Updated: Sep 13, 2020
The trip continued from the bustling streets of Paris to the bustling streets of Budapest. The capital of Hungary, Budapest is a city stuffed with a rich history filled with drama and excitement. Here are a few of my favorite parts for this 3-day leg of our trip.
1. Stay at Hotel Corinthia
Saying au revoir to Paris was difficult, but saying hello to the giant hotel rooms in Hotel Corinthia quickly took our minds off missing champagne in front of the Eiffel Tower at Cafe de I'homme. The hotel rooms were spacious, to be humble. Walking into Hotel Corinthia was an experience in itself. The tall heavy doors opened (by the doorman in a full tuxedo) up to a vast foyer filled with mystical floral arrangements and a backdrop of what seemed like an endless staircase leading to the gates of Heaven. The restaurants in the hotel are also worthwhile.
2. Get your Back Rubbed at the Royal Spa
The Royal Spa is actually attached to the hotel. It was built in 1886! The Art Deco-style tiles surround a beautiful pool area. Unfortunately, the spa pool was closed for renovations when we visited, but we were still able to get massages. My mom and I opted for Thai massages. We were escorted in a beautiful stone elevator to hotel rooms where our bodies were contorted into shapes I didn't think were possible. The masseuses were maybe 4'10 women from Thailand who gave an authentic and magical 90-minute massage. Life-changing, and I'm not overexaggerating here. Explore the spa here.
3. Explore the Jewish Quarters
I won't give you a long history lesson here, but Budapest was once a divided country, with Catholics and Jews in constant debate. The Jewish Quarters in Budapest is a great way to experience the culture of the locals. The food is wonderful, the shops are quaint, and people are super friendly.
4. Take a Dip in the Széchenyi Thermal Baths
I always saw Instagram photos of the thermal baths, and I had to give them a try. The Szechenyi baths are is the largest medicinal bath in Europe and tickets are under 20 euros. In addition to the outdoor baths, there are maybe half a dozen indoor baths. You can easily get lost in the halls of the beautiful yellow building. Be sure to bring a hair cap if you wish to take laps in the lap pool. My mom and I made the mistake of not bringing any and were yelled at by the lifeguards for entering the pool without knowing this rule. The other baths do not require a cap, so we walked into the warm water and spun around in the natural whirlpools.
5. Walk around Heroes' Square
Heroes' Square is a short walk from the thermal baths and filled with a beautiful depiction of the past leaders in Hungary. The sheer size of the statues is magnificent. You can take a walking tour of the Square or just look up some quick facts while perusing. My mom and I opted for the latter.
6. Cruise on the Danube River
I highly recommend taking a night cruise on the Danube River which runs through the city. You will cruise beneath some of the most beautiful bridges in Europe. Our boat ride was accompanied by audio and video that provided a great history lesson on Budapest. We were also served wine which was a nice bonus.
7. Visit the Parliament Building
The Parliament Building is one of the most architectural masterpieces I have seen. The Gothic Revival architecture and attention to detail is stunning. It was designed and built by architect Imre Steidl in 1880 and stands as a symbol of the union of Buda, Obuda, and Pest. Over half a million precious stones and 88 pounds of gold were incorporated in the design. I can't forget to mention that there are over 690 rooms!
...Next stop, Barcelona!