We rented a car for a day and went for a drive up the Danube to visit the nearby Danube towns. Our first stop was Szentendre, a charming picturesque town known for its art galleries and churches, with mixed influences from Serbians, Greek and Dalmatian immigrants who were fleeing from the Ottomans during the late 17th century. Due to it’s proximity to Budapest (about 35 min by car and easy access by boat) it gets a bit crowded with tourists. Luckily we got there before any tour bus or boats had arrived so we were able to wander the quiet cobblestoned streets as the town gets ready for tourists, setting up tables and chairs and restaurant signs. It wasnt long before a group of school kids showed up for some event and a batch of tourists came.
We continued driving along side the Danube, went for a little detour in the town of Tahi, took a narrow street up the hills and see what neighborhoods are like, stopped at a grocery store and got some snacks for the road (interesting find: Pepsi ginger flavor). We stopped in the town of Visegrad, which has a castle on top of a hill and a lookout that provides gorgeous views of the Danube bend.
We can only squeeze one more town for the day as we wanted to be back in Budapest before it gets dark. Our last Danubian town in our little road trip was Eztergom, a pretty big albeit sleepy town, where everyone walks slower and time seems to crawl. The buildings and plazas show traces of a grand distant past. There was a festival by the plaza though there’s nowhere near as many people as the festival seem to expect. The crowning glory of this town is the Esztergom Basilica, which has been the seat of the Catholic Church in Hungary. Sitting on top of a hill towering over the Danube, it is the largest church and the tallest building in the country. The Hungarian border with Slovakia runs through the river on this part of the country so we thought it would be fun to walk across the bridge and cross over to Slovakia. There wasn’t really much on the Slovakian town on the other side of the bridge but it offered the best view of Esztergom, it’s imposing basilica by the river, a small row of colorful houses beneath, and a few spires jutting over the trees with the lush hills as a backdrop. We spent a few minutes walking the river promenade on the Slovakian side admiring the view and watching river boats and we asked ourselves if we can count this as having gone to Slovakia 😂. What do you think?
On our drive back to Budapest we took a different route and drove through the hills. It was a pretty drive, with the road lined with trees, and some foliage starting to turn colors. This drive must be gorgeous in the Fall!