Tendrils of steam danced across the Széchenyi baths surface. The thermal waters finally escaping from below the surface of Budapest.
Wondering why did we decide to leave our jandals in the crypt-like changing rooms below as we skipped across the cold concrete. The early morning summer sun still to warm the cobbles beneath our bare feet.
With no idea whether the pool we had first eyed as we squinted into the sunlight would be hot or cold we slowed at the top of the steps. Hoping the steam would not betray us, we eased our party weary feet into the waters below. Split-seconds passed as we hesitated for the first feeling.
Warmth tickled our toes.
As we stumbled the few remaining steps sliding deeper into the warm water we garnered a few strange looks as we let out an audible sigh of relief.
On both the Buda and Pest sides of the city hundreds of thermal hot springs bubble silently underneath the cobbled streets. The Hungarians have tapped into these natural resources and created one of the best wellness and healing cities in the whole world.
Suffering from a bad back? Arthritis getting you down? Or just need somewhere to relax after eating too much goulash? The healing waters of the thermal Széchenyi baths in Budapest are just the cure you need.
Local Doctor’s even prescribe visits to the baths for patient as part of their treatment.
Visiting the thermal Széchenyi Baths
After dancing for the last three days at the Sziget music festival, relaxing was exactly what the doctor ordered.
Ignoring the tourist crowds looking for a bit of rest and relaxation at the well known Gellert Baths we recommend stepping out of your comfort zone and following the locals to the lesser known Széchenyi baths.
The locals flock here on the weekend and while some thermal baths in Budapest only allow men or women at certain times this is not one of them. Just be aware that most of their modesty is left in the changing rooms.
Luckily none of the pools we entered were bathing suits optional.
We quickly learned that it’s not all about the bathing either. Fitness centers, massages, no less than 15 baths and 10 sauna rooms will keep you occupied for hours.
The hottest sauna we found was a roasting 100°C.
Inching the door open our faces were assaulted by steam. We now know what it feels like to be a freshly caught crayfish being boiled after diving. It hurt just to breath through our noses.
Skidding back across the scorching tiles (still jandal-less) outside to a welcome breath of fresh air we felt so out of place.
While we knew that there were benefits from sitting in the tepid baths we had no idea what we were meant to be doing. Even after watching the locals closely and trying to emulate their routine we still couldn’t figure it out. We dipped into one pool for five minutes before shuffling across the slippery tiles to the next bath or sauna. All of which were different temperatures.
I even tried to out last the slightly larger Hungarian’s in the ball-shrinking ice baths. They thought it was a great joke as my skinny body shivered in the corner.
Not being able to make heads or tails of it we decided just to sit back and relax.
Extra Travel Information:
The Széchenyi baths are located in the City Park with a Metro stop directly outside so it’s really easy to get to. They are open year round and while the prices seems to fluctuate we paid 3,600 FT ($15 USD) each with a locker.
Fly to Budapest easily from pretty much anywhere in Europe with Jet2.com. And we recommend staying at Marco Polo Hostel as they are quiet and have a brilliant breakfast buffer.
Disclaimer: We were invited to step out of our comfort zone by the Visit Hungary Tourism Board for our trip to Budapest. As always our thoughts, recommendations and speedos are always our own.