SZECHENYI BATHS – THE QUEEN OF THERMAL BATHS
Szechenyi Baths or Szechenyi Thermal Baths is a real bath palace, one of the biggest tourist attractions in Budapest, and constant part of the image films about the Hungarian capital. No matter from what part of the world, tourists want to visit the baths, and if you are there you will realize „indeed, everybody has come”!
Old men playing chess in the steaming outdoor pool are regular guests of the spa, but it can also happen that we see Will Smith toasting to Budapest with the thermal water of the baths.
History of Szechenyi Baths
Szechenyi Baths opened on 13th June in 1913. The spa could come into existence thanks to the mine engineer Vilmos Zsigmondy, as successful deep drillings were carried out in the City Park on his initiative. However, the eclectic building decorated with domes was built in neo-baroque style on the basis of the plans of Győző Czigler and Ede Dvorzsák.
The building has two main entrances, one is from Kós Károly street, and there it’s definitely worth seeing the beautiful Art Nouveau-style mosaic tiled hall under the dome. The other entrance of the bath is from Állatkerti Way, here the interior was built in neo-baroque style. If you have an online ticket, go to the latter entrance as shown on the map!
Good to know
One of Europe’s biggest bath complex can be found in the City Park. The palace-like architectural masterpiece Szechenyi Baths – nicknamed Szecska – is open all year and welcomes guests with its 21 indoor and outdoor pools and facilities, steam cabins, saunas, spa and whirlpool, as well as many wellness services and treatments.
I’d say Szechenyi Baths is a mandatory place to visit for every tourist coming to Budapest, therefore it’s usually expected to have a long line and be crowded, but that is the only downside to its great popularity.
Be prepared to spend the whole day in the spa. I’m almost a regular guest at Szechenyi Baths, but I’m pretty sure that I haven’t visited all of its pools yet.
In case you would like to drink medicinal water, you can find the fountain next to Szechenyi Thermal Baths in a glass pavilion.
Best time to visit Szechenyi baths
Szechenyi Baths is a world famous and really popular spa, that makes it one of the most significant tourist destinations in the Hungarian capital. The bath is on the bucket list of every tourist visiting Hungary, so I cannot tell you a time when only a few people are there.
I recommend to arrive in the early morning hours because later there are long lines and crowd.
Tip: you can buy vouchers for Szechenyi and Gellert Baths in many tourist offices in the city, or online and so you can enter the baths without standing in the line.
What shall you take with you to Szechenyi Baths?
Though everything can be rented in the Baths, it is worth arriving prepared. What you will need to pack in your bag: slippers, towel, swimwear, and in winter time or when it’s cold, a bathrobe. It is advisable to wear slippers everywhere in the bath and only take them off at the pool.
I always take shower gel with me so I can have a shower at the end of the day, and also put in a hair dryer so as not to have to line up for that. If you have longer hair, I recommend to take a hair dryer with you in order to avoid the line and please note that a swimming cap is mandatory in the pools.
It is also worth taking a bottle of water with you, but I can tell that on a hot summer day 1-2 cans of cold beer feel great, too. I also noticed in winter that the old men playing chess in the steam sometimes take the hip flask out of the bag. Of course I don’t encourage anybody to do this as eating and drinking is forbidden in the pools.
Szechenyi Baths tickets
Tickets can be bought on the spot and online. The advantage of online buying is that you don’t have to stand in the line, so you can get in the bath much faster. The other reason why I recommend online buying is that if you would like to get any kind of extra services (e.g. massage or treatment) you can book an appointment in advance which is highly advised.
Tip: if you have an online ticket, don’t stand in the line at the box offices, just go to the clearly visible counter where the hostesses will help you.
It’s worth checking on the map and remembering where to find the toilets, also the smoking areas and first-aid places. You will discover any other places in just minutes!
Cabin vs. locker
It’s often hard to decide which one to choose for changing and storing your clothes. The difference between the two types of tickets is about €2.
Cabin: in my opinion it’s better to choose a cabin for many reasons. First, the cabin area has a great, antique atmosphere. Second, here you can change your clothes very comfortably and leave your stuff safe.
Cabins are upstairs, and as it can be seen in the picture, they are big enough even for two people. Doors can be locked and you have plenty of place for the clothes on the hangers or the bench. If you are two, you can spare some money with buying a cabin and a locker ticket (which is cheaper) and only use the cabin.
Cabin doors can be locked with magnetic watch on your wristle that you get with the ticket. I wouldn’t be surprised if you couldn’t find your cabin in the labirinth, but that is what terminals are made for: just touch them with your watch and they tell your cabin number.
