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Esztergom

A short drive from Budapest, this ancient town's majestic basilica is the largest building in Hungary.

TravelCurious Tip

Look at the basilica from across the river and you’ll see its huge, shimmering reflection on the dark waters of the Danube — it’s magical

Esztergom is a small town found on the bank of the Danube, not far from Budapest. It is an ancient, significant place: it was the royal seat of Hungary for two centuries and has been the centre of the Hungarian Catholic church for over 1000 years. It was the birthplace of the first Hungarian king, St. Stephen, and also the site of his coronation.


Nowadays, the majority of Esztergom’s historic sites are of a religious nature; it is often nicknamed the ‘Hungarian Rome’. It holds, for example, the Primate’s Palace, the Franciscan monastery, and the Basilica of Esztergom, a masterpiece of Classicism. The importance of the latter is such that is has earned its place on the 10,000 Hungarian Florint banknote.


Esztergom’s basilica is the largest church in Hungary: it is 100 metres tall and the inner diameter of the cupola is a 33.5 metres. It makes you feel very small indeed. On the southern side of the basilica is the Bakócz chapel, a precious heritage from the Hungarian Renaissance. Italian craftsmen built it from red marble for the archbishop Tamás Bakócz at the start of the 16th century.


The view from the top is just as spectacular as the basilica itself. You need to scale more than a few stairs to get there, but it’s more than worth it when you do — though there is also an elevator. The basilica is a giant among men: Esztergom’s other buildings shrink into insignificance in comparison. Its only rival is the great, winding Danube.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Budapest
Hungarian Parliament Building
On the bank of the Danube, this impressive building displays an eclectic mixture of architectural styles and is home to the Crown of St Stephen.
Budapest Castle Hill
A focal point of the city's history, Castle Hill hosts the most iconic monuments of Budapest.
Matthias Church
The site of several historic coronations and weddings, Matthias Church has also seen its fair share of architectural controversy.
Fisherman's Bastion
Known as the Halászbástya, this stunning fin-de-siècle terrace is dedicated to the guild of fishermen who defended the city walls in the middle ages.
Visegrád
A small castle town just north of Budapest on the Danube bend, famed for its 13th century citadel.
Szentendre
The popular riverside town of Szentendre is a cultural hotspot, with an array of different art museums, galleries and churches.

Related Tours

Private Excursion to the Danube Bend inc Transport
Escape the hustle & bustle of Budapest, and experience the towns and cities that have made the stetch of the Danube Bend so famous. 

  • Enjoy a scenic drive towards Esztergom
  • Snap pictures of the majestic Esztergom Basilica, the oldest church in Hungary
  • See the Danube Bend from a multitude of angles
  • Visit Visegrad, a famous and picturesque castle town 
  • End your tour at Szentendre, which is full of art museums, galleries, and churches
  • Enjoy a drive back to your hotel
The Danube Bend

As the second longest river in Europe, the Danube flows south-easterly 1,770 miles from Germany’s Black Forest mountains to pass through ten countries - more than any other river on Earth - before it empties into the Black Sea. With a watershed area of more than 315,000 miles, the Danube boasts around 30 tributaries of which most are dammed - at last count total dam tally was 700. More than 83-million people live in the river basin, with around 20-million people relying on the Danube for drinking water. 

For centuries, people have depended on this vital artery for trade and transport, for drinking water and fertile soils, for energy and food. Approximately one-third of the Danube River passes through Hungary’s borders and in Budapest the sympathetic repurposing of wharf buildings, warehouses and old boat-yards is a sign that the city has loosened the chokehold of industry on this resplendent river. Designated a UNESCO Heritage site in 1991, the listed treasures along the banks are many and include the Szechenyi Chain Bridge, the Liberty Bridge, Buda Castle Hill, Matthias Church, the Hungarian Parliament Building, and bloom-filled Margaret Island.

Meandering the Danube 

The trip begins when you are picked up from your hotel or a prearranged meeting point. During the tour you will visit Esztergom, a town located 46km north of Budapest, which is home to the majestic Esztergom Basilica; the oldest church in Hungary, and the centre of the Roman Catholic faith in the country for centuries. 

On your private excursion, meander majestically as you gaze at scenery long-defined by wistful nostalgia, but within a country that very much looks to the future. A vast array of wildlife is supported by the Danube with  42 species of mammals, including otters, minks and European polecats, and 85 types of fish, including five species of sturgeon, a part of the River’s rich biodiversity.   As you drive, be sure to ask your guide about the ways the river was immortalized in the classic Strauss waltz, which has made an appearance in dozens of movies, and appropriated into film scores and songs. 

You will also pay a visit to Visegrad a famous castle town containing a 13th century citadel with palace ruins originally built in the Renaissance style. Your exclusive tour will end in Szentendre, a cultural hotbed with a selection of different art museums, galleries and churches.
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