The Hungarian capital, Budapest, is built above natural hot springs and the city makes the most of this with its great variety of baths. The bathing culture started in Budapest back in the Roman times and was continued over a thousand years later during the Turkish occupation.
The good news is, it’s something you can still enjoy today. Whichever of the Budapest baths you choose, there are a few general etiquette guidelines to follow. For instance, you’re usually expected to shower beforehand. You can pay for a locker in a communal area or hire a cabin to get changed in private. You’ll be given a wristband that locks your locker or cabin, so you won’t have to worry about bringing money or a key around with you.
Now you know what to expect, here are five of the best baths in Budapest:
- Rudas Spa
- Gellért Baths
- Szechenyi Baths
- Kiraly Baths
- Lukacs Baths
1. Rudas Spa
Rudas Spa is a fine example of how modern facilities help enhance a historic structure. The centre of the spa was built back in the 16th century, so look out for stone archways and a dome lit in a kaleidoscope of colours as you relax in the 32°C warmth of the main pool. These waters are enriched with minerals that help reduce muscle inflammation – perfect after a tiring few days exploring Budapest!
The main pool is surrounded by six smaller pools ranging from a cool 16°C to a sweltering 42°C. You can also head into three different saunas included with your ticket or visit the outdoor rooftop pool for fine views of Elizabeth Bridge.
Rudas Spa was originally men-only but is now also open to women on Tuesdays and weekends, so be sure to plan your visit on the ideal day!
2. Gellert Baths
You’re bound to be wowed by the sheer grandeur of the Gellert Baths. Built in 1918, the main indoor pool is a sight to behold. Intricately carved columns rise high above your head up to overhanging balconies and onwards to a glass ceiling that lets in floods of natural daylight.
Each pool is an architectural marvel, whether you’re gazing at colourful mosaics, ornate statues or bubbling fountains. Of course, along with the sightseeing, the thermal waters in each pool are naturally therapeutic, containing natrium, calcium and magnesium.
3. Szechenyi Baths
Szechenyi is one of the most iconic (and most photographed) of all Budapest’s thermal baths. Built in a neo-classical style, the sprawling structure stretches across 15 indoor baths and three spacious outdoor baths. In fact, it’s the external pools that are the real draw here, as you can take in the grand columns and pastel-yellow façade of the spa.
Taking a dip in 34°C waters of the outdoor activity pool is an inviting prospect even on a frosty winter’s day! The waters of the Szechenyi Baths are sourced from one of the deepest wells of Budapest, rich in calcium, chloride and sulphates.
4. Kiraly Baths
For sightseeing while soaking, the Kiraly Baths are the ultimate choice. As you descend into the warmth of the pools (the main pool is a toasty 36°C), you’ll feel as if you’ve dipped almost 500 years back in time. That’s because the baths were first constructed by the Turks back in 1565.
Sink into the waters and look up to see the steam swirling across beams of light from the diamond-shaped windows of the dome. The dark, water-worn stone gives the baths a historic atmosphere, but you’ll still find modern innovations for showering before you get in and after you get out. Be sure to relax in the muscle-soothing sauna and skin-clearing steam room too.
5. Lukacs Baths
Lukacs is reputed to have the most therapeutic waters of all the Budapest baths. It’s certainly an experience to visit the outdoor baths in the winter, when the bracing cold air meets the natural hot springs. The bubbling whirlpools feel great for your joints and you can also join a circular current to drift around the water with ease.
Despite being one of the best baths in Budapest, surprisingly Lukacs is not very well signposted. It’s directly next to the Lukacs tram stop, but you’ll need to enter the courtyard and follow it all the way inside to the right. It’s worth the effort for the relaxing experience inside though!
Have you decided which of Budapest's thermal baths you’ll be visiting yet? Book a city break with Jet2CityBreaks for the chance to experience them all soon!
Posted: 8th Jan 2019.