The ‘Hottest’ Thermal Spa in Budapest

The 'Hottest' Thermal Spa in Budapest

Szechenyi Baths:

In the Hungarian city of Budapest, you are about to enter a spectacular Neo Baroque architectural complex with 15 mineral rich indoor pools and 3 steaming big outdoor thermal pools: welcome to Szechenyi Baths, Budapest’s premier thermal spa.

Budapest features a diverse selection of thermal spas, each with its own distinct personality. Others feature typical Turkish octagonal pools, while others have wave pools. There is a Beer Spa in Szechenyi. Has it lost some of its essence as a result of overtourism? Absolutely. Nonetheless, it is Budapest’s most popular thermal bath.

Budapest is located on a geological fault line that has given rise to 120 thermal springs, which feed the region with millions of litres of hot mineral water per day. Dig a large hole (over 1,000 metres deep) in the countryside, and you might come across a hot spring!

Budapest has long been a bathing city, from the time of the Romans through the time of the Turks, and now it is our turn. It is time for us to “take the waters.” So, what did we do? Of course, we started a hot baths nightclub event! Imagine the Romans seeing us now!

When visiting Budapest, make time to visit a thermal spa. You could be here for medical treatment. It’s possible that you’re suffering from a hangover. Or maybe you just need to relax after a hectic yet fantastic Budapest city break. We’re taking you to one of the most popular thermal spas in the world, Szechenyi.

Thermal Baths of Szechenyi

Historically, Hungary was known as the bath country, and Budapest as the bath city. However, the Szechenyi Baths project did not begin until natural medical movements favouring aqua therapy became popular in society. It took a local engineer ten years to discover the hot spring that supplied the thermal pools in the first place!

The Szechenyi thermal baths palace-like complex is one of the most renowned instances of Baroque revival architecture that swept over Europe towards the end of the 19th century. Building work began in 1909 and was completed in 1913, although the current layout did not exist until 1927.

Szechenyi has 15 indoor pools with varied temperatures and medicinal characteristics such as Magnesium, Calcium, Bicarbonate, and Fluoride, as well as a substantial amount of Metabolic Acid. There are also ten saunas/steam rooms with temperatures ranging from ‘pleasant’ to’shriveling up like a prune’ to ‘how are you alive in there’!

The baths in Szechenyi are fed by two of the area’s many hot springs, one at 74 degrees Celsius (165 degrees Fahrenheit) and the other at 77 degrees Celsius (171 degrees Fahrenheit). Gellert Baths, located directly across the Danube in Buda, might be considered Szechenyi Baths’ main competitor. While Gellert may have an advantage in the indoor pools, it is the outdoor pools that propel Szechenyi to the top of its weight class.

Consider this: Paris boasts ten Eiffel Towers, each with a different grandeur and splendour, but the one we all know is the most impressive and thus the busiest with tourists. Would you visit the first Eiffel Tower? Or would you like one of the less spectacular, smaller versions? Would you consider yourself to have missed out?

When is the best time to visit Szechenyi Baths?

Scenario No. 1:

Consider yourself on a bitterly chilly January day. A cloudy sky with a brisk breeze.

You get goosebumps but don’t shiver. From your waist up, you’ve been surrounded by a blanket of heated steam. Your nervous system is informing you that your legs are not numb. As your blood circulates freely through your veins and arteries, they are, in reality, warming up.

Dense steam obscures your view until a break in the mist reveals the thermal pool you’ve just walked into and you relax, sinking into a sitting position to completely cover your shoulders. You no longer feel the chill.

You’ve just entered the Szechenyi thermal baths’ large outdoor pool, which is 38 degrees Celsius (101 degrees Fahrenheit).

Scenario No. 2:

Consider yourself on a scorching July day.

You fall asleep while reclining on a sun lounger while listening to music. When you get up, you notice that the two outdoor pools for resting are packed with sunbathers.

You decide it’s not for you since it’s too hot and you need to cool down before you can participate. You go inside to the indoor pools in search of a technique to reduce your internal temperature. That’s when you come across the plunge pool.

You submerge your entire body without reluctance and finally feel energised… It’s time to go to the pub and drink a beer with your mates!

Which of those opposing experiences do you believe is the greatest time to visit?

Baths Indoors

Szechenyi contains 15 indoor pools with temperatures ranging from 18 C (66 F) to 38 C (104 F). It’s difficult to get into that 18 C after being in the warmer pools, so try that before treating yourself with a lovely warm plunge!

When you look at the map, the pools are in a long, narrow horizontal line. Each pool is unique in terms of design, temperature, purpose, and mineral content.

