Several guidebooks recommended partaking in what was called the ultimate Hungarian experience of the thermal baths. We arrived underdressed for their fall weather, expecting temperatures seasonable as what we were used to during East Coast autumns. The sun didn’t show for a week and our jackets and thermals were inadequate. We had chosen an indoor thermal bath for the day at the majestic Gellert Baths on the Buda side and were on our way, but we were intercepted by our friendly concierge Norbert who said that if we really wanted the Budapest experience then we’d best head over to the Szechenyi Baths instead. When we arrived we saw the three large pools steaming up into a fog that covered the premises on that particular freezing day, and we were afraid we’d turn into ice as soon as we stepped outdoors in our bathing suits. It was cold outside indeed, but we ran and soaked ourselves in the hottest of the baths immediately and were not disappointed.
The backdrop of the majestic buildings enveloped by the fog made it a totally luxurious experience. We soaked for an hour or so and then left oozing heat from our bodies. This was definitely the highlight of our Budapest trip.
The guidebooks said that you would get your money back if you stayed for less than two hours, which we did but were informed that they didn’t have that promotion that day. We guessed that tourists could probably afford the relatively low price of soaking in a hot bath outdoors in a cinematic setting (about $10) and that the refund was just for locals. Either way, it was definitely an experience for the books.