Baths, Books & Buda // Exploring Budapest, Hungary

Baths, Books & Buda // Exploring Budapest, Hungary

Sintra, Portugal

Dan sang high praises when I allotted one full day during our visit to Budapest to do absolutely nothing. “Whatever our hearts desire” was the only plan. That’s certainly not a typical Margo agenda. If you’ve seen my trip planning guide, you know. But, in the midst of making our decision to move home (detailed in my first Vlog a few days ago) we were in somewhat of an emotional crisis. We needed to just unwind. Not evaluate, chart or pro/con things for awhile.

The morning of fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants day in Budapest arrived. We drank our coffee and perused a Budapest travel guide we had found under a dusty pile books in our Airbnb apartment. Hmm, a visit to the thermal baths, yes that’d work perfectly.

Budapest, Hungary Sintra, Portugal

Fast forward 1 hour later and we were quickly tiptoeing across cold concrete towards one of the 18 thermal pools at Szechenyi Baths, the largest baths in Budapest. It was still February so the air was incredibly crisp despite a glaring sun above. Wading into the warm water was pure bliss.

A huge exhale and we both grinned ear to ear. Spring-fed lethargy is precisely what we needed. 

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Fast forward another ninety minutes later – cool, sedate Margo began to erode back into that list-loving, Type A blogger you know well. Dan proceeded in his meditation despite my pleas for a whale ride around the pool. (Not kidding!)

After a rather confusing locker room experience, I resolved to return to my street clothes and wandered around the pools, collecting the photos you see here. 

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After our rejuvenating visit to the baths, it only seemed logical to continue with our laid back pace. Following the guidance in the dusty guide book, we moved on to the Alexandra Book Store for lunch in their stunning Neo-Renaissance ballroom turned cafe (full disclosure). 

The meal was honestly fantastic – a Cesar salad for me, sandwich for him, and a pair of teas. Reasonably priced, too!

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Our fingers no longer pruned and our tummies full, we made our way across the Danube to the former Buda side and home of Buda Castle, Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastian.

The ornate roof of Matthias Church immediately caught our attention and I spent the better part of 15 minutes wishing that I had a drone to get a better angle of it.

Sintra, Portugal Sintra, Portugal Sintra, Portugal Sintra, Portugal

Fisherman’s Bastian is only a few steps further and provides an expansive viewpoint of former Pest and the wandering Danube. Across the river we spotted the famous and fabulous Hungarian Parliament building (see this baby at night and you’ll fall in love, believe me). 

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Making our way towards Buda Castle we sneaked a peek at their changing of the guard presentation and wandered, rather aimlessly, around the castle grounds. Buda Castle is certainly a tourist favorite with it’s mighty position, elevated high above the city. I immediately understood the fuss. 

Sintra, Portugal Sintra, PortugalBudapest, HungarySintra, Portugal Sintra, Portugal

The day slowly wore by and concluded with an undocumented but delightful meal (the nerve, I know!) and a nearly perfect glass of Hungarian wine. I’m not going to commit to this no plan business, but honestly, it was pretty darn perfect. 

  • I love those no plan travel days! I’m finding myself in that situation far more often than not these days!! It’s just so nice to actually relax and take in the atmosphere rather than hustling through a checklist! Amazing photos lady…i love the stairs!!

    • Thanks lovey! does this mean we’re now ‘mature travelers’ or something? Have we turned a new leaf in our adventures? It is definitely a drastically different experience.

  • That steam bath looks divine! The details on the roof of that church are just beautiful!

    • Amen gal! The roof of Matthias Church is such a spectacular sight! Have you visited Budapest? Details like these definitely surprised me about the city. πŸ˜€

      • I have not been! My fiance and I are currently trying to plan our honeymoon so I’m always looking for new travel spots. We aren’t big beach people so an all inclusive resort isn’t really our style.

        • hmm, while I loved Budapest, if I were in your shoes I’d go to Ireland. more specifically, dingle, ireland. the people/food/views – all of it left such a lasting impression. I think I might be more of nature person versus city so perhaps that’s not your cup of tea! definitely understand!

  • Kari Guastella

    I am living through these photos right now! Gorgeous! Looks so relaxing!

    • Yess, the pictures don’t lie – that place even relaxed me for a period of time, a person that feeds off of Instagram and checking my email every 10 minutes. remarkable! πŸ™‚

  • Kenzie Negron // sincerelykenz

    love this post… I’m thinking about studying abroad and Budapest is definitely somewhere i want to visit! πŸ™‚

    • absolutely. there’s so many wonderful places to see in europe, not studying abroad is one of my biggest regrets from college. where does your program allow you to go?

  • Swimming pool and naked people look somehow odd surrounded by this noble architecture… quite tempting to be there, frankly, but still odd:) And I think the last photo is genius, Margo!

    • ha, you have NO idea – that’s just the start of it. here in germany there are many (MANY) beautiful baths that require nudity. it’s supposedly a sanitary thing but for me, it’s just too much. I’ve tried to dance around with a towel on and pretend that I’m relaxing but instead I leave more anxious. ehhh!

