Szechenyi Bath - Szechenyi furdo, Budapest
This is such an amazing experience, you shouldn't miss it! Being there in the middle of a freezing January, I really fancied relaxing in a hot bath, but little did I realise that some of the pools are outside!
We bought tickets only to the outdoor pools, not including the saunas etc inside, since it was cheaper, but it was plenty.The 3 pools are naturally heated by thermal waters from the St Stephen's artesian wells, to temperatures ranging from 26 degrees to 38. There are waterfalls which you can stand under to get a pummelling from the water - it's busy, so be prepared to wait and take your turn for this! - and in the meantime relax and watch the older gentlemen lounge in the pool playing chess and drinking beer!
On a historical note, although the spa was planned in the 1880s, the beautiful yellow building dates from 1913, and the complex was expanded in 1927 after which they had to drill a second well. The baths are situated in the City Park, on the Pest side of the river.
All the buildings of Szechenyi Baths are impressive! One group (Francsek-wing), is painted quite a deep yellow, where-as the main building of the Baths has been left unpainted.
This is known as the Czigler-wing. The front façade with its three large domed pavilions made me first think it was Palace and not a bathhouse. The roof of the central hall is decorated with bronze statues of galloping horses and the entrances are flanked by massive Corinthian columns.
The dome in the main entrance hall of the Czigler wing, is decorated with a mosaic that shows the sun god Helios driving a four-horse chariot. A fountain with a statue of a centaur adds to the beautiful interior.
The outdoor pool area has many statues, balustrades and urns and there are even fountains near the pools.
Széchenyi Baths are at the northern end of city park, and are one of the world's largest baths.
These are one of the hottest thermal baths in Budapest, with water temperatures reaching 38°c. The Neo-baroque building was constructed between 1909 and 1913, and if of immense size!. No wonder a dozen thermal baths and five swimming pools fit!
In front of the building stands a statue of Zsigmondo Vilmos, the geologist who discovered the thermal spring that feeds the pools.
As the water is quite warm to hot, the outdoor pools are open year-round.
PRICES: Please check the website as there are many different prices.
My visit to the baths limited itself to the architectural aspects of the buildings. The imposing neo-baroque design is from Győző Czigler. The construction started in 1909 under architect Eugene Schmitterer.
It is a real architectural success with the five domes on the main building and the ocre yellow spa semi circular building.
As expected water-related motives such as stylized water monsters, shells, fish, mermaids are an important part of the exterior and interior decorations.
The spa is named after István Széchenyi who was a Hungarian politician, theorist and writer.
Living in a rainy country makes that I developed some water phobia. Cold or warm, water is wet so that I avoid everything that as to make with water especially thermal baths even if the Széchenyi gyógyfürdő (spa) are the largest in Europe and hot water is coming from two very deep thermal artesian wells.
Furthermore I'm not so fond of "promiscuité" lack of privacy typical of spas so that when I have to go in the water I prefer the sea.
Consequently I entered by the main entrance in the Czigler wing just to see the dome and its mosaics and the fountain of the Triton Centaur. From here I could also have a look at the open air pools.
Szechenyi Bath and Spa is located in a stunning Neo-baroque building, an attraction on its own right This is Europe's largest medicinal bath; the complex has 15 pools (both indoor and outdoor) and offers a full range of thermal water treatments, sauna, steam room and massage services are also available here two thermal springs supply it with water; their temperature are 74 °C (165 °F) and 77 °C (171 °F)
The bath is for both sexes if you forgot your towel or swimsuit they can be rented or bought in the spa on weekends and holidays the entrance fee is higher than on weekdays it is an unforgettable experience to bathe in the outside thermal pools in the cold winter
Admire the stunning Neo-baroque exterior of the building buy your ticket. You will be given what appears to be a watch. At the turn styles the attendant will activate your "watch". This is your electronic key for a secure locker to store your belongings,head to the changing rooms and after storing your clothes in the lockers (using your "watch") enter the bathing area explore all of the indoor medicinal baths or head out the open air pools
Do not miss the famous pool chess boards, where Hungarian men gather around to play enjoy different types of saunas inside the complex along with various massages
No trip to Budapest would be complete without a visit to one of the therapeutic thermal baths and spas. The Szechenyi with three large outdoor pools and numerous indoor thermal baths of varying temperature is probably the biggest of all the spas in Budapest. It's the only one on the Pest side as far as I know, all the others are in Buda. It's located in City Park and served by the yellow Metro line.
