Locked in the centre of Europe is Hungary, a country that offers a breath of fresh air from the frantic lifestyles of western Europe with its laid back attitude to life, both in its capital Budapest and even more so in its quiet rural villages.
Geographically, Hungary is split into two halves with the rolling hills of the East contrasting with the flat plains of the west and south. This is most clear in the capital city Budapest where the ancient castle district in Buda looks down on the flat pest side of the city on the other side of the river Danube.
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The country may not have mountains but instead the earth’s crust is so thin that they say if you drill a hole anywhere in Hungary, you’ll discover a thermal spring, which with over 120 thermal spas around the country does seem to be true.
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Most visitors to Hungary visit Budapest, which offers something for everyone including stunning classical architecture and great cafes and restaurants, shopping, museums, night-life and thermal spas including the world famous Szechenyi Baths.
The city offers everything that you could hope for in a European city break but without the crowds of other big cities, and with the advantage of Hungary’s stunning sunny climate during spring to autumn.
Budapest is a city of two halves, Buda and Pest, connected by several bridges including the spectacular chain bridge which leads you from the foot of the castle district in Buda to the luxurious four seasons hotel in Pest. The city strikes the prefect balance, being big enough to keep you entertained but small enough that you can enjoy walking most, or hop on the tram or metro if your feet are getting a bit tired.
If you want luxury then you can’t get better than the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace from (£288/night), or try the Danubius Hotel Gellert (£97), adjoined to the historic Gellert Thermal Spa. If you’re looking for better value then try the stylish 4 star Atrium Fashion Hotel Budapest, with modern interior design from just (£36/night).
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If you want a break from your city break then pleasant walks in the Buda hills are just a few minutes away by bus, train or even cable car, and there are many small nearby towns such as Szentendre that we well worth a visit. Compare Hotels in Szentendre…
If you are looking to rent a Budapest apartment instead of staying in hotels check out dunaflat.com – Rent apartments in the city center of Budapest, fully refurbished and comfortable for your vacation in Budapest.
Almost wherever you go in Hungary you’ll find a thermal spa. They range from large modern and historic complexes to small pools in rural villages. The most popular is the Szechenyi Baths in Budapest, which contains a range of indoor and outdoor pools at different temperatures and claims to be Europe’s largest health spa, with over 2million visitors per year.
One of the best ways to enjoy Hungary’s thermal spas in one of the many spa hotels with their own hot bath complexes. In Budapest try the Danubius Gellert or the Danubius Spa Resort on the sport island Margitsziget in the river Danube.
Outside Budapest the world famous spa resort of Heviz, home of the Heviz Spa Thermal Lake, with numerous thermal hotels nearby including the Rogner Hotel Heviz and Danubius Resort Aqua. Also, worth a visit is the luxurious 5 star Spirit Hotel in spa town of Sarvar, which has its own 10.000m2 thermal spa.
If you enjoy the outdoors then take a visit to Lake Balaton, one of Europe’s largest lakes where you can enjoy a variety of water sports, swimming, fishing and other activities such as cycling and horse riding. There are also a number of attractive and historic towns including Tihany, perched on the rocky outcrop in the lake with its beautiful church and monastery and the elegant town of Balatonfüred. The spa town of Heviz is also just a few miles from the western end of the lake.
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Photo Credit: SF Brit