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3 days in Budapest--what to see/do? baths? Cooking class?

We have 3 days and 2 nights in Budapest in late March and want to make the most of our time while not getting caught up in Traditional tours etc.

We would like to try out the Thermal baths. Any suggestions which one to get authentic experience?

We also would like to try a cooking class. Anyone have a personal favorite? Maybe a specific person or a smaller company?

Finally, anyone with "Not to miss" suggestions? Off the beaten path is always something we like.

Posted by
17854 posts

Special things to do really depends on the dates. 2 nights in Budapest is sort of a waste. If you have someplace else that is just yanking your chain, just drop Budapest. 3 nights is better, 4 nights is a decent visit.

This is a town where traditional tours really aren't necessary unless you have a specific interest you really want to dive deep into. Of course you have to have some interest in the things that Budapest does well to even enjoy one night.

If you have done some research and its the cooking and baths that most attract you, wellllllllllll, again, if there is another place yanking at your chain, you should give it real thought.

For cooking class I had fun with Agnes. You can just go to her apartment and cook or she can meet you at the market and together you shop for everything then cook, Its a full day if you do it that way.

For the baths, the Szechenyi Baths are probalby the easiest for you.

Posted by
32 posts

Clarification: 4 nights would be nice but. . . We are taking a river cruise to Passau and arriving in Budapest only 2 nights prior and then 1 night on the boat before sailing. We have "traditional tour of the city" included --so we looking at "out of ordinary" excursions for our first 2 nights.

Posted by
3961 posts

We recently spent 5 nights in Budapest and wished we had more time. That said, in addition to the previous thread, if you have interest in a walking tour we would recommend Timea Tarjani. Timea does off the beaten path walks as well. She will tailor tours to your interests.

Posted by
532 posts

We had 10 days in BP a little over a year ago. I would second James' recommendation of Szechenyi Bath's as it the easiest to figure out. RS has a detailed description in his Eastern Europe book.

I'm not sure about "off the beaten path" but an "off the wall" experience would be to visit a ruin bar. If you're interested, start with the granddaddy of them all...Szimpla Kert. If you don't what a ruin bar is, Google it. We are in our late 50's and you wouldn't think a bar of this nature would appeal to us but it was one of the most vivid experiences we had during our time there.

Posted by
279 posts

My wife and I have taken two cooking classes in Budapest. These were on two different visits to the city. We took a class from Agnes and from Chefparade. The class with Agnes was in her home. The Chefparade class was in a kitchen classroom and started with a tour and shopping the great central market. Both classes were great. The Chefparade class was our first cooking class while traveling and started us trying to find a class whenever we travel.

A unmentioned feature of a cooking class is that it gives you several hours of one-on-one with a native and you have an opportunity to talk about a lot things besides just cooking.

Posted by
1189 posts

Thermal baths and skip the in door cooking. And which thermal bath? Easy, do two. Szechenyi Furdos. This is the Budapest Baths. Locals and tourists visit this. It is open air and a real beauty. Gellert is the other. An art nouveau beauty visited by tourists. Bring your own swim suit. Really, Szechenyi will be a life long memory.

I have the feeling that you have two partial days and one full day.

I have a home made map of Budapest and how to get around the cities. If you would like ask for it at

wayne iNWI

Posted by
17854 posts

Usually I say to save things like the bath houses and day trips and cooking classes for the 4th, 5th and 6th days, cause these take at least 4 hours and there is so much to see and do in Budapest. But if cooking is a thing for you, at least with Agnes you can get inside of a typical home (apt) and talk to a local and drink palinka. I love the Bath houses, but I've been surprised how many people have enjoyed them less, especially the locker rooms. But again, it is a cultural experience. Not so much the two mentioned above, but bath houses in general are still a way of life for many

What ever you do, an evening on the Danube corso is wonderful, then get out of District V and get lost in other areas.

Posted by
5697 posts

This is our third trip to Budapest -- and our third time at Szechenyi baths. Might be a good first-day item to beat (or give in to) jet-lag; after 2-3 hours soaking in the warm/hot water you will be so relaxed you will sleep through the night and be ready to take on the world in the morning.
(We stay at Liszt Ferenc ter, so these baths are a direct Metro ride away.)

Posted by
1598 posts

I hope to visit Budapest in the next year or two. This will be our first trip there. Why do you say that many people don't enjoy the bath houses because of the locker rooms?
Thank you!

Posted by
17854 posts

All depends on your sensibilities. In the US the days of gang showeres in public school lockerrooms is over reflecting s new social "modesty". First, Bath houses are a must if you are into cultural experiences. I love them.
Some of the Bath houses have very nice, very modern lockerrooms. Széchenyi, the most popular wit tourists (and my recommendation) with the exception of newish high tech lockers, is still very 1900. On a busy day (most days) you will find yourself pressing the flesh .... literally. But you can pay a bit extra and avoid the press by purchasing a "cabana" room which is really a private changing closet.

Posted by
1598 posts

JamesE, thanks for your description! I didn't realize we would be changing in front of other people! Is the bath you mentioned the only one that has private cabanas?

Posted by
4 posts

We just visited Budapest in September. A highlight was a walk through the City Park and a several-hour soak at the Szechenyi Baths. Rent a private cabin to store your stuff, and bring your own flipflops and towel and a plastic bag for toting your wet suit, etc. It's a lot of fun to loll in the indoor and outdoor hot pools (doesn't matter if it's chilly outside) with the peoples of the world and lots of Hungarians. Also enjoyed a walking tour of the old Jewish quarter, St. Matthias Church and the Fisherman's Bastion, and just wandering around the Buda Castle area. We did not have time to visit the Parliament or the Opera House and hope to do that next time. We went to the folklore performance at the Duna Palace, which is undoubtedly a "touristy" thing to do so did not have high expectations, but the musicians and dancers were excellent, and we were really glad we did it.

As someone who was raised by Hungarian parents and cannot exist without a fresh supply of paprika in my cupboard, I highly recommend The Cuisine of Hungary by George Lang as the definitive work on Hungarian cooking, which is not especially difficult unless you want to learn to make strudel.

Posted by
11 posts

Excited about this thread! Headed to Budapest for 4 nights in April with my 26yo daughter. Thank you for the info/insights!

Posted by
37 posts

I did the Szechenyi baths but I think a full day might be boring. I felt it was worth a few hours.

I treated myself to lunch at the New York Café on the way back from the baths--pricey and touristy but I enjoyed it.

One "off the beaten path" thing I did was take the cog railway and "children's railway" (it's actually staffed by children) up into the green Buda hills. I would have continued onward to the very top but I ran out of time; the children's railway stops running in late afternoon and I wanted to get back. You can google Buda Hills cog railway and children's railway (they are 2 different systems) for more information. There is a short walk between the last stop of the cog railway and the first stop of the children's railway.

I felt the House of Terror was exceptional and worthwhile but be prepared for a long line and a somber mood when you get out. A lot of information to digest too. Good if you like history. If you aren't a history buff, i would skip it.

I enjoyed the Vaci Utca (a shopping street, closed to cars). It's crowded and touristy but great for shopping.