The Best Things To Do In Esztergom: A One-Day Guide

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What we talk about in this article

Esztergom, a gem at the heart of Hungary, is steeped in cultural heritage that will captivate your spirit. The city’s rich history is intertwined with the cobblestone streets, whispering tales of past glory. A day in Esztergom is a day immersed in the essence of Hungary’s heritage, a day that will etch itself into your memory forever.

Most people visit the beautiful city of Esztergom on a day trip from the capital Budapest. They split their day over the different cities in the Danube Bend (keep reading to find out more about the Danube Bend). That why we split up this guide about the city into two parts: ‘half day in Esztergom’ and ‘if you have more time, like a full day’. This way, you can use this guide with things to do in Esztergom in one day, even if you one have part of a day!

In the first part, we’ll discuss the things you’re not allowed to miss, which you can do in half a day. And, if you have the luxury of more time, then make sure to continue with the second part.


A little bit of history about Esztergom

Esztergom, one of Hungary’s oldest towns, has a rich history dating back 20,000 years to the end of the Ice Age. It was once a flourishing Celtic settlement and later became an important frontier town of Pannonia under Roman rule. Over time, it evolved into the town we know today as Esztergom. Archaeological finds reveal the presence of German and Avar settlers following the fall of the Roman Empire.

The Slavic people migrated to the Pannonian Basin in 500 AD, where it was called “Strěgom” in Old Slavonic, serving as a strategic control point. The Magyars arrived in 896 AD, with Esztergom becoming the residence of Hungarian prince Géza in 960. Esztergom played a significant role as the royal residence until the Mongol siege in 1241. It was Hungary’s political and economic center in the 13th century but witnessed devastation during the Tatar invasion. Esztergom struggled between 1300 and 1700, changing hands frequently and even falling under Ottoman rule.

Meanwhile, it stayed an important hub for whoever had his hands on it at the time. Kings, conquerers, and other leaders have called Esztergom their home.

Esztergom, experienced prosperity in the 1730s with crafts and a thriving wine culture. It had a beautiful Baroque downtown and showcased charming citizen Baroque architecture. However, development slowed down over time, and work on the new Basilica halted. In the early 20th century, Esztergom was known for its culture, education, and administrative importance. Unfortunately, after the Treaty of Trianon in 1920, it became a border town, losing much of its territory. Esztergom also had a significant Jewish community, with a place of worship dating back to 1050.

Interesting facts about Esztergom

We recently started adding these facts lists in our destination posts and actually, we love it! When we visit a place, we like to know a few of these before we arrive. This way, our visit is a lot more interesting and intriguing. Feels like you have some background information and a lot of things make more sense!

  1. Esztergom is home to the largest church in Hungary, the Esztergom Basilica. The Basilica, an impressive architectural marvel, boasts the world’s largest altarpiece.
  2. The city is often referred to as the “City of St. Stephen” as it’s the birthplace of Hungary’s first King, Stephen I.
  3. Esztergom is uniquely positioned at the bend of the Danube River, offering breathtaking views of Slovakia from the riverside.
  4. The city features a 250-year-old synagogue, a testament to its vibrant Jewish history, making it one of the oldest in Hungary.
  5. Esztergom was once the capital of Hungary, highlighting its historical significance and central role in shaping Hungarian culture and heritage.

Things to do in Esztergom in half a day

If you only have a short time in the city of Esztergom, these are the things you don’t want to miss out on.

Explore the Esztergom Basilica

First, you want to do this. Your visit to Esztergom is not complete without visiting the castle or basilica.

The Esztergom Basilica sits majestically overlooking the city on one side and the Danube Bend on the other side. It’s a testament to the city’s rich religious heritage.

The basilica is built on Castle Hill, where several churches had been before. This exact location has been built up with religious constructions since 1000 AD. Esztergom Basilica is also known as Esztergom Castle.

The construction of this Basilica started in 1822, but it wasn’t until 1869 that it was finally finished. This exquisite structure houses the world’s largest altarpiece, a striking spectacle that leaves visitors awestruck.

Fun Fact: Not just a spiritual haven, the Basilica’s cupola offers a dazzling panorama of the Danube and neighbouring Slovakia – a sight not to be missed!

Esztergom Basilica view from slightly above
Esztergom Basilica view from slightly above
Esztergom Basilica Interior
Esztergom Basilica Interior

Visit the Ezstergom Castle Museum

The Ezstergom Castle Museum is an abode of history, a fascinating journey through time. Nestled within the royal castle’s ruins, the museum showcases Hungary’s historical saga, from the reign of the Arpadian Kings to the Turkish conquest. Stroll through medieval chambers, feast your eyes on ancient artifacts, and unravel the secrets of Hungary’s royal heritage.

