March 15 square, the main square of Vác
Vác is a city in Pest County, Hungary. It is located on the eastern bank of the Danube near the magnificent Danube bend. Though not visited nearly as much as either Szentendre or Visegrád it can become a pleasant and enjoyable stop over between the two.
Vác is well served by MÁV commuter trains from Budapest Nyugati station, forming the northern terminus of two lines. One is the Budapest - Göd - Vác route, which has 2 trains/h, takes 42 min to Vác, and costs 640 HUF (550 HUF with a Budapest travelcard). The other one is the Budapest - Fót - Vác route, which has 1 train/h, takes 85 min and costs 915 HUF (735 HUF with a Budapest travelcard). You should thus only take a train going to Vác via Göd and ignore those running via Fót.
From Budapest take road #2 or 2/A (E77).
The train station is only a short 10 minute or less walk along Széchenyi u. to Március 15. tér. From there you can reach all of the main attractions without any need for public transportation, though if you need the schedules they can be found here .
- Cathedral Vác's cathedral on Konstantin tér is the building that defines the town. It was begun in baroque style but completed in Neoclassical. It can only be visited during mass or by prior arrangement for tourists, so you may just have to stand outside, admiring its massive columns and statues.
- Március 15 tér. The main square of Vác is a blend of Rococo and Baroque mansions, but you'll also note the archeaological diggings that dominate the area. The Dominican Church is the baroque cathedral dominating the south side of the square. There is also the Town Hall and the former Bishop's Palace, which stands at #6.
- Town Prison on Köztársaság u. is still a functioning prison. It gained notoriety during communism and the Horthy regime for being one of the cruelest prisons in the area and there are several famous escape stories. Today you can get eerily close to the building and see the guard towers, as well as a memorial for those who were imprisoned and died there.
- Round Tower is on the northern end of the waterfront. It is the only remaining part of the former town fortifications. Today it is built into a far more modern house.
- Diadalív (Triumphal Arch) is on Köztársaság u. just north of Március 15 square and flanking the town prison. Also sometimes called the Stone Gate, it was built in 1764 at what was then the town boundary to welcome Empress Maria Theresa. It is notably smaller than most other similar arches (only one lane of traffic can go under it and there are no stairs to the top), still it is nonetheless a beautiful structure in the city.
The town's only real museum is the Ignác Tragor Museum , , though it has several branches. The main offices are on Zrínyi u. 41/a.
- Memento Mori is on Mar. 15 square and houses the findings of the Dominican church crypts, including a few mummies.
- The Medieval Cellar on Széchenyi utca 3-5. leads visitors down into a cellar built by King Matthias and displays archeaological findings.
- Greek Church Exhibition Space is on Március 15. tér 19. contains history, art, and culture from the once thriving but now nearly non-existant Greek Church in Vác.
- The Gyula Hincz Collection on Káptalan utca 16. features an exhibit on the history of the town (though it is all written in Hungarian) and a loft featuring artwork for local painter Gyula Hincz.
- Diocesan Museum on Március 15. tér 4. is a collection of church arts and relics.
- József Attila sétány is the primary waterside promenade and a walk along it is probably the most worthwhile thing to do in Vác. Besides the Danube and scenery this is an excellent place for people watching and enjoying leisure time with the locals.
- Desszert Szalon, Köztársaság út 21. (short walk from the main square), ☎ (20) 390-3367, . 09:00-20:00. This tiny cafe has probably the tastiest, most creative and simply beautiful desserts in Hungary. This place is a reason in itself to make the 30 minute trip from Budapest to Vác. Outstanding. 2€.
- Choco Cafe Váci Csokizó, Március 15. tér 20. (main square), ☎ +36(27)305-839, . Unique Chocolaterie on main square. Hot chocolates made of real chocolate (worth to try!), coffee specialties, wide tea selection. Classic equipment, friendly atmosphere.
- Trains continue on to Visegrád, a former royal city featuring a castle and citadel on the Danube Bend.
- The alternative route to Budapest goes through Vácrátót, home of one of the best botanical gardens in the country and Fót, home of a major cathedral.