Budapest is the city of thermal water and hot springs, a beautiful city of great architecture and a history of oppression and revolutions. So, when you arrive to Budapest you will of course want to see the most important attractions of the Hungarian capital, get to know the history a bit and we all know the most effective way to do this is with a private guide.
On such a tour a typical question is though: Where should I go to check out the hot springs of Budapest? I have heard about the Gellért Thermal Bath and another one in the city park which has a name very hard to pronounce… We of course know that the guest is thinking of the Széchenyi Thermal Bath and even teach them how to say it in the beautiful Hungarian language. And after the little Hungarian lecture it is time to answer the question; Where to go: Gellért or Széchenyi?
The current location of the bath has been recognized as a place of hot springs for several decades. Though, the hotel and the bath was constructed on the spot between 1912-1818 in beautiful Art Nouveau style. The bath expanded in 1927 and 1934 with a wave pool and a bubble bath.
Today the bath is by many said to be the one with the most beautiful in Budapest. The interior design, especially the main hall with the glass roof and the gallery in Art Nouveau style is beautiful. The outside pools, especially the wave pool, can be a lot of fun for families and kids on a sunny day, but one big minus with the Gellért Bath is that the outdoor pools are often closed (especially late autumn, winter and early spring). Once arriving to the Gellért Bath the entrance fee is a bit above 4000 HUF. Once the swimsuit is on women will first enter into a pool for “women-only”, and men will enter into a pool for “men-only.” These are the only pools for one-sex only, and after this all other pools are for both men and women. The Gellért Thermal Bath is open every day from 6.00 – 20.00.
Széchenyi Therml Bath:
The Széchenyi Thermal Bath was first constructed in 1913 and extended in 1927. It is made up of two thermal springs, which temperature is 74 °C and 77 °C. The building is made in Neo-baroque style and it has a total of 3 outdoor pools and 15 indoor pools. Throughout the years the building of the Széchényi Thermal Bath has turned quite dirty, but in the last 5 years a lot of improvements have been made, and it is yet again almost perfect.
In the Széchenyi bath all pools are mixed, which means that the swimming suit needs to be kept on all the time here. The entrance fee is around 3500 HUF, and you will get a normal locker to put your clothes in while swimming and enjoying yourself in the pool. It is also possible to get a cabin for some hundred forints more. The outdoor pools stay open throughout the entire year, except for a few days a year when small work needs to be done. The Széchenyi Thermal Bath is open every day from 6.00 – 22.00.
Where to go?
So far we haven’t really touched this question, as we have only been describing the different thermal baths. Below we will list some different arguments promoting either option:
Pro Gellért Bath arguments:
– Beautiful indoor hall and architecture
– Good location in the centre of Budapest, on the Buda side of the Liberty Bridge
– Great outdoor localities (when pools are open), and the wave pool is great for children
– One separate men/women pool (for someone this might be a plus)
Pro Széchenyi Bath arguments:
– Great outdoor pools throughout the entire year, one with current, jacuzzi and other fun
– A whole lot of indoor pools, and after renovation the indoor part looks nice as well
– Cheaper entrance fee, and longer opening times
– Great location in the City Park next to the circus, the zoo, the amusement park and Gundel (negative as well, as that means quite far from the centre).
– All pools are mixed, so you can be together with your loved ones all the time
– Even when a lot of people are visiting, it is never too crowded…
These were just some arguments. If you disagree or have any other arguments, feel free to write a comment in the comment field further down on the page.
If we would have to visit one thermal bath in Budapest, it would probably be the Széchenyi Thermal Bath. The outdoor pools are the major argument behind this conclusion, while the location might be the reason why we would recommend some people visiting the Gellért Bath (if the live in near the Gellért Hotel and only have little time in Budapest). In any case it is wonderful to visit these baths, but Széchenyi is in our eyes a bit better and more worth visiting than the Gellért Bath.