My third and final day in Budapest…
On my third and final day in Budapest I got up early to catch the metro to Szechenyi Furdo again. Unlike yesterday, however, I wasn’t going to the zoo; I was going to the Szechenyi Baths, one of the largest spa baths in Europe with 15 indoor baths and three very grand outdoor pools.
I was glad to get to the baths when I did as very few other tourists had arrived yet. As a result, I was able to enjoy all that the baths had to offer quietly and for as long as I wanted to.
The architecture of the building is remarkable. It’s mix of indoor and outdoor pools, meanwhile, boasts 12 thermal pools with water temperatures up to 40 degrees, a swimming pool and a whirlpool, among more.
The hottest thermal pool was really good for the joint pains I’d accumulated walking around the city on the first couple of days, while the whirlpool was enormous fun. It was also quite a sight to see men and women playing chess on floating boards in the pools!
I had a 30-minute full body massage booked in at the bath’s rooftop spa, Palm House. So, after an hour or two exploring the baths, I walked upstairs for my appointment. The spa itself is an actual palm house, with nice palm trees and other exotic plants that love the heat of the thermal baths as well as lots of sunshine and light coming through the glass roof – not forgetting hammocks to lounge around in.
When I arrived, I was greeted by two lovely girls at the front desk who asked me if I wanted a male or female masseuse, how firm I wanted my massage to be and what oil I wanted the masseuse to use.
For the massage, I was taken into a room that was closed off by curtains. I had to lay on the floor for my massage which I wasn’t expecting but it was padded with pillows and blankets. From start to finish, visiting the spa was a fantastic experience.
I left the spa around lunchtime and walked across the road to Vajdahunyad Castle, picking up a hot drink and slice of carrot cake from patisserie next to the zoo on the way.
The castle, which was built in 1896, is perhaps one of the most romantic castles in Budapest. It showcases the architectural evolution though centuries and styles in Hungary, including Romanesque and Gothic Renaissance.
The castle is home to several festivals, concerts and the exhibitions of the Hungarian Agricultural Museum. In the winter, it’s also home to a huge open air ice rink, which I continued to enjoy for the rest of the afternoon.
As the evening approached, I went back to my hotel to shower and change into a rather naff Christmas jumper. I then walked from my hotel to Vorosmarty Square, where I’d read there was a large Christmas market.
I’d read that this Christmas market was particularly popular among Hungarians and tourists alike, and I quickly understood why. Not only was the square decorated with the most beautiful Christmas lights and an enormous Christmas tree, there was live music to listen to and more than 100 wooden pavilions to browse.
The pavilions sold everything from gloves and woollen hats to jewellery and decorative iron products. Some also served traditional Hungarian snacks such as chimney cake and mulled wine simmering in stock pots.
I also visited the nearby Christmas market at St Stephen’s Square, right in front of the beautiful St Stephen’s Basilica. It was smaller than the market at Vorosmarty Square, but just as brightly lit by traditional Christmas decorations.
Again, it featured plenty of wooden market stalls selling unique and high quality gifts, as well as food and wine. The highlight, however, was the light painting on the Basilica, which turned the Basilica’s facade into a beautiful Christmas visual narrative every half an hour.
It was a truly magical end to my time in Budapest.
Have you visited Budapest? I’d love to hear about your own adventures there!