Visiting the thermal baths is one of those things you have to do in Budapest. There are countless spas to choose from, and swayed by its pretty yellow buildings, we chose Széchenyi. Also, it’s the largest medicinal bath in Europe, so there’s that.
A day ticket to the baths is about $15. Once inside, treatments like massages and body scrubs are incredibly cheap, but we didn’t reserve any of those services. Instead, we spent a few hours hopping between the 18 pools (3 outdoors and 15 indoors). Wristbands that looked like watches were like our key cards for the day – they were the mechanism for locking our storage lockers and they also signified that we were allowed to be there. Most importantly, they told us what time it was: bath time.
The pools range from 64° to 104° and the thermal springs that feed the baths contain calcium, magnesium, fluoride, sodium, sulphate, and more. The minerals are supposed to cure pretty much everything. I can’t verify that, but they did turn the water all kinds of neat colors. The biggest surprise for us was the steam room, which sounded like something we’d hate but we actually liked it so much we kept going back in. The steam had a menthol/eucalyptus quality to it which opened our lungs and may have helped Ian recover from his cold. Our other favorite feature was the current pool shaped like a ring, which swept you around in circles and got going pretty fast. This was fun until all the bros showed up.
Here’s another look at the outdoor pools, with the lap pool in the middle and the “activity” pools on the sides:
After this, Budapest’s campaign to win us over was no longer needed. We were converted.