Things to Do and See in the Danube Bend
Before reaching Budapest, the Danube first widens then passes between hills and turns through a narrow valley to the south. The scenic location of the Danube Bend (Dunakanyar) also played an important role in Hungary’s history. Szentendre, Esztergom and Visegrád on the west bank are among the oldest settlements in Hungary. These historic towns attract many tourists and are often visited together. The east bank has fewer monuments and visitors. Nevertheless, the city of Vác, the botanical gardens of Vácrátót, the charms of Nagymaros and Zebegény, as well as the neighboring Pilis and Börzsöny highlands, offer a lot to do and see.
The Danube Bend in Hungary is the second largest stretch of the river, outdone only by the ‘Kazan Gorge’ in Romania.
West Bank Attractions
Szentendre, Esztergom and Visegrád, the famous cities in the Danube Bend, are often toured together because of their proximity.
East Bank Attractions
The Baroque city of Vác has been a center of Catholic faith for centuries. The city, a diocesan town is often called ‘City of Churches’. The main attraction is undoubtedly the cathedral, founded by the first Hungarian king, St. Stephen. Today, Vác is the cultural and commercial center of the left bank of the Danube bend, and a visited tourist destination.
Not far from Vác is Vácrátót, known throughout the country for its beautiful botanical garden. The city was established in 1852.
Zebegény is a popular recreation area and a holiday resort town.
The main attractions of Nagymaros are the river and the neighboring Börzsöny Hills, offering beautiful scenery with numerous hiking trails. In recent years, Nagymaros has become infamous for the Bős-Nagymaros dam, planned in co-operation with Slovakia in the late 1970s, that was to be built next to the town. As a result of pressure from environmentalists before and after 1989, the politicians dropped plans to construct the dam, and abandoned the work that had already been started.
Getting to the Danube Bend from Budapest: Probably the most fun way to visit the Danube Bend is by boat.
Scheduled boats run between:
Budapest (Vigadó tér) – Szentendre
Budapest (Vigadó tér) – Visegrád
Budapest (Vigadó tér) – Vác
Budapest (Vigadó tér) – Esztergom