Six vacation days and a few months left until they expire. This was the situation I was in last September. At first I thought maybe I could go somewhere warm since my traveling options were pretty limited to late fall, early winter, then I saw the price of flights to Europe and thought, why not?
I knew it would be cold in December so I wanted to pick a European destination that would be fun in the freezing temperatures. I had seen amazing photos of Budapest and the gorgeous baths it’s known for and I’m a sucker for hot water, so that’s how we decided on making Budapest our main stop on our December vacation.
We had 3 days in Budapest so decided we would visit 3 baths. After much research I decided on Széchenyi, Gellert, and Kiraly. We wanted to fit Rudas in too but Rudas was not co-ed on the days we were going to be in Budapest. Make sure when visiting baths you know who is welcome inside on what days.
- Szechenyi – This is the bath you will see when you just google “Budapest”. It is a massive out door, ancient looking, bath with gorgeous architecture. Along with the outdoor pools they have several indoor ones to choose from. We came here on a Saturday evening, and I thought the crowds might be bad, and it was busy, but overall it wasn’t too crowded. We were getting a little cold in the outdoor bath so we moved inside but after awhile wanted the atmosphere of the outdoor bath again. Luckily we realized on the opposite side of the bath we were in was another one that was a tad bit hotter, making sitting in 20 degree weather very pleasant.
- Gellert – Is another well known Budapest Bath. It’s located in a grand building that also serves as a hotel. Gellert is a bit of a maze so don’t miss out on all the baths it has to offer. It has an outdoor bath however, it’s not very grand and looks like an average outdoor swimming pool. There are also three bath rooms inside that are gorgeous with stunning tile work and historic sculptures. The heat in the baths vary but when you find the right bath it’s easy to sit for awhile and admire the beautiful atmosphere.
- Kiraly – Finally we went to Kiraly. This is a much smaller bath house compared to the others and we had read mixed reviews so weren’t sure what to expect. When you walk in to the bath area you are met with a brick arch and upon walking through the arch you end up in a beautiful, ancient looking, dome with sunlight that shines through small holes and through the fog of the bath. The area is made up with one big bath in the middle and small baths surrounding it. Something about the feeling in this bath house was unlike any of the others and while we heard mixed reviews of Kiraly, we loved it.
A few things to know about the baths before visiting. Many times you can book your pass ahead of time and have the option to book a “cabin”. Note that a changing cabin is very small, I recommend it because it’s an easy place to change and keep your stuff secured, but know its maybe 4ft x 4ft.
For many of the baths you can rent towels so you don’t have to lug your own around, but be warned the towels are small so if that kind of thing bothers you, bring your own.
Some of the baths, like Kiraly, do not allow cameras. No one is enforcing that rule but I’d suggest you leave the camera behind as the bath is a place to relax and Kiraly is very small. Taking photos would’ve been uncomfortable.
The baths that do allow cameras still want to make sure you are respectful. Don’t ever take photos of strangers without asking or make sure they are not anywhere near being the main focus of the photo. We had our camera at Gellert and Szechenyi but made sure to either take photos of just us, the architecture, or a sweeping photo with strangers far in the distance. Even then we kept our photo taking to a minimum.
Have you been to Budapest? What bath was your favorite?