The guide to visiting Szechenyi Baths in Budapest: things you need to bring (and know!)

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Are you going to Budapest and considering visiting the famous Szechenyi Baths? Are you confused about the option of Szechenyi Baths locker vs private cabin? Not sure what to bring with you, when to arrive and whether there is a hairdryer? Don’t worry, I’ll try to answer all these questions in this article!

Book a ticket to Szechenyi Baths online here ->

Alternatively, if you prefer Gellert Baths, you can book a ticket here ->

What are Szechenyi Baths, and are they worth visiting?

The history of Széchenyi Baths dates back to the 19th century and is closely tied to the development of Budapest’s spa culture. In the mid-19th century, there was a growing interest in developing spa facilities to cater to the increasing number of visitors seeking wellness and relaxation.

Construction of Széchenyi Baths began in 1909 and was completed in 1913, designed by architects Győző Czigler and Édouard Titz. The striking yellow façade and majestic domes have made it one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. Over the years, Széchenyi Baths underwent several renovations and expansions to accommodate the growing number of visitors and to modernize its facilities while preserving its historical charm. 

In our opinion, Szechenyi Baths are definitely worth visiting – it’s one of the most iconic things to do in Budapest, and despite a slightly steep price, they are definitely worth it.

Szechenyi Baths vs Gellert Baths – which baths in Budapest are better?

Lots of people have heard about spa baths in Budapest, but not everyone knows that there are actually two famous baths, Szechenyi Baths and Gellert Baths. 

Both Széchenyi Baths and Gellért Baths are popular and highly regarded thermal baths in Budapest, each offering a unique experience. Which one is better depends on your preferences and what you are looking for.

Széchenyi Baths:

  • Known for its large outdoor thermal pool, Széchenyi Baths is an excellent choice if you want to soak in warm waters while being outside. The outdoor pool is especially enjoyable in colder months.
  • It has a more vibrant and lively atmosphere due to its popularity among tourists and locals alike. If you enjoy a social and bustling ambience, Széchenyi Baths might be more appealing.
  • The architecture is grand and impressive, adding to the overall experience of bathing in historic surroundings.
  • Inside, it looks a bit more tired – exactly like you would imagine a “medicinal” bath place would look like, and the indoor pools are not always sparking clean as they are very busy all day every day
  • There is a huge variety of different saunas, e.g. a tea steam room which was unique and pretty amazing

Gellért Baths:

  • Gellért Baths, located inside the iconic Gellért Hotel, boast stunning Art Nouveau architecture. 
  • It’s usually less crowded than Szechenyi Baths
  • Gellért Baths are a bit more impressive inside 
  • Cleaning and maintenance have also been pointed out as an issue 

Ultimately, the best choice depends on your personal preferences. If you prefer a livelier atmosphere and want to experience the largest outdoor pool, Széchenyi Baths may be the better fit. The price for both baths is nearly identical. Szechenyi Baths have a slightly higher rating on Google, and it’s also a bit more iconic; hence, in our case, we decided to visit Szechenyi Baths and not Gellert. 

Things you need to know before visiting Szechenyi Baths

Szechenyi Baths: private cabin or locker, what’s the difference?

When you are booking a ticket for Szechenyi Baths, you are usually presented with two options, private cabin or locker. Locker is a bit cheaper, but not cheap enough to be a no-brainer, so lots of people are not sure what to choose in the end. 

Szechenyi Baths have multiple floors, and lockers are located on the lower floors – they are a bit busier and more cramped. Everyone’s in there together, and you basically change in a changing room and then leave your stuff in a locker.

A private cabin is a bit different – you have a small private changing room that opens with a special wristband, and you can go back to it and open it as many times as you want. It’s not the fanciest either, but I found a private cabin much more convenient than the locker, and if the difference is just 2-3 EUR, I would definitely go for a private cabin. 

Do you need to wear a swim cap in Szechenyi Baths?

Some sources say that a swim cap is mandatory in Szechenyi Baths, which is true, but only in one outdoor pool. Don’t worry, that’s not “the pool” everyone comes to Szechenyi Baths for; it’s a normal Olympic-size pool where people actually exercise. We didn’t even go to this pool, so we didn’t need this cap. 

Do you need to book tickets in advance, or can I book tickets to Szechenyi Baths on the same day?