The entrance fee is relatively expensive with different prices for weekdays and weekends and for the use of a locker or cabin. Operating the locker system is something of a challenge first time round; you’re given a plastic Swatch-style watch which you have to press against the locker mechanism to operate it. The staff were not particularly helpful with this - assistance being limited to pointing at the written instructions on the wall. But once you’re submerged in the 38°C mineral-rich water it’s all worth it! Don’t forget to bring some flip-flops along with your swimwear - the tiled floors are slippy and none too hygienic in the changing area.
One of the things that you should not miss while you are in Budapest is going to the thermal baths. Give yourself a few hours to just relax and enjoy it. It is a local tradition, you will see people coming home from work stopping off at the baths.
I went to the Szechenyi baths, one of the biggest and most famous ones, it was October and there was a slight chill in the evening air..but the baths were quite full and nice and comfortable. From reading the guidebooks, I had thought the water might be much hotter than it was.
There is a grandeur about this place, think of the Roman baths and their luxury and you get a good image of this place.
After you dip in the baths make sure to go inside the sauna. Be warned however, the sauna is very hot! Especially after coming in from the outside, your body will feel it instantly and gives it a mighty tingle.
Budapest is full of thermal baths so we decided to visit one of them after visiting the Sziget festival that lasted for 5 days so we were tired and really needed some relaxation.
Széchenyi thermal baths (Széchenyi-gyógyfürdő) are very popular not only among locals but also full of tourists, I guess this may be annoying for some people that want more privacy. The baths are huge with 3 outdoor pools, 15 indoor pools, 10 saunas and steam chambers, massage rooms, spa treatments etc
They were built in 1913 in neo baroque style and its spring that is located 970m below ground is the hottest in Budapest (up to 75’C), it was founded in accidentally by geolist Vilmos Zsigmondy in 1879 when he was digging a well in City Park (that’s why you see a statue of him at the entrance). As elsewhere the waters supposed to be healing for chronic pains, nervous system disorders etc. The outdoor pools were added in 1927.
When you get inside you have to pay and you get a proxy watch that will give you access to lockers. There are many attendants that will help you through out the baths and point you to correct direction if you’re looking for something specific.
The waters supposed to be the at the highest peak here but we found them just warm although there were difference from one pool to the other (there are signs that inform you about the temperature)
We stayed there for some hours, we didn’t really check the external pools (too crowded for us) but we liked the inner smaller baths and the sauna and also tried an amazing massage (5000Ft for this, the price depends on the kind of massage you will choose). Many people seem to enjoy just the sun near the outdoor pools like they were in a beach, if you get bored you can check the beautiful architecture of this place, there some great sculptures in many corners.
Most people bring along swimming costumes and towel of course, flip-flops are helpful also, same goes for shampoo if you need a shower at the end.
The baths are open daily 6.00-22.00 (steam and thermal department close at 19.00) and get more crowded during weekends
We didn’t have to pay as one entrance was included for free on our SzigetCard. With Budapest Card you have a small discount only.
The entrance fee is 3300 to 3800Ft depending if it’s weekday, weekend, if it’s valid for 2 hours only, and finally if it includes locker or cabin usage. In any case you will have unlimited access to every external or internal pool and sauna but you have to pay extra for other facilities like massage.
It was my first visit to a bath in Budapest and since it was cold, I chose Szechenyi as I do not wish to walk long from the metro.
The caretaker, an old man, does not speak English but boy what a great help he was. He showed me the cabin, the WC, and the entrance/exit to the pools. What I liked about the spa is the outdoor pool(s). One can enjoy looking at the architecture, sky and conversation.
After the swim, I had a Thai massage which is the best I've had. My shoulder pains disappeared!
This was my first experience at a thermal bath and I had no idea what to expect but I figured I couldn't go to Budapest without at least trying one. Széchenyi Baths are perhaps the most popular ones in the city - they're also the hottest with water temperature running at a toasty 75ºC. Like all baths in Budapest, its mineral waters are credited for curing all sorts of chronic pains and illnesses. The baths date back to 1879 when a hot spring was accidentally found while digging a well in the city park. The beautiful Neo-Baroque building that houses the baths and saunas was completed in 1913, while the outdoor swimming pools were added in 1926. We found the place a bit confusing at first, but once we found our way outside to the swimming pools, we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon there. It's not as quiet as the baths inside so I thought it was much more fun - though possibly less relaxing - than inside the building.
