When I got to Budapest, I knew there was one thing I absolutely had to try – the thermal baths! A holdover from Turkish influence, Budapest has many public baths. They all have multiple pools that are heated or cooled to different temperatures, and you can go from pool to pool. And if you know me well, you know there is nothing I love more than a long bath with a book!
There are two bath houses that are best known – Gellert and Schenzyi. I decided to go to the Schenzyi baths because that’s what my hostel recommended. I woke up and went first thing in the morning to try to avoid the crowds as much as possible.
The baths were about 2.5 miles from the hostel, but I decided to walk rather than take public transit. It was my first morning in Budapest and I thought the walk would be great for acquainting me with the city. Plus, for the public, I was told you can’t go to the baths until 9 because that’s when the cash point opens (but I wasn’t able to verify this – I think if you just buy your ticket there and not through your lodging, you can get there at 6 when the baths open).
So I wandered over, and what a wander it was! I went across downtown Pest (Budapest is the joining of two cities – Buda and Pest, so there’s one side of the river that’s the Buda side and one is the Pest). I went up one of the main shopping avenues that turns into a broad avenue with many embassies. It was so pretty!
I loved the vibe of Budapest – it was really relaxed and felt quite friendly. As I got to the park where the baths were, I came upon Heroes Square, where there are many statues to great Hungarians. It was cool! I’m still getting used to the number of statues that seem to be everywhere in Europe.
The park where the baths are is just gorgeous, and there’s even a castle on the grounds. There are also lakes and lots of open spaces. The gardens were also incredibly well done!
As I came upon the baths, I was taken by the building – it’s enormous but so intricate, detailed and gorgeous. And the gardens out front make it feel incredibly opulent!
I went in, found the locker rooms, and the headed out to the pools. There are three outdoor pools and then something like 15 indoor pools. It was such a fun way to spend the morning!
My favorite pool was the outdoor pool that’s heated to be quite warm. Given that it was still morning when I was there, it was probably in the mid-70s outside. So the warm water was perfect.
As I’ve been traveling, one of the things I’ve missed most has been my bathtub and generally taking baths. It felt so good to just sit and soak, even if it wasn’t my bathtub!
I went inside and went through as many of those pools as I could find. The building was fun because the interior was maze-like, and honestly, the maps weren’t much use or informative. So each pool was just kind of a surprise!
It was fun to see what each one was – there was one that was about 60F and it actually felt good for about 30 seconds after all of the hot ones! Most of the other pools were 90 – 110F, and apparently some of them have different medicinal waters. The signs were not helpful for figuring out which was which (they just had the temperature on them, or that was all I could read!). But for me it didn’t matter, and was just fun and relaxing to enjoy the baths!
I can see why this is the kind of thing people say you shouldn’t miss in Budapest! It was one of the most relaxing mornings of my trip so far.