Visiting Széchenyi Thermal Bath, Budapest

by Chris on May 1, 2011

Looking for things to do in Hungary? A visit to Széchenyi thermal bath in Budapest.

Széchenyi thermal bath, Budapest

By Michael K. Lavers, Contributing Writer

What’s the best way to counter sleep deprivation from a late night out in Budapest? By taking the waters at Széchenyi thermal bath in the Hungarian capital.

Széchenyi is a complex of a dozen thermal baths and five swimming pools in Budapest’s City Park, the largest medicinal bath in Europe. Like many of city’s famed baths, it takes advantage of the 123 hot springs that have emerged from a geological fault that runs beneath the city.

Széchenyi thermal bath, Budapest

Built in 1913, the neo-Baroque complex’s creamy yellow façade is somewhat shabby.

Széchenyi thermal bath, Budapest

But Széchenyi’s interior features ornate walls, sculptures, black and white floor tiles, columns, arches, elegant chandeliers, mosaics and even potted palm trees. A café overlooks the complex’s three outdoor swimming pools.

Széchenyi thermal bath, Budapest

Visitors can also purchase a basic bikini, swimsuit and bath towel in Széchenyi’s lobby. Unlike some baths in Eastern Europe, Szechenyi is coed. Swimsuits must be worn.

Szechenyi Thermal bath, Budapest

The temperature was around 60°F on the day our group visited, so I was concerned I would get cold in the outdoor swimming pools. I was pleasantly surprised, however, when I put my foot in the balmy 84°F water. I spent a good 15 minutes floating around the large whirlpool, along with nearly a hundred other people.

Széchenyi thermal bath, Budapest

I shivered  as I walked to another pool on the other side of the complex, but I warmed up when I stepped into the 90+°F degree water. Our guide Balázs and I chatted among Hungarians, Germans, Russians and other foreigners. Old men played chess in another corner of the pool.

After 15 minutes or so, we went inside and soaked in another hot pool. While the smell of sulfur chloride permeated the room, it didn’t deter us. I was not brave enough to jump into the cold water bath.

The steam baths and saunas with temperatures that exceeded 140°F, however, proved particularly beneficial to the allergy-induced cough that I had suffered before leaving New York. They also purged the smoke that had clung to my hair and skin from the night before.

Széchenyi thermal bath, Budapest

The effects of Széchenyi stayed with me long after we left. The calcium, magnesium, hydrogen carbonates, sodium and other minerals in the water left my skin feeling smooth and looking healthy – and ready to take on more caffeine in Budapest’s famous cafes.

An all-day pass with a cabin costs 3,400 HUF (roughly $18) during the week and 3,500 HUF ($18.58) on the weekends. An all-day pass with a locker costs 3,000 HUF ($15.93) during the week and 3,100 HUF ($16.46) during the weekend. Two-hour passes with a cabin or a locker costs a bit less. Széchenyi also offers massages, mud packs, access to a gym and a variety of other treatments and services.

Thanks to American Airlines and the Hungarian National Tourism Office for sponsoring my trip. American Airlines launched a daily non-stop flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport to Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport on April 6.

| Chris Gray Faust is a veteran journalist, travel expert, social media butterfly - and editrix of this site. Like what you read? Check out her writing, editing and social media services.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrea May 1, 2011 at 7:29 am

Looks very healthy and fun – will have to check this out when we’re in Budapest later this year.

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Turkey's For Life May 1, 2011 at 7:58 am

We’re probably two of the only people who have been to Budapest and never been to these baths. Would love to go back to try them – especially if you really felt the benefits of it.
Julia

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Angela May 1, 2011 at 4:14 pm

I’ve never been to Budapest, but I know it’s a lovely city, I would love to try these baths!

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Cailin May 1, 2011 at 6:04 pm

After just spending time at the Blue Lagoon and in the public hot baths in Iceland I think I have decided that I must move to a place like this at some point in life! and then benefits for your skin are so awesome! I’ve never been to Budapest and didn’t know they had thermal pools but I’ll definitely be visiting now! :)

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Cam May 1, 2011 at 6:41 pm

Looks great! Still kicking myself for skipping this when we were there in 2009. We were there in thick of winter, so the thought of jumping in the waters wasn’t the most appealing. Budapest is a brilliant city, so there is a good chance we’ll return!

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Leigh May 2, 2011 at 7:30 am

Sounds like a real treat. I’ve done the public hot-springs route before but never in the sumptuous type surroundings that exist in Hungary. I like the sounds of what it does to your skin too.

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Chris May 2, 2011 at 8:24 am

Thanks, all! I pride myself on never skipping a spa or hot spring treatment, no matter where I am. Michael did a great job of making me want to visit Hungary, like stat.

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Pete | Hecktic Travels May 2, 2011 at 12:39 pm

This looks wonderful. And I love that you can play chess while relaxing in the water! Will look forward to going here.

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Dina June 3, 2011 at 7:40 pm

Great view while dipping your body in hot thermal bath, sounds so good!

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elizabeth July 2, 2012 at 12:12 pm

just returned fr. Hungary , visited in-laws & spent hours in amazing thermal baths, different locations, but to me it’s simply the best . Looking frwd. to going back soon!!!!

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