Take in the historic towns, castles, basilicas and medieval ruins dotted along the Danube Bend on this all-day tour. Your local guide accompanies you as you explore the history, architecture and art of this eye-pleasing region, where the peaks of the Börzsöny and Visegrádi mountains meet the wide, snaking river.
You’ll visit the former capital of medieval Hungary, Esztergom, home to the largest basilica in the country. Stop at the compact castle town of Visegrád to see its medieval fortress and the ruins of its royal palace. And spend time in the ‘town of spires’, Szentendre, with its mix of Baroque architecture and brightly painted houses that line narrow, cobbled lanes.
Your guide will fill you in on the history of each place as you go, as well as recommend places to stop for coffee and cake and a local restaurant for lunch (not included).
You’re collected from your hotel in Budapest by your private driver and guide, who’ll drive you about an hour north of the city towards the Danube Bend. This giant U shape in the river cuts through the Börzsöny and Visegrádi mountains in an area widely regarded as having the finest scenery in the country.
Your first stop is Esztergom. The capital between the 10th and mid-13th centuries, it’s now an important industrial town and the seat of Hungary’s Roman Catholic church. Its 19th-century basilica is the largest in the country, set high on the hill above the twisting Danube. You can make the ascent to admire its neoclassical architecture and its Renaissance-style Bakócz Chapel. Your climb to the top of the hill also rewards you with views over the river and surrounding countryside.
You’ll next visit the small castle town of Visegrád for an insight into medieval Hungary. Here, you can visit the remains of Visegrád Castle, built between the 13th and 14th centuries atop a leafy hill overlooking the Danube. Its swirl of medieval walls are what remain following a damaging siege by the Turks in 1544. You can also visit the ruins of a royal palace, originally constructed in 1325 by King Charles I of Hungary. Following the siege, it was buried for several centuries until its discovery and excavation in the 1930s.
Continuing on your tour, you stop at Szentendre, known for its Baroque architecture and brightly painted buildings along narrow streets. Your guide will show you around the town, including its Greek Orthodox church and old market square, and you’ll take a walk up Church Hill for far-reaching views.
The town is popular with artists, with several galleries and museums you can explore. You could visit the Margit Kovács Ceramics Museum, which contains over 300 pieces sculpted by the renowned 20th-century artist. Or, for something more offbeat, visit the Szamos Marzipan Museum — similar to a waxwork museum, only the wax is replaced with marzipan. Sculptures include famous faces, iconic buildings and biblical scenes.
During your tour, you’ll have time for refreshments in some of the towns’ cafes and restaurants. Afterwards, your driver will return you to your hotel.