You are not really in Budapest yet unless you have soaked in at the famous Szechenyi Baths (pronounced say-chan-yee). Established between 1909 and 1913, powered by two thermal springs (of 77º and 74º temperature), this 100 year old largest medicinal bath in Europe is a must visit when you are in the Hungarian capital. While some prefer to keep it till the end, we preferred to spend half a day here on the 2nd day of our trip to Budapest to coincide with Tanusree’s birthday.
Things to know before you go
Tickets: We purchased entry tickets plus locker usage for 2 persons from this website. The transaction was safe and the staff are very responsive on the website forum and emails. We paid 17 euros per person (35 euros total) and took a printout with us before departing. Buying tickets from the venue is perfectly possible, its just that one may have to join a queue.
Location & Transport: On the north-east side of Budapest (Pest side), Szechenyi Baths is located slightly outside of the bustling city centre. However, it was just a comfortable 20-minute bus ride from our fantastic apartment in Budapest which dropped us right in front of the Baths. If you haven’t already, read more about where we stayed in Budapest here.
Timing: The bath is open every day from 6am to 10pm. We arrived in the morning of 9th September around 9.30am because it obviously gets busier as the day progresses. It is true that the evening view of the hot steam coming out of the baths may be a different delight to watch altogether, however spending atleast 3-4 hours in the day time was just fine to fully enjoy the thermal effect!
What to carry/wear: Since all pool facilities are open to both men and women at all times, swimsuits (preferably bring your own or hire one inside) must be worn. If you wish to do lane swimming, you must wear a bathing cap, and it’s a really good idea to bring flip-flops.
Food & drinks: There is a café inside the premises and a small bar serving drinks and cocktails. There is a cash machine at the reception and it is advised to carry cash inside. The Bath offers massage, pedicure, guided tours and its also a popular venue for parties too.
Facilities: We were given a wristband to operate the security doors and the lockers. The premises were really clean and well managed. There were sufficient sun-decks around so we were able to alternate between taking a dip and soaking up the September sun.
Health benefit: The water in the thermal pools, high in calcium, magnesium and hydrogen carbonate, is deemed to be good for pains in the joints, arthritis, blood circulation and disorders of the nervous system. You’re not supposed to stay in the hottest thermal pool for more than 20 minutes at a time for health reasons.
When we entered the inside premises of the neo-baroque establishment, we thought to take a quick tour first before immersing ourselves in the medicinal baths. There were total 18 pools outside and inside. The baths indoors were ofcourse connected to one another and were more private in nature. The baths outside seemed more appealing and vibrant, under the open sky, chill in the air, but warm water all around!
We alternated between staying inside the pools and relaxing by them while sipping some cocktails. We witnessed a group of Hungarian men enjoying and playing a game of chess right inside the pool itself with purpose built chess-boards along the edges of the pools. Note that the pools are not intended for diving or serious swimming (except one). So it was best just to soak in to enjoy the hot natural water coming right from the warm heart of the Earth!
There are many other baths in Budapest as well, most notably the Gellert Baths. We would suggest that if you have time to spend in Budapest then surely visit both. But if you are pressed for time and want to experience the best first and keep the rest for later – just visit Szechenyi Baths and you will not regret to have missed anything else.
Visiting the Szechenyi Thermal Bath somewhat reminded us of visiting the Blue Lagoon in Iceland back in 2016 except on an even grander scale. Like at the Blue Lagoon, the waters in Szechenyi are said to have healing powers thanks to their mineral elements —fluoride, calcium, magnesium, hydro-carbonate, sodium, sulphate and more are in abundance here. The waters are so rejuvenating, in fact, that there’s actually a physiotherapy “hospital” on-site, offering various healing treatments and therapy for all sorts of ailments. Szechenyi’s website also mentions a drinking well that is supposed to cure all sorts of digestive and respiratory disorders although we didn’t try and test it.
You can spend an entire day here, book yourself for a massage, pedicure or just simply relax by the pool, enjoy the fabulous people-watching that a place like this always offers but we had more sights to see and sounds to hear in Budapest that day so we had to leave the warmth of the baths after spending half a day and dry up to experience the other attractions. Subscribe to our blog to read in the next chapter what we did afterwards in the second half of our 2nd day in Budapest.0