As much as we love exploring Europe’s beautiful cities, we also enjoy seeing the countryside of this diverse little continent. That’s why I jumped at the chance to take a tour of the Danube Bend, while on my recent trip to Budapest, Hungary.
My travel companion, Jenn, and I had spent four packed days in Budapest, seeing the Danube from every angle. On our final full day in Hungary, we would drive along it to arguably its most beautiful point – The Danube Bend.
At 10am, we were picked up at our apartment, by Daniel, our driver and tour guide for the day. Our tour with Daniel was organised by Budapesting.com, the apartment rental company that hosted our stay in Budapest. In addition to budget accommodations in Budapest, they offer a variety of tours in Hungary.
Driving Along Hungary’s Danube River
As we drove out of the city, gradually the large apartment buildings gave way to colourful villas with tidy gardens. Huge box stores gave way to small shops and the landscape softened into fields of produce and tangled forests. Soon we caught sight of the Danube River once again.
The Danube is Europe’s second longest river, after the Volga. It begins in Germany’s Black Forest and winds its way through ten countries before emptying into the Black Sea. This powerful river flows through four European capital cities, more capitals than any other river in the world.
The Danube Bend is the point where the Borzsony Mountains force the river to change its easterly course and head south to Budapest. The S-shaped bend was the ultimate destination for our day-trip.
Visiting Esztergom Basilica
Our first stop along the Danube took us to Esztergom, 60km north of Budapest. One of the country’s oldest towns, this important city was the capital of Hungary from the 10th-13th century. These days it is the seat of the primate of the Roman Catholic Church in Hungary. It is also home to Hungary’s largest church, Esztergom Basilica.
The Primatial Basilica of the Blessed Virgin Mary Assumed Into Heaven and St Adalbert is the official title of (the much easier to say) Esztergom Basilica. The church is the tallest building in Hungary and the 18th largest church in the world.
The church’s builders must have believed that bigger is better. The altarpiece, by Michelangelo Grigoletti, is the world’s largest painting, on a single canvas. The organ is also Hungary’s largest and the third largest in Europe.
Standing underneath the Basilica’s enormous (71.5 m) dome, you can certainly appreciate its size.
Climbing to Visegrád Castle
Our next stop took us back in time to Visegrád, on the Danube Bend. This small village is famous for Visegrád Castle, the summer residence of King Matthias Corvinus, during the 1400s.
It is easy to see why Visegrád Castle was an important fortification, from its construction in 1240, until the Turkish damaged it, in 1685. From the castle is an unimpeded view of the Danube Bend and the surrounding hillsides.
It’s a long hike up to the Upper Castle, with over 300 stairs. However, the view from the top is breath-taking.
While there are some small displays of armour and historical objects inside the remains of the castle, all of the documentation is only in Hungarian so make the trip with this in mind.
At Home on Szentendre Island
From Visegrád Castle, we began our trip back towards Budapest. Daniel turned out to be the perfect person to guide us on our tour of the Danube River because, these days, he lives in the middle of it.
Daniel’s home is on Szentendre Island, a 31km long island in the middle of the Danube River. The island has four main villages and is reached by bridge at Tahi or ferry, from multiple places.
Daniel took us across the bridge and to his home, to meet his lovely German Shepherd and to stuff us full of Hungary’s best watermelon, which had just come into season as we visited. We left the peaceful, rural island, via ferry to our final destination, Szentendre.
Strolling through Szentendre
Szentendre, or Saint Andrew in English, is a picturesque little town and a popular tourist destination from Budapest. The town was settled by Germans, Serbians, Slovaks, Turks and Bulgarians and as such is known by a variety of different names.
It is filled with souvenir shops, artists, a handful of small museums and seven churches. It is a great place to stroll or grab a bite to eat at one of the numerous cafes overlooking the Danube.
After a full day of sight-seeing along the Danube River, we were happy to be delivered back to our Budapesting Apartment for a quick nap, before another great night on the town in Budapest.
Click play below for a zippy little map of our travels. (Or use this link)
Stay tuned for more of our Budapest adventures, coming up on CheeseWeb.
Love castles, palaces, and ruins like in this article? Us too! Don’t miss the full listing of Castles we’ve visited in Europe and beyond.
We’d like to extend a huge thank you to our fantastic guide Daniel and Marton, the owner of Budapesting.com, for sponsoring our stay in Budapest. As always, all opinions we express are our own.
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