Budapest is famous for being one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with the Danube River running down the centre of the city to which you can take a moonlit boat ride to view the magnificent neo-gothic Parliament Building, and visit the beautiful terrace sitting on Castle Hill It’s no wonder why travellers flock here by the thousands every year.
Budapest isn't called the 'City of Baths' for no reason, as one of the most popular tourist destinations among young people of drinking age is partying in Budapests’ thermals baths, more commonly known as ‘Sparty’. Every Saturday hoards of Australians, New Zealanders, and remaining available ticket holders scattered among Europeans and the rest of the world flock to the thermal baths in the hopes of drinking and not drowning.
Sparty is basically clubbing mixed with swimming (or lack thereof). Laser beams painting the venue with psychedelic colours, music from the trip hop, EDM and funk genre, alcohol ranging from beers to deadly cocktail concoctions and large geothermal heated pools to top off the experience. Sparty runs most Saturdays (with some exceptions) from 10:30pm to 3am and tickets range from €45 to €75 per person, with a variety of tickets including lockers and drink vouchers.
The party is at different locations depending on the season:
Autumn/Winter - Lukacs Baths
Spring - Lukacs Baths, but if weather is kind then it will be held in Szechenyi Baths.
Summer - Szechenyi Baths
Just because I’m writing an article on ‘How to Survive Sparty’, does not necessarily mean I survived it myself. The last clear memory I have is joyfully swimming around the pool to all my friends forcing them to take a swig from my tall sippy cup of long island ice tea, the next three hours are scattered memories of what I can only describe as one of those quick fire scenes in movies where an actor appears to be drowning in a body of water.
I was on my Eastern Road Contiki when myself and half of our Contiki group decided to experience the 105 year old pool which was the Szechenyi Spa Baths. - Yeap, these pools have been around for longer than I can list my family tree, and here we are destroying the once serene environment with our hippity-hop music and our bippity-bop behaviour.
We got there dead on 10:30pm which meant we had a pretty decent look around the baths before planting ourselves in one of the pools but as close to the nearest alcohol outlets as possible. During summer there are 3 outdoor Szechenyi baths which you can party in, which include 2 warm pools and one cooler pool. There is a whirlpool which you can get lost in if you choose, plenty of statues to gawk at, underwater jets to achieve the perfect back massage…and that’s really all I can remember about the baths themselves. I blame the long island ice tea given to me by a lovely Norwegian man, no my drink was not spiked, I just made some poor life choices.
After waking up at 11am the next morning and still in my bikini, being told that I was carried to bed by one of my amazing roomies, and having heard stories the next morning of absolutely caking it on the wet tiles and miraculously not breaking a tail bone or skull cap, and then having around 4 or 5 people holding my hair and rubbing my back while i stuck my head down and as close to nature as possible, I came to the possible conclusion that I had a bloody great night and I would do it all over again (maybe without excess alcohol).
What to Wear to Sparty
A swimsuit, obviously. Preferably not a white or light coloured one as you risk having it turn yellow from vodka infused chlorine pool water. As this is a party environment; dental floss-esque styled bikinis are not turned away for Sparty, but if you decide to head to the baths during the day then family appropriate swimwear is required. Nudity is not allowed... this isn't one of those parties.
Behaviour at Sparty
You are partying in historic baths which the oldest, Lukacs Baths, dates back to the 16th century. So be respectful of the venue and people around you; no touching or groping anyone of any sort, that behaviour is not tolerated.
I will advise you that there is no jumping into the pools and definitely no shoulder rides, you may risk getting kicked out. And yes the security are also wearing water appropriate attire so don’t think you can ‘swim away’ from them. They’re Hungarian, they will find you.
18 years old and up allowed only. There is no maximum age but majority of party swimmers are 20-40 years old.
My Top Tip for Sparty
Don't aim to get drunk (...again, looking at the Ozzies and us Kiwis), Sparty is a great time whether sober or not, I unfortunately made the mistake of drinking a long island ice tea after two other cocktails, usually this wouldn't be enough to bring my back smashing to the tile floor, but as the pools are quite warm you tend to dehydrate faster which would subsequently make the alcohol more potent. (I believe) There are free water stations around the pools where you can top up with water, so don't be like me and drink water!
For more information and ticket purchases head to their website
If partying in thermal spa pools ain’t really your thing, then you can visit the baths during the day like a sane person. Budapest baths have a lot more to offer than booze hags imitating drowned rats. Szechenyi Bath holds 18 pools where you can also get a massage, heat up in the saunas, work out in the gym, relax by the pools with a compliment of beer or wine, and you can taste the natural waters that supply the pools from over 1000 meters below the surface.
All in all I had an amazing time at the Budapest baths; the music was great, the water temperature was perfect and the baths themselves were beautiful. It's a well run event with security quickly onto anyone who doesn't play by the rules and there are no long queues for drinks. There are plenty of lockers to store your belonings and changing rooms are clean. I would definitely visit again, but maybe this time I would do it at a more reasonable hour and experience everything that the baths have to offer.
If the phrase "European Parties" gets your spine tingling, then check out my post on Tomorrowland; one of the most famous and largest music festivals in the world.