The Castle Museum is located on the Basilica grounds. Just follow the signs to find the museum

Fun Fact: The castle ruins were first discovered during the renovation of the Bishop’s Palace in the 19th century!

Ezstergom Castle Museum
Ezstergom Castle Museum
Inside the walls of Ezstergom Castle Museum
Inside the walls of Ezstergom Castle Museum

Explore Széchényi Square

Located at the heart of Ezstergom, Széchényi Square is the epitome of Hungarian charm and elegance. This picturesque square, lined with pastel-colored baroque buildings, is the city’s cultural hub, boasting an assortment of quaint cafes, authentic restaurants, and charming boutiques. Stroll leisurely, savoring the vibrant ambiance, and don’t miss the imposing statue of King Saint Stephen, a nod to Hungary’s rich history.

Fun Fact: Every Saturday, the square transforms into a bustling farmer’s market, where locals and tourists alike indulge in fresh produce, traditional Hungarian pastries, and handcrafted souvenirs!

  • Address: Széchényi Square, Ezstergom, Hungary
  • Getting There: The square is easily reachable by foot from anywhere in the city center. Alternatively, you can take any local bus that stops at “Esztergom, Fő tér.”
Széchényi Square
Széchényi Square
Széchényi Square
Széchényi Square

Stroll through the picturesque streets of the historic town

Step back in time as you wander through the cobblestone streets of Ezstergom’s historic town. The town’s charm lies in its beautifully preserved medieval homes, remnants of ancient city walls, and the breathtaking views of the Danube River. As you explore, the scent of freshly baked pastries wafting through the air is simply irresistible. This picturesque town, a silent witness to Hungary’s grand past, is sure to enchant history buffs and romantics alike.

Fun Fact: Did you know that Ezstergom was the capital of Hungary until the mid-13th century? The town’s rich history can be traced back to over a millennium!


The picturesque streets of the historic town
The picturesque streets of the historic town

Marvel at the now modern Mária Valéria Bridge

The Mária Valéria Bridge, an iconic symbol of unity and resilience, spans the waters of the Danube river, connecting Ezstergom in Hungary with Štúrovo in Slovakia.

The bridge is now modern and slick, but it has a very long history. It was first built in the 13th century, but over the centuries, with the many wars and invasions, the bridge has been destructed and rebuilt several times.

It is now named after Archduchess Marie Valerie of Austria as a testament to the persistent spirit of the people.

Mária Valéria Bridge
Mária Valéria Bridge
Mária Valéria Bridge
Mária Valéria Bridge

Things to do if you have more time

If you checked off all the things in the previous chapter, you have seen the most important things. You’re no longer missing out on the most important things to do in Esztergom. But of course, there’s more to this city than only the major landmarks.

Visit one or more of the most interesting museums in Esztergom

If you’re a fan of culture and museums, we made a short list with some of the most popular and interesting museums in Esztergom. We already tackled the Castle Museum before noon.

  1. Christian Museum: Boasting the most extensive ecclesiastical collection in Hungary.
  2. Danube Museum: Learn about the history and development of the Danube river.
  3. Balassa Bálint Museum: A tribute to the life and works of the celebrated Hungarian poet, Bálint Balassa.
  4. Hungarian Environment and Water Museum: Explore the importance of water and environmental preservation through interactive exhibits.
  5. Rondella Gallery: Hosting regular exhibitions of contemporary Hungarian art.
  6. Library of Esztergom Main Church: Housing a vast collection of religious and historical texts.
  7. Slovakian Country House Museum: Showcasing the traditional lifestyle of Slovakian villagers in Esztergom.

Take a stroll along the Little Danube Promenade

The Little Danube promenade in Esztergom is a historic and picturesque route connecting the main tourist areas. It connects the historic Esztergom with the Széchenyi Square, the Water Town with the Basilica and the Castle Hill and features four bridges. The path is quite romantic as it is adorned with a row of sycamores. If you’re searching through old maps, you’ll find that this cute promenade has been on the map since the 18th century.

This charming promenade also houses the country’s first indoor swimming pool, the Saint Stephen Artesian Spa, built in 1912 with innovative technology.

Interesting fact: The promenade is named the “Little” Danube, as it follows a small offshoot of the main river, providing an intimate experience of the water’s edge.

  • Address: Little Danube Promenade, Esztergom, Hungary
  • How to get there: It’s a short walk from the Basilica; follow Szent István tér north until you reach the riverside.
  • Ticket price: Free of charge. Enjoy the views without lightening your wallet!
Esztergom and the Danube in the background
Esztergom and the Danube in the background

Relax your muscles in one of the thermal baths

Thermal baths in Esztergom have been around for centuries, just like the popular thermal baths in Budapest. If you want to relax your muscles after a day of exploring, then the wellness areas in the city are a great place to do so.

