One of the biggest draws to Budapest are the thermal baths. There are a few dotted around the city, but Széchenyi Thermal Bath is probably the most popular as it’s the biggest. There’s a large outside pool for swimming in and pool for hanging out in, several indoor bathing areas as well as saunas and spa treatments and massages. It’s pretty easy on the eyes as well as the complex is beautiful.
The complex is over 100 years old, completed in 1913, and boasts 21 pools (though the inside ones close earlier than the outside ones) of which we only got into three, this place is huge! The thermal waters are said to have medicinal and restorative properties, and for many people it is a daily routine to come and soak their ailments away.
I didn’t think prices were too steep to be honest, as there’s no time limit to the amount of time you can enjoy the baths and spa services. Treatments are of course extra and you have to book in for them. We turned up a bit after 5pm on a Friday expecting it to be peak time and to have to wait, but we got in line behind one person, paid our entry fee, and went downstairs to the lockers to change.
There are several different tickets you can purchase, which you can see on the website, but we each got an afternoon ticket with locker usage which was 4,900 Ft – about £14, which provides you entry into the bath and a locker in the changing rooms to store your belongings. I’d suggest bringing your own towel, but if you don’t you can rent them for 3,000 Ft and you get 2,000 back when you bring your towel back, costing you about £3 total to rent a towel.
The thermal baths vary in temperature, so if one starts to feel too hot, you can hop in a cooler one and vice versa. It was pretty cold when we went so we hobbled about as quick as we could to get in the outdoor bath, and then braved the cold once more to get inside after a bit. The indoor baths close at 7, with the rest of the complex staying open until 10, so if you want to experience a few different baths, I suggest getting there before the indoor ones close like we did.
Most people were taking their phones and cameras in the pools with them, especially the outside one, but I wanted to visit the baths to relax – not to take photos. So I quickly grabbed these on my way out after I’d bundled back up. Though this is the most famous and widely visited bath of Budapest, if we’d had longer I really wanted to check out some of the other ones, especially the more traditional Gellért thermal bath which also looks to have pretty interiors. I could have easily spent a weekend bath hopping around the city, especially with how cold it was going the end of January!
After visiting thermal baths quite frequently in New Zealand, it was interesting to see the contrast between them, and to bath in waters that the romans once used. It makes you feel like your part of history almost visiting these historic sites that are still used every day. Next time I’m definitely taking advantage of the facials and massages!