Europe,  Hungary,  TDM,  Travel Journal

Budapest (Hungary): The city of thermal springs – Travel Notes

After an unforgettable long weekend in Vienna, we are now on a Flixbus, heading to Budapest. The trip will take more or less 7 hours. Quite boring. We are far from the comfort of the“yes bus” in France, and light years away from the comfort of buses in South America. But the ticket only cost us 25€, we won’t complain

Part 1: Travel Diary
Part 2: Practical Tips

Part 1: Travel Diary

We were surprised to be greeted by a heat wave (40°C at times) and to see the restaurants all equipped with fans + misters

We didn’t know it could be so hot in Budapest. However, after the storm, the temperature can drop 15 degrees in one go. Take a good look at the weather forecast before you go! and make sure your airbnb is equipped with an air conditioner 😀

The first days

The first 10 days in Budapest were very hard for us. I’ve talked about that here as well. After signing a little too many contracts (with tight deadlines) + 3 days doing nothing in Vienna, we were forced to make up for lost time and work non-stop – a month of August! Apart from going to the coworking area (3mn walk from our house), eating and working, I didn’t see much of the city

The heat wave didn’t really make you want to go out either

All that stressed me so much that I started drinking a lot of bubble tea again, eating waffles at Nutella => consequence: a huge break-out took place on my face. And then I became insomniac. It reminds me of the symptoms of stress I had when I was working in Paris, under stress and constraints

A long reflection on what I want, the contracts I want, the type of clients I want will follow. The number of days I want to work per week. And what is my limit. Once the small contracts are over, you start to put your nose out (at last) after 2 weeks

Our apartment

Fortunately, our apartment is SUPERB! I have always dreamed of living in one of these buildings, overgrown with vegetation. From the bedroom, I can see the Statue of Liberty at the top of Mount Gellért. And I also see the leaves dancing from the living room and the bedroom

Here is a video of the apartment

We had to negotiate for a long time the prices for this apartment, in the city center, which cost us 1259€/month on Airbnb. We have the bad luck to go there in August when there are a lot of sports events (international swimming competition, formula 1) and the Hungarian national holiday (August 20th)

Our coworking area

JB found us a coworking space only 3 minutes away. It’s called Impact Hub, from the same company we tested in Prague. We take a package of 80H/person to force us to go there, because by dint of sitting on kitchen chairs, we have a bit of back pain. The coworking space is in a historical building, frankly it is too beautiful!

VIP members can work there 24/7 but with our small packages, we are only allowed to stay there until 6pm and during the week. So much the better! This allows us to be more reasonable about our working hours

The visits

Stressed and exhausted, I admit thatwe enjoyed the thermal baths more than anything else. The Rudas thermal baths are our favorite. However, there are only 3 days when women can go there (vs. 6 for men). JB alternates: every other day, he goes to his gym (for 20€/month), and he alternates with a morning sauna/swimming-pool/hammam session at the Rudas thermal baths

Budapest has more than 120 thermal springs, so the main activity of tourists is to relax in one of the thermal baths, with different temperatures. In winter, the spectacle is unreal: you can see people basking in the pools at 38°C, and it snows all around them

Each thermal spring has its own medicinal properties, for example the Gellert Bath water is perfect for joint problems. When you don’t have any particular health problems, when you come out of the thermal baths you feel clean, you feel good, but the skin isn’t particularly softer, unlike the beer bath you had in Prague

We were able to test 4 thermal baths (the pictures come from Google Images – I don’t have fun taking my camera with me when I’m in a swimsuit)

Gellert Bath is truly magnificent with its large indoor pool worthy of a palace. There is also a large wave pool outside, 8 thermal baths from 21°C to 40°C and various hammams and saunas. It’s a real labyrinth, you get lost easily. Everything is so beautiful that despite the small size of the baths, it remains a place not to be missed

Szechenyi Bath is huge, with 3 large outdoor swimming pools, one of which is 38°C (ideal for bathing while watching the snow fall in winter), and many thermal baths, hammams. It is less beautiful and even more touristic than Gellert but it is much bigger

