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Destination of the Week: Budapest

Posted by Nicole West on 26/05/2015

You get the best of two worlds in Budapest, with the sprawling boulevards of Pest and the stunning panoramas of hilly Buda, straddling the Danube. With a long, ravaging history, the capital of Hungary blends old and new to create a unique travel destination.

You can bathe in medicinal waters, explore rich and diverse museums, cruise down the Danube with a fine Hungarian wine and enjoy a vivid night scene, all while staying in accommodation that’s still good value for money, in comparison to other European cities.

What to do

Budapest’s premier attraction is Castle Hill, a limestone plateau rising above the Danube. Go on a walking tour to discover the cobbled streets of the Old Town, the museums in the Royal Palace and expansive views. When it’s time for relaxation, there are dozens of thermal baths dotted throughout the city, with the most beautiful including Szechenyi Bath, the Gellert Bath and the Kiraly Bath.

Visit District V, in Pest, to see Parliament House, Kossuth Square and St Stephen’s Basilica and to shop, wine and dine. History buffs are in for a treat at The Museum of Fine Arts and The Hungarian National Museum. For delicious Hungarian food products and souvenirs, head to the 19th century Central Market Hall, the largest indoor market in Budapest.

As the sun sets, one of the most beautiful things to do in Budapest is to go on a Danube River cruise, for facts about the history of Budapest, romantic dinners and twinkling lights reflected on the dark waters. If you’re still hungry for more, head to the famous 7th District ‘Ruin Pubs’, in Pest, for a bohemian vibe among the ruins of an old Jewish Settlement.

Where to stay

Accommodation options are easy to find in Budapest and range from hostels to luxury guesthouses and 5-star properties. Many people prefer to stay in Pest, which is closer to the action, however accommodation in Buda is plentiful and perfect for relaxing breaks.

Buddha Bar Hotel Budapest Klotild Palace (£££)

Right on the Váci utca shopping street, this luxurious hotel is in an historic, 19th century palace. The facilities are all about health and wellness, with a Zen Garden, yoga rooms and a spa. You can also enjoy an onsite restaurant, café, a rooftop bar and, most importantly, all the rooms have Nespresso coffee machines.

Hotel Papillon (££)

For a relaxing Buda break, Hotel Papillon is just a 10-minute walk from Buda Castle and surrounded by quiet, green streets and beautiful hills. The hotel has an outdoor swimming pool, 24-hour reception, room service, a restaurant and a cocktail bar and the rooms are equipped with all the essentials for a comfortable stay.

Wombats City Hostel (£)

Located right in the city centre, this hostel is in the perfect location for sightseeing and nightlife. They offer all the facilities, such as bed sheets, towels, luggage storage, lockers and all-you-can-eat breakfast for free, as well as sell cheap food and drinks at the bar.

Where to eat

It’s not all about goulash in Budapest, which has undergone a culinary revolution. You can choose from fine-dining restaurants, family-friendly bistros and local market foods to satisfy any craving.

Macesz Huszar (£££)

An eastern European bistro in the Old Jewish District, Macesz Huszar serves Hungarian and Jewish cuisine with a stella wine list. Try the matco-ball soup, Jewish style eggs and the flodni, which is an apple, walnut and poppy seed cake.

The Spinoza Cafe (££)

The Spinoza Café is also an art gallery and a theatre, offering live piano music every night and concerts on Friday nights, in the heart of the Jewish Quarter. They offer all day breakfast at great prices and serve traditional Hungarian and Jewish food with local wines to match.

Montenegroi Gurman (£)

Serving traditional Bulkan food in a fast food environment, this is the place to go before, or after, a big night in the centre of the city, to enjoy homemade breads, grilled meats and beer at fantastic prices.

Image source: (c) istock/thinkstock