Known for its large open air thermal pools and rowdy late night parties, Széchenyi Bath is one of the most popular thermal baths in Budapest. So even though we’re not “spa people,” visiting a bath was a must on our Budapest list, and this was our very first!
A bit nervous and with no clue what to expect, we dropped in for a day at Széchenyi. Here’s what happened next!
Széchenyi Bath Admission and Services
When we arrived, we must have looked confused about all the prices and options, because a staff member quickly approached us to help us figure out what to buy at the cash desk (where yes, you can pay with a credit card). Opting out of the special spa services, we purchased two daily tickets and one cabin rental (a shareable, private changing room accessible only via a staffmember’s key) and were directed to rent towels after entry (cash only). Lockers are included with admission, too, which came in handy for us in the outdoor pool area.
Once you’ve scanned your wristband to enter, staff can direct you where you need to go (locker room, towel rental desk, or private cabin area). We rented towels for $3.50 each plus a refundable deposit before heading to our cabin. You can also rent swim suits and sheets at Széchenyi.
Never having been to a public bath, the cabin thing was new to us and took some figuring out. Here at Széchenyi you can select any “open” cabin (the door will be physically open), go in and change and leave your clothes/bag/items you don’t want to carry around with you inside, and then flag down a staff member to lock the door for you. They may ask to see your receipt for proof you’ve paid for the cabin, and then they’ll give you a little wristband with your cabin number on it which gives you exclusive access to your cabin throughout your visit.
Tip: Keep your shoes on and only remove them before you enter a pool.
We entered the facility from the indoor side so we got a cabin there. This was a bit of a walk to the outdoor pool (where there are also cabins), so we ended up using a locker (for free) in the outdoor area.
The Indoor Pools of Széchenyi Bath
I couldn’t keep track of the number of indoor pools at Széchenyi Bath, but there were so many it’d be impossible to not find one with a temperature suited perfectly for you. (There are actually fewer pools than I would have guessed, but the place seems bigger than it is.) There’s quite the variety of shapes and sizes in pools, too.
Most of the indoor pools are plain in appearance — white tiles, blue accents, see above — while a handful are housed among beautiful stone columns (see below).
The Open Air Pools of Széchenyi Bath
The outdoor pools are really the best part of this bath, if you ask me.
There are three outdoor pools at Széchenyi: a large lap swimming pool in the middle (swim cap required) and two large pools on either side of it for hanging out in. Here you can swim or stand around in the warm water and chat with friends, splash around in the fountains, or play chess like the local older dudes with their waterproof chess boards. (Apparently it’s really hard to beat those guys.)
We hung out for a couple hours in the open air thermal pool (above and below). The “leisure” pool, on the opposite side of the lap swim pool, was closed for maintenance, but there’s a whirlpool and jacuzzi in there.
When you need a break from the water’s heat, you can grab a beer or cocktail from the pool deck bar, but don’t take it in the pool unless you want the lifeguards whistling at you.
Tip: You can purchase a discounted “visitor pass” if you want to go in and see the bath without bathing, but I seriously urge you to go for the whole experience. I felt so sorry for all those visitors who were just watching and photographing, unable to join in on the fun!
While saunas really aren’t my thing (especially in summer), Széchenyi has those, too. I took a peek inside — they’re pretty nice — and I’d imagine they’d be a fantastic treat when it’s cold outside, because Széchenyi is open in winter, too!
Want to see what else we’re experiencing in Europe? View our Europe trip itinerary here.