Those suffering from arthritis and lung problems are claimed to benefit from the mineral-rich water. It is debatable if such natural remedies work, but there is no doubting that your mental health improves when your mind and muscles relax.

Our favourite indoor pool has a Roman theme and is encircled by brown columns. It’s easy to overlook the design and engineering accomplishments inside the baths. If you value craftsmanship, the interiors of Gellert bathrooms are more visually appealing.

Depending on the time of year, you might have the entire pool to yourself. You could also be sharing with dozens of strangers.

Do you mind bathing in the same water as everyone else? It is not suitable for everyone.

If the pools are too crowded, you can use one of the 10 saunas / steam chambers located throughout the facility. However, they can become quite crowded during peak hours.

Bathing Outside

The three huge outdoor pools of Szechenyi Baths are the crown jewels.

There’s a pool for those who want to swim at 27 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit), and an adventure pool at 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) with a whirlpool (it’s incredibly powerful, so if you’re alone, it’s like a lazy river!) and another pool for relaxation at 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit).

Swimmers, remember to bring (or rent) your swimming caps; otherwise, you won’t be able to swim!

The outdoor pools are where the Szechenyi Baths’ charm comes to life. You have access to sun loungers, a bar/café (yes, they offer beer!) and three gorgeous pools with the charming yellow Neo Baroque architecture as your backdrop.

The beauty of the notion is that you are in for a treat whether it is sunny or snowy.

In the sun, you can have a couple beers around the pool (but not in it), sunbathe and avoid leaping into a freezing cold pool (like your usual hotel pool!) and relax.

In the snow, you have the pure joy of immersing yourself in exquisite warmth as the frigid air collides with the warm water, resulting in a mesmerising steam dance.

The optimal time, however, does not depend on whether it is summer or winter. The greatest time to visit is at night. The warm waters, dark sky, and steam create a romantic scene if you visit as a pair.

Expect throngs outside because here is where the majority of tourists will congregate. Especially the selfie team. It is preferable to arrive early in the morning.

The pools open at 6 a.m. Arrive by 6 a.m. if you don’t mind getting up, and you might just be able to witness the sun rise while covered in a cocoon of thermal vapour.

Cleanliness of Szechenyi Baths

The cleanliness of a large bathing complex is not its most notable feature. Perhaps not the establishment’s fault, but the thousands of locals and visitors who walk through every day.

Can they clean around and on top of us while we’re there? Anyway, it all comes down to your personal definition of “clean.”

As you can see, the cabins in the changing rooms are in good condition! The general hygiene of the indoor pools, on the other hand, leaves a lot to be desired. There will be a few occasions when’something’ will float by and you will need to quickly move out of its way.

We had to leave pools a few of times because someone clearly had no concept of personal hygiene (or, for that matter, space).

The worst that happened was when we were lounging in one of the indoor pools. When a giant thick black hair flew up and latched itself to Kristen’s nose, she almost had to call it a day!

Mark noticed it right away and knew he had to act.

Mark threw himself towards the target, but it was like a slow motion ‘Nooooooooooooooo’ and by the time he landed and drenched everyone within a 5 foot radius, the hair was firmly planted on the ridge of Kristen’s nose.

Prices for Szechenyi Baths

It’s worth noting that the pricing in the snapshot above are from the time we went. Prices have been updated and are displayed below.

Szechenyi Baths’ prices appear to be reasonable at first glance. However, when you consider how reasonable Budapest is in general, the pricing here are somewhat inflated.

Furthermore, the price list can be exceedingly perplexing. They change frequently and offer tiny savings at specific times of day or doing activities in pairs.

The most crucial thing to remember is that weekdays are less expensive than weekends. We’re not talking about big bucks here, but every little bit helps, right?

You can save the leftovers for a beer by the pool!

Weekdays:

Locker with General Access – 5,900 HUF (US$ 19)
General Admission Cabin – 6,400 HUF (US$ 21)
Fast Track Locker costs 6,200 HUF (about $20 USD).
Cabin on the Fast Track – 6,800 HUF

Weekends:

Locker for General Entry – 6,200 HUF (US$ 20)
General Admission Cabin – 6,800 HUF (US$ 22)
Fast Track Locker – 6,500 HUF (about US$ 21)
Fast Track Cabin – 7,200 HUF (about US$ 23)]

Having visited several times, we would prefer the cabin option over the storage option. The cabin provides solitude, enough space for two people to change, and the ability to store valuables within.

You are provided a silicone wristband that locks and unlocks the cabin door, so security is not an issue.

