The Hungarian capital, a city of two halves – Buda and Pest, owes a lot, to the mighty Danube River. If there was no river, Budapest would not have grown in both size and population. The river cuts the city into two pieces and is known as the Amazon of Europe. However, it is not its waters that have made Budapest famous. The Hungarian capital is known thanks to its healthy waters that fill the caves and boil under the city. The Hungarian spas are famous and are one of the top attractions in the country. There are many baths in Budapest, but one of them is more famous and it is the Szechenyi Baths.
A Soothing Retreat in Budapest: Immersing in Szechenyi's Wellness Oasis
The idea of baths was originally brought to Hungary by the Romans. The baths later were adopted by Turkish occupiers. From the very beginning, spas were used by people for their medicinal powers. These warm and healthy waters of Szechenyi make it an attraction, open year-round. During the summer months, Széchenyi bathes in the sun, while during winter months the complex disappears behind a curtain of water vapour.
Hungarian Heritage of Healing Waters: Szechenyi Baths and Beyond
The Szechenyi Thermal Baths and Spa are set in a beautiful complex of buildings located within the City Park in the heart of Pest. The building is easy to recognize, even from afar, as it is painted bright yellow. It is beautifully ornamented and is full of grand features like sculptures and fountains. The facade looks more like a palace than a thermal pool, and as well could resemble one of the Italian piazzas.
Before entering the Baths I thought that my nostrils would be hit by the odour of sulphur. I was quite surprised to discover that there is hardly any scent in the air. The entrance hall of the complex is quite spacious and there are towels to buy/for hire, swimsuits to buy (not borrow), robes and swimming caps. There is also the ticket booth where you need to buy your rather pricy ticket! There are various prices depending on whether you take a locker or a private cabin. I don’t really understand the idea of getting only a locker as then you need to dress off and dress up in a public room with other people nearby. I paid more and had my own cabin. The cabin was dark and it was hard to see anything inside when I locked the door.
I was given a band to wear on my wrist which let me pass the special gate and opened my cabin door. I checked a few times to ensure the locker worked. The cabinets and corridors were outdated  , but the complex was spotlessly clean and well-maintained. A lifeguard was on duty the whole time.
Szechenyi has 18 different pools, and the three biggest are outdoor. Some of the pools are hot and some are cool. It is the largest thermal bath in Hungary and one of the largest in Europe. The indoor pools weren’t my favourite as it is very hot and humid inside of the building and I am not a humidity lover. The air inside felt like a Finnish sauna. But there are people who love such conditions, and the number of people dipping into the inside pools confirms that. The water in the inside pools is of a strange colour – green or yellow. The waters in Szechenyi are said to have healing powers thanks to their mineral content — fluoride, calcium, magnesium, hydro-carbonate, sodium, sulphate, sulphur etc. and the colour is the best sign that it must be true.
Despite visiting the Baths in chilly October, I spent most of the time at the outdoor pools. The largest of the three pools is the swimming pool with a water temperature of about 26’C. Those who expect it to look like a hotel pool might be disappointed. Its colour is far from blue. It is turbid. It is also the least crowded of the pools. Maybe it is because you need to have a swim cap as you aren’t allowed to get into the pool unless your hair is covered. There are lifeguards stationed at each end of the pool to enforce this rule. This main pool looks like a great place if you want to rest from resting and have some exercise. There is no time limit like in most of regular swimming pools and people come and go throughout the day as they wish.
On both edges of the main swimming pool, there are two side pools. There’s a thermal sitting pool with a temperature of 38 degrees – perfect to stay in, however, signs recommend not spending more than 20 minutes here. There’s also a smaller pool with a whirlpool, with a temperature of 30’C. that was my second choice pool, and despite its temperature, I thought I would freeze in it. I got used to the 38’C too much, I guess. I had fun playing in the whirlpool and running with its current. Both pools were crowded however this time even that couldn’t remove the smile from my face.
There are loads of sunbeds around for those who had enough of the water. You can feel like you are on holiday in a summer resort (not necessarily in October, but during warmer months for sure). Széchenyi offers not only pools but everything you need for a full day out. There is a restaurant, a bar and an ice cream vendor. Szechenyi offers also saunas, a beer pool (where you can sit in a little wooden bath and soak while drinking beer and massage areas.
Basking in Budapest's Iconic Szechenyi Baths: A Perfect Blend of Culture and Relaxation
The Szechenyi Baths is a perfect place to combine pleasantly comfortable with useful. Spending a day here can be fun.