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Buda Castle Hill Budapest


With ornate Art Nouveau buildings fronting tree-lined boulevards, coffee houses and spas, Budapest makes for an elegant day out, writes Sarah Lee.


Arriving into Déli train station I headed straight for Budapest’s historic heart. Hungary’s capital is actually two cities — Buda and Pest - that have merged into one. Ancient sophistication can be found in Buda’s medieval enclaves, while Bohemian Pest is a haven for the city’s party crowd. Strolling Széchenyi Chain Bridge across the River Danube, I headed to Castle Hill, topped by the magnificent Buda Castle and site of the city’s earliest settlement. The castle has its foundations in the 13th century and much of the original building remains. I particularly enjoyed Buda Castle Labyrinth, an incredible underground network of 13,0002


miles


of caves and cellars. Back at ground level, I took in


Castle Hill’s cobbled streets. In the 15th-century Buda was a German enclave and this is reflected in its older buildings such as Matthias Church, with a roof shrouded in uniquely-Hungarian coloured Zsolnay tiles. Next to the church the fairytale-like


turrets of Fisherman’s Bastion peeked from its arcades. Not only is it one of Budapest’s most striking sights, but it offers impressive views of the city. Feeling peckish I hopped on a tram back to Pest and Vörösmarty Tér, one of


42 HOLIDAY www.rci.com


Budapest’s main squares, to enjoy the fine Hungarian Coffee House tradition in the 19th-century Café Gerbeaud, one of the capital’s finest. I devoured a slice of Esterházy cake, a layered gateau, digesting the impressive surroundings. Crystal chandeliers, marble-topped tables, heavy drapes and wood-panelled counters told of a decadent bygone era. After browsing the city’s main shopping street, Váci Utca, I visited Hotel Gellért which houses some of the finest thermal baths in Budapest — being away from Lake Balaton didn’t mean I had to miss out on my spa routine. I’d also heard much about the opulent surroundings at the Gellért and I wasn’t disappointed. The single sex baths are set in a spectacular Art Nouveau building with huge columns and delicate wall patterns — the perfect place to soak away your cares. Leaving the baths I took an early dinner at 220 Éves, a 220-year-old cellar restaurant where, nestled by its old stone walls, I marvelled at Budapest — a city of historic wanderings and ample ways to relax and soak up the atmosphere.


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Trains from Lake Balaton to Budapest’s Déli and Keleti stations run throughout the day and take around two hours.


There’s no better time - Book now


Click rci.com


Call 0845 60 86 102


For Travel Services 0845 60 86 265


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A DAY IN...


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