Any suggestions on whether ones should try more than one of the bath houses or are they all the same? And the same question for the river cruises? Don't need a dinner cruise, but a night time one would be nice.
The best baths in Budapest are at the Szechenyi Baths and Pool. The architecture is amazing and there are many options including baths, saunas, spa treatments (massages), and outdoor pool. It is top notch and not like the others. www.bathsbudapest.com/szechenyi-bath
As for cruises, check out this on Viator. I have tried this cruise and loved it. It is called a dinner cruise but the dinner is optional and you do not have to eat. It is a buffet you can take or leave though this would make a nice dinner. www.viator.com/tours/Budapest/Budapest-Danube-River-Dinner-Cruise/d499-5808DINNER Again, the buffet is optional but having eaten it, I have to say I would definitely choose to include the buffet.
We liked Szechenyi the best, would highly recommend it. And would also recommend following Rick's advice to a "T," as it might otherwise be a bit confusing when you get in there.
For a night time cruise, we did the Legenda one that Rick recommends (I believe if you mention his name/book, you get a 10% discount). http://www.legenda.hu/en. It was an hour or two, you got a drink included, and it was lovely.
Worldinbetween, once again we agree. I would suggest people research the baths a little. A history nut is going to enjoy one of the ancient baths, a family maybe Szechenyi, someone looking for the real benefits of the baths might prefer one of the more modern ones. Then there are the special activities and the privacy issues at the various bath houses to consider in making a decision. Lot of research, but no single correct answer.
What I might say about the Szechenyi is that they are the least intimidating if you have never done this sort of thing. Possibly because you will be there with so many other tourists as lost as you are. Get a cabana room if you have any shyness or personal space issues as the flesh gets pressed pretty tight in the locker rooms when the spa is busy.
Lol I need the same advice. Were considering the baths, but dont know the etiquette. Am I too understand they are segregated? I dont want to be apart from the wife for hours. Are these clothing optional?
Some baths are coed all the time, some part of the time. All the coed are clothing required (as far as I know). Here is the official website for the holding company that operates them. Lots of information on each bath house. My wife's modesty would put rival that of a burka wearing turk. She freeked out a little in the dressing rooms. But like I said, you can always get a cabana at the Széchenyi.
Read about them and then decide how many you want to visit. A lot depends on how much time you have and what else you want to do while in town.
My wife and I have only been to the Gellert Baths, once in 2011 and again in 2014. I would recommend it highly, even more so if the outdoor area is open (which I guess depends upon time of year and weather). But go early in the day as on our first visit we went in the evening and the locker room was kind of grungy. The second time we went in the morning and it was much better. I wouldn't say it's the best, since I have not been to any others. But we enjoyed it very much.
Thank you very much for the replies. Lord knows, between my back, knee and neuropathy, I could use some good old-fashioned medicine! :)
And James, upon a second look, I think walking the chain bridge will kill me. Im sure ill make it though. Off to the gym...
From you descriptions I was sort of worried about that. Out front of your hotel there is a tram line. Take the tram one direction and in two stops you can transfer to the metro which will, in two stops, take you to the heart of the tourist sites in Pest. Take the tram two stops in the other direction and you can then transfer to another tram that will take you to the Market and the Jewish Quarter and then to the center of sites in Pest. Here is a decent metro and tram map: http://www.emta.com/IMG/jpg/budapestnetwork.jpg It doesn't show the new M4 line, but you don't need that anyway. Best of all it is a simple map. All you will need is the outer loop tram (4/6) the Pest river front tram (2), Buda river front tram (19/41) the Gellert/Market/Synagogue/Pest Center Tram (47/49), the underground to the park, bath and Hero's Square (M1) and because of where your hotel is the M2 metro. Forget the rest.
Resting just 5 minutes does wonders. Ill get to people watch. Thanks for the knowledge!
You guys are great! I too, try to steer the drunk tourists in the right direction when im in the French Quarter- even if I am three sheets to the wind and walking down the middle of Decatur St. ;)
Don't forget to take a rubber swim cap. Won't let you into the baths without'em.
Not a requirement at Szenchenyi. But i had always heard that some do require, just don't know which ones. Go to their Web pages to check.
Returned from Budapest a few weeks ago. While I didn't do a river cruise (more on that later), I can speak to some of the baths.
My partner and I liked Király and Rudas far more than Széchenyi. If anything, there was less of a language barrier at the former two than at the latter: all of the attendants spoke perfect English and were helpful (and once you've been to one bath, you learn the routine). And as there were more locals and fewer tourists at the smaller baths in Buda, it was a more pleasant experience.
Most of the baths are co-ed all the time. Rudas still has single-sex days, but the others are almost always co-ed during operating hours, save for some of the smaller, therapeutic areas. And that leads to this: Széchenyi's outside baths are open far longer than the thermal spa, which closes around dusk. The entrance for the outdoor bath at Széchenyi is on the north side, the spa on the south. So if you want to soak in the hotter water in the evening, either go to Rudas, Király, or Gellért. The outdoor pools at Széchenyi aren't as hot, though the architecture is spectacular.
Frankly, the experience at Király and Rudas was superior in every way. The full assortment of pools (from 28°C to 42-44°C), saunas, and steam baths are there, the Turkish architecture is there, the changing rooms are easy to use (both have a selection of lockers and cabins - the latter cost extra), and the staff are friendly and helpful. I felt more relaxed, and more exposed to Hungarian culture, from the Rudas and Király baths than from the tourist-laden Széchenyi. Fewer crowds = better service, per my experience.
As for not doing the Danube cruise, we took in the river view on Budapest's wonderful new bike sharing system, MOL BuBi (or just "BuBi" for short). The bikes are easy to ride, and given the main sites in Buda and Pest aren't too geographically spread out, it's easy (and fast... and scenic) to ride bikes from point A to point B. The view from the Buda bike-walk path over to Pest is lovely at night, and you can go at your own pace on the BuBi.
The bike sharing system in Budapest is a game changer: easy to get around town, affordable, and it allows you to learn the layout of the city with ease (note that bike lanes are fairly plentiful) while taking in the sights, sounds, and people. We rode the bikes far more often than the wonderful Metro system (BuBi is run by the same parent organization, FYI). The only thing is that a temporary membership is tied to a mobile phone number, so you'll need to either have global phone coverage (e.g. T-Mobile), or pop into a wi-fi area to get the email from MOL with your PIN. But once you have your PIN, you can check out bikes with ease.
I have printed up the great advice from y'all. We were definitely going to take advantage of biking throughout the three weeks. Its so much easier on my knee.
Its a shame to require rubber caps as im bald and have a large fleur-de-lis tattoo on it. :)
A couple of photos from the embankment at Christmas: http://1drv.ms/1yAH0XP
The evening cruises are pretty special. There is something really remarkable when you see the city from the water; day or night. If you get time to go to Szentendre, then take the boat back. Its pretty stunning to see the Parliament rise up before you. Why do you think Viking shows so much of Budapest in their TV advertisements. Its 10% of the trip but 75% of the marketing footage.
At the baths I went to (Szechenyi, Veli Bej, and Gellert) bathing caps were not required unless one wanted to swim in the lap pools at Szechenyi and Gellert. They were not required for the hot pools or plunge pools.
I could not pick just one bath, but if I had to choose two of the three I went to, I would pick Szechenyi and Veli Bej. They are very different, and I loved them both.