Blue It’s Not, Beautiful It Is – and How
North f where it divides Buda from Pest, the wide Danube (Duna to the Hungarians) twists through a narrow valley that many consider the loveliest stretch of its entire 1,890-mile course from Black Forest to the Black Sea.
This is the celebrated Danube Bend (Duna Kanyar), famous for its historic towns and scenic beauty, and a classic day trip for city-weary foreigners and Hungarians alike, by boat, car, or train.
The most popular of the riverside towns (and suffering from peak-season crowds and commercialization) is Szentendre, settled in medieval times by Serbs escaping the Turkish invasion to the south, a charming artist colony since the 1920s. It still counts a dozen Orthodox churches within its boundaries, as well as a surprising number of galleries and museums, most notably an expansive museum dedicated to the work of Hungarian ceramicist Margit Kovács. Visitors more interested in handicraft shopping, dallying in cafés, and strolling along back streets lined with yellow, orange, and green houses will also be rewarded.
A bit farther north is Esztergom, seat of the Magyar kingdom in the 12th and 13th century. As the center of the Hungarian Catholic Church, it is the nation’s most sacred city, dominated by Hungary’s largest cathedral, built in the mid-19th century.