Hard to beat for sheer beauty, Budapest ticks every box you could want from a European city and seems to do it without trying.
Uber-cool ruin bars in derelict buildings channel the cool of Berlin, while relaxing here can mean an afternoon in one of Budapest's many parks or a dip in waters from its 100-plus thermal springs. The Hungarian capital is, simply, one of Europe's great must-visits.
You can walk between Budapest’s many sights, or explore by bike using the excellent cycle paths in the city centre. A visit to leafy Normafa Hill on the western fringes of Buda is perfect for a walk and is also a popular sport for sledging when it snows.
If you’re heading up to Buda Castle from Buda riverfront, you could catch the quaint funicular railway to the top of the hill. But if you’re feeling more energetic, you can walk up the winding path to the top instead. The same goes for sizeable Gellért Hill, which makes for a quite steep walk with wonderful city views as you go.
If you fancy a run in Budapest, you'll find scenic routes all over the city. Run along the Pest side of the river or catch the 4 or 6 tram to Margaret Island, a large park in the middle of the Danube. Here you’ll find plenty of picturesque pathways, as well as public swimming pools and a water park that opens in the warmer months.
In the Buda Hills, Normafa is one of the city’s most scenic destinations, with beautiful panoramic views, as well as a host of outdoor activities throughout the year. It’s most popular in the winter months when it’s often buried in snow and a perfect spot for sledging. Normafa Hill can be reached by metro and then tram from the city, with the closest metro stop at Széll Kálmán tér.
If you’re hiring a car, it’s possible to reach the northern edges of Lake Balaton in under an hour. It’s one of Hungary’s most popular holiday destinations and the largest lake in Central Europe. Several villages dot its shoreline, where you’ll find boat rentals, cafés and lots of scenic spots to relax and enjoy the view.
This unusual open-air museum is just 25 minutes south of Budapest city centre and is easily accessible by bus from Kosztolanyi Dezso tér. The park is full of 40 Communist-era statues that were placed there from the 1990s onwards. Perhaps the most famous piece in Memento Park is the giant statue of Stalin’s boots, a partial copy of a statue torn down by anti-Soviet protesters in 1950s.