Daily admission costs 3400 forints, and it's worth it!
The Szechenyi baths have some of Budapest's hottest water. The mineral-rich water is supposedly good for treating many types of illnesses. The building itself dates from 1913. You do have to pay to go to the baths, even if you just want to take pictures. The Szechenyi baths allow men and women to visit together. It is located in the Varosliget (City Park) and has a variety of indoor and outdoor pools, so it is a nice place to relax. I think the outdoor pools are very beautiful and are the most photographed part of the Szechenyi baths. The metro line 1 stops right outside the building, so it is easy to get to. Also, if you visit during the winter months, remember that the indoor pools are heated, but the outdoor pools aren't as warm as they might appear! :)
"I'd like to take you to the baths next" said my husband, after we finished at the Grand Market Hall. We were looking around the city he'd lived in as a child - 40 years before.
The famous 100 year old Szecheni Furdo Baths - still in original yellow colour scheme.
We caught the Metro from Oktagon to Szechenyi Furdo. Upon arrival we found that the Baths entry price dropped after 5pm, so travelled back one stop to visit the Szepmuseum for an hour.
Back at our original destination, we descended stairs to left - "noi" (woman) and right - "ferfi" (men) and mastered the tricky 'proxy watch' system that secures your clothes into individual lockers. You put on your cheap plastic 'proxy watch' (that's returned upon exiting) and scan it under a machine. Your locker number is displayed..
Click the watch face into a hole in the locker door to shut and lock it. If you forget your number, simply return to the machine and rescan the watch.
Stayed in for an hour....just gorgeous...steamy ....temperature 38 degrees - the tonic for sore muscles. Spurting fountains every few metres around the giant pool added to the old world era. A plump guy lay sideways under a fountain for an hour, reminding me of the fat Roman emperor in Mel Brooks' "History of the World".
Notices recommended staying in for a maximum 20 minutes, but we found that by putting arms upward for a while we could cool off. That - and occasional dips into the tepid 27 degree pool beside - assisted.
A beautiful way to spend an evening.
The Szechenyi Baths complex should definitely be on your programme in Budapest, ideally not at a weekend when the place tends to get too crowded. They are open every day.
They are easy to find, having their own metro stop on the yellow line. When you emerge into the daylight just look for the large yellow building to your right.
Although the entrance price list looks complex and daunting, all you will probably need is an entry ticket costing 3100 Forint (March 2011). This will give you unlimited access to the vast range of internal and external pools, saunas and steam rooms. Credit cards are allegedly accepted
You won't need a bathing cap unless you intend to go (length) swimming in the large central outdoor pool, but a swimming costume and towel are essentials (as well as soap and shampoo if you want to have a good shower at the end). Most Hungarians also wear flip-flops, although these are not essential.
For your money you will be given a 'proxy watch', a clever system which will get you through the entry turnstile and into and out of a locker of your choice (you can return to the locker as often as you want - the watch keeps working until you drop it into the machine when you finally leave). The locking mechanism is a little fiddly, but it works OK once you get the hang of it. There are a few attendants around who will help.
Now all you have to do is to meander in and out of pools, saunas and steam rooms to your heart's content. You can take a book to read in the outside area and a camera for photos, but neither of these is recommended in the sauna!
I stayed for just over 2 hours and found that a good length of time to be there.There is a cafe alongside the outside swimming area, so you can have a bite to eat and/or a drink if you feel like it.
Do not buy the Budapest Card (as suggested below) just for a discount here. It is not worth it. And there are no longer any refunds on the entry price for a shorter stay, as there once were.
They have recently changed the entrance system (March 2010). Previously there were refunds on the whole day ticket for people who went for less than two hours. Now, the only two-hour refunds are for entrance with the Budapest card, which is worth getting as it only costs 270 ft, or one euro.
The present-day complex of Szechenyi Bath was built 1909-13 in neo-Baroque style - very beautiful. Until 1927 outdoor swimming pools were added. The spring (970 m below the ground) is the the hottest in Budapest with 75° C.
The complex offers several in- and outdoor swimming pools, steambaths, saunas, spa treatments etc. It is *huge*. Also, it is probably the most popular among the locals. Prices are considerable lower than in the Gellert.
Unfortunately I didn't have time to go in. Next time then :-)
Hint: This is where the photos with the chess playing men in a swimming pool were taken.