Shopping
6 cool semi-secret swimming-pool complexes across Budapest
Photo : Hartyányi Norbert - We Love Budapest
6 cool semi-secret swimming-pool complexes across Budapest

Paddling in pools, swimming laps, sunbathing in the shallow end, and walking on smooth sand – all of these experiences are amazing activities that are perfect for the times when you need to beat the blazing Budapest heat. Even despite this summer’s treacherous weather, the local water parks are truly popular, enticing soakers away from downtown with a wide selection of relaxing settings and wellness services. We visited a few of the city’s lesser-known local water parks, and tested their pools, slides, and snacks – of course, only for research purposes.

Pünkösdfürdői Beach – the classic Csepeli Strandfürdő – the retro Csillaghegyi Beach – the old romantic Paskál Beach – the newcomer Dagályfürdő – the homey Palatinus – the modern

Pünkösdfürdői Beach – the classic

Pünkösfürdői Beach has been operating since 1935. The most recent modernization in 2003 expanded the services with a kid’s pool (equipped with two slides) and a Finnish sauna, but in our opinion there is still more to do here. Towards the back of this family-friendly park, we find a circular sunbathing area, where guests can relax on comfortable deck chairs for free. Something we really liked at this beach is that the planted plane trees provide soothing shady shelter from the strong rays of sunshine, and there are many perfect picnic spots around the pools. There are three small buffets offering meals that cannot really be compared to the delicacies of the now-trendy street-food revolution, but on the opposite side we find Gyradiko, offering tasty Greek treats that are worth trying. Many people visit this beach from all over Budapest, so during peak days it might be a little crowded.

Entrance fee: 1,800/1,400 HUF (on weekends 1,900/1,500 HUF)
Number of pools: 3
Shady spots: 4/5
Restrooms: 3/5
Service: 2/5 + Gyradiko
Green areas: 4/5
Condition: tidy, needs some renovations
Extra amenities: body-weight fitness park, sandpit, Finnish sauna big enough for 25 people

Pünkösdfürdő Bath

Csepeli Strandfürdő – the retro

This beach is a bit out of the way from downtown, but this just makes it a lot less busy, and a suitable choice for those who would like to enjoy a wide selection of services without having to handle crazy crowds. There are many enjoyable services that Csepeli Strandfürdő has to hold: a fun pool with splash pads and rapids (the water is too deep for kids to stand up!), a swimming pool, a 35-degree-Celsius thermal pool, and a kid’s pool all entertain visitors. In addition to these services, there are three slides that are in good condition. It is easy to find shady shelters here, as there are many trees around. If you get hungry, you can have a snack at the beach’s buffet, but do not expect a hearty meal here; however, their selection includes a sligthly strange ketchup-sausage lángos (890 HUF). There are two restrooms at the park; a suspicious-looking retro relic operates in wooden cabins near the pools, but towards the back there is a renovated restroom that we recommend over the other one. This complex is mostly frequented by the residents of the area, and it’s not a secret that this place truly tries to please their needs. 

Entrance fee: 1,600/1,700 HUF; sauna 500 HUF/day (does not operate on the weekends)
Number of pools: 3
Shady spots: 3/5
Restroom: 2/5
Service: 2/5
Green areas: 3/5
Condition: needs renovation
Extra amenities: WiFi, kid’s camps

Csepel Bath

Csillaghegyi Beach – the old romantic

Csillaghegyi Bath is truly beloved in Budapest; this is the biggest pool complex in Buda, and the oldest one in town. This place is made unique by its cleanness and its special scenery. The services here are not the most modern, but everything functions just fine, and the atmosphere is pleasant. Guests here can enjoy a 33-meter-long swimming pool that awaits swimmers throughout the whole year, a 783-square-meter diving pool, and a kid’s pool. The green area is a 90,468-square-meter park, where nature grows so wild, barren, and beautiful, that it is an ideal spot for even a first date. Besides the swimming services, guests can enjoy a Finnish sauna (accommodates 15 people) and an infrared sauna (accommodates two people), which can both be used for free with the entrance ticket; furthermore, there are also different massage options available between 2,000-4,000 forints. The retro, spaceship-like changing rooms further enhance the sweet ’70s style that still lingers here. Just like at most Budapest beaches, the buffet does not offer a special culinary experience, but besides the regular beach snacks, they also make waffles, which is almost as popular among paddlers as a can of beer.

