After spending the previous afternoon crawling and climbing through caves, my muscles were feeling quite sore. When in Budapest there’s an obvious treatment for this - head to one of the city’s famous thermal baths!
We checked out of our hotel room and made our way to Széchenyi Thermal Baths, the largest medicinal bath in Europe. There are so many baths to choose from in Budapest but we settled on Széchenyi as it was the most famous one and had great reviews. Plus the architecture looked amazing, resembling a palace from the outside.
We had pre-purchased our entry ticket online so we handed over our voucher on arrival in exchange for a plastic wristband resembling a watch. This wristband allows you entrance into the baths and grants you access to your cabin or locker, depending on what you have paid for. Our ticket allowed us a private cabin and I believe this is worth paying a bit extra for as it gives you a private place to change and securely store your belongings. You are able to wear your wristband in the baths so you’ll always have your key on you.
Once we had stored our belongings in the cabin we went to check out the outdoor pools. There are three outdoor pools - a large swimming pool in the middle (in which swimming caps must be worn) and two smaller pools on either side. We spent most of our time soaking in the warmest pool, which was around 37-38 degrees celsius.
We then decided to take a quick sauna and explore the indoor pools. There are 15 indoor pools varying in size and temperature. As I understand it each pool has its own benefits, but none of this is signposted in English so we weren’t sure which pools were best to try out. Most of the indoor baths are fairly small and already had a lot of people using them, plus there was a bit of an unpleasant smell inside (sulphur chloride) so we didn’t want to linger too long in this area. We found the outdoor baths to be a lot more enjoyable.
Towels are not provided for free at Széchenyi, so my boyfriend hired one at a steep price (I had brought one from home). When you return the towel you are refunded most of this amount. Unfortunately for us someone stole our rented towel while we were using the baths so we were unable to get our deposit back. This did put a bit of a damper on our visit and I would definitely recommend keeping a close eye on any belongings you leave poolside. Even better would be to bring your own towel, a unique towel that can be easily identified is less likely to be taken than a rented towel.
In total we spend around 3 hours at the baths but we wanted to see a bit more of Budapest before returning to the airport that afternoon. I had wanted to visit St. Stephen’s Basilica and Fisherman’s Bastion but we didn’t have enough time to do both so we opted to go to Fisherman’s Bastion for some fantastic views over the city. We had originally planned to take the funicular near Buda Castle and wander around up the top but when we got there the queue of people waiting was very long so we took a bus up the hill instead.
When we got to Fisherman’s Bastion I immediately wished we’d come earlier as the place was crawling with tourists. I think a few tour buses must have turned up at once. Nonetheless, we still enjoyed the view from the top before wandering back down to our hotel.
All too soon it was time for us to make our way to the airport and return to London. I would have loved to spend another couple of days in Budapest to see everything I had wanted to but at least this gives me an excuse to return one day.