Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Europe (
-   -   Trip Report - Budapest in 2 days! (Day 1) (

hailbuzzy Mar 12th, 2005 09:39 AM

Trip Report - Budapest in 2 days! (Day 1)
Returned from Budapest a couple of weeks ago, and wanted to thank everyone in this forum for the advice I received and provide a quick itinerary for anyone else who might need to do a whirlwind tour of Budapest as we did! :)

We flew into Budapest around mid-day on Saturday and took a taxi to the Marriot Millenium Court. Found that you have to state Millenium Court and not just Marriot bec you'll be taken to the main Marriot hotel. No worries there though - the hotel actually has their own vehicle to shuttle confused travellers like us to the Mill. Ct. as this happens so often! Mill. Ct., despite the stark lobby, is a great hotel - convenient to everything on the Pest side of the Danube, comfortable, large, new rooms in various configurations - some are just 'open' rooms with living room, dining, kitchen and bedroom all interconnected... others are more apartment-like with doors and hallways separating the different areas.

After checking in, we headed out to lunch - found a delicious (though slightly expensive) Thai (of all things!) restaurant right by the entrance of the 'main' Marriot hotel. Then, we took a leisurely (15/20 min) walk by the Danube all the way down to the Parliment (15-20 mins). Along the way, enjoy the views, squares, statues and amazing architecture all around you. The Parliment itself is a simply incredible building! It was snowing lightly, only adding to the beauty of the place! We managed to catch a very worthwhile tour - the inside is every bit as impressive - that takes about 45-60 mins.

It was getting late when we re-emerged so we sadly missed the tour for the Opera House, which I hear is another must-do (maybe next time!). We stopped by the Basillica which was another amazing architectural feat, the Inner City Parish Church and then found our way back to the hotel through the city. Dinner was at a restaurant by the Mill. Ct. called Giraffe. It was convenient, inexpensive, but not very good...

Next morning, it was off to Heroes Square. It's probably a 30 min walk on a good day but it was icy that morning and it took us almost an hour. Heroes Square was beautiful - there's not a whole lot to see, but you can spend a good 1/2 hour admiring the very detailed statues. There was an impressionist art exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts right beside it with at least 200 people at line so we skipped that and proceeded to the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture (if it's winter and you are interested in skating, there's an awesome rink/lake beside it). We didn't go into the museum, but walked through the grounds of this one-time castle which were simply beautiful and well worth a look-see.

If I could name one must do for Hungary, it would be to experience one of their bath houses! Across the street from the museum is the Szegeny Bath House. While impressive from the outside, the inside was covered in scaffolding when we went. They would not let us take a look at the bathing area itself, so we decided to take a cab to Gellert Baths on the Buda side instead. And boy, were we glad we did! Gellert is breathtaking! You pay to set amount to enter the baths and receive a refund depending on how long you stay. There's a similar concept for rental and return of towels, lockers (these are more like changing rooms where you can safely lock away all your valueables and clothes) and swimsuits (caution - men, be ready to don one-size-fits-all speedos and women, one-piece sacks :) Alternatively, bring your own!). Swimming in the Gellert pool is like swimming in a cathedral - too cool! You will have to wear these rather silly looking blue shower caps to avoid getting the whistle blown on you by the life guard. Alternatively, bring your own swim cap. There is also a 'hot' pool where you can just sit and soak. These common areas are co-ed. Then there are the same sex only, clothing optional thermal baths areas with 2 pools at different temperatures. Photography is allowed in the common areas, although to avoid annoyed glances, I would recommend that you photograph from the 2nd floor by the cafe. The outer pools were drained for the winter, but I would think be really impressive in the summer. Gellert is still one of the favorite things I did in Hungary!

tomboy Mar 12th, 2005 11:08 AM

1. So, was it like a soak in a hot tub, or similar to what?
2. Do you think one of those shower caps you get in a motel would have passed as a swim cap, or must it be speedo-like?

Clifton Mar 12th, 2005 12:13 PM

Hey Buzzy, glad to see you made it back and had a good time! I read both parts and agree - we have to get back too because we missed as much as we saw, and we had 5 days.

I know your report focus is Budapest, but I'm curious what you thought of Debrecen? We'd had it as a possible stop on our trip as we re-entered Hungary, but didn't make it. Did we miss much?

hailbuzzy Mar 12th, 2005 12:43 PM

Yeah, it's like soaking in a big warm tub with 30 of your friends! :) The water's around 35 degrees Celsius if I recall correctly. There are a couple of 'fountain spouts' in each soaking area.

Actually the blue caps they give you for free are exactly like hotel shower caps. So unless you care what you look like, you don't need to bring one. Most of the people just wore the blue ones.

Unfortunately, we worked most of the time we were in Debrecen, leaving the hotel by 8 and not returning til after dark :( The city center where we stayed was quaint, quiet and pretty small, so while it was nice, it paled in comparison to Budapest. I hear the university area is pretty nice, but we never made it there. Personally, I don't think you missed too much :)

John Mar 12th, 2005 12:57 PM

Am leaving for Central Europe in the morning with 4 days in Budapest. I was planning on the Szegeny Baths. Are they closed or just in the middle of renovation? As an alternative I was going to do the Gellert Baths but I read that they are showing thier age.
Gellert baths may be the first choice then!

hailbuzzy Mar 13th, 2005 10:06 AM

Hey John,
Szegeny is not closed. The interior hallways, etc were just undergoing renovation. We were just concerned that bath area itself was as well, but could not convince the ticket lady to let us take a peek. You might just pop in and see if you really want to go to Szegeny. Szegeny is shiny new compared to Gellert, but I did not find Gellert dated by any means. Both baths were simply amazing so I don't think you'll lose either way! :)

Michelezr Mar 13th, 2005 10:07 AM

Do you need to make reservations at any of the baths in advance? We will be there in August?

Where2Travel Mar 13th, 2005 11:00 AM

I returned from a trip to Budapest last month and went to both the Szecheny and Gellert baths.

I thought the Szecheny was a much better experience and liked the idea of being outside in the hotter waters when the air temperature was hovering around freezing.

The Gellert is all indoors in winter (I'm not sure when the outdoor pools open) and much of the Gellert is single-sex (apart from the "Cathedral-like" swimming pool, which is just a swimming pool). The hotter pools are seperated with the mens one one side and womens on the other.

If you use the smaller side entrance at Szecheny, you can see the outdoor areas from the entrance hall where you buy a ticket.

I don't think there should be a need to make reservations in advance. In fact, I'm not sure whether you can or not.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:38 AM.