Budapest city guide: what to do, plus the best bars, restaurants and hotels

The Hungarian capital comes into its own in summer. We have the lowdown on the best of the city’s unique outdoor bars and thermal baths, plus escaping to Buda Hills

Few European cities can rival Budapest’s glorious setting astride the Danube river. Its two sides, Buda and Pest, were separate cities until 1873, and they retain their own distinct identities, the former run through with ancient history, the latter noisier, earthier and more cosmopolitan. In Buda you’ll find royal palaces, Ottoman-era spas and wooded hills, while over in Pest you can pore over a clutch of fine museums, fantastic art nouveau buildings and a resurgent Jewish quarter.

At any time of year, Budapest has myriad charms, but nothing beats gazing out across the broad sweep of the Danube from the Castle District on a sultry summer’s evening. It is at this time, too, that open-air bars and pavement cafes do roaring trade, and restaurants go alfresco – indeed, Budapest’s gastronomic renaissance is one of the most exciting developments to hit the city in recent times. Throw in a flourish of new design hotels, fabulous food markets and venerable coffee houses, and it adds up to one of the continent’s most enticing summer city breaks.

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