If you’re visiting Budapest, one of the essential things you should do is visit one of their famous bath houses. Any excuse to chill out, huh?
Their waters are said to have medicinal properties, so they’re perfect for perking you up after a night out in Budapest’s ruin pubs (just don’t do what we did, and have a heavy night AFTER our bath sesh…).
The bath house we visted was the Széchenyi Baths, probably the best known – and prettiest – in Budapest. It was such a fun experience, and great to get a taste of how locals spend their downtime (along with plenty of other tourists…).
If you’re not sure what to expect, I’ve answered some frequently asked questions (I assume. I actually kinda made them up) about Széchenyi Baths…
How many pools are in the Széchenyi Baths?
There are a total of 18 pools in the complex – including two outdoor thermal pools (where I spent most of my time!), a proper outdoor swimming pool, and indoor pools varying in temperature. There are also saunas and steam rooms.
There’s no regulation on pool use, so you can spend as much time in any of them as you like.
The inside of the baths is a bit of a maze, so it’s worth taking a look at the map/printing it off before you go.
How much does it cost? Should I buy tickets in advance?
Bath ticket + locker:
Weekdays – 5500 HUF (about £15.40), Weekends – 5700 HUF (about £15.90)
Bath ticket + private cabin: Weekdays – 6000 HUF (about £16.80), Weekends – 6200 HUF (about £17.30)
Tickets including a massage and private cabin range from €42 – €87.
It’s definitely worth booking in advance if you want to skip the queues. It’s €20, and if you know when you’re going it’s probably worth it. We didn’t book in advance, mind you, and still got in pretty quickly – so it’s not vital to book online.
If you’re booking a massage, it’s advised to do this in advance as it gets booked up quickly.
Can I visit the Széchenyi Baths in the winter?
Yup, and it’s pretty sweet! We went in February, when it was -2 degrees outside. Okay, so the walk from the changing rooms to the main outdoor bath was…bracing, to say the least, it’s actually really awesome being in the warm bath in the cold.
Steam comes off the water giving it a bit of a magical feel, and the temperature change when you hop in is BEAUTIFUL.
What are the Széchenyi Baths opening times? What’s the best time to go?
The indoor pools are open from 6am – 7pm daily. The outdoor pools are open from 6am – 10pm.
We went on a weekday afternoon and it was relatively busy – if you want to go at a quieter time, I’d advise arriving early in the morning, and on a weekday rather than the weekend.
What should I wear?
Pretty much your standard swimwear! The Széchenyi rules mention that swimwear should be ‘decent’ though, so maybe bear that one in mind.
If you’re planning on doing some proper swimming in the pool, you’ll need a sexy sexy swim cap – but it’s not required in the normal baths.
What should I bring?
Swimwear, obviously, and a towel. You can rent them but if it gets busy, it’s quicker to have your own than wait at the towel station – plus it saves a little cash. Flipflops are also a great idea for walking between baths.
It’s also worth bringing a small waterproof bag to leave towels and flip flops in beside the pool.
If you want to take your phone in for photos, a waterproof case is also pretty handy!
Where can I eat and drink?
You can bring in your own food and drink (glass isn’t allowed though), and there’s also a cafeteria selling drinks and snacks, self-service style.
Where should I leave my valuables?
Lockers are provided at Széchenyi Baths for you to store your valuables in, at your own risk. The lockers are locked and unlocked with a wristband, which you can wear in the pool, so it’s a pretty safe way of storing anything you take.
The lockers fit a standard backpack or large handbag easily – if you have something bigger like a suitcase, you can get a private changing cabin and leave it in there.
Can I take photos in the Széchenyi Baths?
Yep! Photography and video is allowed, so ‘gram away!
What’s not allowed?
Smoking. Nudity (except in the changing areas). And generally being a dick. But you shouldn’t do that anywhere, really.
I really enjoyed visiting Széchenyi Baths, and got a taste of just why Budapest is so famed for it’s thermal spas. Let me know if you’ve been, and what you thought!