The Hungarian capital, Budapest is a destination full of grand buildings, historical sites, cafes, ruins pubs, and delicious dishes. And Budapest is one of the few large cities in the world that has thermal baths. Everything here is at an excellent value (price) compared to its neighboring countries to the west.
Budapest is easy to get to, only a 153-mile drive from Vienna and 441-mile from Venice. If driving is not your thing, Budapest is accessible by boat too. And over 40 airlines serve Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport.
If you have ever wondered about Budapest as a destination, here’s why you must visit:
The thermal baths
Since the first century, during the Romans rule, Budapest was already home to more than 15 thermal baths. The bathing culture flourished in the 150 years of Turkish occupation. Today, none of the Roman baths are in existence but some of the Turkish baths are rebuilt or some are sitting at the foundations of the Turkish baths.
Budapest is now home to the largest spa complex in Europe and is known as a Spa City and the capital city with the most thermal baths. These baths serve as social and relaxation venues, and for medical purposes.
Here’s a list of baths in Budapest listed by Budapest Gyógyfürdői és Hévizei Zrt
• Scechenyi Spa and Swimming Pools – the largest spa complex in Europe, divided into a thermal section (temperature from 28 to 40 degrees Celsius), swimming pool section and day care hospital.
• St. Gellert Thermal Baths and Swimming Pool – located in the St. Gellert Spa and Hotel, and has the most beautiful swimming pool in the city.
• St. Lukacs Thermal Baths and Swimming Pools – situated in an old Turkish bath, it was a favorite meeting place for Budapest’s artists, politicians, and intellectuals and now attracts tourists too. Budapest card holders can get in for free.
• Rudas Thermal Baths and Swimming Pool – it has a 500-year-old Turkish bath, has male (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) and female (Tuesday) and co-ed (Friday and Saturday from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.) days
• Kiraly Thermal Baths – this is an authentic bath house with little pools and windows
• Dandar Thermal Baths
• Csillaghegyi Baths and Swimming Pool
• Dagaly Thermal Baths and Swimming Pool
• Palatinus Baths
• Paskal Baths – the newest baths in Budapest
Tips before going to thermal baths:
• Bring swimwear and flip flops
• Some pools have male, female and co-ed days
• Check the opening days and times
• Follow instructions, don’t stay too long in the hottest pools
The historic sites
Before 1873, Buda and Pest were separate cities. Divided by the Danube River, Buda is hilly and is where you’ll find the hills, royal palaces, and old thermal baths. Pest is home to Jewish Quarter, great museums, art-nouveau buildings, and shops.
Some of the must visit historic sites in Budapest are:
- Buda Castle – a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Memento Park
- Fisherman’s Bastion
- St. Stephen’s Basilica
- The Great Synagogue – the largest Jewish Temple in the world
- Gellert Hill – one of the best views of the city
- Shoes on the Bank
Budapest is a gastronomic wonderland and there is no lack of restaurants, cafes, and bars. There’s an array of local foods to choose from at every corner of the city including the pavement cafés. The best places to check out local wine, cheese and snacks (try langos) are the Great Market Hall and Feny Utca Market. For a unique experience of coffee and dessert, go to Café Ruszwurm, an old traditional café, and New York Café, a favorite cafe for writers and editors in the early 20th century.
Hungarians love their soup like the world-famous goulash, stews and dishes made with paprika.
Kazinczy Street and The Jewish Quarter (between Kiraly and Dohany Roads) are neighborhoods where you’ll find ruin pubs, cafés, and bars. Ruins pubs are hipster bars in old abandoned buildings.
The Danube River and its bridges
The Danube River brings out the beauty and unique characteristics of Budapest. It is safe to say that without the Danube River and its bridges, the city is just another European city filled with buildings and streets.
Take a cruise along the river to Szentendre, a small town by the Danube River, just outside Budapest. Visit the open-air Ethnographic Museum and Marzipan Museum. Croatian have settled in Szentendre in the 17th-century and created a Mediterranean-style town.
A cruise would be the best way to enjoy the views of the city and its series of bridges – the Chain Bridge, Liberty Bridge, and Margaret Bridge.
Is Budapest on your travel list?