When I decided to meet up in Budapest with friends, the first things coming to my mind about the city where: Goulash and the famous baths.
Since I don’t eat meat, the Goulash experience wasn’t really an option and I was looking forward to the Bath part twice as much! 😉
My friends and I had been in Budapest for 2 days already, before we finally had time to make it to a Bath. But first, there was quite a tough decision to make… which one to choose? There is so many Baths in Budapest and there is even more opinions on which one is the BEST.
Baths do play a very important role in Budapest and they are a huge part of its culture. Going to a bath is a traditional thing to do for a lot of people in Budapest and this is why it was quite important to me, to go to an authentic one.
We decided to go to the Széchenyi Bath, not because we knew much about it, but , to be honest, only because the yellow, pompous building looked cute. As we found out later, it is one of the most popular ones anyway and it’s among the biggest and one of the oldest too.
Getting there was pretty easy, we just took the metro to the Széchenyi fürdő stop and there it was. Since it was a quite gloomy day, there weren’t lots of other people and we were able to go straight in. We ended up getting the day pass for 1700 Forint, which, in my opinion is quite pricey compared to all the other things in Budapest. But well…since it’s a MUST DO in Budapest…we were happy to pay that of course! 😉
Inside it immediately looked like something from another time. Everything was quite old looking, used and well…let’s say a bit shabby… but I think this is exactly what gives it its special vibe. You could almost see the monarchs walking through the changing rooms and sitting in the hot pools! 😉
One quite odd thing was, that you aren’t allowed to lock your own locker! You have to call one of the „Locker Ladies“ to lock it for you and then remember the number and watch out not to loose the non-number matching wristband they give you! If you want to get something out of the locker again, you have to wait until one of the ladies is free to help you. It wasn’t too bad the day we were there, but I can’t imagine the chaos on a busy day to be honest!!
There is so many different pools to bathe in, but the inside ones weren’t really appealing to me, since it was summer and the inside of the old building was pretty unbearable for me. The outside bath though was perfect. The most impressive thing for me, wasn’t the pools though, it was watching Hungarians enjoy and value this bathing tradition. Some of them had little chess boards with them and cans of beer and they were sitting there in groups, amidst the steaming hot water, playing chess for hours.
You can easily spot the true Hungarians among the tourists and if you get the chance to be involved in a game of chess with one of them, you can be sure to have some really interesting conversations.
All in all, I really enjoyed the visit to the Széchenyi Bath, but I realized, I’m not really the Spa type of girl. It was definitely a onetime thing, I’ll always remember!