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Budapest: 5 Minute Guide

Gellert Baths. Image: Getty

About: Stunning architecture, shopping, art galleries, a burgeoning foodie scene and a bohemian atmosphere make Budapest a must-visit European destination. Split by the Danube into Buda and Pest, the city has many attractions on both sides of the river and a rich history waiting to be discovered.

Attraction: You can’t visit Budapest without trying one of the famous thermal baths — there are 15 public ones in the city. Try the Gellert Baths, first opened in 1918 offering medicinal water treatments using the same underground springs the Knights of St John used in the 12th century. The beautiful and ornate art nouveau building houses warm spring water pools, a wave pool and treatment rooms.

Building: Laid out in 1896 to commemorate the 1,000th anniversary of Hungary, Heroes’ Square is the largest and one of the most impressive squares in the city. The Millennium Monument at its heart has the Archangel Gabriel standing atop the centre pillar holding the holy crown and double cross of Christianity. After taking in the beauty of the square, visit the Museum of Fine Arts and Hall of Art; both galleries have impressive permanent and temporary exhibitions.

Shop: Head to pedestrianised Vaci Utca. It’s one of the most popular shopping streets in Budapest and where you’ll find a variety of household named stores, from H&M to Hugo Boss.

Eat: Hungary’s first Michelin-starred restaurant, Costes mixes modern international cuisine with Hungarian classics. For a real treat, try the seven-course tasting menu with wine pairing. Options include the lamb saddle with confit shoulder and assortment of zucchinis, or the pressed suckling pig with pearl onions, Agen prunes and Pedro-Ximenez (sweet sherry).

Bar: Try something a bit different by visiting one of Budapest’s ‘Ruin Pubs’ in the seventh district. Once home to a flourishing Jewish community before World War II, the area was very neglected and full of abandoned buildings. Recently, however, derelict buildings have been turned into coffee houses and wine bars catering for a trendy crowd. Don’t go expecting a slick, contemporary bar experience as the decor is usually more thrift store. Most offer live music or DJs at the weekend, as well as hosting film nights and art exhibitions. Arguably the best is Szimpla Kert, the first Ruin Pub to open, with several rooms and a large open-air garden.

View: Head to the Citadel on top of Gellert Hill for one of the best views in Budapest. From the 19th-century fortification, you can see across the River Danube and over the whole city — the higher you climb, the better the view. From the very top you should be able to spot top the Chain Bridge, art nouveau Gresham Palace, St Stephen’s Basilica, Liberty Bridge and the colourful roof of the Central Market Hall.

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