Interrail stop 4: Budapest

By the time we had arrived in Budapest from Prague, we were well and truly knackered. Our long days and nights were finally waring, but we had just arrived in the world capital of hot baths.

We were staying close to the centre in Guru hostel, a lovely little place with an extremely chilled out and laid back vibe. The staff were incredibly welcoming and friendly, and the whole place, while quite small, was full of plants and interesting ornaments. I would recommend it if you’re looking for somewhere that you can relax and get some peace.

As we’d arrived late in the day, we grabbed a quick bite to eat before heading to bed. The heat wave continued however, and 38C in a hostel with no air con made for an uncomfortable nights sleep. Despite the heat we decided that the next day we would venture to Szechenyi Baths, the largest and most famous in Budapest.

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In the morning the heat was a little less extreme, so we walked the 45 minute trip to the baths, taking in some of Budapest’s stunning and eclectic architecture. On the way we stopped at a street vendor to buy some traditional snacks. If you come across hot cinnamon bread that is wrapped in a cylindrical but hollow shape, then you should try it, because it’s delicious! The baths themselves are set in a pretty park which has an old palace in its grounds, but it’s the baths that are the most stunning feature here. Built from another old palace, they are as grand as they are beautiful. Classic eastern European architecture made up of decadent and fine stone work, it’s quite the venue to go for a bath!

We had anticipated that we would only be there for a couple of hours, but having arrived at about 11am, we then didn’t leave until the baths shut for daytime guests at 6pm. They open again some evenings and host outside pool parties, but having spoken to other people who had been, it’s apparently quite seedy and PDA is abundant. The daytime however, is utter paradise! There are more baths than you can shake a stick at inside, ranging from the ice cold to the piping hot, as well as saunas and steam rooms of varying temperatures. Outside are two giant baths, a cafe/bar serving very reasonably priced cocktails, and plenty of ground to lay a towel on and soak in the sun (although you’re lying on stone so bring a thick towel). If you’re looking to splash and swim about then the baths may not be the right place, as most of them are hot it’s more of a place to sit and unwind while soaking in the natural waters, although the outside baths are considerably larger so light swimming is more acceptable. The prices are also very reasonable considering these are the biggest baths, and they get progressively cheaper throughout the day depending on your entry time.

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That evening we decided to sample some local beer at a bar near the centre. Prices are insanely cheap, they make Prague look pricey, and service is friendly and fast. Pretty merry on beer, we decided it was about time we tried a strip club. I won’t go into detail, but it was everything you’d imagine, down to a tee.

The next day we were getting the train, but not until much later in the afternoon, so set off to explore the city centre with our backpacks. If the architecture is beautiful on the edges of Budapest, in the city centre it’s breathe taking. Short for time we didn’t go into any of the buildings, but I think it’s the outside of them that is so magical. Standing by the river Danube looking out over the city from Parliament is a must, you can soak up everything that Budapest has to offer, and it has a lot!

I wish we had had more time here, but sadly we had to set off back to the train station that evening. If you have the time I’d recommend two days for exploring the city and another day or two to sample some of the many baths. Needless to say, we bid farewell to Budapest and hopped aboard a sleeper train. Our next stop: Split, Croatia.

~ Hamilton

@hameggers

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