Although the Hungarian capital (Budapest) is more than enough of a satisfaction, sometimes, you would really want to see more of the countryside which offers a more authentic experience. Not far from Budapest is the Danube River Bend cutting across gems of small towns teeming with natural wonders and relaxing vistas. Of the many towns along this string, I visited two of the famous three – Szentendre and Esztergom. When I passed by Visegrad, it was really foggy and being in between the two, it would be a tricky daytrip destination by public bus. On a normal day, however, Visegrad would have been perfect for it is where the river literally turns so it was quite a pity that I was only able to admire it from the bus window. Also there is a famous castle ruin therein that I failed to visit. Szentendre and Esztergom were pleasant nonetheless and worth the day off from busy Budapest.
Szentendre is more like a Christmas village – petite colorful houses, chapels with spires, cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages. It is one easy train ride from Budapest so it is the most accessible to tourists; hence, it has all the touristic pleasantries. It is also called an artist town since it has been home to famous Hungarian artists. Of course, it rests by the Danube so there’s a riverside promenade to enjoy. Also there seemed to be pocket river beaches by the banks which could be really awesome during summer.
Esztergom, on the other hand, is a larger village by the Slovakia-Hungarian border famous for Hungary’s most colossal basilica . The town is connected to Slovakia by the Maria Valeria Bridge which also is a good site to see the town’s skyline from afar primarily dominated of course by the basilica. There is also a tranquil promenade at what they call the small Danube. The basilica rests on a hill overlooking the Danube and the Slovak town of Sturuvo. Inside the basilica is the world’s largest painting on a single canvas. The view all the way up is also breathtaking. Overall it was a delight and a good break from the swarm of noisy tourists in the Hungarian capital. It can be easily accessed by bus from Szentendre. At first I was a bit hesitant to pursue this trip since I know zero Hungarian but it was quite an easy journey and an exciting one I must say.