There are a lot of exciting, beautiful and serene places close to Hungary’s capital that provide comfortable relaxation, and while today’s circumstances require extreme measures to be taken, travelling to one of these close by destinations should be a simple way of leaving the stress of Budapest behind.
Here, you will find a list of towns and cities that offer programs and opportunities without compromising personal safety and country-wide restrictions, bringing back the notion of being fulfilled by a walk in a park or in a cute cobblestoned street that might seem outdated for the busy person of today.
Easily accessible by car, bus or train, Esztergom’s beautiful town used to fulfill the role of Hungary’s capital back in the very early days of the country. With a spectacular view of the Danube, this settlement is famous for the great Basilica of Esztergom, the largest church in Hungary. Having once been the capital, the ruins of an old Hungarian Royal Palace can also be found here, surrounded by the pretty scenery of the Castle Hill area. While Esztergom’s wonderful restaurants and lively cafés might not be accessible due to the pandemic right now, a stroll in the city or a visit to the breathtaking halls of the Basilica are definitely worth the travelling.
Located literally on the way to Esztergom, Visegrád is an ancient and noble town of the Danube-Bend, possibly the place with the most beautiful scenery in all of Hungary. Boasting a citadel, a 13th century tower, and the magnificent ruins of King Matthias’ renaissance royal palace, Visegrád is a must-see for enthusiasts of history and architecture. In normal times, the Visegrád palace-games are widely known for their accurate and family-friendly portrayal of medieval life, battles and customs, serving as a popular destination for thousands of families in the summer. While that might not be available at the moment, Visegrád definitely deserves a visit for its historic monuments and beautiful views so typical of this area.
Still not venturing far, on the other side of the Danube we find Vác, a town that keeps up with the aforementioned two in terms of beauty. Being a baroque settlement, Vác isn’t short of cozy streets, romantic, 18th century bridges and solemn churches. The most famous of these is the Cathedral of Mary’s Ascension, which although not matching the Basilica of Esztergom in size, certainly does in splendor and uniqueness. With many other charming historical buildings and museums, Vác is sure to entertain those who seek relaxation there.
Northeast of Budapest, in the quiet suburban town of Gödöllő stands the Palace of the same name. Accessible easily by car or public transport (HÉV), this castle is amongst the biggest and most beautiful baroque palaces of not just Hungary, but all of Europe. Wonderfully well preserved, this magnificent building offers a royal and majestic gateway from the business of everyday life. Its vast gardens, parks and stables are a perfect destination not just for those who are interested in the condition in which historical nobility lived, but also for those who simply want their breath to be taken away by peaceful gardens and baroque architecture.
Famously called the “city of painters”, travelling to Szentendre will easily reveal where this picturesque little town got its name from. Embanked on the shore of the Danube, just a few kilometers from Budapest, Szentendre serves as the final destination of the H5 HÉV line, making it very comfortably accessible. Szentendre is a unique and beautiful town, hosting a formidable collection of museums and shops. Sewn throughout with narrow, cobbled streets and attractive squares, Szentendre is also very popular when it comes to art galleries, concerts, festivals and shows of any kind. It is home to many markets, where visitors can buy fresh vegetables and fruits, craftsman products and more. Besides all this, Szentendre is also riddled with history and heritage, as it is expected of towns in this area.
A bit farther from Budapest, reachable within an hour by car or bus sits Hollókő. This little pearl of a town will provide a unique experience not many places are capable of. Visiting Hollókő will feel like travelling back in time, experiencing history and tradition in a way like no other. One of the last examples of a perfectly preserved rural Hungarian town, Hollókő feels like a living, breathing museum. With the elegant ruins of a castle nearby, this little town and its surroundings provide a profound and wonderful experience. Even though the annual traditional Easter celebrations the town is famous for might not be held this year, visiting Hollókő should still be on the list of everyone who likes travelling and is fond of magical, rural sites.