Budapest is extraordinary! If you’re visiting the city, chances are you have already created some kind of itinerary on your mind to make sure you get to see all of its fantastic sights. If you haven’t, we can help you out! Visiting the Parliament, checking the views from the Fisherman’s Bastion, climbing Gellert Hill, and, obviously, visiting one of the many renowned bath houses – all of these are must-experiences when in Budapest. But this is where it gets tricky! While all you have to worry about the other attractions is when to visit and how to reach them, when it comes to the bath houses you actually need to make a choice. Unless you’re running on unlimited funds you won’t get to pay a visit to all of them, and so it is important to assure your choice is the best. And in our opinion, there is only one right choice when it comes to the best baths in Budapest: the Széchenyi Baths.
THE BEST BATHS IN BUDAPEST
Operating since 1913, the Széchenyi Gyógyfürdö (its Hungarian name) has been making the most of the city’s underground thermal-water springs for over 100 years, and are considered the biggest medicinal baths in Europe! With a vast array of facilities available and a relaxed atmosphere, you can easily spend an entire day there enjoying its pools, saunas and special treatments, whether you go during the dark-cold winter or the scolding-hot summer. It is definitely one of Budapest’s most iconic landmarks, and an integral part of why the Hungarian capital was nicknamed “The City of Baths”.
HOW TO GET THERE
The best way to reach the Széchenyi Baths is by taking the metro. The nearest stop is called Hősök tere and is served by Line 1 of the city’s metro system. The baths are located about 10 minutes away from the metro stop, inside the city park.
In case you’re planning on going there for the day, you can either choose to buy a ticket with a cabin or with a locker where you can keep your belongings. The locker was enough for us and we ended up paying 5500 HUF for each ticket. For the cabin the prices go up to 6000 HUF. Keep in mind these are weekday prices, so if you’re visiting during the weekend each ticket costs 200 HUF more. Also, do not forget to take a towel, flip flops and a pool cap, otherwise you’ll have to rent them and pay for their use. As a final note, all special treatments are paid on the side.
If you happen to just walk by the Baths and do not immediately realize you’re looking at a medicinal spa, we won’t blame you. With its beautiful neo-baroque façade and outstanding interiors, the building can easily be mistaken for a palace! Can you picture it? You will be feeling quite privileged, soaking in a thermal pool while admiring the surrounding architecture worthy of an ancient roman emperor!
Also, and while you’re there, make sure to check the area around the Széchenyi Baths. As mentioned above the facilities are located inside the city park, so besides visiting the Heroes Square (you’ll see it as soon as you reach the surface from the metro station), taking a stroll through the park is a must, enjoying the sights of the Vajdahunyad Castle and the Statue of the Anonymous Writter.
But let’s get to the good stuff shall we?! You will be surprised as soon as you lay your eyes on the outdoor pools. They are fantastic! The setting does help though, as the yellow walls give it a special touch, especially when stricken by the sunlight. As for the pools, you can try all three of them! The thermal pool is the one where you just want to soak, as the water is heated up to 38º, helping you to relax and heal. Right in the middle of the outdoor area you will find the swimming pool, perfect in case you feel like doing a bit of exercise. This is also the pool with the coldest water, so enduring the cold while exercising for a good 30 minutes is the perfect warm-up before entering the thermal pool. Finally, you have what they call the “adventure pool”, which – as you can tell by its name – is the funniest of the three. This is largely owed to its artificial whirlpool where visitors can let go and be dragged in circles by the stream.
SAUNAS AND STEAMBATHS
If you think you can take the heat, then we dare you trying all the saunas and steam baths in the Sczéchenyi. From more moderate temperatures to insanely high heat (up to 70º), there are all kinds of places where you can melt your worries away, with some of these saunas including special aromas, cold swimming pools to promote a temperature shock and, obviously, countless showers for you to refresh after so much sweating. Give it a try!
Once you’ve checked the outdoor pools, venture into the interior maze and check the indoor ones. Here the variety is way bigger since you’ll have access to 15 different pools whose wide temperature range can go from 20º to 40º degrees. The indoor smell is also quite distinctive (minerals and light chemicals we guess) and despite apparently bothering some visitors, is an essential part of the experience. What certainly doesn’t bother anyone is the fantastic decoration that will have you wondering if you’re swimming in Versailles, France.
Finally, we had to mention the special treatments available. If you feel like splurging, then you’re in the perfect place to allow yourself into a little extravagance. Massages, aromatherapy sessions, fitness classes and beauty treatments, if you have the money you can get it all! Just do some previous research and check the prices here!
To sum it up, and doing justice to this post’s name, the Széchenyi Fürdö are indeed the best baths in Budapest. Not only do they offer a top quality service but the place as a whole is absolutely stunning. From the fantastic atmosphere to the beautiful palace-like building, the Széchenyi Baths are also a fantastic place to people-watch. So take your time, relax and mingle with the locals while enjoying the best Budapest has to offer. We guarantee that, at the end of the day, you will be good as new and ready to get back to exploring the Pearl of the Danube.
If you were thinking about visiting one of the many bath-houses in the city but were yet to decide which one, we hope to have helped you to make up your mind! Have you ever been to the Széchenyi Fürdö? What do you think of it? Are there any better alternatives as the best baths in Budapest? Let us know on the comments below!