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How to spend a long weekend in Budapest?

“Budapest is an easy city to navigate, with the river at its heart. Cross a bridge to the west and you’re in Buda, the leafy hills hiding natural hot springs and crowned with a palace that provide views down to the scene-stealing gothic parliament building on the far riverbank. Behind this is Pest, the eastern city, unified with Buda in 1873, where you’ll find attractive boulevards and the Jewish quarter, which has seen a bohemian drinking scene develop around dilapidated courtyards beautified with eclectic art and flea market furniture.”

On arrival

7pm
Ease yourself into the weekend with a dip at Gellert baths 

9pm
Book a table with a view at the Halászbástya restaurant

Day 1

10am
Take Castle Hill funicular carriage, wander around the Royal Palace, – today housing the Hungarian National Gallery. Look out for the Matthias fountain, then walk through the cobbled streets to Matthias Church.

12pm
Make your way back down and across the river to Pest, stopping to sample choice cuts of Hungarian hams at Divin Porcello.

2pm
Stroll further into Pest, taking in St Stephen’s Basilica  and the Hungarian State Opera, Hop onto one of Europe’s oldest metro lines, the M1 (opened 1896). Take off at Városliget , the city park, where there is a boating lake that becomes a popular ice rink in winter. Walk back to Heroes’ Square, a World Heritage site, visit the Museum of Fine Arts and the Kunsthalle hall of contemporary art located on each side of the square.

4pm
Cure the last of your ills at another of Budapest’s most famous baths nearby, the neo-baroque style Szechenyi Bath, soak in one of three outdoor pools or 18 indoor ones, before braving a sauna of up to 50C.

8pm
The First Strudel House is an old-style farmhouse where you can try your hand at strudel-making.

10pm
Savour Budapest’s first “ruined bar” – opened in an abandoned building – Szimpla Kert  (Kazinczy St 14; szimpla.hu), set around a ramshackle courtyard.

Day two

9am
See the city from the Danube with a short cruise, including an audio history of the sights along the riverbanks, Legenda has 70-minute trips.

11am

Margaret Island, the wooded island park is always a great idea for a stroll, home to an overgrown chapel, Franciscan ruins and a fountain that dances to music.

12pm

Once, there were about 500 cafés in the city. Try the high-ceilinged Central Coffee House dating back to 1887, or the equally grand Café Gerbeaud 

Worth to buy: the Budapest card grants unlimited travel on public transport and discounted admission to museums and baths. See budapestinfo.hu.

Text: The Telegraph, photo: Pixabay

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