My Visit to World Famous Széchenyi Thermal Baths in Budapest

Posted September 1, 2013 by Jean Liggett

I visited the Széchenyi Baths Monday 19th August when I was in Budapest.

It is at the northern end of City Park and has its own metro stop.: Széchenyi furdo.

Budapest is aptly called the city of spas, and the Szechenyi Bath and Spa was its first thermal baths on the Pest side of Buda-Pest. At the time, back in 1881, it was called ‘Artesian Bath, and was only a temporary establishment.

In 1913, it was converted into a permanent bath, and received its present name and most parts of its pretty yellow building complex. In 1927, beach sites, as well as public bathing departments for gentlemen and ladies were added.

I had seen photos of the baths in guides to Hungary and Budapest, but did not know which spa it was. I was struck by its lavish, over the top neo-Baroque  style and sheer size!

It is one of the largest spas in Europe with over a dozen thermal baths and 6  swimming pools.

Szechenyi Thermal Bath and Swimming Pools at 8.15am

Szechenyi Thermal Baths and Swimming Baths at 8.15am Monday 19 August

Have a look at the round middle walled pool within a pool. There is a current that pushes you around it anti-clockwise. I went round and round in the middle and the force is so strong that I found it difficult to get out! And i am a strong swimmer. It was fun and many of us were laughing as we went around.

The water in this pool was about 33C.

Over to the left of the middle circle there are all kinds of spraying waters coming out from the bottom of the spa pool. I had to wait awhile for my turn since the others were so much enjoying it.

Szechenyi pool photo taken from the other side

Szechenyi pool photo take from the other side - you can see on the right where I stood in the pool to get the spray water pressure

So that what I was speaking about was clearer, I have taken the photo of the thermal pool from the opposite side. Indeed,  I left my rucksack on the benches and it was perfectly safe. That is one thing I have noticed about Hungary is how safe and secure it is, and so clean too!

Bathers enjoying pressured water springs which act like a massage

Bathers enjoying pressured water springs which act like a massage

I have decided to insert another pic to show you what I mean by the above.

This is the spa changing rooms with lockers and attendants.

Spa changing rooms, showers and lockers that locked with use of the band I was given.

I know this might seem slightly bizarre that I show you this photo. The architecture reminded me of something from the bygone era with attention to making everything beautiful rather than utilitarian style employed everywhere that is not built to last and looks shoddy a few years on.

I bought the ’24 Hour Budapest card’ at the airport which cost me about €14. This gave me a 10% discount on Szechenyi baths so instead of it costing 4,800 Huf it cost me 4,320, which is just under £13! A real bargain.

I needed a swimming cap to go in the pool so I had to buy one. That cost me only 1,000 HUF (just under £3.00). There was a lovely and helpful attendant whom I bought the swimming cap from. Plus you can hire clean white pristine towels as well as swimming goggles and other items.

So now I have a lovely souvenir from the baths.

That was one of the things I loved about this spa bath as well as other venues in Budapest is the level of service given. Now in the UK so much is automated and I am expected to do everything myself, e.g. automated check out counters, buy tickets at the machine. Here at the spa there is an employee to assist me for everything. Forget about how they talk about the USA being a service economy with such great customer service.

I will choose Hungary any day.

And I so much enjoy engaging with them rather than a ‘robot’.

The swimming pool for swimmers rather than 'bathers'

This is the swimming pool I needed a swimming cap for.

This swimming pool is kept at about 26c and I needed to go back in to buy my swimming cap to enter the pool. After the warmer spa pool, this felt fairly cold. And I swim at the Lido in Parliament Hill, London which is an unheated Olympic-size swimming pool built in 1938.

The guard was very friendly, and gave me instructions — again help available from everyone.

Friendly lifeguard who gave me instructions

This is the friendly lifeguard who gave me instructions as to where to buy a swimming cap. Oops he dozed off!

It was hot that morning at already 30c, and I think the heat got to the friendly and handsome lifeguard.

Men playing chess.

Men playing chess at the poolside.

I was fascinated by these two men playing chess – so relaxed and yet focussed on their game. In fact, I hardly saw anyone on his/her mobile phone sending messages or speaking. These men, like others truly engaged with the people whom they were with.

There was another chap right next to them intently reading the newspaper, and I regret not getting a photo of him.

Men playing chess in the spa-water.

Men playing chess in the spa water.

I was taken aback when I saw these men playing chess in the spa pool. This is actually a bespoke table in the pool for them to play. And since I saw this, I came across a photo of men playing pool at the Szechenyi Thermal Bath and Swimming Pool.

I will show you another of this pool in a minute.

