Hungary is the country of waters, that is for sure, and there is no doubt the Danube plays an important role in Budapest’s life. There are some islands of the Danube which are famous among tourists, just to mention Margaret Island, but it is usually forgotten that there are many-many other islands worth seeing. Here we give a non-exhaustive list of some islands near Budapest, which are all little treasure-chests on their own.
Let’s start the list with a quite famous island, namely the Szentendre Island. It is a 31-kilometre-long island on the Danube North of Budapest. In addition to the several ploughlands, orchards and vineyards located there, it is quite rich in waters, thus it’s most important role is to supply Budapest and the neighbouring towns with water.
Although it has rich flora and fauna – with 25 protected plants –, it is not cut from civilisation. A number of towns an villages can be found on the island, such as Kisoroszi, Szigetmonostor or Surány.
Lupa Island is a tiny but wonderful island West of Szentendre Island. It is generally known that the island has gone through some hard times due to the floods. Perhaps the big flood of 1945 was the most devastating among all.
The water of the Danube got so high that on the one hand it destroyed the terraced houses on the Eastern shore, and on the other hand it built the Western shore further, where trees started to grow covering the view from the houses. Luckily, the local people have learnt to live with the danger of floods, and the life on the island is peaceful again.
This island can be found near Esztergom right next to the Slovakian border. It is special because it has a number of important archeological records. Prehistoric houses, relics from the Middle Ages and a tiny church of the Árpád era can be found there. But if this is not enough, it was really a witness of history, as the representatives of the Habsburg Empire and the Ottoman Empire were negotiating there about peace – unsuccessfully – in 1599. It also took part in the famous Treaty of Trianon: it remained Hungarian territory marking the border between Hungary and Slovakia.
This island is located on the Soroksári branch of the Danube. There used to be numerous water mills on the river, this is why it is called Miller Island. These water mills provided jobs for the local people. However, the Danube was not controlled at that time, thus the island used to be flooded at least once a year. Yet this could not mean any trouble for the millers, as many of the mills were so-called boat mills, which could easily float on the surface and the millers could get to them by boats as well. Local people carried the flour to the capital also by boats.
Besides Margaret Island, probably this one is the most famous island of Budapest, as this is the place that annually hosts the world-famous Sziget Festival since 1993. It belongs to District III of the capital.
Although the Festival is really good for the country’s economy and tourism, it causes some harm for the local environment. Yet, the island’s flora and fauna are still significant: some 200-year-old trees can be found there, and it is generally known that migratory birds tend to stop by on the northernmost part of the island. One thing is clear: somehow all creatures – let it be human, animal or plant – simply love this place.