Entrance fee: 1,000 HUF (changing room included) +500 HUF for cabin use 
Number of pools: 3
Shady spots: 4/5
Restroom: 4/5
Service: 3/5
Green areas: 5/5
Condition: good
Extra amenities: sauna, massage, swimming-suit rental, free parking

Csillaghegyi Bath

Paskál Beach – the newcomer

Paskál is Budapest’s youngest beach. A 1,735-meter-deep well bored in 1965 enabled the construction of this beach that opened in 1989. Paskál is now truly popular, even though it’s found a long way from downtown, in the Zugló district. Its popularity is mostly due to its size, as there are nine pools altogether here, including a swimming pool, a thermal-water pool, a diving pool, a pool for beginners, and a kid’s pool. Unfortunately, these are all found amid a big concrete jungle, and there are also too many adults chilling in the kid’s pool. The beach was expanded with a new covered unit this year, where they installed a fun pool that stretches from the inside to the outside, and is enhanced with a water bar, saunas, a wellness area, and a special geothermal sauna. To highlight one specialty, we can mention their fried fish, but be cautious with your order, as we wanted to try the small version, (300 HUF/10 dkg) and we got half a kilogram instead, and had to pay almost 2,000 HUF with our drink. Paskál is immensely popular among the residents of the area, so it can sometimes be a little too crowded for swimming. On busy days it might be difficult to find a shady spot, which is a bit annoying around midday.

Entrance fee: 2,000/1,600 HUF (in the weekend: 2,200/1,800 HUF)
Number of pools: 9
Shady spots: 2/5
Restroom: 2/5
Service: 2/5
Green areas: 3/5
Condition: tidy, well-maintained
Extra amenities: open-air fitness, sauna, sport yards, steam room

Paskál Bath

Dagályfürdő – the homey

As the 2017 World Aquatics Championship will be held in Hungary, the construction works around Dagályfürdő make it really easy to spot. Luckily the refurbishments only partially affect Dagály, so guests can still paddle carefree in the pools throughout the summer. There are eight pools altogether here; a 25-meter-long and a 50-meter-long swimming pool, thermal-water pools, and a fun pool in the summer season with rapids, bubbles, a whirlpool, splash pads, and massage bubbles. Dagály is a true veteran in Budapest, as it opened in 1948 and was expanded in 1956 with the 50-meter-long pool. In our opinion, Dagály is one of the most atmospheric pool complexes in Budapest; the proportion of concrete-covered bits and natural green oases is just perfect, although at some spots the grass is a little worn-out, which – we think – will be refreshed during the renovation works. Due to the construction works, even the immediate environment of Dagály has changed: the roads are being renovated, more parks will be installed on the nearby streets, and CCTV will soon be added.

Entrance fee: 2,000/1,700 HUF (in the weekend: 2,400/1,700 HUF)
Number of pools: 8
Shady spots: 3/5
Restroom: 3/5
Service: 3/5
Green areas: 3/5
Condition: tidy, under partial renovation
Extra amenities: tutoring, spa services, street ball field, outdoor fitness, solarium, sauna, steam cabin

Palatinus – the modern

We can certainly state that Palatinus is the most popular and most frequented beach in Budapest, for one simple reason: it is found at a perfect place, in the very center of the city on its legendary parkland isle. Naturally, the services aim at keeping up with the crowds, and there is a wide range of wellness activities offered at Palatinus. Amid the charming atmosphere of Margaret Island, we find a total of eight pools (e.g. kid’s pool, swimming pool, fun pool, slide pool, and wave pool), so everyone can surely find something to do here. Our favorite is the multimedia slide, where we can listen to music while we rapidly sliding down into the water. Ever since opening in 1921, they have constantly kept renovating Palatinus bit by bit, which resulted in a truly high-quality water park that keeps up with Western standards – the wristband that guests get upon entry even measures the time spent inside. The food assortment is also very varied, stretching from the selection of different buffets, through ice creams, cocktails, burgers, oranges, sweet corn, pancakes, hot dogs, cotton candy, and Belgian waffles.

Entrance fee: 2,800/2,100 HUF (in the weekend: 3,200/2,100 HUF)
Number of pools: 8
Shady spots: 4/5
Restroom: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Green areas: 5/5
Condition: modern, tidy
Extra amenities: foot tennis, ATM, slide park, safes