I was excited to visit Budapest for years and when the time finally came, I wanted to see everything! It’s such a beautiful city that I could happily spend weeks just exploring the different areas, eating everything in sight along the way. However, with just three full days to see the Hungarian capital’s highlights, Szechenyi Baths was top of my list of attractions to visit. As one of the largest spa baths in Europe, word of its impressive facade and natural spring waters had me desperate to bathe in the bright blue waters.
Let’s just rewind a day or two so I can justify exactly why we were in such desperate need of relaxation while already on holiday. Our early flight out to Budapest meant waking up at 5am to start our journey. Remember when you were younger and waking up early for a flight was the most exciting thing ever? Well now, age twenty five, the excitement was replaced by a zombie-like state that had me driving to the airport in a bit of a daze. Luckily, Liverpool John Lennon Airport had kindly offered us free airport parking for our city break and their long stay car park is so efficient that you don’t have to talk to a single person. Just drive up to the barrier, number plate recognition opens it up and all you have to do is find a space. Perfect for those early mornings where you just want to stay quiet and get stuck into a full English after being patted down by security. Yes this happened – even if my veggie full English was hash browns and some baked beans.
Our first day in Budapest was so jam packed that by the time night came, we were tucked up in bed soothing our aching feet and letting exhaustion close our eyes way earlier than most people would deem acceptable on a city break. But hey, I never pretended to live life on the wild side. So it was this combination of tiredness and 38 degree heat meant we were in need of some chill out time. And this is where our trip to the baths came with perfect timing. So let’s get onto the bit you really want to hear about.
Getting to the Szechenyi Baths is super easy – just hop on the M1 (yellow) metro line to Szechenyi Furdo. But timing is crucial, particularly in the summer months, as the baths can get incredibly busy! We were there by 10am and while there were already quite a lot of people there, it wasn’t crowded. However, when we left at 1pm, it was getting more and more full, as you can see in the photos below. The earlier you arrive, the more chance you have of securing a sunbed or seat to really take advantage of your full day ticket.
There are actually 18 natural thermal pools in the Szechenyi Baths – three large outdoor spaces and fifteen indoors. Despite the grand exterior, the indoor pools had a bit of a depressing ‘council swimming pool’ feel so we spent almost the entire time in the outdoor pools. A slight word of warning though – if you want to swim lengths, you’ll have to wear a swimming cap! My personal favourite was the lazy river style ring in one outdoor pool with a current that pushed you along. We even spotted some locals playing chess in the hot pool – although we barely even lasted five minute in this one! If you’re visiting in winter, this pool would be utterly blissful but in the blazing sun? The sweat is real.
In short, the Szechenyi Baths is a great way to spend a few hours – or all day if you desire – in Budapest. It’s not just a tourist attraction: locals head down early to get their morning swim in before the crowds arrive. It’s also rumored to be the perfect hangover cure after a night at the ruin bars! I really loved lying back in the sunshine and gazing up at the stunning buildings surrounding the baths. Oh, and the water really is that blue. I’m unashamedly a total sucker for the perfect shade of turquoise. But that’s quite enough rhapsodising from me. I’ve got a few more articles about Budapest to come and you’ll want to stick around for those. Think castles, pizza and one of the most stunning Parliament buildings in the world…
Which thermal baths in Budapest were your favourite?