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Budapest is suited to a wide range of people, especially for those in search of spa treatment (there are 123 thermal springs) and ancillary medical facilities, including cosmetic dentistry and weight reduction.
Accommodation in the city ranges from top-flight international hotels to campsites, the big growth in the late Nineties was in family-run pensions, usually located among the pleasant hills of Buda. Budapest attracts a wider business community, 4- and 5-star hotels are becoming more expensive and comparable in price to other European capitals. Shopping enthusiasts are treated to a variety of brand-label shops, the main shopping district is centred on Vaci utca on the Pest side. Look out for bargains in traditional embroidery, Herend china, leather and handcrafted goods. Craft markets are located at Marcibanyi Square and up on Castle Hill during high season. Flea markets at Petofi Csarnok (weekends only) and in Ecseri ut are worth a visit. A grand and well-designed shopping mall has opened near Nyugati railway station. Popular attractions in Budapest include: organised city tours, including river trips; Buda's huge cave system, which can be entered at several points; strolls around Castle Hill and St Matyas Church, along Fo utca in Buda's Vizivaros (Watertown) area, or around the Opera House in Pest; up to the Citadel for the impressive view; museums on practically everything, including pastry-making; Museum of Fine Arts with a major collection of Spanish masters; cogwheel railway into the Buda hills, followed by a ride back on a narrow-gauge railway operated by children; thermal and Turkish baths; swimming and other sports on Margaret Island; City Park for the zoo, circus and boating; skating in winter on Europe's largest outdoor rink. By night there are a range of bars and nightclubs; cabaret bars at most of the large hotels; 4 casinos. The magnificent Opera House is a must and music lovers are well catered for all year round, with plenty of open-air concerts during summer. The Merlin Theatre usually puts on at least one English-language production in the summer season and there are a reasonable number of English-language films at cinemas. Two English-language papers (Budapest Week and Budapest Sun) provide full listings weekly. Excursions from Budapest include: half day trips up the Danube by boat, bus or train to Szentendre (picturesque Serb town long favoured by artists), Visegrad (remains of the Royal Palace and stunning views from the castle on the hill) or Esztergom with its cathedral. Full day: Eger with its fortress and surviving minaret and for wine tasting; charming small town of Veszprem; Lake Balaton; Tokaj to taste wines in the producers' own cellars; plenty of offers from riding exhibitions followed by a barbecue to a "village wedding" plus feast.