The spa pool where men are playing chess

This pic is taken from the oppose site of the pool where the men are playing chess

The cafe in the spa is so beautiful with all the original architectural features. My coffee cost about 75p and the delicious pastry about £1!! You would pay £3.50 in Patisserie Valerie in the UK, and it is not as good.

I just regret I did not have more time as I needed to meet my friends to go to Lake Ballaton at midday.

The cafe with delicious pastries and Hungarian dishes

The cafe with delicious pastries and Hungarian dishes
A photo of me (Jean Liggett) in spa bath reception

This is a photo of me inthe spa bath reception.

I took this pic of myself via the mirror in the spa bath reception as an aide memoire that I was at the spa bath.

spa bath reception

spa bath reception

Above is a photo of the first entrance I went into. As I had the 24 hour card I had to go around to the other entrance and that was even grander.

The 24 hour card gives you free entrance to almost all museums, discounts at restaurants and free public transport. I reckon you can buy it at tourist offices as well as at the airport.


The other changing rooms overlooking the spa baths.

The other changing rooms overlooking the spa baths.

Above is a photo of the original (I reckon) changing rooms which over-look the spa bath pools. I saw some young Japanese girls being served by the attendant to use these rooms.

It was such a visual delight to see them, so beautiful, and hence my taking this picture.

I thought I was by the seaside in the film ‘Death in Venice’ which took place at the turn of the 20th Century.

The difference in Hungary is that these original architectural gems have not been destroyed and are still being used! Thank goodness for that.

Main entrance to spa bath

Grand main entrance to the spa bath. You would think you are going to a 5 star hotel!

This is the second entrance I into. And there is also a banner promoting the spa party evenings on Friday. You can see this below. I would love to go!

Spa parties on Friday evenings

Yep, there are spa parties on Friday evenings

There are spa parties on Friday evenings, and I would love to attend. A great alternative to the wine bar or staying at home, and who knows whom you could meet!

Maximus Circus on the City Park

Circus Maximus is right across from the spa in the famous City Park

Yes,  isn’t this a gem? Next time I am in Budapest I am going to go. And such a great name!

Finally, you need to spend at least 5/6 hours  as there are so many spa pool baths, treatments, relaxing in the cafe, reading the newspaper, people watching.

Indeed, I could have spent a whole day there and I could see that many people just pitch up camp there for the whole day.

Upon my return, I will tell you more.

The Szechenyi Thermal Baths is one of the reasons I love Hungary so much.

I can’t wait to return.

Till Later

Jean Liggett

Reading the newspaper

Couple reading the newspaper. No mobiles, not texting, no i-Pads, indeed a relief!


Throughout Hungary, there are countless hot spirngs and wells just beneath the relatively thin surface of the Carpathian basin, providing a plentiful supply of super-heated, mineral-rich water for the country’s numerous baths.

Just over an hour from Budapest is the Egerszalok, home to the stunning hot spring. The huge crystallised crust of salt deposits which is a result of the minerals from the thermal waters forms a salt hill.

It has medicinal benefits recognised by doctors and patients come from all over the world to benefit from these healing waters.

The Saliris Hotel Resort was completed just 2.5 years ago. It is such a stunning success that the hotel resort is turning away guests. They do not have enough rooms to meet the growing demand.

Saloc Spa, Golf and Family Resort is being constructed to capitalise on the booming tourism in Egerszalok. The Hungarian government deems it to be a ‘project of national significance’. It has the  support from the Mayor of Egerzsalok Gabor whom I have met three times up to the Ministers of Tourism and National Economy in Budapest.

I am going out to Saloc at the end of October to Egerzsalok and will report back shortly to you.



P.S. Katie Harris of the BBC and her team are filming a new television series called ‘Escape to the Continent.’ It will help house hunters realise their dream of moving to Continental Europe.

She has asked me to post this on this blog, and I am pleased to do so.

She is looking to find people in the UK who are keen to move to Hungary, and in the programme the presenters will guide you through your search!


The BBC Programme ‘Escape to the Country’ is Looking for People Who Want to Move To Hungary

The UK’s longest running relocation show ‘Escape to the Country’ is expanding! The ‘Escape’ team are excited to reveal that the popular BBC series will now be helping house hunters realise their dream of moving to Continental Europe.

According to Katie, the new show will feature many of the favourite elements of ‘Escape to the Country’ but offer a unique and exciting look at countries and regions throughout Europe as well as properties available across a broad range of budgets.

They are on a nation-wide search to find people who are thinking of relocating to the continent, if this is you please do not hesitate to contact them!

If you would like to participate on the programme, please visit  ‘Be on a show’ page for an application form:

Cheers Jean