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Things to do in Budapest

Cruise down the Danube

With the Danube key to the life of Budapest, there’s no better way to see the city than from the river. There are boat trips to suit all tastes and budgets, and cruises can last between 30 minutes and three hours. Sailings that include cocktails, candlelit dinner and night sailings are all available too. If they seem too sedate, try a speedboat route or an evening booze cruise. Operators include Budapest Danube Cruise (tel: +36 1 212 3131; www.budapestdanubecruise.com).

Cycle the Buda Hills or Margaret Island

Budapest can be a great city for cycling with routes along the Danube particularly popular. Bike hire is widely available and bike lane provision is improving slowly, although some drivers and traffic clogged streets can be a problem. Further-flung attractions such as the Buda Hills and Margaret Island are both perfect destinations for a leisurely ride. Velo-Touring (tel: +36 1 319 0571; www.velo-touring.hu) and Yellow Zebra Bikes (tel: +36 1 266 8777; www.yellowzebrabudapest.com) offer bike hire and guided tours.

Have a swing at one of Budapest's best golf courses

In the summer months, golfers might want to tee off at the Budapest Highland Golf Club and Academy (tel: +36 1 362 8020; www.highlandgolf.hu), a nine hole course that offers day membership. For the more experienced golfer, Pannonia Golf and Country Club (tel: +36 22 594 200; www.golfpannonia.hu) has 18 holes and also offers guest passes.

Hike the hills around the city

The hills and forests around Budapest offer excellent opportunities for hiking, taking in some interesting towns such as Eger and Hollókő. Nearby natural attractions include Szalajka Valley and the cave lake of Tapolca. The European Long Distance Walking Route E4 passes close to Budapest and offers great views of the city.

Take to the waters in a traditional spa

Take the waters in Budapest, one of the world’s most famous spa towns, and you are spoiled for choice with many excellent and historic thermal baths to choose from. The world-famous Hotel Gellért (tel: +36 1 466 6166) is the favourite, but other recommended options include Széchenyi Thermal Baths (tel: +36 1 363 3210), Lukacs Baths (tel: +36 1 326 1695), and the 16th century Rudas Bath (tel: +36 1 356 1010) which is lit through a magnificent dome. Margaret Island has outdoor bathing in the summer.

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City Highlight: Budapest

Soak in soothing thermal baths or cruise under the Danube’s many magnificent bridges on a Hungarian holiday in Budapest

Featured Hotels

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Hotel Parliament

As new boutique hotels carry on cropping up around the Hungarian capital city, the minimal décor of Hotel Parliament continues to stand out. With 64 double rooms to decide on, each comes with air-conditioning, soundproof windows, Wi-Fi and satellite TV. Its lobby, wellness retreat and onsite Htel Bar are more modern in design with their sharply-coloured sofas, chandeliers and sleek simplicity, while its Parliament Suite is suited to those on longer sojourns.

Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace

Many hotels use the 'palace' moniker without justification, but not the Gresham. Built in 1906, this architectural delight is a masterpiece of art nouveau design, both inside and out. Many of the fittings, including Zsolany ceramics and a stained glass window by Miksa Róth, are original, while the rest were lovingly restored in 2004 when the palace received a glorious makeover. The Gresham has all the trappings of a 5-star Budapest hotel, including a fitness and wellness centre.

Mercure Budapest Korona Hotel

A relaxed saunter from Budapest's pedestrianised shopping area between Váci and Ráday street, the 4-star Mercure Budapest Korona Hotel has all the touches of comfort and quality expected from a chain of this stature. Generous-sized rooms come with air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, satellite TV and tea and coffee making facilities, while a heated indoor swimming pool, sauna and masseuses are available too.

Continental Hotel Zara

With 272 rooms to pick from, the Continental Hotel Zara isn't shy on size. Between the tall windows and chic, chocolate-coloured design of the sleeping quarters, it doesn't lack style either. All rooms have satellite TVs, soundproof windows and air-conditioning, with Continental Suites and Executive Rooms available for the extra extravagant explorer. The hotel's lavish restaurant and cool little café are worth checking out too, or swap both for a chilled beer on its rooftop garden. Its wellness centre should help with any hangovers or well-travelled legs.

Hotel Palazzo Zichy

Originally built as the residence of Count Nándor Zichy, a 19th century nobleman, the hotel that shares his surname now has ample space for 80, well-proportioned rooms. Held in Pest's palace quarter, the modern simplistic style of the bedrooms has everything the modern traveller could desire from satellite TV and soundproof windows to internet access and large, laptop-sized safes. The hotel also has a gym, sauna and concierge service.

Sofitel Budapest Chain Bridge

With unparalleled panoramas across the mighty Danube, the Sofitel Budapest Chain Bridge is a hotel that's all about the details. While location may be its first selling point, through its doors it offers a terrace bar, chintzy cocktails and a tinkling pianist in the Bibliotek Lounge. The centrally-located spot also has a serene spa and gives visitors the choice of 301 soft linen sleeping chambers with marble bath tubs, flatscreen TVs and free Wi-Fi in most rooms.