Széchenyi Thermal Baths and Spa are situated near Heroes Square in the City Park of Budapest. I had no idea before travelling to Hungary that spas were famous and its one of the top things to do. Thank you to Budapest Baths for getting in touch and hosting me for the day.
A lot of buses run by Heroes Square and there is a stop right outside of Széchenyi too so it is quite accessible. Wheelchair access is available throughout the site and special equipment into some pools for people with disabilities. There are maps and very helpful staff to ask if you need to find any of the baths or other facilities.
Széchenyi Thermal Baths and Spa is set in a beautiful complex of buildings. All very ornate and full of grand features like sculptures and fountains. The facade looks like it could be found in the middle of an Italian city with its columns and decoration. A very regal place but would it be tranquil inside?
I met my host in the entrance hall and was given a guided tour and told about the history of spas in Budapest and particularly this one. Originally brought to Hungary by Romans (which explains the architecture) and later adapted by Turkish occupiers, the spas were used by people for their medicinal powers. There are still pools and steam rooms that have known health benefits and are used by patients.
In the entrance hall, there are towels to buy/for hire, swimsuits, robes and swimming caps. There are various prices depending on whether you take a locker or cabin (small changing room with bench) and if you book any treatments. The spa also does night parties with drinks and music after 10pm. I thought for all of the available pools, saunas and other facilities and the length of time you could stay (9am – 10pm) the ticket was great value.
I was given a band to wear on my wrist and it opened my cabin door and allowed access to the main outdoor area as you go through from the entrance. Everything worked well and I felt like all of my things were safe. The whole complex was spotless and there was no rubbish anywhere. The pools were clean and a lifeguard was on duty the whole time I was there. You need to wear sandals to walk around due to the outdoor stone floor getting really hot in summer. It is an old heritage building so don’t expect everything to be perfect. It gets pretty close though and I thought it was beautifully maintained for over 100 years since it was built.
Széchenyi is a huge complex with 18 pools (indoor and outdoor), steam rooms, saunas and fitness centre. It is the largest thermal baths in Hungary and one of the largest in Europe. The map of the whole complex can be found here. I saw an exercise class with small weights in one of the pools. There are various temperatures in the different baths and also jets of water to stimulate circulation in the outdoor pool.
Széchenyi offers everything you need for a full day out. There is a restaurant, bar, ice-cream vendor and lots of places to sit, eat and relax outside of the pools. There were a lot of families and it didn’t feel too crowded. It has some rules to keep people safe and to keep the place clean which all seemed to work. It was a great atmosphere and I loved trying the different temperature pools. The ice cold one had me in and out in less than a minute!
To swim in the main swimming pool at Széchenyi, you need to wear a cap. You can buy these or bring your own. I didn’t go in and do any lengths in the lanes but it did look like a great place if you fancy some exercise as well as relaxation. There is no time limit and people come and go throughout the day. You can try all of the pools and facilities whenever you decide and there was never a sauna, steam room or pool I couldn’t go in because there were too many people.
One room that was hard to stay in for long was the aromatherapy steam room which was so humid and hot, you can’t see people across the room. I felt like I had clean lungs and airways after a few minutes though! I feel like Széchenyi has something for everyone and I saw young children up to elderly men and women enjoying themselves so it is absolutely worth a visit.
I’m not sure whether it is a regular thing that happens in some pools but people started running around in a circle. The pool with jets outside had a purpose built circular part in the middle for this and I had so much fun running with the current. Be careful with this if you aren’t strong enough to swim against the current because that’s the main way to make it out again! We also did this in a cool water pool inside (maybe around 18 degrees) which warms your muscles up. I loved the variety of things to try. It was a great experience.
With swing music playing in the background, sunshine and lounging in pools and saunas, I definitely felt relaxed. It was the perfect setting for a day of pampering. The only thing missing was a group of friends and maybe I should have added in a massage. The facilities were more than enough on their own but I would probably get a treatment next time and definitely recommend it as a fantastic spa.
I was very lucky to be given a free day here but my opinions are my own and I am not receiving payment for this review.
Have you visited Széchenyi Thermal Baths and Spa? Which areas were your favourite?