      • I am Russian, you know, born and raised and lived there until 20…sooooo, I know all about naked baths, unfortunately:) I used to be dragged there by my grandma (she loved them) and that was a total nightmare of my childhood! :)) I have nothing against it really, I just felt there so weeeeeird and like you said – anxious.. Like my grandma used to say, I guess I am not a REAL Russian:D

  • Wonderful photos, as always πŸ™‚ Thanks for telling me about a beautiful mess for lightroom. I have been loving it!

    • thanks lovey! glad you’re enjoying it! remember that if there’s things that you always do to further tweak their presets (like enable profile corrections) you can save them separately as your own user preset. not sure if you already knew this but once I found out it saved me a ton of time.

  • The slow pace

    Well, that’s my idea of a beautiful day abroad: relaxing, fun and full of sunshine!

    • precisely! I’ll see what I can do to make it happen more often, I sure know dan would appreciate THE SLOW(er) PACE! (Ah! if that’s indeed what your blog name implies then I just had a giant lightbulb moment.)

      • The slow pace

        Well, happy somebody gets it!!! Jajajajaja!!! (That’s laughing in Spanish!) πŸ˜‰

  • I love all your photos at the bath! That was our favorite thing to do when we went to Budapest last November. I can be a bit type A too when I travel, but that was such a relaxing experience! Looks like you had the perfect weather for it too!

    • yes! I think I have to agree, the baths were my favorite thing in that we did too. well, maybe tied with the dinner cruise – both were pretty amazing and unique. did you find the instructions for how to use the locker room ridiculously confusing? oh man, it took me a solid 10 minutes to understand what was going on.

  • OMG I’m drooling! Budapest has always been on my list and now after reading this, I’m itching more than ever to go!

    • ha, no drooling! I’m SURE you’ll be there in the matter of months and have your own set of amazing memories! ha xo

  • Your photos are gorgeous, love your style. Budapest looks amazing, definitely would love to visit here someday πŸ™‚

    • thanks so much dear! I’m curious, how would you describe my style? I ask because a friend recently commented on a guest post that I did that she immediately knew it was me because the cover photo looked like it was one of mine. no pressure if you don’t have a way of describing it but I’m just curious. πŸ™‚

      • Let’s see… your photos play with the natural shadows and lighting. The colours are rich, but not bright and vibrant like other travel bloggers. I like how you frame a scene or object to make it really stand out in the photo. I don’t know if this is making any sense, but that’s how your style is to me πŸ™‚

        • Interesting! I appreciate the thoughtful explanation, dear! I was always curious what others saw when they looked at my pictures because to me the goal is to get them to look ‘right’ whatever that entails. I definitely miss the mark most of the time but I think you know what I mean!

  • I can’t even decide which part of this post is the most gorgeous! I’m also oozing with jealousy, since Budapest was a part of our almost-itinerary this summer. hopefully we can reschedule for next year, because this looks amazing πŸ™‚

    • the dreaded almost-itinerary, I know it well! we have had SO many almost-itineraries that I could literally go crazy – norway, provence, tuscany. eck! they’re the almost worst! one day though, I’m sure we’ll both make it to ALL the places we’re itching to go though and probably appreciate them all the more for it!

  • I just loved ALL these photos! Especially the one with the guy on the bench sunning himself! THE BEST. You’re getting so good at photography! I love everything. Also, what a pretty place to visit! I think I would probably sit there ALL DAY and not have a care in the world! So amazing. πŸ™‚

    • thanks so much, my dear! speaking of photography – it makes me cringe when I look back at some of my earlier trips around Europe. Less than two years ago and my shots are remarkably unimaginative and dull. It’s just like everything I guess I’m just improving with lots and lots of practice. here’s an idea – why don’t you create a skillshare class on travel photography? I’d be the first to sign up!

      • Ok that would be SO FUN! And Margo, I COMPLETELY agree with you on the experience thing! I look at my past photos from 2012 and 2013 and they’re so awful!!!!!! People always say ‘My pictures never look as good as yours,’ but I have to remind them it takes practice…just like painting or playing a musical instrument!

  • Wow Budapest look amazing! A place I have never considered putting on my bucket list but these photos have got me thinking I have to visit one day!

    • absolutely – better still though, I’m sure the city would be all the more impressive in the summertime when the trees have their leaves and flowers in bloom. We only got to see kind of the winter skeleton of the city and were still impressed.

  • Julia

    I want to go more and more badly with every post you create about this amazing city! I’m exactly like you, I tend to plan plan plan everything. When I visit places I want to discover as much as possible, and I’m a person that has to schedule relaxing time, otherwise it won’t happen. Even then, after about 2 hours of so I’m ready to be productive again usually.

    Stunning photos as always, I love the angles you shoot them in but also your edits are so beautiful! Major jealousy over here πŸ™‚

    • Julia, you and I are two of kind! I even have a difficult time knowing how to truly relax – Dan loathes this, actually. For example, I can’t just sit and watch TV, I always have my laptop out and am multitasking. Such is life though, it’s the way I’ve always been! I have a hunch that you’re probably the same too!

