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By the time I arrived in Budapest via a bus from Vienna, I was tired. The feet burning, joints aching, motivation to see things waning, bursting into tears when strangers are rude to you kind of tired that travel can bring on at inconvenient times.

I felt guilty for not rushing around and doing All Of The Things in Budapest during my three nights there. But really, looking back, I couldn’t have planned my energy crash better. There are worse places in the world to need some relaxation than in The City of Spas.

Budapest is famous for its thermal spas, with 15 public thermal baths in Budapest, as well as private ones in hotels.The Romans and then the Turkish brought spa culture to Budapest, which has 123 hot springs and thermal wells.

During my time in The City of Spas, I made two trips to the Szechenyi Thermal Bath (the oldest and most famous one, shown in the photographs below), as well as two trips to Gellert (which is located inside the Hotel Gellert).

My first trip to Szechenyi was in the morning, and it was relatively peaceful. My favourite part of the spa was standing under jets of water streaming down from Roman style statues, which provide a neck and back massage. It was my first ever experience of a thermal bath (they’re not exactly popular or even present in Australia), and it was incredible floating around under the Roman style architecture and watching the steam roll off the water and into the cold air outside. The water in the thermal pool reaches 38C, but the temperature outside the waters that day was less than 10C.

The hot water was incredible on my aching body, and since the spas are such a huge part of Budapest’s identity and culture, I started to feel less guilty about taking things a bit easy.

Later that night I visited the outdoor spa at the Hotel Gellert. It has many pools, but the one I chose that night was small and intimate, and overlooks the famous Szechenyi Chain Bride. Enjoying the warm waters, looking up at the stars in the night sky, and across at the lights of the historic bridge was an experience that I’ll always remember.

The next night was a Saturday, and the Szechenyi bath is one of the few spas that are open late on a Saturday night. I was curious to see what it was like, but as it happened it was a little too much for me. Even in the 38C thermal pool, there were so many bodies in the water that it felt more lukewarm than thermal. But the energy of the spa complex was pulsing, as people from many nationalities drank and enjoyed the water.

I managed to get myself out of the spas long enough to cross the Szechenyi bridge, during a spectacular sunset. The lions of the bridge are really an incredible aspect of its architecture, and I had a lot of fun photographing them. I may have stood in the middle of the road during rush hour to take one of the photos below, focused on capturing the moment.

2. szechenyi-baths-thermal-budapest-europe-architecture-what-to-do-hot-springs-natural3.1 - szechenyi-baths-chess-play-players-pool-swim-social-portrait-nikon-travel-photography3.2 szechenyi-baths-budapest-hungary-europe-swim-laps-spa-spas-best-travel-blogger5. statue-budapest-szechenyi-baths-spa-jet-portrait-travel-photographer-massage11. szechenyi-thermal-spa-bath-party-crowd-tourists-europe-budapest-wanderlust6. budapest-chain-bridge-sunset-hungary-street-photography-angle-rush-hour7. budapest-photography chain-bridge-lion-sunset-travel-blogger-what-to-see-famous8. sunset-budapest-travel-photography-best-view-architecture-europe-hungary-what-to-see9. budapest-castle-hungary-travel-blogger-architecture-dusk-nikon10. budapest-sunset-photography-city-lights-best-view-rooftop2. view-airbnb-light-sunset-rooftop-apartment-budapest 3. sunset-airbnb-budapest-hungary-europe-accommodation-where-to-stay-best-view1. Bathers enjoying the thermal pool at the Szechenyi Bath / 2. A fish eye view of the bath / 3. There are chess boards inside the thermal pool, for if you need some entertainment during your relaxation time / 4. Swimmers swimming laps in the Szechenyi lap pool / 5. The wave pool inside Szechenyi / 6. Bathers enjoying a neck massage in Szechenyi’s thermal pool / 7. Szechenyi Baths bringing the party on a Saturday night / 8. A young man crossing the Chain Bridge during peak hour, at sunset / 9. A Chain Bridge Lion / 10. The sun setting over the Danube river / 11. Towards Buda Castle / 12. The Chain Bridge and the Danube river by night / 13 & 14 / I had my second ever stay in an AirBNB while in Budapest, and I think I won the AirBNB jackpot because the view from the balcony of my apartment was amazing!

4 Comments on Testing the waters in The City of Spas

  1. Your photos are so beautiful, every single time. I’m officially in love with your blog. We’re going back to Budapest this summer and I couldn’t be more excited. The one thing we didn’t do during our last visit was go to a bath. We definitely will this time, and I think we will go to this exact one! It’s so beautiful! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Thank you so much!! That’s such a big compliment! 🙂 You should definitely check one out this summer, they’re amazing! What was your favourite thing that you did while in Budapest? 🙂

  2. These Budapest spas look therapeutic :-). The passion for “bathing” there reminds us a little of the spas in Baden-Baden, Germany. At the Friedrichsbad, people devote about 3 hours to the ritual of bathing and dipping in different hot and cold pools and steam rooms. The weird thing for us was that everyone did it in the nude – men and women together at the same time! The Germans are much more comfortable with their bodies than us Canadians :-). Lovely photos, by the way…

    • Oh wow, that sounds like an incredible experience! Did you do a post on it?

      Haha I’m not sure I’d feel one hundred percent comfortable with that either, but it’s always good to try new things!

      Thanks so much, glad you liked the photos!

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