How to make the best out of a relaxing three days in Budapest – Day 1

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the seriesShort stay in Budapest
  • How to make the best out of a relaxing three days in Budapest – Day 1

It’s been a while since I posted here, but I really wanted to share my experience in the wonderful city of Budapest (it helps that I have some pictures, which make the article worth writing!)

Let me start by saying that Budapest is brimming with history. The first settlement in that region dates back to Roman times and the city itself, a twin city (Buda and Pest), dates back to the middle ages and is arguably older than Hungary itself!

The view from the Fisherman's Bastion, overlooking the city.

The view from the Fisherman’s Bastion, overlooking the city.

Fast forward to the present day, Budapest is a vibrant city full of history and culture. I’ve decided to put together the highlights of the weekend I spent there, what I would have done differently and how to best make use of your time if you want to see the most of this city in two days!

This first article will cover accommodation, exchange rates and the Szechenyi bath.

Day one

Landing in Budapest and where to stay!

On the first day, I landed in Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (Budapest’s main airport). I was quite glad to have landed there, since it was my destination, as you may have guess from the title of this post.

The airport is clean and easy to navigate. The first thing I had to do was to withdraw some money. As you may know, Hungary is part of the EU, however it is not part of the Eurozone. This means that even if you have Euros, you have to change them for the local currency, the Hungarian Florints. At the time of writing, 300 Florints to a 1 Euro. However, you’ll find that the currency exchange at the airport is quite unfavorable (at least that’s what I’ve found). They offer an exchange rate of 246 Florints per 1 Euro. I decided to just use the ATM machine which was two steps away from the exchange office and withdraw money from that. Exchange rate there was 279 Florints instead.

I had booked a ride to the city through the hotel. From my research online, I had found that public transportation is a tourist trap; it’s not very obvious to navigate and there’s controllers at every turn looking to skin you with a fine if you’ve done anything wrong. The ride from airport to the city takes around 45 minutes and cost me around 8000 Florints (around 28Euros)

I checked into the Zenit Budapest Palace, a nice and affordable four star hotel in the city center (strongly recommended) and after getting my stuff sorted it was already around 3 pm and off I went to the Szechenyi thermal baths for a dip!

 

Szechenyi thermal baths

The Széchenyi (pronounced ~ Seh cheh nyi, practise saying it!) Bath in Budapest is the largest medicinal bath in Europe. It’s been open since 1913, a year before the start of the first world war! Its hot water is supplied by underground thermal springs and let me tell you, going there in winter to bathe outdoor in hot water while the world around you is freezing is an experience I’ll never forget.

Szechenyi baths in the night

Szechenyi baths at night. Magical.

Let me start by the practical stuff –

Tip no1 – Book a ticket in advance, online and save yourself a long wait. Sure, it’s 1 euro more expensive than buying the ticket there (I believe it was 18 Euro instead of 17), but the queues at the ticket counters are massive. By booking a ticket online you get your own little cabin to change in and where you could leave your stuff. It’s a genuine cabin, not a little locker and having been to the locker rooms in the baths let me tell you, you want a cabin. Cabins are cool.

Tip no2 – You can rent a towel and/or a bathrobe there. If you’re looking to stay into the night in winter, I think that having a bathrobe is probably a good idea. I went with the towel and when my erm let’s say body was freezing in the -1 degree celcius temperature and I was wet and had nothing but a towel AND had to walk a few minutes to get inside, I would have liked to have a bathrobe.

Now onto the magical side of things – the Szechenyi bath building is like a castle. It’s massive, beautiful, glorious on the outside. When you’re sitting in the warm water, looking at the steam rise up to the night sky, feeling warm and comfy, think about how for over a hundred years, people have been doing this. Think about the generations that have passed through here and, really, count your blessing that you’re lucky enough to share this experience with them, for it is an experience and a damn good one!

Inside of the bath buildings, you can also book a massage, which I didn’t do, so can’t really say much about that. However, I took a walk around the indoor pools and I’ll prepare you by saying that the inside of the buildings is kind of let’s say pungent. It’s in good shape for a place that has had practically non stop moisture for a hundred years, but it has a certain aroma. I stuck to the outside pools personally.

Generally though, Szechenyi baths are a must see when visiting Budapest, even if you do not go in the water. But you should definitely go for a dip there. It’s really really nice.

About Hanna

My Name is Hanna. I’m a digital marketer and part time writer! I’ve started this blog to keep track of my trip to Nepal, from A to Z. Stay tuned if you’re interested in visiting that magical place because everything related to the trip will be posted on here.
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