By Lee Daley.
While there are many reasons to visit Hungary, including the fact that right now it is one of the best values in Europe, no visitor should leave the capital city of Budapest without indulging in an extended soak at one of its grand healing mineral bath houses.
Sitting on one of the richest geothermal and medicinal water resources in the world, Hungary has been known since Roman times as a great destination for “taking the baths.” Several of the city’s bath houses neo-Baroque architecture complete with vaulted ceilings and classical murals.
The Szechenyi Bath Complex, built around the turn of the last century when bathing culture was thriving throughout Europe, is one of the largest bath houses in all of Europe and worth a visit just to admire its architecture. Discovered in 1879, its thermal wells are considered the deepest and hottest in the capital. Even in winter, the open air pools are extremely popular. If you have seen photos of men playing chess in the pools, they were likely photographed poolside at Szechenyi’s Baths. Indulge in the various temperatures offered here while soaking up the elegant ambiance. In the outdoor pools, as you luxuriate in thermal waters naturally warmed to the mid 70s, take in the surrounding colonnaded porticoes and sculptures of water gods and dolphins. All this luxury is reputed to soothe aches and pains. Hungarians and tourists alike attest to the healing powers of the baths.
Szechenyi Spa Bath is located on the Pest side of the Danube River at XIV, Allakerti.ut.11 and is easily reached via public transportation from most areas of the city. Divided by the Danube River, the more commercial Pest provides visitors and locals with most of their shopping and night life while hilly Buda, across the water boasts well-preserved Gothic buildings and cobbled streets.
Accommodations: Visitors staying on the Pest side of the Danube can easily find public transportation to the city’s historic attractions. A prime choice is the newly restored Sofitel Budapest Hotel on the banks of the river Danube with it views of the Chain Bridge. Brightly lighted at dusk with hilltop Buda’s Royal Castle reflected in the river, it is one of the continent’s most romantic views.
IF YOU GO:
Visit the Sofitel website at http://www.sofitel.com/gb/hotel-3229-sofitel-budapest-chain-bridge/index.shtml
For travel information, visit www.gotohungary.com.
Lufthansa Airlines flies non-stop from San Francisco to Frankfurt, Germany and on to Budapest. Whenever possible, choose Business Class seating for your long-distance flights. Lufthansa offers world-class service and amenities. Visit www.lufthansa.com.