Hi, I am going on the Rick Steves Eastern Europe trip in August, and I am thinking of going to some thermal baths during my free time. Any recommendations for Budapest? Thanks!
I took this tour in 2016 and the baths were not an included activity that we did with the tour. However, during our walking tour of Heroes Square and the park on our first morning in Budapest our guide did make a detour over to the Szechenyi baths and gave us a brief overview of how to buy a ticket, what to bring/not bring, etc. in case we were interested in doing this during our free time. Quite a few of us did end up going back the following afternoon to experience it. I'm not sure if every guide does this, but I feel that probably any of the guides could help steer you in the right direction if you let them know this is something you're interested in.
Depending on your personality you may/may not want to see if others in your group also want to do the baths. (Not sure if you're traveling alone or not) I feel like I got more out of it by being there with about 10 other members from my group so that we could relax and socialize together. I think if I had gone alone I would have sat there for 15 minutes and then been ready to move along to something else. I get bored easily while traveling because I feel like I'm "missing out" if I'm not constantly on the move. Going with a group helped me relax and enjoy just being there and we stayed for about 2 hours. You might be the opposite and want to go alone for some peace and quite so if your group is planning to go together then pick a different time, or a different bath. Just adding this in as something for you to consider.
We did 2 thermal baths while in Budapest.
Both very different but very worth it. If you are looking for an outdoor and evening bath then Szechenyi baths.
If you are looking for an indoor experience or if it is raining then Gellert baths
Hope this help!
Martine nailed it.
You might also consider time and location. Szechenyi baths is a bit more convenient for most tourist accommodations and you can pair it with City Park and Hero's Square and time on Andrassy ut. Gellert is pretty much a single destination, but interesting if you like history.
Thank you, everyone, for your suggestions!
We visited the Gellert Baths during our visit in June and had a great time. The RS guidebook for Budapest does a pretty good job of describing the process and layout for the 3 major thermal baths. His remarks about the wave pool at the Gellert were spot on- get out in the middle and away from the shallow end because the waves are pretty powerful. There are lots of area to lay out on a nice day and also several bath areas inside that involved a little sleuthing to discover. Trams do stop in front of the Hotel Gellert, which is adjacent to the thermal baths. And, the Great Market Hall is across the bridge from the baths.
I agree with the Szechenyi and Gellert recommendations. I would add the Rudas Bath which is very near the Gellert. It is an example of a Turkish layout and quite interesting from that perspective. It is also enclosed, so a good option on a rainy day.
I think of it is a Spa/therapy bath first, while the Gellert is a hotel first. If you have kids with you, the Gellert wave pool is much more fun! Enjoy -
We had a delightful afternoon at Szechenyi baths. Bring a little cash to buy snacks and/or lunch.
Hi from Wisconsin,
Even if it were raining, I would still go to the City Baths (Szechenyi Furdos). Our most memorable visit was while it was snowing.
I'm wondering about logistics once at the baths. If you are out sightseeing, carrying the camera, wearing the moneybelt, carrying the passport in the moneybelt, etc., and then go to the baths, are the lockers secure storage for your personal items? I'm assuming the little bit of cash brought for snacks mentioned above would be for after you get out, reclaim your belongings, and are exploring the rest of the facility?
Which baths? Lets say Szechenyi Baths (but there are a lot of others, famous and obscure)
Secure enough? If I say yes and something happens? It's one if the reasons where you choose to stay is important. I generally make it a visit at the end of the day, then go home and change for dinner or whatever. Of course I stay a block of Andrassy and getting home on the M1 takes 5 min. I've never taken more than 10,000 forint and one credit card. But, yes, I suspect all your gear will be safe. Get a cabana so you aren't in the crowded locker room where people will be seeing you stow your $2000 Nikon.
While carrying your passport is a legal requirement, this might be the one time you will be more comfortable not carrying it. I always have it with me, but I am a stickler about following the law when I am a guest in someone else's country.
Thanks James E. I don't carry expensive items--my camera is a little point-and-shoot--but was mainly concerned about money, cards, and passport. I too always carry my passport. So, I guess I am really asking about what's in the moneybelt. I will be on the RS tour of Eastern Europe, and we will be out and about sightseeing earlier in the day before we are directed to the baths, if we want to go (and I do!) And I will rephrase to a fairer and more specific question: would you feel comfortable storing your passport and money in lockers at the Szechenyi Baths?
I was at the Szecheny Baths in June and rented a Cabana. They fit you with a bracelet that will open and lock your Cabana. I left my money belt with credit card and some cash in it. No problem. I would suggest you take a pair of flip flops if you have some.
I leave my stuff in the locker. I don't worry much. Not really a fair answer because i have a support network in Budapest, but i bet i would anyway. Towels, flip flops can be purchased for a few thousand forints at the little outdoor market behind the bath house. The Budapest Towel isn't a half bad souvenir, the flip flops tend to be a strange sort of affair common in the region.