WOW! What an incredible day in Budapest!
I slept in a bit this morning, as my room was the perfect temperature and the bed and pillows (even a twin size) was very comfortable. After getting dressed and out the door, my first stop was across the river to Gellert Hill.
Thankfully, I wore my sneakers. They were definitely needed for the amount of hiking that was done!
These next few photos are from the cave church, which I visited on the way up, but there was a mass going on, so the cave church was closed to visitors at that time. I snapped these photos and continued up the hill.
This photo was taken just on top of the cave church near the base of the hill. The day was gorgeous and warm, so wandering through the many trails and steps was an absolute joy. There are many benches and places to sit along the way up if you need to take it slowly. I would say that this was a pretty good hike both in incline AND number of steps. It’s a little rocky and the steps are older (which means some of them need some repair) so be aware that this is approach is more like a combination trail walk with some even and uneven paved areas.
At the top of the hill, the Citadella (link to Wikipedia page provided) provides tons of great scenic views and impressive statues.
From there, I took a meandering (and much more pleasant) path down the hill, and then revisited the cave church. It’s just a church in a cave, but it’s beautiful. If you appreciate natural cave beauty, then you’ll really like how they’ve made this space work. It’s really a pretty church.
When I left the church, I had to stop and check out the pretzel salesman only to take a photo of the GIGANTIC pretzels he was selling. Those things were bigger than a baseball mitt!
After all that walking, I was ready to relax. I crossed the street and headed into St. Gellert Thermal Bath and Swimming Pools. I just want to say that even paying the weekend walk-in rate (it’s just slightly higher on weekends and many hotels can get you an additional discount if you purchase your pass at your hotel) of 5100 ft (about $18), it was worth EVERY PENNY. Side note, if you don’t have a towel, you can rent one (plus a security deposit) at the information desk. Standard admission comes with a locker rental. Cabins are available but it’s really not necessary. The women’s locker room is narrow, many people change right there in front of their lockers, but there are also private dressing rooms off to the side for temporary use (so you don’t have to change in front of anyone if you don’t want to).
I hit the outdoor thermal pool first. It’s 36 degrees Celsius and feels absolutely lovely when you get in. The thermal pools all have a center area and then bench seating around the pool. So you can get in, sit down and relax! After that first pool, I was hooked. I wanted to head inside to try out the other thermal pools and take in the ambience of the interior baths. As I was sitting in the interior thermal pool by the inside swimming pool (main interior area), I glanced up at the ceiling and realized that this all looked very familiar to me. I saw pretty much the same things at the ruins in Bath, England! Columns supporting the main center area, baths and ornate tile work decorating the interior… it was like stepping back into time. Thinking all of this while relaxing and unwinding in the water. One of my favorite parts was letting the water splash down my shoulders and back where it was coming out of the spout.
I ventured into each adjoining side area, each with two thermal pools ranging from 35-40 degrees Celsius. There are apparently immersion pools for post bath at a chilly 19 degrees Celsius, but I skipped those.
After my inside bathing was over, my tummy began to rumble, so I stopped at their cafe in the outdoor area and sat down to eat. I was pleasantly surprised that a grilled chicken breast and caesar salad dish plus drink only set me back about $12USD (with tip).
My final thermal pool was the outdoor swimming pool which also has the advantage of being a wave pool. Every now and then, the waves start so you can bob around in the water. When it’s still, there’s a shallow side as well as a deep side for swimming. I swam a few laps, then treaded water and a few moments later, noticed someone had jacked my towel. So be sure to watch your towels carefully when you go – as I lost my deposit because of it (and no longer had a towel). I notified the management that someone had taken it and they explained that sometimes hotel guests accidentally pick up towels. Either way, I was out my deposit. They let me use a massage table sheet to dry off and change.
From the Gellert Bath, I decided it was time to head back to my hotel to clean up, rest up, charge my phone and change for dinner. I looked up river cruise options as well. I settled on having dinner on dry land (found myself an English Pub and had shepherds pie), and then headed to the meeting point at Danube Palace to purchase my Danube night cruise ticket. It was only 4400 ft. (about $15) and included in that price was two drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic available). There was an additional option to add a buffet dinner to the cruise, but the price difference was a little too much for my taste.
Once on the cruise, I got my champagne glass and headed straight for the front deck of the boat. Surprisingly, I had that spot ALL to myself for the majority of the hour and a half cruise. I took FAR too many photos and videos, but I enjoyed every second of the journey and the city is STUNNING at night.
When we docked, I took a quick walk over the Chain Bridge, met a group of people at the far end (English, Irish, & Czechs – who all met on the bridge and were drinking and playing a “Name that nationality” game where they would try and guess where people were from as they walked across the bridge) and then after spending about 20 minutes playing their game with them and laughing, I began to walk back to the hotel.
I’d like to note that Budapest is an extremely safe city. It’s very common to see women walking alone late at night and I never felt like I was in any danger. I walked about a mile or so back to the hotel with closed shops and well lit streets.
Goodnight for now, I have a long day planned for tomorrow!