This charming little town, whose name means "Saint Andrew", is known for its well-preserved houses and churches. The location was largely uninhabited until the arrival of Hungarians in the X century, but had been entirely depopulated during the Ottoman conquest of Hungary in the XVI century. During the Great Turkish War (1683-1699), Serbs have participated in the war on the Christian side, alongside Germans and Austrians, but the aftermath of the war did not provide liberation for the Serbs, and many have been forced to flee from Kosovo and southern regions of Serbia in fear of Turkish revenge. Austrian emperor Leopold I allowed Serbian refugees to cross the Danube in 1690, and during that period, many Serbian families settled in the region around Budapest. Szentendre, known as Sentandreja (Сентандреја) in Serbian, thus became the religious, cultural and political centre of Serbs in Hungary.
Position of Serbs in Hungary has been, historically, far from ideal, and after the persecution in the First and Second World Wars, most of those who survived have migrated back to Serbia. There are now less than a hundred Serbs inhabiting the city, and the connection with Serbian culture has, unfortunately, practically disappeared. Today the town's best-known inhabitants are artists and small galleries that can be found on every street corner.
Szentendre is not on the state railway lines (MAV) but it is easily reached by the HÉV suburban railway line from Batthyány tér (on the Metro red line) in Budapest. Trains leave every 10-30 minutes and take 40 minutes to reach the town.
Buses leave daily from Budapest's Újpest-Városkapu bus station (on the Metro blue line) and take about 25-30 minutes to arrive. There are also direct bus connections from other towns on the Danube bend. Esztergom is about an hour and a half and Visegrád is about 45 minutes away.
From May to September you can reach Szentendre by riverboat every day from Budapest, Vigadó square or Batthyány square. In April and October boats are operated every saturday and sunday. You can find the timetable here.
Biking to Szentendre makes an enjoyable day trip or overnight, at 25 kilometers from downtown Budapest. Some sections of the route are scenic with either views of the Danube or stretches of forest. Quite a few sections are unpaved so make sure you have a bike with wide tires. (With a road bike it will be difficult or impossible.) Almost all are off-road or on very quiet roads.
Start your journey by crossing the Szabadság or Chain Bridges, heading north on the Buda-side bike path. This shady path runs nearly the entire length of the river in Budapest, and is a great place for people watching and picture-taking. Keep heading up the river. Cruising next to the HÉV tracks, this section takes you past some of the diverse residential areas of Budapest, from cushy and historic uptown Buda to Soviet style housing blocks.
Your first test of navigation will be after going under the Árpád Bridge and suddenly finding the bike path to have disappeared. Take a left, wind through the gates by the bus stop and continue up Tavasz Street, next to the bridge ramp. When you see a giant OTP building, make a right turn onto Polgár Street and cruise through the housing developments until you hit a dead end at Bogdáni Street. Go right, follow the street until you see the graffiti wall on the left, and then continue along the path next to the tracks. Once the graffiti ends you will see a place ahead and to the right to cross the tracks and resume your way along the bike path, which veers away from the tracks and towards the main entranceway of the Sziget Festival Island.
Take a left and ride along the Jégtörő Street path, then a right at the intersection into a few hundred meters of rough but leafy streets, which will spit you out along Keled Street, with the embankment on your left. Follow this for half a click, cut through the car-width tunnel on your left, and continue to the right in the direction of the river. Before you reach it there will be a bridge to cross on your left, which leads to the hottest summer escape within the confines of the city – Római part. Stacked with food stalls, “beaches” and outdoor pubs, this makes an ideal stop for lunch.
Once satiated, return to Nánási Street and continue north. The road name becomes Királyok, and you will follow it for at least 5km before taking on your next big piece of navigation. Street bikers and families should take a left on Hadrianus Street, which will take you up to a busy road crossing and resume the bike path going north all the way into Szentendre. Off-roaders (in spirit and in equipment) can choose to continue straight along Királyok, turning right at a banked canal and following a lovely and twisting path through wildflower fields and canopied forest before bushwhacking back to the main road. Beware that you may have to cross the highway without the benefit of a crosswalk!
Once in Szentendre, grab a lángos and enjoy the town. If you’re too tired to make the return trip you can always load your bike onto the HÉV and ride back to town. The total riding time for this trip is 1.5-2 hours barring no serious stops and the terrain is almost universally level, with mostly smooth concrete. You will need at least a liter of water per person for each direction, a good map, and a good headlight, as many of the sections of bike path are poorly lit at night.
The HÉV and bus station are located next to each other, about a ten minute walk from Fő tér, the main square in the middle of town. From there, Szentendre is easily covered on foot. If you're planning on visiting the Skanzen the bus leaves roughly every hour from stop 7. Buy your tickets in advance, or from the driver with an extra fee.
Most of the fun of visiting Szentendre is wandering around the streets and visiting the little shops and galleries, but there is still something to see around town. There are many beautiful baroque churches, and a few interesting museums. Out of seven churches in Szentendre, only one was historically Roman Catholic, and all the others were built by Orthodox Serbs.
Museums and galleries
Take a stroll along the winding streets that lead upwards towards the hill overlooking the town. There is small viewing area overlooking the red-slate rooftops and if you look carefully you may even see the strange blue angel perched atop one of the nearby church roofs.
In winter time, most non-purely touristic shops close as early as 3pm (at least in Sat).
In winter, hot wine is extremely cheap (110ft in Jan-2007).