Prior to arriving in Budapest, the one thing we were determined to do was to visit the thermal baths. These warm-water swimming pools are a throwback to when the Greeks, Romans and Turks made Budapest their home, whilst they now serve to relax travellers and locals alike. The natural, geo-thermal water is known for it’s medicinal benefits, and perhaps more importantly, is guaranteed to warm you up over the chilly winter months!
After reading countless reviews on Trip Advisor (that website sure can be both a blessing and a curse!) we’d practically called our visit to the baths off; many visitors described the pools as being grimy and over-priced and with the weather being so cold, we weren’t feeling inclined to jump in our togs and brave the winter weather if it wasn’t going to be worthwhile.
As it turns out, maybe we were always meant to venture to the baths… Having decided against visiting, we wandered around Budapest on our second to last day there and stumbled across a gorgeous old building – as it turned out, the Széchenyi Thermal Baths. Once we saw them, we couldn’t resist! After popping back to our accommodation, we jumped back on the subway and returned to enjoy the warm water.
There are two entrances you can use and though we’d read about staff trying to up-sell guests to tickets they didn’t really need, we didn’t encounter any problems. We paid 5,400Ft (about 17 euros) for one ticket (which included a small cabin to get changed in and to store our personal items) and 4,900Ft (approx. 15.50 euros) for the additional ticket. As we’d read, the changing cabins weren’t particularly clean, but by no means were they bad enough to put us off.
You are able to sign up for massages and a range of beauty treatments but we found them to be a third of the price elsewhere so saved our massage money to spend away from the pools. They also rent towels but they have a bad habit of going missing there, so try to take your own and leave it waiting in your locker/cabin.
We took our own towels and swimwear but did end up wishing we had our jandals (AKA flip flops) as they would have made getting changed that bit more pleasant and definitely would have made getting too and from the pool easier! Earlier in the day it had started snowing quite heavily (yahoo!) but it meant walking from the changing cabins (over the slippery floor), over the pebbles and through the snow to get to the pools – the stones made for sore feet when it was as cold as it was! Not to mention the fact that I then raced back inside to get my camera, back out to take piccies and then had to repeat the process again to put it back, before running the loop again to get my towel at the end! Brrrrrr.
We intentionally visited later in the afternoon so we could experience the baths through the evening, and would recommend you do the same. It was fantastic sitting in the thermal pools, watching the sun go down (well as much as possible through the clouds) and then relaxing into the evening.
The pools themselves were a glorious temperature, very relaxing and well worth the visit.
Would we visit Széchenyi again? You bet!
It just goes to show, you can’t believe everything you read on Trip Advisor (though I still love it!)