Amazing Neighborhood around Budapest
Arriving in Szentendre, located to the north of the capital, you will feel that you have entered a vibrant impressionist painting in pastel colours. Here you can find everything a romantic soul needs, with narrow pathways, cobbled streets, old churches and handicraft workshops. The numerous pedestrian streets leading from the main square welcome visitors with hidden coffeehouses, little shops selling traditional folkwares and a number of special museums lined next to each other (including a marzipan museum and a Christmas museum that is open all year round).
The Skanzen in Szentendre, presenting Hungarian life as it was in the olden days, is Hungary's largest open-air collection. The town has been home to a thriving colony of artists for many years and their artwork is displayed in regular exhibitions.
Distance from Budapest: 22 km/13 mi (30 minutes by car)
The blend of the river and the hills creates a picturesque landscape at the western gate of the Danube Bend. This is the location of the former capital, Esztergom, an important site in the history of the Hungarian nation. The first archbishopric in Hungary was founded here and the coronation ceremonies were also held here for many centuries. The monumental Basilica towering above the Danube is one of Europe's largest cathedrals and considered spectacular not only because of its size but also because the world's largest altarpiece painted on a single canvas
can be found there. Since the 9th century, the castle hill has played an important role in the history of Hungary and the lives of its Christians. Over the years, seven churches have been built on the hill, but centuries of storms damaged the earlier examples, leaving only traces of the early medieval, Gothic and Renaissance church buildings. The monumental, though people-friendly, Primatial Basilica of the Blessed Virgin Mary Assumed Into Heaven and St Adalbert, which still stands today, has remained the centre of the Roman Catholic Church in Hungary.
Distance from Budapest: 52 km/32 mi (1 hour by car)
The romantic Baroque castle, originally the residence of the Grassalkovich family then later one of the favourite retreats of the Habsburgs, is the most famous attraction in Gödöllő. The Viennese ruling family spent most of their Christmases here. Queen Elizabeth (loved by the people and known as ‘Sisi') sometimes upset the upper classes byinviting commoners and gypsy musicians to the castle. This building now functions both as an event centre and a museum, attracts fans of Queen Sisi from far afield–to them Gödöllő is the second most important pilgrimage site after Schönbrunn in Vienna.
Distance from Budapest: 31 km/19 mi (35 minutes by car)
The Archabbey of Pannonhalma, standing for more than a thousand years, is one of Hungary's most outstanding historical monuments and a centre for spirituality and art history. The Arboretum and the Herb Garden of the Abbey are interesting at any given time, not only in the autumn, and the interactive guided tour will tell us all we need to know about the herb garden and its medieval layout, as well as the plants it contains and their health preserving properties. The Benedictine monks of the abbey lead an active life, and the monastery has many varied exclusive products ranging from luxurious quality chocolates to herbal creams and great wines. Many people visit Pannonhalma for contemplation, though there is much more to do here.
In the Herb Garden, you may create your own special blend of tea and then in the Labyrinth, you can contemplate the mysteries of life. In the centuries-old Abbey cellars, you may try the pinot noir, among other excellent wines, and we have still not mentioned one of the best restaurants in the country, the Viator. The cuisine of the restaurant is concurrently traditional and modern. The chef is keen on using local ingredients and relies heavily on Benedictine raw materials, including seasonal plants from the herb garden and the wines of the abbey. Guests' unmistakable favourites include the ‘Duck liver with Sage and Thyme' and the ‘Nougat Cake'.
Distance from Budapest: 132 km/82 mi (1 hour and 20 minutes by car)