A perfect one-day getaway from the noise of the big city, Budapest, if you are full of urban sightseeing. Just hop on a train (leaving every hour) and visit the bend of the Danube, situated only between ½ hour-hour from Budapest. The Danube river, running from West to East, offers adventures all along Hungary and makes an almost 90-degree bend towards the South just above Budapest. Surrounded by hills and with the Szentendre island in between, the scenery is just breathtaking. You can find a wide range of outdoor activities, depending on your preferences. The forests and hills offer stunning hiking routes and lookouts. The cycling routes grant you the possibility to cruise along the riverside. And of course, the river offers the possibility of swimming, at almost every village and town you can rent a kayak or boat and discover the surroundings by floating on the river or paddle up towards the 2 small tiny uninhabited islands – my favorite program.
Vác Just 35 km from Budapest on the East shore of Danube just below the bend, this city has a historical center in baroque style. Its main square is protected area and the city had religious importance as well, visit the cathedral, the white church, and the monastery. On the bank, you can catch the ferry to the Szentendre island and if you brought along your bike (on train), you cycle up to the most northern point of the island to discover the magical panorama of the bend in front of you, you can bbq on the beach or even camp there in a tent. All-time favorite excursion with noble city/wild nature combo.
Kismaros It is my secret gem village about 40 minutes train ride from Budapest. Perfect place to rent a kayak from the lovely elderly couple, living close to the shore, to paddle up the river to find nice sandy beaches where you can swim in the river alone or further up you can paddle around the 2 small uninhabited islands, tiny jungles. Between Kismaros and Nagymaros, you can find a camp-like bar in the woods offering refreshments, music, and chill: the Nomad bar. This exclusive camp-bar is open from spring till late autumn, only accessible by bike or boat, or on foot – no cars can reach it! Stop for a drink or two, chill a bit, listen to music on the riverside and mingle with fellow hikers/kayakers.
Nagymaros It is a small, charming town offering sight to Visegrad, and to its medieval citadel on the opposite shore. The town has its roots in the medieval ages, however, it has a bit of Art nouveau architecture as well in the center. It is really busy in the summer, its port has a ferry service to the other side of the Danube (accepting cars). There are great possibilities for hiking up the hill in the forest, cross the main square of the town towards the hill and just follow any of the tourist signs. Walking along the bank and you will find many people and food stands, also you can bike along the river and reach the Nomad bar from here as well. .
Zebegény This village is truly a gem in the bend of the Danube with its art deco church with pines around, its charming village houses and historic roots. I can’t stop loving it. It bears the nickname “the marble of the bend”. Its beach superb with kayak rental and food stands, also a nice open-air bar with craft beer and music in the evenings. Perfect place for a hike, swimming in the Danube, kayaking or free camping further up on the bank. From the village, there are several hiking roots up to the hill and in the forests. Compared to regular villages, Zebegény has a vibrant cultural life, it has museums, a castle, organizes the yearly open summer university of Arts since 1968. Another event is the yearly kite festival in the summer (around August or beginning of September) whe
n the village turns into a busy hot spot of families and the sky is filled with colorful flying kites, it is a truly one-time experience worth to check.
It is easily accessible by train from Budapest, its train station was built in the style of Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the village possesses a 7-hole railway bridge as well. There is a small cute creek, called Mill Creek, crossing the village flowing into the Danube.
Kisoroszi/tip of the island
This breathtaking dead-end village, a hub for artists lies on the tip of the Szentendre island, accessible by bike or by car from Tahitótfalu (ferry goes to Tahitótfalu from Vác), boat (small, cute old ferry from Dunabogdány, sits only about 15 people, bikes are accepted). A number of famous painters and poets lived here, the village has preserved its cultural life with museums and galleries, a library and the charm of an art village. Due to its unique location: the tip of the island, the view of the bend of the Danube and its surrounding hills from both banks is simply magical and flabbergasting. At the tip, there is a beach where you can swim, bbq and free camp as well. You can rent kayak and boat here to visit either bank of the river if you like. The beach is full with people on summer afternoons and weekends, you cannot escape loving the spectacular view of the bend and hide among the trees to find peace in nature or enjoy the vibe with other people around bonfires. Between the two villages, Tahitótfalu and Kisoroszi there is a stable, so riding a horse around the island is also possible.
Transport train: there is a train leaving every hour from Nyugati Railway station (Western railway station) at the downtown in Budapest, until Vác it is a fast lane, after Vác it stops in every village up to Szob. All above-mentioned towns and villages are located on this train line. Ferry: at Vác there is a big ferry, accepting cars, bikes between the Szentendre island and the city. Bike: there is a bike route from Budapest along the riverside up to Szob.