The Széchenyi thermal bath is the famous image of Budapest, but it’s more than just a thermal bath. It’s actually the largest thermal bath complex in Budapest AND in Europe. It has been visited by both locals and tourists from all walks of life.
Not only that, there are over 120 thermal baths in Budapest and it will be hard for you to find a local of Budapest who doesn’t like thermal baths. Literally, spas are everywhere in the city. Not small pools either, massive complexes built around multiple pools featuring water slides, fountains, wave pools and snack bars. Hence the name, City of Spas!
Budapest has been known to have hot springs along the Danube river since at least 100 AD. However, the Széchenyi Spa is the first spa to be built on the left bank of the Danube in 1913 boasting medicinal waters from the second deepest well in Budapest, 1,246 metres deep! The water contains minerals that are recommended for treating degenerative joint diseases and chronic articular inflammation.
If you have some free time in Budapest, I highly suggest you to enjoy Szechenyi’s thermal pools with a mixture of both indoor and outdoor, hot and cool. I surely enjoyed my Thursday dipping in their waters. There are few things you should do to enjoy your Hungarian baths.
Take a Walk from the Hero’s Square
Even though there is a metro stop right by the baths, but I decided to get off at the Hero’s Square, also locally known as Hősök tere, to check out the Millennium Monument with a archangel Gabriel statue on the top of their highest column in the centre. Behind the column is a semicircular colonnade with statues of famous men who made their mark on Hungarian history. Statues on top of the colonnades symbolise War, Peace, Work & Welfare, and Knowledge & Glory.
From this centre, you would be able to take a 5-minute stroll through the city’s park to Széchenyi thermal baths. You’ll definitely enjoy the view of the park and the people around it. I personally would recommend that, otherwise you can always do that afterwards.
Rent a Cabin or Locker
Upon arrival, you can pay a daily ticket with locker usage for 4,500 Ft (~$15 US Dollars) on weekdays or 4,700 FT (~$16.25 US Dollars) on weekends and holidays. That’s the cheapest you can get as it comes with a locker, but I was lucky to be given a cabin rental, thus they gave me a plastic watch that I must scan on a small box located on the wall on the first floor. The scanner will tell you the number of your cabin on the second floor.
Be sure to bring your own towel and flipflops. Don’t forget your swimsuit also (duh!)! Otherwise, you probably will have to spend your time in a line to pay rental for a towel. They’re pricey as well. Plus, you will be walking on hot stones at the outdoor pools area, so you wouldn’t want to forget your flipflops!
Besides, the cabin room is nice and secure, you can secure your belongings there, or in the locker outside near the pool. If I were you, I’d just rent the locker and put my belongings there because it’s more convenient and it’s a decent sized locker. I could fit my backpack with DSLR camera and few other items in it. Cabin rental would be just 500 Ft (~$1.75 US Dollars) extra. So, it’s up to you to rent a cabin. It’s nice to have privacy for your change of clothes before jumping in the pool.
Complete the Ultimate STW Budapest Spa Challenge!
Before I elaborate on the challenge, I would like to mention that Szechenyi has 13 indoor thermal baths, one outdoor thermal pool, two outdoor swimming pools, two outdoor immersion pools, plus three other indoor pools in the clinic/hospital attached to the complex.
The first sight I had was the three huge outdoor pools. One of them was an Olympic sized swimming pool with lines and whatnot. Second was a smaller pool with hot-tub-like jets and a true whirlpool where kids loved spinning themselves in. The third one is more of a thermal sitting pool where you would enjoy soaking in; however, it may be too hot to sit in on a hot day.
Not only that, you will find a snack bar that sells snacks, beverages and some beer. Keep in mind that they’re overpriced, so you might want to bring your own.
This was the spot where I came up with the Ultimate STW Budapest Spa Challenge for you to complete when you’re here! You’d probably need around 2 hours to complete the five things in the challenge:
1. Win a match of Chess with a local.
2. Stay underwater of the hottest water for at least a minute.
3. Massage your face with the jets of water of the statue fountain in the middle of the baths.
4. Quickly throw yourself into the cold water after soaking up in the hot waters.
5. Enjoy a cup of beer in one of the outdoor pools.
Things to know before you go:
Go early, or go late!
I’d recommend going in the morning or late in the evening when it would be less packed.
Bring your own towels and flip-flops
Or suffer the consequences of waiting in the line to rent a towel (pricey also).
Truth to be told, this spot is the perfect place to recover from a long period of time traveling in Europe. Especially for me as I found it exhilarating and relaxing to soak in the baths after long rides on the train.
Széchenyi Thermal Bath
- Address: Állatkerti krt. 9-11, 1146, Budapest, Hungary
- Operating hours: 6am – 10pm daily
- Prices: http://www.szechenyibath.hu/prices
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: http://www.szechenyibath.hu/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SzechenyiBath/