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A couple of Budapest Questions

1) I see the Great Market Hall opens at 6AM. Will the full range of vendors be open that early or is it like in the US where the mall unlocks its doors for walkers but only the coffee and pastry shops are available?

2) Also, in the RS Budapest book, he mentions that with the Szechenyi Baths he far prefers the swimming pools to the thermal baths but doesn't really indicate why. Do any of you have experiences that may shed a little light?

Thanks very much for your time, I am grateful for this forum!

Posted by
8882 posts

I've never been there at 6 am, but given the nature of the food stalls on the first floor I suspect they are all open. The tourist junk on the second floor might not be; nor the restaurants on the second floor. I go for all the colors of all the produce and to watch locals shopping, so 6 am wouldn't be bad for me.

The swimming pools are thermal baths. But they are more recreational while the indoor baths are designed to be more therapeutic. Try it all and decide for yourself.

Posted by
2685 posts

I can't answer your question regarding the market however with the baths I can reiterate what James has written. The pools (I wouldn't describe them as swimming pools as they were quite crowded when I was there which would make swimming difficult but on a sunny day they're a nice place to lounge around like any other resort pool. They also have the nice addtion of a number of chess sets within the pools which (if you can nab one) makes for a unique way of enjoying a game or two.

The spa side consists of a variety of features intended for therapeutic/relaxation purposes. These consist of saunas, steam baths, plunge pools of varying temperatures (some very cold ones) and a fun oval pool that utilises jets of water to propel you around the pool. I can also recommend a massage, very reasonable prices and very rejuvenating.

I recall our day spent at the Szecnhenyi Baths with much fondness despite it being about 15 years ago and would never miss the opportunity for a visit there if in Budapest.

Posted by
1109 posts

What James and JC wrote about the baths. If you go for the upgraded price, and they will ask you as you enter, it includes a quick tour and explanation of all the different pools, spas, etc, use of a robe, and access to the rooftop lounge area which was quite nice. They also had, when we were there in 2014, unlimited cold fruit tea (very refreshing) and a fruit plate. It wasn’t that much more money i recall.

Posted by
5880 posts

Don't forget to take a rubber bathing hat if you're going to the baths.

Posted by
1269 posts

I know I went to the market early last year in June, but I think it was more like 8 a.m. rather than 6:00 a.m. I would say about a third of the stalls on the bottom floor were open and I don’t remember anything on the top being open. I went to buy paprika for gifts and had the choice between 2 or 3 stalls at that time of day. What was open were the perishable fruit and vegetable stalls, and some of the meat stalls.

Posted by
8882 posts

That's surprising. I've been there between 8 and 9 pretty often and the first floor was 90% open. Live and learn I guess

Posted by
111 posts

Well, I am grateful to all of you for the help - thank you!

I may hold off on the baths as this is a solo trip and it seems to be more of a social setting. We'll see.

Budapest is definitely getting short changed on this trip - landing at 4:20pm Friday and depart the next day by train - either 11:40 or 1:40 to Bratislava. I know I'll be back to Budapest on an upcoming trip so want to just learn the logistical basics this time. Was thinking Friday evening at the baths. Up early to the market when it opens and over to Matthias Church before stopping in at a grocery store for the paprika and some souvenir meat at a normal price. The kind that can legitimately travel home, of course. It'll be late August and I'll be at the InterContinental which seems well placed as a location.

If the baths aren't a natural fit for a solo traveler - do any of you have suggestions for a Friday evening activity? River tour, maybe? I have no concerns about being out and about at night, Budapest feels safe in how people experience it and I'm a solo traveler who sticks to the lit areas far away from the dark alleys. :)

Posted by
8882 posts

Budapest is definitely getting short changed on this trip - landing at 4:20pm Friday and depart the next day by train - either 11:40 or 1:40 to Bratislava.

If you are landing at 4:20, my guess is you will make it to your hotel shortly before 6 pm if the flight is on time. I am guessing you already have a hotel. If not, then I suggest the Intercontinental or the Marriott on the Corso. Normally I say go inland, but with one night, that would be the place to be. I also dont know the time of year, and that impacts a few things. With a hotel location and a month, I might have some suggestions.

Posted by
111 posts

Thanks James, I kind of buried that info up in there in the ramblings, sorry about that. Late August and I do have a room at the InterContinental.

It's a weird thing to want to get a high level feel for the place but still save some "firsts" for when I return on the later trip with my mom.

Posted by
91 posts

Another option for visiting the baths in Budapest if you're travelling solo, though it won't work for this trip because of the days you're there, is women's only day every Tuesday at the Rudas Baths (making an assumption here that you're a female). I've been with my daughter and by myself. It's a very old bath, built in the 16th century, very atmospheric.

Posted by
8882 posts

I just wouldnt waste the time that the baths require on such a short trip. I would have dinner some place at the far end of Andrassy; Paprikas maybe. You will get to see Heros square that way. Then walk back down Andrassy as it gets late and enjoy the lights and Architecture. Andrassy is beautiful in the evening all lit up. Stop at Kadarkas for some real Budapest wine action, rest up a bit, then back to the Corso in front of the hotel to admire the lights of Buda across the River.

The next morning ride the 2 Tram down the river to the Market. Then the 47/49 Tram to Deak Fernec ter. and walk back to the hotel. Great cross section of the town.

Or the 2 up to the 4/6, just beyond the Parliament, cross the river on the 4/6 and take the tram down the other side, cross the river on the 47/49, connect to the 2 back to your hotel. These trams are amazing "tour busses".

Posted by
111 posts

Thank you, James! With your layout and the aid of Google Maps, I can see what a lovely way this will be to spend my short time and still get at least a glimpse of a sense of things.

As much as I'm looking forward to this first trip, I'm finding myself already piecing some things together for the next one. :)

Posted by
18 posts

MNFerst,
The baths are just fine for a solo traveler, I do it all the time.
Also you really aren't allowed to bring meat products back into the USA, I assume you are talking about the hundreds of kinds of sausages that are available.
You can try smuggling them back, but if you get caught customs will just take them away and destroy them.