From the time I landed in Budapest until the time my ship was set to sail, I had around five hours to explore Budapest. That’s not much time! The minute I deposited my luggage onboard the ship, I took off.
The first and most important thing I wanted to do in Budapest was to visit a thermal bath. There are hundreds in the area because Budapest sits on top of tons of thermal springs. In fact, “taking the waters” has been part of Hungarian daily life since the Roman times. They are supposed to be medicinal and soothing. In fact, according to Rick Steves (my go-to European guru) said that baths are part of the healthcare system, as doctors regularly prescribe treatments that include massage, soaking in baths of various heat and mineral compositions, and swimming laps. For these patients, a visit to the bath is subsidized.
With indoor and outdoor pools, saunas, massages and other services, I thought this sounded great! Before I left Texas, I bought a ticket to Széchenyi Baths, one of the most popular and convenient spas in the middle of Budapest.
I planned ahead and used a hop-on-hop-off bus tour to get me as close as possible to Széchenyi Baths. I got off the bus at Heros’ Square and walked about five minutes or so through City Park to get there. The building is hard to miss as it’s massive, grandiose and yellow.
Photos from City Park:
The Széchenyi ticket I bought online (Thanks, Dawn!) included the use of a cabin to change and store my stuff, which was super useful. I also bought a towel in advance, because I heard the towel rental line could be long and take up a lot of time, something I was short on. It looks a few minutes to figure out how to use the cabin with the electronically chipped band they provided, but once I did, it was easy. Then I hit the water. It felt WONDERFUL! I avoided some of the hotter indoor pools because I’d been sweating from the heat, but the outdoor pools were a pleasantly warm temp. It felt wonderful! There were Hungarians and tourists everywhere, super crowded, but it was entertaining to people-watch and check out all the different bathing suit styles. Speedos were definitely popular no matter what shape or size the wearer was.
I spent about an hour at Széchenyi. It was wonderful, and I highly recommend it if you’ve ever in Budapest!