A Charming Day Trip to Szentendre

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Szentendre is a small artsy town in an idyllic setting on the Danube just north of Budapest. It is known for its cafes, museums, churches, and galleries. Its proximity to Budapest and undeniable charm make it a very popular day trip destination.

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Szentendre’s baroque architecture and mediterranean feel stem from its multicultural past. This riverside city has been settled in some form since ancient times and throughout its history has acted as a haven for refugees. A mass migration of Serbs, Dalmations, and Greeks to the Szentendre region occurred late in the 17th century, after Hungary was liberated from the Turks. During the 18th century, the city flourished and the Serbian community dominated the town. Little of the Serbian community remains, but the town continues to evoke a Balkan feel. Early in the twentieth century Szentendre attracted a colony of artists and became a small mecca for the arts that continues to thrive today.

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After an obligatory little carousel ride, we headed to one of the many sweet shops and indulged in some pastries and coffee to fuel up for the day. The fun little Marzipan Museum was just down the street. The kids enjoyed watching the pastry chef create little marzipan figures and were so excited to see the elaborate sugar filled creations.

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We then set off exploring the winding cobblestone streets. We were drawn into all the little shops and enjoyed looking at everything from handmade jewelry, beautiful ceramics, fancy chocolates, and of course toys. The kids were a little too obsessed looking for small treasures, but we ended up with a very special necklace and an engraved chess set to remember our day in Szentendre. Hopefully we will have two little chess masters someday.

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Wandering away from the town square, we stumbled over the Szántó Jewish Memorial and Prayer House, the tiniest synagogue in Europe. It was built after WWII in a family home as a memorial for the almost complete devastation of Szentendre’s Jewish community during the Holocasut. After looking at the relics and placing a stone of remembrance, we continued up “church hill” to the Church of St John the Baptist. This Roman Catholic church was built and rebuilt on ruins from the middle ages and offers a nice viewpoint of the city.

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There are quite a plethora of lunch options in Szentendre. We ended up dining al fresco at a Serbian restaurant along the water, which was plentiful and tasty. I don’t think you can go wrong with food. If you have yet to try Hungarian lángos, this might just be the place to do it. Álomlángos supposedly makes some of the very best in Hungary with a line down a narrow alley to prove it. Lángos is deep fried dough traditionally topped with garlic, sourcream, and shredded cheese, a well known Hungarian specialty and popular street food.

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We would love to make a return trip to Szentendre to visit the Skanzen museum. Located a little outside the city center, the Skanzen museum is Hungary’s largest open air folk museum. Other potential places of interest include the Ferenczy Museum, which showcases a diverse collection of work from Szentendre artists. The National Wine Museum is a great option for wine tasting and a side of history. If you have a train lover in the group, pay a visit to the Transport Museum to enjoy a collection of vehicles from Hungary’s past. Of course, there are many more galleries, churches, and cafes to get lost in depending on how you wish to tailor your day!

The crowds can detract from the experience, so we recommend going on weekdays or non-peak times. It was very busy even in late October. We left the city center to stroll along the Danube in search of a more peaceful spot and landed on this tree-lined park. The autumn colors were beautiful and we had so much fun playing in the leaves. As always, we find that carving out time for kid-friendly downtime is one of the big keys to travel with children. This break from the masses was essential to reconnecting and recharging before our journey back.

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Szentendre is easily accessible from Budapest by train, ferry, car, or even bicycle. We chose to take the HEV train on the way there and the ferry down the Danube on the return. By train, the journey takes 40min and by boat it takes roughly an hour. The river ferry at sunset was such a lovely end to another fun day of exploring.

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