Booking online is recommended if you plan to visit in the afternoons during peak season, on weekends, and especially during the Sziget music festival in August.

There’s no need to reserve ahead of time or acquire a fast track ticket if you’re visiting early in the morning, say, midweek in April.

Our Top Tips for Your Visit

Bring your own flip-flops, towel, swimming cap (if swimming lengths in a lane pool), shower gel and shampoo… and anything else you could require.

You can rent on-site, but be aware that they charge a small sum for each item, which may ruin your entire experience. If you only bring yourself, you can hire all of the above equipment for a whooping 8,600 HUF (US$28), which is more than the cost of the ticket itself.

Party in Szechenyi Baths

Anyone interested in a pool party? If so, Budapest has its own, located at the Szechenyi hot baths. We must acknowledge that we did not attend the event! What could possibly go wrong with drinks, music, lasers, and water up to your waist?!

Szechenyi Baths transforms into a party event almost every Saturday night from 10.30pm until 3am. The entire outside area is transformed into a club complete with lasers and booze. Just keep an eye out for those who are floating… and those who are sinking…

It’s worth noting that they’re quite expensive, costing roughly 16,000 HUF (US$55) each person.

Despite this, they are really popular nights, and to be honest, there aren’t many pool party events in Europe, are there?

Szechenyi Baths’ Beer Spa

We never went to the beer spa, as much as it hurts us to say it.

Mark enjoys a beer, being British and all, but we just did not have the funds for it. When you’re travelling for a long time, 50 Euros for a pair (it doesn’t have to be a real couple, just two individuals) is a bit of a stretch.

If you’re only taking a long weekend break, go for it! It costs 30 Euros per person, therefore you’re better off making a friend.

You can drink unlimited beer from your own tap for 45 minutes while relaxing in your own rustic thermal hot tub flavoured with hops, malt, and yeast.

Consider the people who regard 45 minutes as a race.

Spa Treatments at Szechenyi Baths

A visit to Europe’s largest spa would be incomplete without a massage. A couples massage, similar to the beer spa, is the best way to save money here. Click here to find out costs and to book a massage appointment.

Szechenyi, which prides itself on being a complete Wellness centre, offers Thai, Swedish, and Medical massages.

Aromatherapy massages and Balneotherapy, which is similar to a hot and cold water massage, are also available. If you need a facial or a fish pedicure, you can find those here as well!

Tour of Szechenyi Baths

Assume you arrive at 4 p.m. on a typical busy day during the shoulder season. You haven’t reserved tickets, so you’ll most likely be in the third or fourth row when you arrive.

That will go quickly, and you will be greeted with a big pricing list published in both Hungarian and English; there will be too many alternatives for you to comprehend in such a short period of time, so you will simply ask the ticket office employee.

The employee will most likely be grumpy, so make sure you get the ticket with the cabin.

Once passed the turnstile, you’ll need a crystal ball to figure out where the changing rooms are among the building’s labyrinthine halls.

Don’t be concerned; you’ll locate them, and it’ll all be part of the experience. Find your cabin, secure your belongings with your silicone bracelet, and you’re ready to hit the pools.

Remember to bring your flip-flops (more for protection than because they are now required) and a towel.

Swim in any of the pools that appear appealing or are relatively vacant. Not to mention the saunas and steam rooms.

However, be warned: some saunas are hotter than the sun! Continue straight beyond the pools until you come upon what appears to be a generic tunnel with an almost hidden glass door.

That won’t get you to Narnia, but it will get you to the main attraction at Szechenyi Baths: the outdoor pools. Grab a beer, watch the sunset, and linger out in the dark for a while.

Don’t worry if you get lost; everyone has at some point. Simply follow the crowds or use a map. We happened onto the beer spa by chance while wandering in the maze.

Getting to Szechenyi Thermal Baths

Szechenyi Baths is located in City Park in Budapest’s northwestern outskirts. You can either ride the Yellow subway M1 from Deak Ferenc to Szechenyi Ford or walk the length of Andrassy Street.

It’s a pleasant walk that takes about 45 minutes from Deak Ferenc.

You can also go shopping in Budapest’s upscale retail district and wind up at Heroes Square. Vajdahunyad Castle, Budapest Zoo, and the Museum of Fine Arts are all nearby Szechenyi Baths.

We hope you enjoyed our Szechenyi Thermal Baths guide!

Did we leave anything out? Or have you ever had any thick curly hairs attach to your face?!

Please let us know in the comments if you need any assistance organising your vacation to Budapest or the Szechenyi Thermal Baths.

Good bathing,

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