This is a city of two halves separated by the Danube. To the west is hilly Buda, to the east is Pest, spread out on a plain.In 1873, the two parts combined to establish Budapest. Many of the magnificent bridges date from the 19th Century, when the city was forging its identity. Expect cafe culture, art nouveau buildings, late-night revelry and hot water. The city has geothermal springs, which attracted the Romans.Brody House: A secretive, 11-room hotel next to the excellent Hungarian National Museum in Pest. You enter up a grand stone staircase into a shabby-chic lounge with creaky floorboards, old leather sofas, fireplaces, an honesty bar and an arty crowd. Super-comfortable. Situated in the north-east of downtown Pest, Mamaison is a modern, friendly hotel a short walk from the Szechenyi Thermal Baths. A lift whisks you to 68 smart rooms with modern art, espresso machines and wide beds.Up the hill in Buda, not far from Matthias Church, Maison has 17 delightful rooms set around a courtyard with a jolly lunchtime bistro on one side – plus nine more just down the street. This is another quiet setting. Designer furniture features throughout and some bathrooms have marble fittings. Corinthia Hotel: One of the inspirations for the hit 2014 film ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’, starring Ralph Fiennes. If you book in the winter, last-minute rooms can be had for £95. At other times, they’re from £150 – plush furnishings, tinkling pianos and spa entry included.Frici Papa: This is a no-nonsense restaurant in the centre of Pest serving dishes including dumpling soup, goulash and chicken paprika with noodles. It’s great value: a meal for two with wine starts at £15. Service is swift and friendly.Hauer: Off the beaten track, but not far from Keleti station, Hauer is an oasis of calm. The restaurant/patisserie dates from 1899 but closed in 1991, then re-opened again two years ago. It has red velvet curtains and old wooden panels. Go for mash and pickles. Cake is £2 a slice.Expect cafe culture, art nouveau buildings, late-night revelry and hot water. The city has geothermal springs, which attracted the RomansGreat Market Hall: This massive covered hall by the river near Liberty Bridge is on two levels. On the mezzanine, stalls offer goulash and bowls of spicy fish soup for £4.50. On the ground floor, cheeses, fruits and vegetables are sold. It’s a raucous, cacophonous place usually swarming with tourists. But it’s great for lunch or a snack – a slice of apple strudel is recommended.Karavan Street Food: In the heart of the historic Jewish quarter on Kazinczy Street, this is popular for brunches – especially for those who have been out in the nearby bars the night before. Stalls offer chicken stews with dumplings, burgers, pizzas and kurtos cakes.Best ice cream: It’s worth a diversion to the little ice cream stall on March 15 Square, near Elizabeth Bridge on the Pest side. Flavours include pistachio, orange and cheesecake and raspberry and basil. A scoop is £1, but after 9.30pm they’re 60p.Budapest’s spas are legendary, with waters touching 40c. The best is the Szechenyi Thermal Spa in a huge palace-like complex in Varosliget Park. Arrive before the crowds to make a day – or at least half a day – of it. There are places to eat and sun loungers in the courtyard. Entry costs £15 and includes locker access.Visit a ‘ruin bar’: The Jewish quarter fell into decline under communism. Now, the crumbling edifices have become a warren of ‘ruin bars’ around Kazinczy Street. They’re incredibly busy at weekends.Pick up ingredients from the Great Market Hall, or in one of the supermarkets that dot the city centre, and head for the river. Some gather by the lowest point of the suspension cables of Liberty Bridge to enjoy sandwiches. Afterwards, walk along the waterfront.Enjoy the delights of the Budapest Pinball Museum – where the history of Hungarian pinball is explained – and pop in to dozens of others, including the Liszt Ferenc Memorial Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts. A 24-hour Budapest Card, which covers museum entry and public transport, is £19.If you don’t want a Budapest Card, a 24-hour public transport pass is £4.30. The M1 Metro is the oldest on mainland Europe, with tiny trains and narrow carriages. Tickets are available at stations.The Dohany Street Synagogue is the largest in Europe, seating 3,000 people. There is a moving weeping willow-shaped memorial to the Jews who died in Budapest during World War II. Excellent tours are included in the £10 entry fee, with cash going towards maintaining the building.Budapest is the capital and the most populous city of Hungary and the 10th-largest city in the European Union by population within city limits.The city had an estimated population of 1,752,704 in 2016 distributed over a land area of about 525 square kilometres.Budapest is both a city and county, and forms the centre of the Budapest metropolitan area, which has an area of 7,626 square kilometres and a population of 3,303,786, comprising 33 percent of the population of Hungary.The history of Budapest began when an early Celtic settlement transformed into the Roman town of Aquincum, the capital of Lower Pannonia.The Hungarians arrived in the territory in the late 9th Century.The area was pillaged by the Mongols in 1241.Buda, the settlements on the west bank of the river, became one of the centres of Renaissance humanist culture by the 15th Century.The Battle of Mohács, in 1526, was followed by nearly 150 years of Ottoman rule.After the reconquest of Buda in 1686, the region entered a new age of prosperity. Pest-Buda became a global city with the unification of Buda, Óbuda, and Pest on 17 November 1873, with the name ‘Budapest’ given to the new capital.Budapest also became the co-capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a great power that dissolved in 1918, following World War I. The city was the focal point of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, the Battle of Budapest in 1945 and the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.Budapest is an Alpha ? global city with strengths in commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education and entertainment.It is Hungary’s financial centre and the highest ranked Central and Eastern European city on Innovation Cities Top 100 index, as well ranked as the second fastest-developing urban economy in Europe.Budapest is the headquarters of the European Institute of Innovation & Technology, the European Police College and the first foreign office of the China Investment Promotion Agency.Over 40 colleges and universities are located in Budapest, including the Eötvös Loránd University, the Semmelweis University and the Budapest University of Technology & Economics.Opened in 1896, the city’s subway system, the Budapest Metro, serves 1.27 million, while the Budapest Tram Network serves 1.08 million passengers daily.Budapest is cited as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, ranked as “the world’s second best city” by Condé Nast Traveler, and “Europe’s 7th most idyllic place to live” by Forbes.Among Budapest’s important museums and cultural institutions is the Museum of Fine Arts. Further famous cultural institutions are the Hungarian National Museum, House of Terror, Franz Liszt Academy of Music, Hungarian State Opera House and National Széchényi Library. The central area of the city along the Danube River is classified as a United Nations Educational Scientific & Cultural Organisation World Heritage Site and has many notable monuments, including the Hungarian Parliament, Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, Gresham Palace, Széchenyi Chain Bridge, Matthias Church and the Liberty Statue.Other famous landmarks include Andrássy Avenue, St Stephen’s Basilica, Heroes’ Square, the Great Market Hall, the Nyugati Railway Station built by the Eiffel Company of Paris in 1877 and the second-oldest metro line in the world, the Millennium Underground Railway.The city also has around 80 geothermal springs, the largest thermal water cave system, second largest synagogue and third largest Parliament building in the world.Budapest attracts 4.4 million international tourists per year, making it a popular destination in Europe.