      Thanks for the kind words (as always!) about my pictures! πŸ˜€

      • Julia

        Literally exactly the same! I think you can imagine how much it bothers me that my laptop is my TV, meaning if I’m watching something I can’t be editing photos, reading other blogs, etc. Therefore, my apartment always gets cleaned while I watch TV from a distance, and my nails are always freshly polished πŸ˜€ And don’t even get me started on how many photos I edit for Instagram while on Netflix πŸ˜€

  • Ashleigh

    It seems like Budapest is the place to be at the moment! I visited about 6 years ago, but only for a day trip so I would love to go back and explore even more.

    How to be a Wanderluster

    • You’re so right – Budapest is definitely ‘hot’ in a way. I think it might have been the high ranking on the TripAdvisor best cities list, or something similar that has everyone itching to take a peek – including me! πŸ˜€

  • Emilysadventures

    I went to Budapest in February too! Such an amazing city! My biggest regret was not going in the Szechenyi Baths! Just means I’ll have to go back soon! Amazing photos xx

    • Precisely! I’m sure you had just as much fun doing other things around the city – did you make it to any of the ruin pubs? They’re kind of nuts, aren’t they? Nuts in an ‘this is so crazy and amazing at the same time’ nuts. πŸ˜€

      • Emilysadventures

        Yes we saw a few ruin bars, they were crazy! I think Budapest has become one of my favourite cities!

  • Lauren @BonVoyageLauren

    What an absolutely beautiful day! I didn’t visit SzΓ©chenyi when I was there a few summers ago but I really enjoyed Gellert Baths! Beautiful photos, as always. Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

    • thanks so much love! if you visited any baths in Budapest then I’m sure you got a similar experience to the one I had. it’s definitely a uniquely-Budapest must, isn’t it!? πŸ™‚

  • What a beautiful trip! I’ve never been to Budapest, but after seeing those baths, I would love to visit! Great photos πŸ™‚

    • thanks so much, Ashley! easy to take pretty pictures in a pretty place, you know?!

  • Budapest is on my dream destination list! Seeing your relaxing day here has made my desire to go all the more intense. The colors!!! Great post as always, Margo πŸ™‚

    • thanks so much lovey! agreed too – Budapest is really dreamy.

  • Great photos! I’ve always wanted to go to Hungary #someday!

    • yes, exactly! I feel that same #someday sentiment about most places! I hear you though, Budapest is so exotic in it’s own way.

  • Europe is so beautiful in its details, like that crazy roof and the beautiful patterned tiles by that fountain.

    • I love your attention to details – you’re so right that roof is just gorgeous, I didn’t catch the full history behind it but it’s really unlike any other church I’ve seen. Have you visited Budapest?

  • Swimming in Budapest! Looks like a dream. You don’t get to do that in most cities in Europe!

    Also, I’ve listed you as one of my top 7 travel blogs in my blog! Keep on traveling and sharing your experiences please! πŸ™‚

    With love,
    Paola // Resuscitate

    • Paola, thank you again for the wonderful feature! I’m SO flattered, you really did make my day! xo

  • Gorgeous pictures! Budapest looks like a fab city break destination – if only for the thermal baths!

    • Oh I hear you! Budapest is so unique and then you throw in the spas and it’s like.. what more could you want? Ha

  • Budapest has always been high on my go-to list but in a way, I never managed to get there even though I don’t live that far away… I do think, after reading your story and seeing the pics (definitely the baths waw!!!), I really have to book a little trip very soon and tick Budapest of the list πŸ™‚ x

    • oh yes! those baths are kind of ridiculous in how they’re right there in the city and full of history. I’m not sure which low cost carriers you might have in Belgium but maybe you can find a deal?

  • Such a fun, relaxing, no-plan day! Those baths look wonderful! And that salad… yum!

    • who’d have thought, huh?! as queen of the itinerary I’m honestly baffled by how well this worked out! shame on me!

  • Your unplanned day turned out great!

    • I agree Diana and I’m sure Dan would too! Sooo relaxing and fun, who’d a thought a plan-less day would be the best kind of day?

  • This is absolutely I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E. We were on the fence about visiting Budapest (and swapping it out for another city), but the idea of going to baths like this one might have just sold us! Thanks for the inspiration…and by the way, your photography is GREAT! We know it’s hard work! Keep it up. <3

    • thanks so much! so, I’m curious – what other city were you guys thinking of swapping it with? Prague maybe?

      • Prague, Vienna, Innsbruck, etc. We might even hit them all up! We’re doing EuRail (for the third time) this May/June! Can. Not. Wait. πŸ˜€

        • oh my goshhhh. Can I come? Prague is my fav of those 3, you guys are going to LOVE it.

  • Fancy Toughts

    Budapest is really worth a trip.
    a beautiful city with many beautiful historic buildings and such a wunderful bath.
    love to visit it now!
    best, patricia

  • grace

    Hi Margo! What airbnb apartment did you stay at in Budapest? Thanks and happy travels πŸ™‚

  • Ana ML

    hey! i was wondering if i could use some of those amazing photos from Budapest for making some illustrations por university. I was studying in Barcelona but now im here in Budapest. I would show you the results if u want! :))