Far from the sea more than 600 km, Budapest is a city that loves to be immersed in water, preferably hot, indeed very hot.
The baths in Budapest are not a recent invention of hotels that want to modernize their image with the addition of a spa, but an ancient tradition that is rooted in the territory and has become a popular custom. Do as the Hungarians do: get rid of stress, fatigue, bad thoughts and even illnesses with a bath in thermal water.
Thanks to very low prices compared to others european spas, the baths of Budapest allow you to live hours of complete relaxation within magnificent buildings in neo-baroque, art nouveau or Byzantine style, moving from one pool to another, each with water at a different temperature.
Take advantage of the evening openings (in some cases even at night) to make the most of the day for museums and monuments and then recharge your batteries with a visit to the spa, delighting in thermal water pools, Turkish baths, Jacuzzis, saunas, steam baths. Or maybe playing chess immersed in hot water: you can also do this at the thermal baths of Budapest.
The evening is one of the best times to go to the spa in Budapest because the pools are cleverly illuminated and it creates a truly magical atmosphere, but the establishments are open all day and, more importantly, all year round.
In our mini-guide to the baths of Budapest you will find all the useful information: the most beautiful baths, history, practical advice. Do not forget to pack your swimsuit … even if you leave in winter!
The most sumptuous baths of Budapest are certainly the Szechenyi Baths, an elegant neo-baroque style establishment opened in the early twentieth century. It is one of the largest in Europe and includes 18 tanks and pools (indoor and outdoor) plus 5 reserved for medical care.
Immersed in the warm water you can admire beautiful buildings with creamy yellow walls adorned with colonnades, arches, stained glass windows, domes, porcelain tiles, artistic mosaics, statues of famous Hungarian sculptors: relaxation here is luxury, but the price is affordable.
Although they are very large, do not expect to have large spaces for you: the baths of Szechenyi are the most visited in Budapest and are often crowded.
Byzantine atmospheres and suggestions await you at the magnificent Rudas Baths, built during the period of Turkish domination.
The jewel of the establishment is the Turkish bath, an octagonal pool at the center of a beautiful stone room surmounted by a dome and surrounded by arches and arabesque columns.
New areas in neoclassical Art Nouveau style were added to this original Ottoman-era room in the 19th century and modern ones in more recent times.
One of the outdoor pools has a beautiful panoramic view of the Danube.
The Gellert Baths compete with Szechenyi for the title of the most beautiful baths in Budapest. They are smaller (12 baths and pools, one of which is accessible only in summer) but no less opulent, a real jewel of art nouveau architecture.
The outdoor pools are large and pleasant to enjoy the fresh air, but the pools inside are the real wonder of the establishment, embellished with majolica, stained glass, wrought iron balconies, plants, columns decorated with sculptural elements or colorful mosaics.
Built in 1918, they are part of the luxurious Gellert Hotel but have a separate entrance.
The Lukacs Baths are one of the oldest spas in Budapest and the spring water that feeds them has exceptional healing properties, yet inexplicably they are still little known to tourists.
Take advantage of this to enjoy a day at the spa with more tranquility, without the crowds of the most famous spas, and to taste the best therapeutic waters of Budapest.
If the Byzantine atmosphere of the Rudas spa has conquered you, you can have another go at the Kiraly Baths, another thermal center built by the Turks in 1565. Expanded and modernized over the centuries, they still retain their medieval charm.
They include five baths and pools plus a wooden tub in the outdoor courtyard.
Another wonderful Turkish bath of the sixteenth century hidden inside a modern building is the secret of Veli Bej spa, little known even to the inhabitants of Budapest. This spa has a maximum number of visitors per day, which guarantees that you will never find too many people.
They can not be called the most beautiful baths in Budapest, but they are still fascinating, perfect for those seeking an intimate atmosphere. They are also frequented mostly by locals and therefore recommended for those seeking amore authentic experience.
Very simple, one would even say spartan compared to the opulence of other spas and thermal centers of Budapest, the Dandar spa is suitable for those who do not like too many frills and for those who want to mix with the locals.
Also in this case, in fact, visitors are mainly inhabitants of Budapest, often regular customers or people under treatment with the national health system.
The most modern of the Budapest spas are the Paskal Thermal Baths, built in 1989 and refurbished in 2016 with the addition of a large covered area.
You can’t say that they are impressive (more than a spa, they look like a leisure complex), but there are at least two good reasons to choose them: they are also suitable for families with children and above all they are equipped with a swimming pool with an aqua bar to enjoy a drink without getting out of the water. An addition appreciated by its visitors!
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
Remember also that the Budapest Card offers free admission to the Lukacs Thermal Baths and a 20% discount on admission to the Gellért, Széchenyi and Rudas Thermal Baths.
In many establishments, children under 14 years of age are not admitted because the sulphurous waters are not recommended for their age. Even if you are allowed, avoid letting infants enter pools with thermal water at high temperatures. Green light instead to pools with water at normal temperature.
For younger children we recommend the Palatinus pools, but also the Gellert and Széchenyi spas allow children to enter. A good “aquatic” alternative is the Aquaworld, just outside Budapest and easily accessible.
Here are some useful information to enjoy your well-deserved day at the spa in Budapest:
The history of thermal baths in Budapest is very ancient. The first to discover the therapeutic properties of the waters of the area were the Celts, but as happened in many other European countries the first spas were built by the Romans.
With the Turkish invasion the long spa tradition of Budapest finds new lifeblood and is enriched with new cultural elements. Many baths were built during that period, and three have survived until today and are still open to the public (Rudas, Kiraly and Veli Bej baths).
The period of greatest splendor of the baths of Budapest, however, is during the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to which we owe the elegant establishments in neoclassical, neo-baroque and art nouveau style.
Now become a typical custom of the local population, going to the spa has become a great attraction for international tourists, giving way to a thriving tourist industry.
New establishments with contemporary architecture have been added to the historic ones, which to keep up with the times are equipped with modern facilities perfectly integrated with the beautiful original buildings.
The fame of the baths of Budapest is unparalleled in Europe, so much so that the city is called the“spa capital“. But what factors have determined this great success?
Surely the fame of the baths of Budapest is due to the long historical tradition, the incredible number of hot springs in the city or in the immediate surroundings (about a hundred) and the fact that going to the spa is part of everyday life of Hungarians.
The success of tourism, however, is mainly due to the variety of thermal baths and the competitive prices of the baths of Budapest compared to the establishments of other famous European spa towns.
City Card allow you to save on public transport and / or on the entrances to the main tourist attractions.