In March 2020 I went to Budapest on a 5 day trip (you can read here) and I went the Szechenyi Baths during a morning to relax a little. Keep reading this post to learn about Hungary’s thermal bath culture, the Szechenyi Baths and what to expect during the visit to this baths.
Hungary’s thermal bath culture
The Hungary’s thermal bath culture is over 2.000 years old and remainsan important part of the city’s life. The Roman civilization left its mark in several places and Hungary was no exception. The bathing and cleaning habits were really important on the Roman lifestyle, not only to refresh the body and the soul but also because it was a social habit. The greatest growth of this thermal bath culture in Hungary happened at the medieval Turkish times, when several spas were built all over the country.
Budapest is known as the City of Spas because there are numerous thermal baths buildings in the city (Gellért Baths, Lukács Baths, Rudas Bath,…). The most famous and popular are the Szechenyi Baths that are also the largest in the city and across Europe. The termal baths are not only for tourists,a lot of locals of all ages go there too. The thermal waters contain multiple minerals such as sulphite, sodium, magnesium, calcium, hydro-carbonate, fluoride and metaboric acid. Because of this composition, the water has medicinal properties that can treat rheumatism, skin problems and helppeople with respiratory problems. Being a myth or not, at least you can relax for a little bit!
Going to Budapest and not going to the spa is like going to Rome and not seeing the Pope. A visit to the thermal baths is a required stop on your travel itinerary.
The Szechenyi Baths (baths is fürdő in Hungarian) are the most visited in Budapest having 15 indoor baths and 3 huge outdoor pools. In addition, it has certain aesthetic services such as saunas, massage therapies, facial treatments and more. These baths are located on the ‘Pest’ side, in the City Park, nearby the Heroes Square and the Vajdahunyad Castle. The thermal waters of Szechenyi Bath were discovered in the 1880s and on the following years Szechenyi Baths building started to be built. The historical building is a Neo-baroque palace designed by Győző Czigler, a Hungarian architect.
Theoretical framework done,I will now tell you how my experience at these thermal baths was. When I started searching and defining the itinerary for the trip, I was sure I wanted to go to the Szechenyi Baths but I didn’t know what to expect.
📍 How we get there
There are several ways to get there but we chose to take the bus number 74 because it was direct from our hotel (Three Corners Hotel Anna). The M1 metro line has a bus stop there too.
In the week before the trip I bought all the necessary tickets, including the Szechecnyi Baths. I purchase the tickets directly on the website (2 cabins + 2 lockers) and we paid 24 600 HUF an equivalent to 70,00€, for four people. Ticket prices depend on the time of entry and the day of the week. The lockers ticket is cheaper than the cabins ones.
To exchange the prepaid online tickets there is a specific queue at the reception (has a paper affixed saying which counter). The process is very fast and you only need to show the tickets printed and then the receptionist give us a bracelet and indicate the entry.
🚪 The entrance
At the entrance to the Szechenyi Baths there were tourniquets and we just had to touch with the bracelet to allow passage. After we entered, an employee came to us and explained how we see our locker/cabin number (is on a machine right at the entrance). Both to open and close the lockers and the cabins it was necessary just to touch with the bracelet on a sensor. Theywould open right away.
🛅 Lockers vs Cabins
The cabins are small rooms where only fits one person inside and it’s still claustrophobic.You can keep your things and changes your clothes there. The lockers are located on the lower floor and you can store your belongings (you need to change clothes in public changing rooms). We didn’t use the lockers because we left everything on the cabins.
🧺 Towels and Bathrobes
As we travel withRyanair to Budapest it was impossible to bring towels or bathrobes in the suitcase, so we decided to rent there. ⚠️ Assault alert! To rent the towels you need to go to the lower floor and walk ’till the end of the corridor. We asked for 4 towels and the employee said it was 20 000 HUF (8000 were security deposit). So, we paid more than 34,00€ to use 4 towels for less than 3 hours 💸.
👙 Swimwear and slippers
Essential things you have to bring to the thermal baths: swimwear and it’s convenient to have a pair of slippers to walk in the corridors and avoid slipping on the wet floor.
💧 The outside pools
The day we went to the thermal baths it wasraining and that made my experience even more amazing. We entered from the Zoo entrance (you can see in the Szechecnyi Baths map below) and after we got ready we went to the pool.
We just took for the pool the swimwear, the slippers, the towel and the camera. Everything else we left in the cabins. The towel we hung our towelson a covered hangers nearby the pool and the slippers too. We took some photos and then we went back inside to store the camera on the cabin so it doesn’t get rain.
Entering the hot water of the pool with the cold that was outside is a brutal feeling! One of the pools marked 32º.C and the other 38.ºC (for me, the second was better because I like very hot water!). In the pools there are several jets of water coming from various directions which is great for massaging your back and shoulders (some are even too strong!). My main goal was to “keep my hair dry”. I have to say, I failed 🤪.
🚰 The inside pools
I can’t say much about the indoor pools because we choose to stay outside all the time. I just went to see what it was like but then we went back to the outdoor pools.
🛁 To take a shower
We stayed in the pools for about 2 hours and then we went to take a shower. Halfway down the main corridor there are individual shower cubicles. We showered there and then we dressed upin the cabins. After that, we delivered the towels to get the deposit money back.
🧼 Swimwear dryer
To dry the swimwear, there was a machine in the corridor but it had a dirty aspect andhairs on it. We chose to dry the wet swimwear in a hair dryer and then put it in tightly closed plastic bags (there were rolls of plastic bags in the corridor).
We went to the Szechenyi Baths pretty early (around 8h30m) and when we were leaving we noticed that many people were arriving. I think going early in the morning is perfect to avoid overcrowdedness.
The experience of going to the thermal baths was awesome! ❤️ Next time in Budapest, I will do it again for sure!
You can read more posts about Budapesthere.