One of the first things you will see when you google Budapest is “City of Baths!” Budapest is located on top of more than 120 hot springs! These springs were used by the Romans during the Roman Empire. Then, when Hungary was occupied by Turkey during the 16th and 17th centuries the springs were converted to bathhouses. Most of the thermal baths in Budapest now are more modernized, but some have the original Turkish domes.
Budapest has a number of different thermal baths, offering an amazing selection based on personal taste. This article breaks down the difference between the different spas quite well. I chose to visit Széchenyi thermal bath, though it is further out of the center of the city because I’d seen photos and was completely enamored. This spa is inside a palace-looking building with 15 indoor pools and 3 outdoor pools. Each pool is a different temperature! At each pool there is a plaque listing the type of pool and temperature of the water.
I was a bit hesitant about what to do when I arrived. The locker room is mixed, however there are little doors separating a small space with a bench for people to change in private as they wish. The lockers are manned by staff members so all personal items can be locked away easily. I really wanted to take pictures of the facility, but was nervous about invading the privacy of others. Initially, I went in without my phone or anything. After relaxing in one of the warm pools for 20 minutes, I noticed tons of others taking pictures and using their phones. So, I went ahead and went back for my phone and GoPro!
Széchenyi thermal bath is definitely one of the more popular spas, so there are lots of people. The crowd was a nice mix of both tourists and locals. Though I visited in the middle of February and it was freezing outside, two out of three outdoor pools are heated! So plenty of people were outside enjoying the baths! It was actually really interesting to be surrounded by rising steam as the heated water reacted to the freezing air above. Between the water fountains, jets, and miniature flowing river, I felt like I was in an adult playground!
The indoor part is more relaxed, with everyone lounging in their preferred temperature pools. As if the choice of water temperature isn’t enough, there are different types of saunas as well! I personally enjoyed the Aroma Sauna. 😀 Someone in an online review compared the indoor baths to a Goldie Locks experience – testing out each pool until you find the temperature that suits you just right. I went back and forth between warmer and cooler baths. The ice-cold plunge baths were a bit too cold for me, but I still plunged for the experience. 😉
I would like to have tried out more than one thermal bath, just to compare and see one of the smaller ones. However, it’s a good excuse to return! Visiting the thermal baths was one of my top highlights of my stay. You truly cannot visit Budapest without experiencing it!