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Szechenyi Thermal Baths in Budapest

Hello!
My husband and i would like to go to the Szechenyi Baths during our four day stay in Budapest. The pools all seem fantastic and we are particularly interested in the outdoor pools.
I would really appreciate any feedback about the place if anyone has visited it. Is it worth visiting it? Do we have to bring our own towels? Do we have to buy tickets in advance to avoid lines or should we wait to see how the weather is going to be?

Thank you very much in anticipation,

Elvy

Posted by
420 posts

These FAQs should answer some of your questions: http://szechenyispabaths.com/what-shall-i-take-with-me-to-szechenyi-baths-szechenyi-bath-faq/

I loved the Szechenyi baths. I loved all the (3) baths we visited in Budapest, but if someone has time for only one, then I'd recommend the Szechenyi baths.

We were there in July and didn't book in advance, and it wasn't a problem, although it did seem quite busy. The weather was hot and sunny, too.

We packed light (carryons only), so we did not have towels to bring. We didn't rent towels, either. It was warm enough that we just dried off in the sun. We did rent towels at another of the baths we visited, though.

Posted by
2045 posts

We went to the same baths 2 summers ago. If you are not on a tight budget with either money or time you can purchase the day spa. (If I remember correctly it was about $40 pp) we had a large changing room, towel, robe, tour of the different pools, and access to the rooftop lounge with unlimited fruit salad and a wonderful light cold tea. We spent the better part of the day there. The lounge was very serene and not crowded at all. It was a very relaxing day during an otherwise hectic trip.

Posted by
382 posts

When are you going? We went in late May and did not need to book in advance. I would absolutely recommend going, it was a real highlight of our trip. They have towels available to rent there. Honestly, pick up Rick's book and follow it to a "T."

Posted by
1544 posts

Absolutely the highlight of my trip to Budapest. The "fun" outdoor pool (with bubblers and a swirling middle pool) is a hoot. The RS guidebook has very detailed and spot on instructions for how to get in (and I believe also which entrance to use to minimize waiting in line). Get a changing cabin so you can leave your clothes and such locked up. I brought a pack towel (also useful for getting sink laundry dry on the road). Lightweight flip flops are also a good idea. The weather shouldn't matter - I was told the locals much prefer going there in the dead of winter than spring or summer months. I was there on a 55-degree cloudy day and the outdoor pools seemed pretty warm but not overly so...on a very hot day I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it much.

Posted by
12383 posts

There are lockers so having a place to lock things is not an issue. The lockers have been upgraded to open with magnetic wrist bands. Very convenient. BUT, if you are a little squeamish being in a fairly confined basement area with 200 naked bodies pressed together...... Get a cabana for some privacy. If there are lines, they move fast. For towels you can rent a thing that looks more like a small piece of cotton sheet or you can purchase a souvenir towel from one of the vendors outside in the park. Or simply take the hotel towel (I didn't say that). Flip flops are also sort of a good idea. Again, you can buy them in the park pretty cheap.

The place is open 365 days a year and on most evenings quite late. I enjoy it most in the evenings. The outdoor pools take on a special charm in the winter with the steam coming off them.

Take the M1 metro line towards Mexikói út and get off at the Széchenyi fürdő stop (next to last stop). Or get off at the Hősök tere (Hero's Square) stop and walk through the park. You ought to at least walk part of the distance between the Oktogon stop and the Hősök tere stop (either on your way there or on your way back) so you can see the magnificent old apartment blocks, mansions and embassies.

Posted by
23 posts

Thanks SO MUCH to all of you who have replied! You have given me great information and now we are even more excited about experiencing the thermal baths. We will be in Budapest during the second week in May.

I have a question for James E. You wrote something about naked bodies in the baths. I thought that they wore swimming suits or is it only in the outdoor pools? I understand that the bathing culture of Europe is different from ours but personally I would prefer wearing a swimming suit.

Thanks much,

Elvy

Posted by
12383 posts

No, the naked bodies in the locker rooms only. The lockers are about a foot wide and stacked 3 high back to back on 4 foot wide asiles so you can end up in pretty tight quarter while changing; and according to the wife and daughter they reach around, over and under while searching for their clothing. The men's side is a bit more civilized. Paying for a cabana (glorified closet to change in) solves the problem; if it is a problem for you.

Posted by
420 posts

Agree with the cabana suggestion. My husband and I shared a cabana.

Posted by
9 posts

We're two couples who will be in Budapest for a couple of days after a river cruise in September. None of us has a strong desire to do the baths, but everywhere we read, people recommend it so highly and many call it the highlight of their trip, like several in this thread.

Can someone help us understand? Public baths wouldn't seem to have much appeal in general, so why are the baths in Budapest so awesome, and why should we go?

Thanks!

Posted by
12383 posts

Everyone enjoys different things. I head over 2.5 times a year on average. I spend 4 or 5 days seeing a new country or city and then 10 to 12 days in Budapest. For me Budapest is a place best enjoyed through participation in the life style. It’s a beautiful environment of civility and elevated culture; but accessible by every level of society.

The baths are one component of that. Three nights in Budapest might involve a jazz dinner/concert, http://opusjazzclub.hu/?l=en Othello at the Opera http://www.opera.hu/operahouse and an evening lounging in the baths http://szechenyispabaths.com/ . Total cost maybe $40.00. Or maybe just walk out the door at 9pm and hop the M1 metro 5 minutes down to Vorosmarty ter for a glass of wine and something sweet while sitting on the embankment. https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=C9F4C533EB93D92E!18356&authkey=!ANH9vMBOQ7RbgmQ&v=3&ithint=photo%2cJPG

Another reason maybe more for the uniqueness. Even if you ignore the context of the culture, you are enjoying something almost unique to Budapest. So you can check the box if you are that sort of person. http://c8.alamy.com/comp/ATJJGX/men-playing-chess-in-outdoor-thermal-pool-szechenyi-baths-varosliget-ATJJGX.jpg or even https://aromaconamore.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/dscn0199.jpg

Finally, there is the historic and architectural component. These places (and there are many) represent stunning architecture and in 3 cases date to the 16th century. http://www.starsandlightsbp.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Baths_02-1024x768.jpg

Posted by
351 posts

Karen11g, perhaps the terminology of "Baths" is bothering you? We went the day after Christmas as a family of 5, in the evening and very much enjoyed the warm, heated pool. Everyone wore swimsuits, we rented 2 Cabanas (think changing room a bit larger than a phone both) and took turns changing. There was plenty of room to hang up our dry clothes and leave our belongings. We rented towels down at the basement level. It was lots of fun, but you should envision more of a very civilized heated swimming pool where people are relaxing and enjoying the water - we didn't see any roughhousing or cannonballing! There may have been a bit of light swimming from spot to spot, but mostly people were standing around in group chatting in chest deep water and bobbing up and down. Because it was very cold, I kept my long hair dry. If you hate to wade or get wet, or never like going to a pool, it may not be for you. but if you enjoy a hot tub or relaxing along the edge of a pool, you may love it. We were not there in the daytime to enjoy every pool and I will admit, it was a bit chilly getting from the pool back to the cabana to change in to our street clothes. In our family, full of swimmers, we very much enjoyed it. Perhaps we loved seeing the Nutcracker at the Opera even more. If you have limited time, you will certainly want to pick your favorite types of activities.

Posted by
23 posts

Thank you very much to all of you that have given me such great information about the Thermal Baths in Budapest.
We will be visiting Szechenyi for sure and now feel a lot more prepared to do so.

Thank you Rick Steves and his staff for providing this forum to facilitate our traveling adventures!

Elvy