Szechenyi Medicinal Baths are the biggest and most popular bathhouse in Budapest and the only one I managed to find the time to visit during the short time I was in Budapest at the end of August 2018. Located in the eastern side of Budapest, close to the Heroes’ Square and the Budapest Zoo, Szechenyi Medicinal Bath in the ultimate bathing experience in the Hungarian capital and is the largest medicinal bath in Europe. If you need to choose a bath to go to Budapest, this is the one you should go to.
But, have you ever wondered why Budapest is famous for its baths? It seems like it came from the Ottomans during the many Ottoman wars against Hungary in the 16th century. Some baths were built at the time, and this Turkish tradition of bathing became more and more popular in Budapest. Nowadays, Budapest is a European city famous of this big bathing culture and tourists from all over the world come to town to visit the many baths around the city.
My Visit to the Szechenyi Bath in Budapest
On my very last day in Budapest, a couple of hours before I took a bus to go to Slovakia, me and a friend decided we had one missing thing to do in the city. We needed to visit one of the many famous baths Budapest has to offer. We looked at the map, trying to find which one would be closer to where we went to buy bathing suits and the Szechenyi baths caught my attention. Mostly due to how close it is to the subway stations but the building itself looked interesting enough. So, there we went and we consider it to be one of the highlights of this trip.
From afar, the Szechenyi baths already look interesting. The bath is located inside the City Park and was built in Neo-Baroque style by the architect Győző Czigler. The design is so stunning that it’s the first thing you will notice when you step inside the baths.
This bath in Budapest was planned in the 1880s when it was called Artesian spa (Artézi fürdő in Hungarian). But the name changed when it was opened, back in June 1913. Széchenyi gyógyfürdő is the original name, but I’m too afraid to try to speak it, so I only use the “safe” translated name of Szechenyi Medicinal Bath. But the name comes from István Széchenyi who was a politician, writer, and political theorist and it’s considered by many as the Greatest Hungarian.
I can only imagine how this bath was after it was opened. But I guess it as a snapshot of the Budapest society at the time. A place where men and women, young and old, would meet without any social, sexual and age barrier between them. It felt like that when I visited the baths, and I feel like this is one of the many reasons why I enjoyed my time there so much.
From outside, the Szechenyi bath in Budapest looks like a museum surrounded by three pools. Inside, things get a little bit different since it seems like an entirely new world opens up in front of you. In there you can see fifteen pools spread around several hundred square meters. I couldn’t count how many steam rooms and saunas are there as well, but I remember entering one where temperatures were over 80º degrees. From there, I jumped straight into one of the cold plunge pools in a way to emulate my experiences with saunas in Finland.
Szechenyi Medicinal Bath
The Szechenyi Medicinal Bath in Budapest is the near-perfect bathing experience in a city known for its bathing culture. The place is enjoyable, social and welcoming to all and I’m looking forward to coming back to Budapest to swim and have fun in the many pools it has to offer.
The baths are open every day from six in the morning to nine in the evening, and they have different prices, depending on what you want to use and when do you want to arrive there. I remember paying something like €20 for a locker and half day between pools there, and it was more than worth it.
The baths can be easily reached by public transport on the Yellow Line coming from Vörösmarty square. The subway station is called Széchenyi fürdő, and it’s right in front of the baths.
Ah, sorry for the lack of gorgeous pictures here! I didn’t want to bring a camera to a place where most people are just wearing bathing suits and shove it in their faces. All the pictures here were taken after I asked a security guy if it was alright to photograph there. I still felt weird about it but, at least, I have something to share with you here.