Rudas Bath seems to be the most authentic of the three. Already, there are days reserved only for men, ONE day reserved for women and the weekend is mixed. The hammams and saunas are much hotter. At the entrance, you are given a kind of apron to hide your private parts (only on non-mixed days). The rooftop is magnificent with a view of the whole city. The saunas and hammams are also warmer. It is also a maze, to go to the rooftop, you have to follow an impressive number of arrows

Lukacz Bath is a little further away from us, smaller, the thermal baths smell more like rotten eggs (that must be good for the skin). We couldn’t buy the “sauna village” ticket as well, it’s a pity because this is the part we are most interested in. The outdoor swimming pool is quite nice, but I still prefer Rudas

And since I disfigured myself a little bit because of stress, I also offered myself 3 facials (which I’ve talked about here)

The Hungarian Parliament

It is hard to miss this beautiful building, impressive in its size and beauty. Even if it is highly recommended to book a ticket the day before your visit (there are tours in English if you are interested), it is a must for any tourist coming to Budapest

The interior is rather pretty but less impressive than the exterior. The peculiarity of this building is that almost all building materials come from Hungary. Sometimes they were forced to use fake marble which is more expensive than real marble, in order to use as much local materials as possible

The most beautiful room is in the center, under the dome, where the crown of kings used for coronations is kept. The hall has a ceiling height of 90m, the chandeliers weigh 1 ton. When you need to change the bulbs, you have to go through the outside dome, go down a small staircase and twist yourself to change them

This parliament reminds us of the splendors of Hungary at other times, when the country was rich, and the deputies smoked Havana cigars and let them consume alone for the time of a speech

Matthias Church

After climbing up to the Royal Palace (or paying 5€/person for the funicular), you get a nice view of the whole Pest part. Small reminder: The Royal Palace is on the Buda side. We can see that Pest is super flat, while in Buda we don’t stop climbing up and down the stairs. The old palace has become a museum (I did not visit it)

And then we see this magnificent Matthias church with its colorful tiles, the place where Hungarian kings and queens were crowned. There is a small museum on the first floor dedicated to Sisi the empress, which I highly recommend (included in the ticket)

All the walls have been renovated and decorated with stencils. It’s beautiful! (and it’s worth the 1500huf/person)

Next to the church you can see the Bastion of the Fishermen. To climb up to the top (i.e. to gain 10m more maybe), you have to pay 800HUF. It is named after the fishermen who populated the neighborhood in the past

We have a very nice view from here on the Hungarian parliament


In Budapest there is the 2nd largest synagogue in the world. This is the first time I set foot in a synagogue and bad luck for me, it looks like a church! Because it was built by Christians. Promised in Bucharest, I will go to a more traditional synagogue to discover the architecture of synagogues

Foresighted, I already wear super covering clothes. At the entrance, a man distributes papers to the women to cover their shoulders and paper skullcaps to the men. A French-speaking guide tells us the history of the synagogue (guided tour included in the rates) and takes us to see the garden

You can also visit the museum, alone, where there are many magnificent religious objects

Hungarian National Day

On August 20th, JB goes to his gym to find out that it is closed because it is a holiday. We discover that it is the Hungarian national holiday. Who says national holiday says fireworks. One hurries to inquire about the festivities and to reserve a fly boat for the same evening (for 25€/person one isn’t going to deprive oneself of it)

All the websites selling this “cruise” are fully booked… except one! As a result, we believe that there is a bug and we expect not to be accepted. But armed with an extraordinary positive attitude, we queue up at 6:30 pm in front of the boat with a hundred other people and we cross our fingers

Obviously, our reservation made a few hours earlier was not taken into account. The hostess makes us wait next door while she contacts the agency

For a variety of reasons, other couples – who have booked the cruise for months – find themselves in the awkward situation of being offered a poor little snack instead of the candlelight dinner they ordered. Without financial compensation

One of the couples accepts the deal, thinking that fireworks are more important than the rest. The second couple freaks out and tells us that they’d rather see the fireworks a little worse than being cheated; and that they’re going to get compensation from American Express and they’re going to leave a very negative opinion on TripAdvisor. The American method in short

While listening to them, I had a revelation. I thought I heard myself, Anh from before the world tour. At that time, I was quite capable of sacrificing my happiness for some “revenge”, “justice”… without being sure of succeeding. How I have changed since then. Even though I’m still stressed by work this month, this revelation has done me a lot of good because it confirms that the Zen attitude I’ve acquired thanks to my CT scan has still not left me (at least for the small daily constraints)

So, being the nicest, the least annoying to the hostesses, and the most patient (we waited until the last customer arrived); the hostess allowed us to get on the boat, while her agency did not even confirm our reservation on the phone

Note: it is possible to watch the fireworks from the banks and especially from Buda where there are fewer trees.

