights. The most spectacular event of the festival is the torchlight masquerade with spectacular fire-juggling performances while the streets transforms into a gastronomic fair, where visitors can taste a wide range of palinka and seasonal dishes.