Of all the ‘things to do in Budapest’, I was most excited about thermal baths. And they did not disappoint!
Corona restrictions (like masks) have been relaxed in Budapest, and baths are now open. There are 3 major baths – Széchenyi Thermal Bath, Rudas Baths and Gellért Thermal Bath. We went to Széchenyi as it had most positive reviews on Google Maps.
Getting to the bath was fairly easy as there is a train stop nearby (Széchenyi fürdő). We booked our tickets in advance from their website (you save 10% when booking online). We chose one ticket with locker (5500Ft) and one with cabin (6400Ft). Highly recommend a cabin as that gives you enough space to store your things and a private space to change and such.
- A bathing costume is mandatory, and burkinis are not permitted. I am not sure how strict are they about this rule because I did forget my costume and ended up wearing a tank top on biker shorts.
- You have to wear slippers at all times and have a towels.
Rentals: The website says that there is a possibility to rent things like towel and slippers, so we didn’t pack a towel and planned on renting. However, rentals were out of order and we had to buy one from their shop. It’s overpriced, as can be expected, so highly recommend you to bring all you need.
Once we arrived, we bought a towel, checked in and got a wrist band for our cabin/locker, and then went to change. Once pool ready, we bought water from the restaurant close to the pools (they serve food and drinks), and hydrated.
Outdoor pools – there are 2 thermal pools in open air. One goes up 38 degrees and the other one has a jacuzzi. In between is a swimming pool. Thermal pools aren’t exactly swimming friendly as they are crowded, and people usually just stay stationary or move to go under water jets.
Indoor pools and sauna – There are about 15 pools inside and about half as many saunas. Temperatures go as low as 16 degrees, and saunas go up to 55 degrees.
Soaking your body in really warm water is incredibly relaxing. It was my first experience and I loved the hottest pool. It takes a minute or two to get used to it, but once your body gets accustomed to it, it really is amazing.
I went in a sauna for the first time as well. Unlike Germany, you can keep your clothes on in these saunas. And folk(ses), I am obsessed. I didn’t want to leave! My favourite was the one with salt (and aroma was a close second). I felt like my every pore was breathing. Now I am on a mission to find a sauna in Berlin where you can keep at least some of your clothes on.
There are sun loungers and chairs in the outdoor area for people who’d like to a take a break from water and soak in some sun.
Széchenyi Thermal Bath closes at 7pm. We stepped out of water a little after 6. Showered (not communal), changed, dried clothes (there is a dryer close to the door to the pools), and packed to be on our way back to the hotel. In retrospect, it was a good idea to leave when we did as it got very busy in showers and changing rooms closer to 7.
We commuted the same way back – via train.
Verdict: I really really enjoyed my time at Széchenyi Thermal Bath. It was the highlight of our trip. One could easily spend the day there, and enjoy the many pools and saunas.
Things I wish I knew:
- Difference between locker and cabin.
- Rentals aren’t always available.
- Hair cap is only required for 1 pool (swimming pool). We bought the cap along with the towel (because website says that it is mandatory, and we didn’t know there is only one).