The Danube Bend (Dunakanyar), a string of small riverside towns just north of Budapest, is a popular excursion spot for both Hungarians and international travelers. The name "Danube Bend" is actually a misnomer. It should be the Danube twist, turn, and twist again. The river doesn't actually change direction at the designated bend. The Danube enters Hungary from the northwest flowing southeasterly forming the border with Hungary's northern neighbor, Slovakia. Just after Esztergom, about 53km by train (32 miles) north of Budapest, the river changes abruptly to the south. This is the start of the Danube Bend region. From here the river then sharply twists north again just before Visegrád, then goes south yet again before reaching Vác. From Vác, it flows more or less directly south, through Budapest on toward the country's borders with Serbia and Croatia. When looking at it on a map, it looks like a long snake after a seizure.

The small, but historic towns along the snaking Bend, in particular, Szentendre, Vác, Visegrád, and Esztergom, are easy day trips from Budapest since they're all within a half-hour to a couple of hours from the city. The natural beauty of the area, where forested hills loom over the river, makes it a welcome haven for those weary of the city. Travelers with more time in Budapest can easily make a long weekend out of a visit to the Bend, but I suggest a Budapest base with half-day or day trips.