These are the 2 best thermal baths to visit in Esztergom:

  • Szent Istvan Strandfürdö: Located on the banks of the Danube, this thermal bath offers stunning views and a variety of pools to choose from.
  • Aquasziget: One of the largest thermal bath complexes in Hungary, Aquasziget has indoor and outdoor pools as well as a sauna world.

How to get from Budapest to Esztergom

Now that we’ve talked about the most important things to see in Esztergom, let’s navigate the journey. Travelling from Budapest, Hungary’s bustling capital, to the picturesque Esztergom is an easy journey. So, let’s guide you through the various options for this trip.

By Train

Board a train from Budapest’s Nyugati station that heads straight to Esztergom. These trains typically run hourly and the journey takes just over an hour, offering scenic views of the picturesque Hungarian countryside. Just sit back and let the landscape enchant you while the miles roll away!

By Own Vehicle

If you prefer the personal touch of a self-drive journey, start your adventure from Budapest and head north on the M1 motorway. After about 20 kilometers, take the exit onto route 10 heading towards Esztergom. The journey should take approximately 1 hour.

River cruise

A Danube river cruise from Budapest to Esztergom and the other Danube Bend cities is a quite popular day trip activity to do from the capital of Budapest.

It’s a slower journey but the panoramic views of the river and the surrounding landscapes are worth every minute.


Undeniable part of the Danube Bend

Each town in the Danube Bend has its own unique tale to tell, narrating a captivating chapter of Hungarian history and culture. From Esztergom to Visegrad, Szentendre, and Vac, the Danube Bend invites you to immerse yourself in its charm.

The various cities of the Danube Bend are all memorable and worthy of you visit. They’re among the very best cities to visit in Hungary.

Esztergom, where we are now

Esztergom, the first stop on our Danube Bend journey, is a captivating town nestled on the banks of the Danube River. Known for its grand Basilica, which is said to be the tallest building in Hungary, Esztergom offers stunning views of the river and Slovakia across its waters.

After exploring the town and marveling at the splendid Basilica, you can find a cozy retreat in one of Esztergom’s boutique hotels or wellness hotels. Indulge in the charm of this historic town and discover the hidden gems it has to offer.


Next on our itinerary is Visegrad, a charming town with a rich history dating back to the Roman Empire. Located right on the bank of the Danube, Visegrad invites you to climb up to the medieval Visegrad Castle and Citadel, where breathtaking views of the river and its surroundings await.

In Visegrad, you can easily spend a fabulous night in one of the beautiful wellness hotels.


Continuing our journey, we arrive at Szentendre, a picturesque town known for its cobbled streets, colorful houses, and vibrant art galleries. Immerse yourself in the charming atmosphere that has attracted artists for centuries and explore all the delightful experiences Szentendre has to offer.

Want to know how to spend one day in Szentendre?


Last but certainly not least, we have Vac, a hidden gem that completes our Danube Bend adventure. With stunning views of the river and its surroundings, Vac offers a delightful ambiance and enchanting streets to wander through.

This city might be less popular among tourists, but there are quite a few things to see and do in Vac.

Vac also has a few beautiful boutique hotels where you can spend the night.

Where to spend the night in Esztergom

Esztergom is a popular day trip destination from Budapest, so most visitors don’t stay long enough to spend a night. But, if you want to get to know Esztergom a little better, we challenge you to spend a few days and nights. Don’t just quickly check out the tourist things to see and do, before you hurry to the next destination. Esztergom has such a beautiful history. People have lived here for many centuries, so something must be good, right.

Anyway, if you decide to spend one or more nights in town, make sure to check out these relaxing wellness hotels in Esztergom. Esztergom is know for its cultural heritage. It is one of the few cities in Hungary where you can actually find a few stylish boutique hotels!

Mediterraneo Luxury Room

The Best Things To Do In Esztergom: A One-Day Guide


The Best Things To Do In Esztergom: A One-Day Guide

Grand Hotel Esztergom

The Best Things To Do In Esztergom: A One-Day Guide

Wrapping up - more than enough things to do in Esztergom!

So there you have it, the hidden treasures of Esztergom uncovered. It’s not just a dot on the map, but a thriving city steeped in history and culture, offering enriching experiences at every corner. There’s something for the art lovers, the history enthousiasts, the wellness seekers, and the explorers that venture into lesser-known territories. Esztergom, with its majestic architecture and distinct vibe, is a true testament to Hungary’s enduring spirit. As you’ve seen, there’s no shortage of things to do in Esztergom, and each experience is a memorable one. So, when will you start your adventure?

Anyway, if you decide to spend one or more nights in town, make sure to check out these relaxing wellness hotels in Esztergom. Esztergom is know for its cultural heritage. It is one of the few cities in Hungary where you can actually find a few stylish boutique hotels!

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