Cycling to Szentendre

Since I've been in Hungary I haven't actually been outside of Budapest (the train journey from Berlin doesn't count). In fact, the farthest I've been from the city centre was Ikea, which is conveniently located at the eastern end of the red (no. 2) metro line, at Örs vezér tere. But Ikea doesn't count - it's just a little piece of Sweden, albeit one where they speak Hungarian. So, I was pleased when some of my lovely colleagues organised a bike ride* to a town called Szentendre, about 20km north of Budapest. The only downside was that it meant getting up early on a Saturday.

We all met up at Batthyány tér, well that was the plan, however Kata seemed to be missing. After about 15 mins Betti called Kata to discover that she was waiting for us at another place further along. Anyway, we all managed to meet up and began the journey along the number 6 cycle route.

It was a beautiful cycle ride (I'm sure the sunny weather helped) as we followed the Danube north for about 10km, and then turned off to cycle through a forest  and open countryside. After about 2 hours, and a few stops to drink water, we arrived in Szentendre. The cycle route takes you to a busy main road, and my first thought was "is this it?", however, after about a kilometer we turned off from the main road and onto the quiet backstreets and cycled alongside the river again into the town. The town is a beautiful place, with cobbled streets and colourful buildings. It's a bit touristy, so there are lots of cafés and gift shops, but that's okay - it's still very picturesque.

Having guided us to Szentendre, Nóra knew a particularly good little place where we could sit down and eat some lángos (pronounced lan-gosh), which was good because by that time my stomach was hungry and giving me a hard time about it. If you haven't tried lángos then you should - it tastes great, and after all that cycling I needed some energy. Lángos is kind of like a deep fried bread dough pancake, served with garlic, sour cream, and/or cheese. 

After the much needed lángos we wandered around the town, where they happened to have a fair, with stalls where people were selling different traditional foods, handmade toys, soap, bean bags, and all other kinds of things. There was also entertainment in the form of different bands playing, and lots of games for the children.

After having a good wander around and had a good look at the different stalls,  we decided to go down to the river and rest our weary legs (minus Nóra who had to get back to Budapest). So we found a nice spot under some trees, and while Kata went to have a paddle, and I got out my towel and went to sleep - probably not for very long, but after having got up so early it was a much-needed power nap.

With the Sun making its way through the trees, I woke up and looked around lazily, as my eyes adjusted to the light. It was a confusing sight - all around me I could hear a familiar accent and understand the occasional word. The Dutch had arrived. Somehow about 100 Dutch people, clad in lycra suits that revealed more than my eyes wanted to see, had rowed from somewhere (Holland?) and were arriving on the shores of Szentendre, 5 or 6 at a time. It was a bizarre sight, and after the Sziget Festival it seems as if they have some secret plan to slowly takeover Hungary.

We left the Dutch, some of whom were celebrating (either that they had won some race or that no Hungarians had realised their plan), and we walked into Szentendre again through some more very quaint streets. We were looking to get an ice cream somewhere, and just before we got some, Betti took us into a marzipan shop. It was nice, not just because of the impressive array of marzipan products, but also because they had air-conditioning (however, I guessed it was more for the marzipan than the customers), and since it was about 34C outside it was nice to cool down. They also had a marzipan museum ... I don't know what to say about that. It was ... an experience. Never before have I seen a 130kg solid marzipan Mickey Mouse, and the only thing I could think was "someone in here needs serious professional help".

Afterwards we wandered back to our bikes and began the ride home. Without Nóra there it became a team effort to work out how to get home [remember, there's no 'i' in team, Betti], and while we did go slightly wrong a couple of times, we managed to make it back to civilization. As we were on the outskirts of Budapest we stopped by the river, at some small riverside cafés, and had a much needed drink (I think we were all quite tired by this point).
Some impressive street art on
the outskirts of Budapest 

After our break we cycled the last part of the journey and in about 20 minutes we had made it back to the center, tired and (at least for me) in need of a shower and some wine :-)

* Thanks to Livi for lending me her bike


  1. Do you know where I'd find directions to bike from Budapest to Szentendre?

  2. Hi there - it's really very easy to cycle there. As I mention in the beginning you just need to follow the number 6 bike route - there should be signs along the whole route. In the worst case just use Google Maps - the route is basically along the Danube, so it's hard to get lost :-)


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