Our couchsurfing host messaged “I’m on the pest side of the river”. That was how we found out Budapest is actually Buda on one side of the Danube, and Pest on the other. Most attractions are on the Pest side, including the steamy Budapest Bath House Szechenyi Baths.
After a night of barhopping with our CouchSurfing host to lots of hipster bars, like “the hole”, we were ready to lounge and soak in the “Roman Baths”. The bars in Budapest were really unique: drinking from buckets with hammocks as seats, and enjoying outdoor bars while sitting on upside down beer crates. The nightlife in Budapest alone is worth going for.
We were unusually messy that day
Exploring the Szechenyi Baths
You just cannot go to Budapest without taking a dip into the warm water of this ancient bathhouse. It’s a little yucky… but the architecture dated back to 1913 is marvelous! It looks like someone’s house or a princess’s palace. It doesn’t hurt that a gorgeous park surrounds them; on the park grounds is the Vajdahunyad Castle.
There are hot springs all over Budapest; they are bubbling away just under the ground. Szechenyi is just one of many baths, the next popular being called “Gellert”. There are 3 pools outside that aren’t temperature regulated, so they were very warm in the summer. The Indoor houses over 20 pools/saunas that are temperature regulated. It is the biggest medical spa in Europe. They add healing minerals to the water, so you can go around and choose the one that’s least stinky! They claim that the natural spring water can cure anything from arthritis to back pain.
Seriously, I’m sure you’ve caught on I didn’t like actually being in the baths. I don’t really ever like taking a bath. It was so dirty here! There is gunk floating in the water and the warmth just made it feel like I was going to leave with some flesh eating disease. I know what you’re thinking, why are you telling me to go here!? Because it’s a beautiful place. If you don’t want to get in to water, you can still catch some rays and people watch.
Tips for Szechenyi Thermal Baths
Take the metro to the Szechenyi-furdo stop. This was the most serious city about checking for validated tickets- don’t try to cheat!
Rent a locker or cabin for your things
Don’t forget to check out the whirlpools inside. I’m just not a public hot tub person. They gross me out!
Bring your own towel, it’ll save you waiting in line and money.
On top of rentals it’ll cost you about 20 bucks to get in.
Give yourself at least 2-3 hours here.
People weren’t naked in any baths I went to, but I was told that there were some swimsuit optional pools.
There is a gym, and spa but I didn’t get a massage here. It didn’t have that relaxing feel for me. It was like a city public pool: packed.
Consider visiting in the winter. I think the warmth would be welcoming instead of gross.
You’ll get a discount (at the bath and many museums) if you buy the “Budapest Card” and book online. I didn’t do that because I usually only go in 1 or 2 museums.
The Rest of Budapest
Budapest is one of my ultimate favorite cities. Every building, every site. is more beautiful than the last. The sun setting over the river, the cobblestone streets, and the friendly people make it even better.
Our couchsurfing host, Atilles, took us on a private tour of Budapest. Reason number 51346 why I love couchsurfing. If you don’t have a CS host, there are free walking tours available. From our tour, places worth seeing in Budapest (there are many more, but we were on a time crunch that evening):
House of Terror: museum honoring the people lost due to Nazi actions and Communism
Admire the Hungarian State Opera house; it’s gorgeous.
So is St. Stephen’s Basilica.
Feeling fancy? Eat at the Michelin-starred restaurant Onyx
Parliament in Budapest is probably one of the most beautiful and huge parliaments I’ve seen. Very cool.
The Holocaust Memorial near the Great Synagogue to have a moment of silence for the 600,000 Hungarian Jews that died in the Holocaust.
Eat local goulash then wish you hadn’t. bleckk broth.
This was the heartbreaking place that the Nazis tied together Jews and a rock, forced them to stand on the ledge, and shot and killed only one so he/she would fall back and the others would drown to death. sick.
Have you been to Budapest? What was your favorite part- did you love or hate the baths?
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Rachel Jones is an American who left a career in nursing to live on the beaches on Goa, India two years ago where she is now a Thai masseuse, candle-maker, and travel writer. Her award winning website gives advice on the other 28 countries she's been to but has become the go-to site on India travel, focusing on off beat places & “glamorous travel”. Hippie in Heels has been featured in ELLE magazine & was voted by Flipkey as one of the top 25 female bloggers to follow this year. You can follow her adventures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google plus.
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