Visiting one of Budapest's thermal baths is an absolute must when you come to Hungary. Hungary is the third most thermal country in the world (after Iceland and New Zealand), so you've got to include a visit to a thermal bath at some point. In fact, Budapest is actually known as the 'City of Baths' and is the only capital in the world that has rich thermal waters with healing properties.
As the Szechenyi Thermal Bath is the most famous and won a Certificate of Excellence on TripAdvisor, it's on a lot of people's Budapest bucket-lists.
But does it deserve to be on there? Is it worth the hype?
We went to the Szechenyi Thermal Baths for the day and this is what we thought:
They say that first impressions are the most important, luckily that wasn't the case here as our first impression left something to be desired: The ticketing process was slow, despite there being four ticket booths, and exacerbated by the fact that we were put in the wrong queue. Visitors are given special bath wrist bands that you use to get through the gate, and to open/lock your lockers. We've seen this system before in Germany, and there you can buy your band from a machine. This kind of system would probably speed things up here.
However, this was only a minor setback, the room was so pretty and once we got through it was even more beautiful and we knew it was worth it.
Outside were three giant pools. Two were shallow and very warm - about 35 degrees Celsius. The third was a swimming pool and was presumably colder. I say presumably, we didn't actually go in as swim hats must be worn and we didn't have any with us. They were for sale in the entrance, but we weren't really there for swimming, we were there for relaxing.
Well, relaxing and for taking cool Instagood photos!
Special thanks to SWG dome for making an awesome dome for our GoPro
The hot water of the two other pools was indeed relaxing, but as it was a hot, sunny day it quickly got too hot. We bet that it must be absolutely superb on a cold winter's day, with the added advantage that there are fewer tourists in winter. This would be great, as by midday it was packed!
We escaped the heat and the crowds by heading inside, this is where we found the highlight of our day: the indoor pools.
There were many pools inside, some shallow, some deep, some long and thin, others square. It kind of reminded me of the Wood Between the Worlds in the Magician's Nephew book: 'a quiet forest dotted with many pools, each of which were portals to a different world.' Except there was no forest and the pools weren't portals.. All were beautiful though and all were different temperatures!
The hottest was 40 degrees and the coldest 20. Relaxing in a hot pool before (bravely) submerging into a cold one felt fantastic. Our skin tingled and we felt incredible!
The architecture was absolutely beautiful too, each room was slightly different with the most darling, ornate tiles and high ceilings.
Saunas and Steam Rooms
Also inside were a number of steam rooms and saunas. These were mixed and you have to keep you clothes on (of course).
We enjoyed trying the different rooms and then plunging into the cool pools. And we really liked how each sauna was slightly different, our favourite was one had red glowing lights.
There are a number of refreshment options available, including: BBQ, pancakes, canteen food, juice, beers & ice cream,
We went for canteen food: veggie burgers and chips. It wasn't the best food we've ever had (or the cheapest) but you couldn't beat the location. I'd recommend you go for a pancake or a BBQ though.
There are many drinking fountains dotted around the site. Make sure you try some of the water: it's some of the freshest we've ever tasted.
Since February 2016, we have been making daily videos on YouTube. Here's our one of the day we went to the Szechenyi Thermal Baths:
Is it worth visiting the Szechenyi Thermal Bath in Budapest? ABSOLUTELY! Despite the ticket-booth & food, we would definitely recommend that you visit the Szechenyi Thermal Bath when you come to Budapest. It's a relaxing, beautiful way to spend a day! There's a reason this place is so popular, it's better than any other bath we've been to in Europe.
Tickets include either a locker or a cabin, you could easily spend a whole day here, and we recommend a minimum time of 2 hours if you're in a rush - this will give you enough time to try everything out, without rushing too much.
Towels and bathing costumes can be hired/bought on site, though we recommend taking your own if possible.
Have we convinced you to go? Let us know in the comments below and pin this to your bucket-list so you don't forget:
We're Laura and Tanbay, a British/German couple who have successfully weaselled our way out of the rat-race and want you to do the same!