The boat moored in front of the royal castle, not far from the famous Chain Bridge, and we were treated to a magnificent fireworks + music, fired from Chain Bridge and a platform in the middle of the Danube. On the boat, a group of musicians played classical pieces, including the Blue Danube

It makes me feel strange to hear the Beautiful Blue Danube while being on the Danube. It was one of my grandfather’s favorite songs and when I was little, I often played it to him on my electronic keyboard

The Danube, being the center of the city, plays an important role in the life of its residents. In the evenings, many of them walk along the river and/or sit along the pedestrian zone of the bridges with a beer in their hand. Even if Budapest is clearly less beautiful than Prague or Vienna, you still have a nice view from the banks

The food

Being surrounded by restaurants (we are in the city center – next to the “Shopping Street”), we didn’t cook much this month

Hungarian foie gras is very famous (and a lot of the foie gras sold in France comes from Hungary) – but I don’t know if I chose the restaurant, the store badly or because eating foie gras when it’s 40°C is “so wrong” that I didn’t find it convincing

Here, they love paprika, dried paprika, stuffed paprika… it’s not bad at all. But clearly, I can’t eat Hungarian food every day. It lacks taste I find 😀

Even their pastries can’t attract me more than that

On the other hand, Hungarian lemonades… it’s a KILLDOWN! It’s Virgin Mojito at its best, with big chunks of orange/lemon – and so much mint and taste that you’d think a jar of mint had been sacrificed – for a 3€ lemonade. We often take 1L lemonades to share

Speaking of drinks, in Budapest there are “ruin bars” (bars in ruined buildings) with very artistic (often incomprehensible) decoration. The drinks are delicious and cheap, the setting is exceptional. Some are permanent, others more secret or temporary

The Hungarians

Even if I have not received gestures of attention and extreme kindness as in Krakow, I find the Hungarians very pleasant and kind. Unfortunately, I did not have the courage to learn Hungarian, one of the most difficult languages in the world

A Hungarian woman took the time to explain to me the specifics of this language, a language apart, with its own rules and a vocabulary so rich that they have a whole bunch of words to describe shades of color or human feelings. Like Vietnamese, the addition and absence of an accent on a letter can totally change the pronunciation of a word, as well as its meaning


In short, we loved our stay in Budapest. If it was something to do, we would have worked less and enjoyed the city more. I don’t think we’ll ever go back there to live – I didn’t fall in love with it. Even though I liked the thermal baths, I don’t see myself living there just to enjoy them every other day.

Part 2: Practical Tips


When withdrawing money from the ATM, if you have an international option, it is better to refuse their exchange rate (which is equivalent to charging you 10% of the withdrawal amount) – so that the exchange rate is applied by your bank
Admission to the thermal baths costs between 10€ and 20€. It is better to choose entrance with “locker” instead of “cabin” (it will be cheaper). The cabin is more expensive but you can leave your suitcases inside. The locker is enough to keep your clothes and bags safely

Some spas offer better prices if you come early in the morning, plus there will be a lot less people

To better enjoy the thermal baths, come to Budapest with a bathing suit, flip-flops and a towel. All this can be rented/buy on the spot if you don’t have any


Curiously, with cheaper rates than Prague, we still managed to spend 2800€ for two in 27 days or 103€/day for two

This is linked to a rather expensive Airbnb rental (1259€); treatments in all directions (thermal baths, facials, massages), coworking (150€ for two), some shopping, and rather expensive restaurants in our tourist area – twice a day – instead of cooking ourselves

I think that outside the tourist season (from September onwards), Budapest will be more economical for nomad workers – as long as they are reasonable in their expenses and do not spend their life in the thermal bath like us: D

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