Locker: for the lockers you have to go to the basement, and as seen in the picture, the size of the lockers are very small. You can change your clothes in front of the lockers, with the others, as this area is not coeducated. In the coeducated changing room you can find a cabin for this purpose and if you are ready you can take your clothes in the locker and lock it.
After changing my clothes I always start with the outdoor pool with its warm, thermal water, whatever the weather is. But first, find a chair for your towel.
When the weather is good, I recommend the multi-staged sun terrace with an amazing view.
The other reason why I like the outdoor pool is that I always have fun watching the old men playing chess and there is also a sauna close to this pool.
You have to go down on a narrow stair to the basement rooms, and the doors of the big saunas open from outside. Please note, that the saunas are heated up for a brutal 90-100 degrees!
I rarely use the swimming pool, but never miss the spa and the whirlpool, which starts at certain intervals.
You can only go into the swimming pool wearing a swimming cap, or else the lifeguard will whistle and call you out of the pool.
I usually stay in three of the indoor pools for a while, mainly because there isn’t such a crowd and constant comings and goings. I marked these pools on the map of Szechenyi Baths so you can easily find them. Finding your way indoors is not so easy indeed, as it’s really like a serious labirinth.
My favorite HOT pool:
After the baths and sauna it’s time for a refreshing massage, which I never miss. The massage is provided with a thermal massage cream specifically developed for thermal baths and contains high volume of medicinal water and active substance.
You can choose from many kind of massages and wellness treatments in Szechenyi Spa, like Matrai herbal massage, Kolopi clay massage, a treatment with Hungarian wine, or the aroma massage. The treatments usually last for 45 minutes.
Beer spa in Szecheny baths
I recommend the beer spa for real hedonists, where you can lie not only in the 36-Celsius degree thermal water in the bath tub but you will also get a jug of malt (raw material of beer) in it. In the meanwhile, you can consume unlimited Czech beer from the beer tap next to the tub! There are a few vats under the air conditioning, so if you are sensitive to it, be careful. The beer bath opens only at 10 o’clock so the tickets cannot be taken before that.
Everybody would like to take as many photos as they can in the bath, but be aware of that most of us don’t like being photographed. If you don’t use your camera , it is worth putting it in the depository. Take care of your mobile phone, I have already found and given to the box office of the thermal bath three mobiles.
The gym is open from 06:45 to 20:45 every day, and can be used for free. So if you would like to and have time, you can use these facilities, too!
Only a few people know it, that a spa party (SPArty) takes place at Saturday nights in Szechenyi Baths. The party is for people above the age of 18, starts at 22:30 and ends at 3 o’clock in the morning and only online tickets are available for it!
If you arrive without any food or drink, you can find everything in the buffets of the bath. Be aware of that you can only pay with credit or debit card or the festipay card which can be filled up at the box office, and the remaining amount will be paid back when leaving.
Fun fact: the hippos in the zoo opposite of Szechenyi Spa also swim in the thermal water of the bath, as it has been recognized that artesian water has a good effect on these huge animals and their skin is much smoother, furthermore they are much more fertile than their counterparts in other zoos around the world.
Szechenyi Baths water composition:
The water supply of the spa is ensured by the no. 2 St. Stephen well handed over in 1938. The thermal water contains sodium, calcium-magnesium-bicarbonate, sulphate, with a significant fluoride and metaboric acid content.
The medicinal water of the fountain contains calcium-magnesium-bicarbonate, chloride, sulphate, alkali and a significant amount of fluoride. It’s worth consuming 1 dl of thermal water before meals which is recommended for stomach diseases, inflammation of the renal pelvis and urinary tract, catarrhal respiratory disease, gouty metabolic disorders, and diseases of the gallbladder and bile ducts.
Szechenyi baths Contact
Szechenyi Thermal Baths is enormous with two entrances, one from Állatkerti Way, and one from Kós Károly street. The most important is that if you have an online ticket or voucher, use the main entrance from Állatkerti Way, which is opposite of the Budapest Grand Circus.
Subway: you can get there the easiest way by M1 (yellow) subway, with getting off at the stop of Szechenyi Baths. It’s about 100 meter far from the main entrance.
Taxi: make sure to tell the taxi driver to take you to the main entrance opposite of the circus.
Trolley: The trolley 72 has a stop just in front of the main entrance so it’s the best choice to take that and get off at the stop called Széchenyi fürdő (Szechenyi Baths).
Monday – Sunday: 06:00-22:00
Széchenyi Gyógyfürdő és Uszoda (Szechenyi Thermal Baths)
Budapest, XIV. district Állatkerti way 9-11.
Tel: (36-1) 363-3210