Exploring the Danube Bend
Just north of Budapest, you’ll find the Danube Bend (Dunakanyar) — a captivating series of riverside towns that have become popular getaway spots for Hungarians and international visitors alike. Despite its name, the “Danube Bend” isn’t quite a straightforward bend. Instead, it’s a meandering course where the river twists and turns, resembling a snake after a seizure when viewed on a map.
The Danube enters Hungary from the northwest, flowing southeast and forming the border with Slovakia. Approximately 40 km/ 25 miles north of Budapest, near the city of Esztergom, the river dramatically veers south. This shift marks the start of the Danube Bend region. The river then sharply twists north before Visegrád moves south again before reaching Vác and then flows more or less directly south, coursing through Budapest towards the Serbian and Croatian borders.
A day trip to the historic riverside towns along the bend—Szentendre, Vác, Visegrád, and Esztergom—offers a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The area’s natural beauty, where forested hills meet the mighty river, will rejuvenate any weary traveler. If you have more time, consider spending a long weekend exploring the Danube Bend fully.
By Boat: From April to September, boats operate between Budapest and the towns of the Danube Bend. Departures are from Budapest’s Vigadó tér boat landing, with a brief stop at Buda’s Batthyány tér landing before the journey continues upriver. Note that schedules and towns served can change based on the river’s water levels. Contact MAHART, the state shipping company, for the most current information, at the Vigadó tér landing.
By Train: Szentendre and Vác are connected to Budapest’s Batthyány tér station via the HÉV suburban railroad and trains from Nyugati Station, respectively. For Visegrád, you can take a train from Nyugati Station to Nagymaros and a short ferry ride across the river. Esztergom can be reached directly by train from Nyugati Station.
By Bus: Buses to Szentendre, Visegrád, and Esztergom depart from Budapest’s Árpád híd bus station. The number of daily buses varies, so checking schedules beforehand is advisable. Please note that bus travel can be subject to traffic delays, especially during rush hour.
By Car: Route 11 runs along the west bank of the Danube, offering a scenic drive to Szentendre, Vác, Visegrád, and Esztergom. For an overland journey to Esztergom, you could take Route 10, switching to Route 111 at Dorog.