Besides history one can enjoy the natural beauty of the Danube Valley where forested hills loom over the river.
On the way out from Budapest you’ll drive through the former capital city of the Roman province – Pannonia. This part of Budapest (Old Buda) has several original Roman ruins incl. two amphitheaters, ruins of the aqueduct (water pipe) system, Roman baths and the largest Roman open-air museum in Hungary.
Esztergom (40 miles from Budapest) with 30,000 inhabitants is situated on the right bank of the Danube. The town is the centre of the Roman Catholic Church in Hungary.
People lived on Var-hegy (Castle Hill) in Esztergom even in the stone age. The Romans built a military camp on top of the hill in the 1st century. The Hungarians settled there soon after the conquest and Prince Geza shifted his headquarters to Esztergom. According to tradition Saint Stephen, the first Hungarian king was born and crowned there.
The Basilica dominates the whole town. This is the largest church in Hungary located on the site of an old church founded by St Stephen. Construction work went on for decades and the cathedral was finally completed in the late 1860s.
Other interesting places of the town are little houses and museums of Water Town, and Opposite the Castle Hill the St Thomas Hill, named after Thomas Becket, and Baroque houses, churches and statues in the centre, and the river-bank of the Danube.
The bend of the Danube near Visegrád is one of Hungary`s most picturesque sights. Below Esztergom the stream flows through forest-covered hills, curving sharply as the river makes it’s way towards the lowlands.
It is here, 26 miles above Budapest, that Visegrád lies, a town with a rich historic background.
On this spot, 2000 years ago, a Roman fort was built on the borders of the Empire. In the 8th century, Slavs settled down within the walls of the deserted fort, but by the 11th century it was already inhabited by the Magyars. In 1242, the Mongolians invaded the country, leaving the town in ruins. A few years later, by 1258, Visegrád Castle was built, and even today the ruins of the ancient castle dominate the landscape.
Only 19 kilometers away from Budapest, the village of Szentendre is the most obvious day trip out of Budapest. Szentendre was originally settled by Serbian refugees and still retains a South Slav air, not only in the Orthodox churches and Cyrillic-inscribed monuments but also in its Mediterranean townscape. Much of the Serbian population abandoned the city in the 19th century, when it was hit by floods and crop disease.
Szentendre is a town of arts and museums. It gives home to the Hungarian open Air Museum exhibiting the folklore architecture and culture of the Carpathian basin. One of the most visited museums of the whole country, the Kovács Margit Museum, is also located here.
There are further 14 museums and art galleries acquainting visitors with the rich historical past and teeming life of arts. It is not by chance that the quietness of the little town and the closeness of the bustling metropolis of Budapest has drawn over one hundred artists here.