Beaches in Budapest Then and Now

The real beach is a Hungaricum with ice cream, loudspeakers, buzzing children, scones, splashing balls and deck chairs. One can find either a beach or a swimming pool, or both in almost every bigger Hungarian town, although not all of them use medical water. There are six beaches in Budapest offering medical waters.

Woo-hoo, I’m enjoying the beach so much!

For masses of Hungarians, beaches used to be a cheap way of spending summers, an indispensable part of the season and of a weekend. No Hungarian could even dream of wellness weekends and road trips to abroad.

The Swimming Pools on the River Danube

The first swimming pools were built in Pest on the river Danube by the military in the 1780-ies following the Vienna pattern. Although there were a number of baths already in Budapest, in the 19th century bathing in Danube has become increasingly popular among the less wealthy and thus these facilities were gradually opened for the common people, too. The so-called Danube swimming pool was nothing more than a frame-like contraption in the centre of which the river run through, that was the “pool”. They were tied to piers with chains and tightropes and counterbalanced the flow with anchors. Later the safety of swimmers and bathers was served by a steel basket constructed based on the design of the British engineer Adam Clark (1811-1866), which was used to immerse the whole structure into the Danube and raise it in minutes in case of emergency. Swimming has become increasingly popular and by 1852 there were already four Danube swimming pools in Pest, while in the 1910’s each spring nine such pools were set up on parts of the Danube designated by the authorities. Due to its popularity, a swimming pool like this was still in use in the 1940-ies on the territory of the newly built Palatinus Beach. The last swimming pool of this kind in Budapest was still welcoming guests during World War II on the part of the Danube right under the Parliament.

Beaches Today with Medical Water

Although the beaches nowadays offer the most up-to-date services to their customers, yet, their mood is nostalgic. There are six beaches in operation in Budapest based on medical water. These are seasonal baths open only during the summer. These are the following: Csepel Beach, Csillaghegy Beach, Palatinus Beach, Paskál Beach, Pünkösfürdő Beach and Római Beach. The outdoor pools (including adventure and wave pools) of these beaches are located in a beautiful environment and offer a relaxing diversion from the summer heat.