Getting To The Danube River Bend:
Figuring our how to get to the Danube Bend is the biggest barrier for people wanting to visit. When we explored the region we were surprised how easy it was to get between the villages with just a little planning. To give you a head start, here is our complete guide on how to best reach the Danube Bend from Budapest.
Should You Join A Group Tour?
There is no need to book a group tour or a river cruise to see the the Danube Bend as you can get between the sights from Budapest yourself really easy. Below we will cover options for getting to the Danube Bend from Budapest including cruise boat and tour group, but our favorite option is a combination of train and bus. Taking the local train is fast, cheap and easy, plus it lets you truly pick the things you want to see. There is a little more planning involved with the train option, however, our guide below will cover everything your need to know. We suggest seeing at least 2 of the villages plus the Aquincum Roman city museum, but it is doable to see all 4 villages in 1 day.
Overview Of Our Favorite Route:
Budapest (Nyugati) to Vác: 44 Minutes By Train, 650 HUF
Vác to Štúrovo (Esztergom): 36 Minutes By Train, 650 HUF
Esztergom to Visegrád: 43 Minutes By Bus 880, 350 HUF
Visegrád to Szentendre: 40 Minutes By Bus 880, 350 HUF
Szentendre Budapest (Batthyány Tér): 39 Minutes By HEV H5 Train via Aquincum, 660 HUF
You should start by taking the national train from Budapest’s Nyugati Train Station to Vác which takes 44 minutes, leaves every 20-30 minutes, and costs between 650-930 HUF. The train station for Vác right in the heart of town. The best deal is to buy you ticket from Budapest all the way to the Štúrovo Train Station near Esztergom for 1,120 HUF which will let you hop off at Vác for no extra charge. If you buy the ticket to Vác then to Štúrovo separately it will cost around 1300 HUF total.
When done in Vác get back on the train and continue on to Esztergom (Štúrovo Train Station) which takes 32 minutes and drops you off on the Slovakian side of the border in Štúrovo which is only short walk across the big green Mana Valeria Bridge to the heart of Esztergom. Just make sure that when you leave Budapest you are headed to Štúrovo as the station named Esztergom is South of town which takes a different train route through the country and bypasses Vác instead of following along the Danube River Bend. The walk will give your great panoramic views of Esztergom as you approach. It is important to look up Štúrovo as the train station.
After you are done visiting Esztergom, take Bus 880 toward Szentendre which leaves hourly :40 after the hour, and pay for your ticket with the driver when you get on the bus. The Bus tickets are based off miles so just tell the driver where you are going and it will be about 350 HUF to Visegrád and another 350 HUF to Szentendre. In about 43 minutes get off at Visegrád or if you are pressed for time stay on the bus an additional 40 minutes all the way to Szentendre as it has a little more to see between the two cities. If you are set on visiting Visegrád we really suggest doing it while riding Bus 880 to Szentendre as the Visegrád Train Station (Nagymaros-Visegrad) is actually across the river with no bridge and the ferry only runs once an hour. After checking out the sights of Szentendre, swing by the HEV H5 local train station and by a ticket to Budapest’s Batthyány Tér Square getting off at Aquincum along the way to see the Roman Ruins. The total HEV journey from Szentendre to Budapest takes 40 minutes, costs 650 HUF, and runs about every 20 minutes from the early morning until 11:30pm at night. Ending at Batthyány Square puts you right back in the heart of Budapest and at the crossroads of both the Metro and a few tram lines.
National Train Route Details:
Budapest > Vác > Visegrád > Esztergom: The main route by train leaves from Budpest’s Nyugati Train Station. We typically buy the ticket for the full trip all the way to Esztergom (Štúrovo Train Station) which gives you the option to hop off at both Vác and Visegrád for no extra charge. The full 63km journey takes 75-90 minutes, departs every half hour from 3:30am-10:30, and costs 1,120 HUF each way.
If you prefer to buy your segments separately Budapest to the Vác Train Station is 34km, takes 40 minutes and costs 640 HUF. Vác to Visegrád (Nagymaros Train Station) is 12km, takes 15 minutes, and costs 340 HUF. Visegrád (Nagymaros Train Station) to Esztergom (Štúrovo Train Station) takes is 17 km, takes 22 minutes, and costs 300 HUF. You can look up current departures on the train website here, but look it up by train station and not by city name. As mentioned above, we like to visit Visegrád on the way back from Esztergom on Bus 880 since the train option is inconvenient with a ferry ride requried since there is no bridge across the river.
Aquincum > Esztergom: There is a local train that runs between Aquincum and Esztergom. It isn’t the optimum route as not only is the Esztergom train station on the far Southern end of town, but the train schedule is also not the most consistent. This train route is under construction and will be more consistent soon.
Budapest > Esztergom: If you get in a pinch in Esztergom a local train goes between the Southern train station and Budapest’s Nyugati Train Station a couple times a day. It takes 90 minutes and cost about 1,120 HUF. The Southern Train Station to central Esztergom is about a 30 minute walk. The better option is to go to the Štúrovo Train Station just across the Danube River from Estergom which lets you stop in Vac on the way.
The Bend Bus Route Details:
Bus 880 (Budapest > Szentendre > Visegrád > Esztergom): Bus 880 BK-SZ travels between Budapest’s Újpest Station and Esztergom over 15 times a day from 7:25am to 8pm and the 63km journey takes 2 hours and 15 minutes. It is 15km (30 minutes) to Szentendre, 28km (43 minutes) further to Visegrád, and 20km (47 minutes) further to Esztergom. Return trips from Esztergom leave at least once hourly between 5:25am & 10:30pm daily typically at 40 minutes after the hour. Current schedule HERE.
Bus 800 (Budapest > Esztergom): Bus 800 BK-SZ travels between Budapest’s Árpád Híd Bus Station and Esztergom every 30 minutes more than 40 times a day from 5am & 11pm and the 45km journey takes 1 hour and 5 minutes. Cost is 840 HUF. Return trips from Esztergom leave between 3:30am & 10:30pm daily. Current schedule HERE.
Bus 330 (Budapest > Vác): Bus 330 BK-SZ travels between Budapest’s Újpest bus station and Vác every 30 minutes and the trip takes about 40 minutes. Current schedule HERE.
Bus 300 & 303 (Budapest > Vác): Bus 300 & 303 travels between Budapest’s Újpest bus station and Vác every 30 minutes and the trip takes 45 minutes. Current schedule HERE.
Buses 134 & 34 (Budapest > Aquincum): Buses 134 & 34 both travel between Budapest’s Árpád Híd bus station and Aquincum on a regular schedule minutes and the trip takes about 30 minutes and you get off at Záhony Street stop which is right by the Aquincum Museum. We perfer to us the HEV H5 Train line which also continues on to Szentendre.
Cruise Boat Option:
There is a tourist boat that runs from Budapest along to Danube stopping along all the cities we suggest. Although a ton of tourist take the boat option because it is easy, we find it to be a total waste of time. In comparison to the boat is about 50% more expensive and takes 4 times longer to get to each place.