A relaxing day at Szechenyi Baths when you visit Budapest is a MUST. Its array of pools, saunas, and thermal baths are worth every bit of the hype. I’m usually stopping off in this city midway during a long haul trip and a spa day is a warm welcome. Which is why I always fit in a session when I go. If you’re visiting Budapest for the first time and planning on visiting Szechenyi Baths, here’s everything you need to know before you go.
The baths were first discovered in the late 1800’s and the palace was built in 1913. The wells for the hot springs were drilled under Heroes’ Square right outside of City Park. The baths were initially named Szechenyi Gyogyfurdo, after Count Szechenyi (Istvan Szechenyi, the “Greatest Hungarian”). They have survived World Wars and Communist Rule and stand as a landmark in the city. Today the building houses 18 pools, a hospital, 3 hospital pools, 10 saunas, a massage center, and even a beauty center. All housed in a gorgeous, distinct, yellow display of Neo-Baroque and Neo-Renaissance styles.
When is Szechenyi Baths open?
The baths are open year round and the outdoor pools are heated in the winter with natural hot spring water. They open at 6am with indoor facilities closing at 7pm and outdoor facilities closing at 10pm. Your admission allows you to be there as long as you would like and you can show up whenever (unless you have a service scheduled).
Ever since 2010 the baths transform into a night club once the sun goes down. You’ll find dance parties decked out with light shows and bumping music every Saturday night. I’ve yet to go to a SPArty (I’m never been in town on a Saturday) but I hear it’s legendary. You can learn more about the SPArty events here.
How do I get there?
Szechenyi Baths are SUPER easy to get to. Conveniently located right in the City Park, the baths are a short metro ride away. The metro system in the centre of Budapest is fantastic. A ride to the baths on the M1 metro will take about 15 minutes from the heart of downtown. You can pick up the M1 at the main transit hub where all metro lines meet called Deak Square (Deák tér). If you’re planning on visiting the famous, picturesque Heroes’ Square, Szechenyi Baths are a quick 5-minute walk away.
What’s the setup like?
Exploring this wellness spa is a treat and part of the lure. When you initially walk in you’ll see areas with lockers and changing rooms. Once you walk past those you’ll be greeted by 3 large pools standing before a vibrant ornate yellow building. One pool is a heated pool where you’ll find people playing under the fountains and men enjoying games of chess. Then there’s a lane pool so people can swim laps and then a large “kiddie pool”. The kiddie pool has a whirlpool section (awesome) and a section where fountains shoot from the bottom. The fun doesn’t stop at those three pools LET ME TELL YOU.
The main building of Szechenyi is a symbol of Budapest and can be recognized on any postcard. Inside the building lies twists and turns each leading to 15 different baths with various temperatures, or saunas both dry and wet, or even an aquatic fitness class. It’s honestly a treat just stumbling through these rooms dripping in sunlight with giant marble columns and meticulous details perfectly placed. The interior of the main building is as stunning as the exterior. It’s definitely a maze but getting lost in it is half the fun. But if you need to be somewhere specific (say you’re getting a massage) there are maps and you can find one online here.
Can I bring food/drinks?
You can bring your own food and non-glass beverages. This means you can pack yourself a picnic, bring some snacks and grab a couple of drinks ahead of time if you’re on a budget. They also have a modest cafeteria with sandwiches, coffee, pastries, ice cream and other things to munch on.
What should I pack when visiting Szechenyi?
You’re going to need a bathing suit, towel, flip-flops, sunscreen, a change of clothes and any toiletries you may need when you change. If you plan on swimming the lap pool you will need a swimmer’s cap. Forgot to bring your bathing suit or a towel? You can rent them but the deposits are pretty pricey and the lines get kind of long in the summer. Best to avoid the entire situation by bringing your own!
Can I bring my camera?
Yes, you can!
You can bring your GoPro too! But keep in mind that the establishment is in no way responsible for lost items. There are no security cameras and the responsibility of watching your things falls on you (as it should). If you don’t want to worry about keeping equipment on you then you can rent a locker or cabin.
Are there female only/male only baths?
There are not. Since the 70’s the baths are mixed. Brace yourself for some very sweaty, very hairy Hungarian men. But hey, that could be your thing and hey, everyone’s just trying to unwind.
Can I book a massage?
