There are so many things to do and see in Budapest, it’s hard to know where to start! If there’s one activity to put on your bucket list for the Hungarian capital, it should be the thermal bath spas. There are several different thermal bath spas throughout Budapest, but the Széchenyi Bath was consistently recommended as the best—and after visiting, I can only agree. If you’re looking to visit the Széchenyi Thermal Bath in Budapest, look no further! Here’s my guide for everything you need to know:

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The Széchenyi Thermal Bath is one of the largest spa complexes in Europe. It is located at one end of City Park in Budapest, and opened in 1913. The bath is supplied by two thermal springs. It’s easy to access the bath by public transportation—the Metro line M1 has a stop for the bath, “Szechenyi furdo.”

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There is so much happening in the Széchenyi spa! There are three main outdoor pools: one with water at 38˚C (100˚F), one with slightly cooler water, and a swimming lap pool between the two. Inside the building, they have tons of pools with varying water temperature ranges—some like a normal swimming pool, some slightly warmer, and some at the warmest temperature like the outdoor pool. There are also 6 or 7 saunas (also with varying temperatures) and accompanying “cold pools” to jump into after your sauna.

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The bath complex is fairly large: the main entrance is on “Allatkerti krt” street, across from the circus. The bath has two different price sets: one for weekdays, and one for weekends and holidays. Depending on how much you want to pay, there are a couple different ways to visit the bath. You could opt for a massage with your trip to the thermal bath, but it will double the price of your visit (and I found myself so relaxed after, I wouldn’t have needed a massage). A cabin ticket is 5200/5400 HUF (weekdays/weekends), which means you’ll have a private changing room. A locker ticket is 4700/4900 HUF, which means you’ll have your own locker in a public changing room (the men’s lockers and women’s lockers are at opposite ends of the locker facilities).

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If possible, buy your ticket in advance from your accommodation (prices with cabin 5400 HUF and locker 4900 HUF)—this means you don’t need to queue for tickets and can exchange your voucher for a ticket right away. I basically walked through with no waiting after purchasing my ticket at my hostel.

You’ll get a “watch” bracelet to wear for your whole time in the bath, which is the key to your locker. You can check which locker number you have with the electronic pads in the locker rooms, just in case you forget. I’d recommend bringing your camera through with you at first, taking the pictures you want, and then putting it back in your locker and enjoying yourself for the rest of the time. (You don’t want to leave your valuables unattended while you’re swimming.)

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What to Bring: In order to save money and lots of time, you should bring your own swimsuit, towel,  flip-flops, snacks, and water. There are drinking fountains, mostly in the indoor building. You pay a deposit as well as a fee to rent a towel, sheets, swimsuit, or bathrobe—this means not only do you have to wait to get those things before you change, you also have to queue when you’re leaving to get your deposit back. It’s much easier to bring your own.

There is a restaurant/food stand somewhere (since I saw people eating), and a stand where you can buy drinks—beer, liquor, cocktails, etc. Beer is about 600 HUF, liquor and cocktails 1400+ HUF. There is absolutely no drinking while you are actually in the water (the lifeguards patrol this heavily). Again, it’s cheaper and easier to bring your own.

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When to go: The ticket is valid for the whole day—the baths are usually open from 6:00am-10:00pm, so you could stay literally all day if you wanted to. I think the best time to visit is late afternoon or early evening if the weather is nice—it was incredible to stay later and see how beautiful the bath was at night! Be aware that the indoor pools and saunas may close at 7:00pm. Széchenyi was packed when I visited on Easter, so maybe try to avoid holidays.

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Overall, visiting the Széchenyi Thermal Bath was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. It was a completely relaxing experience and I know that I’ll visit again next time I find myself in Budapest! Definitely put it on your bucket list for any trip to Budapest.

Have you ever been to Szechenyi or another thermal bath? What did you think?