I strongly recommend booking in advance. We bought our tickets 3 days in advance, and there was good availability, but that was in early spring. During busier seasons, I recommend booking a couple of weeks in advance.

You can book the tickets online here >>

How long can you stay in Szechenyi Baths?

I was also curious how long we could stay in Szechenyi Baths and when we actually needed to enter the baths, as I didn’t see the entrance slot on the ticket. That’s because it’s possible to enter any time of the day and stay as long as you want – you’re buying a full-day ticket. 

I must say that, of course, it’s less busy in the morning and you will have a more enjoyable experience in the morning. It gets really crowded around 4-5pm, especially on a Saturday – when we were leaving, exactly around this time, it was insanely busy and a bit more rowdy. 

What to bring to Szechenyi Baths?

Finally, if you’re wondering what to bring to Szechenyi Baths, here are the things you must bring (assuming you already got your tickets):

  • Towel: Bringing your own towel is the best idea. While having the towel is not mandatory, it’s indispensable for drying off. We didn’t bring a towel and found online that you could rent them there, but it wasn’t the case! Instead, we had to buy a towel and share one between us both because the prices for the towels started from 17 EUR and the quality wasn’t the best!
  • Swimsuit: it goes without saying that a swimsuit or swimming trunks are a must-have for your visit to Széchenyi Baths. They are obligatory to wear while bathing. 
  • Flip-flops or sliders: you won’t be allowed to enter Szechenyi Baths without flip-flops or sliders. If you don’t bring them, you will have to buy them, and the price is again absolutely extortionate (same as the towels) 
  • Bathrobe or a cover-up: while a robe or a cover-up is not required for visiting Szechenyi Baths, I actually found it very useful. Especially if you’re visiting during the colder months, you can get sick when exiting the pool and running to the lockers/ changing rooms, so a bathrobe is always a good option. You can bring a thin one and preferably not a very expensive one, as you’ll be leaving it on the shelves in front of the pools, so there is a chance that someone might grab it by mistake. Alternatively, you can survive with a large towel instead.

Are there hairdryers in Szechenyi Baths?

Another question that I had before visiting Szechenyi Baths is whether there are hairdryers and how to dry my hair if it gets wet. It might not be an issue in summer, but Szechenyi Baths are open all year long, and during the colder months, you definitely need to get your hair dry. The answer is yes; there are two hairdryers that I found in Szechenyi Baths, but one of them was broken, and another one was about to get broken judging on its power and air temperature. Finding a socket for your own hair dryer is also quite an adventure, but I think it’s possible – I’ve seen some sockets around, but I’m not sure they are operational. 

What’s the best thing about Szechenyi Baths, and how long to stay there?

Finally, if you’re curious, what’s the best thing about Szechenyi Baths – I’d say the heated outdoor pool (not the sporty one) and countless scented saunas and steam rooms. Indoor pools are hit & miss – some are great, some are just too busy and too dirty. 

We spent around 3 hours in Szechenyi Baths. It was enough to try every single pool and sauna that there was. However, if it was warmer and we had more time in Budapest, we could have totally stayed longer – there are plenty of sun beds outside, and I can only imagine how nice it is to lay there when it’s warm and sunny (in our case, it was 15 degrees, so the sun beds were out of the question). 

Summary of the guide to visiting Szechenyi Baths in Budapest: things you need to bring (and know!)

I hope this article helped you to understand a bit more what a visit to Szechenyi Baths entails, what to bring with you, when to visit and how long to stay for. I recommend coming there in the morning and, preferably, on a weekday, so you don’t experience crowds and queuing. During busy times, you need to queue for the pools and saunas and steam rooms.

The outdoor pools and the saunas and steam rooms are genuinely the best things about Szechenyi Baths, and if you need to choose between a private cabin and a locker, I’d go for a private cabin.

Finally, don’t forget to flip-flops or sliders – you won’t be admitted without them, and you’ll have to buy several overpriced flip-flops in the souvenir shops. While the towel is not mandatory, trust me, you’ll need it! 

Here are some other articles you might find useful:

A 2-day itinerary for Budapest: a laid-back weekend in Budapest

3 days in Berlin – top places to visit

10 reasons to visit Bordeaux in France

15 most beautiful places to visit in the Netherlands

A weekend trip to Wroclaw and Krakow

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