Yes, you can and the massages are INSANELY cheap. If you want to schedule a massage you’ll have to book your session in advance.
Is the massage worth it?
HONESTLY…….no. Hear me out, my first visit I found out how cheap it was to get a massage and instantly signed up for one. I was a month in on a long haul trip and a massage sounded like a blessing. When I arrived with my ticket, a woman checked me in, gave me some toiletries and told me where I could find the waiting room prior to my session. My massage ended up being in a room where it looked like there were multiple changing stalls. I was taken into one by a nice Hungarian woman who spoke no English. Little did I know this sweet older woman would eventually beat the crap out of me. Her name must have been She-Hulk because she was treating my back like her first hated ex-boyfriend that she never really forgave. Not to mention she was the most popular woman in town because she was chatting it up with all of her friends the entire time.
If you’re looking for tranquil or relaxing then this is not the spot to do it. But if you’re looking for a small, surprisingly strong Hungarian She-Hulk to smash on your back like Wreck-It Ralph then go for it. For myself, it wasn’t that enjoyable. I was SO sore the next few days from it that carrying my backpack during my travel day was a little rough.
HOWEVER, after doing a bit more research I have realized that you can opt for gentle massages or harder massages and that the prices and services vary for each style. I think I would absolutely give it a second chance and pick a massage more tailored to my needs.
How much is the admission and how much are the spa treatments?
Admission+Cabin (Weekend) = 6,200 Forints ($22, €19)
Admission+Cabin (Weekday) = 6,000 Forints ($21, €18)
Admission+Towel Rental+Cabin = 10,500 Forints ($37, €32)
Admission+Locker (Weekend) = 5,700 Forints ($20, €17)
Admission+Locker (Weekday) = 5,500 Forints ($19, €16)
Spa Treatments (includes admission)
20 Minute Aroma Massage+Admission+Cabin = 12,500 Forints ($44, €38)
20 Minute Foot Massage+Admission+Cabin = 11,400 Forints ($40, €35)
20 Minute Head Massage+Admission+Cabin = 11,400 Forints ($40, €35)
20 Minute Thermal Massage+Admission+Cabin = 12,700 Forints ($45, €39)
45 Minute Massage+Admission+Cabin = 21,400 Forints ($76, €65)
60 Minute Massage+Admission+Cabin = 25,000 Forints ($89, €77)
60 Minute Herbal Treatment+Admission+Cabin = 27,100 Forints ($96, €83)
60 Minute Mud Treatment+Admission+Cabin = 26,100 Forints ($93, €80)
60 Minute Wine Treatment+Admission+Cabin = 25,000 Forints ($89,€77) <— I have no idea what this is but found it during my research and I am SO curious!
Do I have to get tickets in advance?
You can buy tickets at the door but let me tell you, it’s significantly quicker when you get them in advance. The line to buy tickets is always long and you can save yourself from waiting in the queue altogether.
Are there any deals/discounts?
Sometimes hotels or hostels offer discounted tickets if you buy it through them. Be sure to ask reception if you intend on going so you can save some cash (to later spend on goulash).
Can I lock up my valuables?
There are plenty of lockers and changing rooms where you can leave all of your things. You can rent each of these for a small price that is usually combined with your admission ticket. The lockers are a good size and have plenty of room for your clothes, your bathing suit, shoes, and a standard size backpack. If you’re looking for a spot to store a bigger backpack or looking for some privacy the cabins are a great choice. Either or is a blessing because you won’t have to worry about carrying your things all day. Optimal relaxing mode ON.
Are there showers?
Yes! There are showers that you can use if you want to rinse. There are various stalls where you can take a rinse and there are open showers in the Women’s Locker Room (not sure what it’s like for men). Either work if you want to clean up before hitting the town. They also have hair dryers.
Is it kid friendly?
Children under 14 are not recommended however it’s really up to the discretion of their guardians. However, kids that ARE NOT potty trained are not allowed at all.
If you need a fun, relaxing day at any point of the year that Szechenyi is a must when visiting Budapest. Feel like you’ve done Budapest justice when you give yourself the “me time” you so desperately deserve.
Budapest is considered the thermal spa city of the world! Have you ever visited any of the other spas in the city? Comment below and tell me your favorite. Don’t forget to Pin so you can bring all of these tips on your next trip. Safe travels!