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Budapest
 
Spanning the Danube, Buda on the hill and Pest on the plain conjure a spectacular cityscape. Blending cobbled streets, neo-classical shrines, art deco lines and a patchwork of disparate styles, this is a city where cultural traditions die hard, yet new generations bring an irrepressible energy. Bars and clubs are open late, there are film festivals and fashion shows, and menus that have moved on from the obligatory goulash. Climb Gellért Hill for fabulous views, chill to open-air opera on Margaret Island, try a thermal bath or take the family to the interactive House of the Future. Traditionalists will make for Fisherman’s Bastion, the Aquincum Museum with its Roman ruins, and drool over confections served up at Gerbeaud’s coffee house.
 
Hungary
 
There always seems to be another side to Hungary. It looks east towards Asia and west to Europe; its capital is actually two cities, Buda and Pest, either side of the mighty Danube; it truly is somewhere to visit in both summer and winter. Far older than France or Germany, the country of the Magyars has had centuries to develop many different facets. In summer, visitors and locals head for Lake Balaton, the largest lake in Central Europe with many adjoining spa towns. Winter is for Budapest, one of the great European cities. Christmas Fairs and open air skating (overlooked by the majestic Vajdahunyad castle) and a New Year’s Ball that rivals Vienna’s. Pest grew as a trading centre and is now the seat of Parliament. Buda is the ‘Royal’ side, with the Palace now a superb art gallery and museum. The linking bridges, notably the Chain and Elizabeth, are great attractions in their own right. St Gellért is, typically, one of several Patron Saints, martyred by being rolled down the prominent Hill that bears his name. It’s where you’ll find the imposing Citadella fortress as well as the magnificent Gellért colonnaded spa.
 

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