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Top 5 thermal baths in Budapest: relaxing in Europe's thermal spa capital

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Come enjoy thermal baths in Budapest! There is a significant number of those in the city, and they will please everyone ranging from young to older people both in summer and winter. This is so much more than an opportunity to improve your health – you can also simply unwind here, experience age-old history and learn more about a fascinating country called Hungary. IGotoWorld Team was lucky enough to visit several bathhouses of Budapest. This is, without a doubt, the best spa city and we will certainly pay it another visit. Now, let’s go through the history of the thermal baths, specific aspects concerning visits and top five bathhouses in the city.

History of thermal baths in Budapest

Budapest is considered to be the only European capital rich in real hot springs. The first one was discovered 2000 years ago. Imagine what expertise the Hungarians have built so they can effectively heal people and help them relax with the help of thermal waters! Even the citizens themselves eagerly spend their free time in many local bathhouses. Our tour guide proudly told us that he and his family also love to relax in their favorite bathhouse every month. By the way, he prefers Gellért Baths. Incidentally, the bathhouses vary here and reflect different time periods in history.

The first bathhouses were built by ancient Romans in 1st century AD. The curative effect and health benefits of hot springs were appreciated even back then. Today you can see ruins of the Roman baths in Obuda district, specifically in the Aquincum Museum. Total of 15 bathhouses from that period was found by archeologists.

Even though hot springs situated within the territory of modern Budapest were used in later years, they didn’t go through any significant development. The next important period of baths’ improvement was time during Turkish rule from 1541 till 1686. Bathing culture took hold here completely and is being supported to this day. One of the highlights from that time is considered to be Rudas Thermal Bath which is almost 500 years old now.

The fundamental research on the positive impact on human health of hot springs in Budapest began in the late 18th century. New bathing places started to appear here and there in town little by little. For instance, one of the most famous places, Gellért Baths, and its hotel was built in 1918 on the spot where old bathhouses used to be. Budapest got its honorary title “The City of Baths” in 1934. In 1937 the first International Bath Congress was held here after witch the capital of Hungary was recognized as international spa city.

Today the bathhouses are so significant and popular in Budapest that they deserve a whole sightseeing trip. There are 27 baths in the city, 13 of which are therapeutic. IGotoWorld Team will help you to choose which bathhouse to visit.

Good to know about Budapest hot springs

  • Thermal mineral waters are drilled in different places in Budapest.
  • Springs provide approximately 40 million litters of hot water and 30 million of cold water daily.
  • Water from the springs includes bicarbonate.
  • Spring water from bathhouses, such as Lukács Thermal Bath and Rudas Thermal Bath, is perfect for water therapy.
  • A great number of these fancy healthy facilities can be seen in movies which makes the bathhouses even more popular.

Tips for visiting thermal baths in Budapest

  • Every bathhouse in Budapest owns hot pools, regular pools, and saunas so any visitor can pick something they like.
  • Majority of bathhouses charge an admission fee for using the pools. Other additional spa procedures, such as massage, mud baths, and others, are meant to be paid extra for. The price list can be found at the cash desk.
  • The temperature in thermaes ranges from 16 to 42 °С.
  • There is no need to worry about the composition of water for a healthy person. However, it is recommended to consult with attending physician in order to prevent negative consequences.
  • Children under 14 are strongly discouraged from bathing in thermal water since the process can cause too much stress on the heart.
  • Curative waters are used not only for bathing – some springs provide water that you can and should drink. Again, it is better to consult your physician before drinking it.
  • If you want to visit a bathhouse, you should consider bringing a swimsuit, slippers, a towel and a swim cap. All of these things can also be rented or purchased directly at bathhouses.
  • Admission fee in bathhouses depends on amenities. If you want to use a private changing room, then the price will go up substantially. You can save some money by limiting yourself to only a locker.
  • The lockers open with a key card, that’s why you can easily take a phone, a camera or any other valuables with you.
  • Some bathhouses have single-sex days when the facilities are open either for men or women and other days which are mixed-sex.

Bathing in Budapest during winter

Those wishing to visit famous Hungarian thermae often find themselves wondering if it is appropriate to plan such an affair during the winter season? It is a common belief that water-related activities can only take place in summer. The cold season is the most appropriate time for visiting baths. It has been proven that water in thermaes contains the most optimal amount of minerals precisely in winter. Also, it will be impossible to freeze in the water where temperature ranges from 29 to 40 °С. You will have a great time bathing in warm water and having cool air flow around at the same time.

Bathhouses of Budapest have all necessary conditions designed for enjoyable recreation during wintertime.

An open-air hot pool at Széchenyi Thermal Bath in winter 2018. Photo taken by Tetiana Smirnova IGotoWorld PG.

Open-air pools. Majority of bathhouses in Budapest possess outdoor pools, and most of them are open in winter.

So, which bathhouse to choose? What to take into account and how to make the best use of curative waters in the capital of Hungary? IGotoWorld brings the Top 5 the most popular Budapest’s bathhouses to your attention.

Széchenyi Thermal Bath – the largest balneological complex in Europe

Széchenyi Thermal Bath was founded in 1913 and currently is considered to be the most visited bathhouses. In the late 20th century, it has established itself as a grand resort spa. One cannot help but notice Széchenyi’s unique architectural design. This fancy looking palace-like building with its 18 indoor and three open-air pools earned the well-deserved recognition as the greatest bathhouse in Europe. Water is received from of depths of 1246 meters; its surface temperature rises to +76 °C.

The main entrance to the bathhouse. Photo taken by Tetiana Smirnova IGotoWorld PG.

The chemical composition of water: magnesium, calcium, bicarbonate, sulfate, chloride, alkali metals, fluorine ion.

Services provided in the bathhouse: gym, saunas, aerobics classes, water gymnastics. You will need to pay extra for massage, solarium, beauty treatments and other things. There is also a well-room, where you can obtain some drinking water or peloid.

One of the indoor pools. Photo taken by Tetiana Smirnova IGotoWorld PG.

Indoor pools in Széchenyi Thermal Bath:

  • Ten therapeutic pools (the temperature ranges from 28 to 40 °C).
  • Five cooling pools (the temperature ranges from 18 to 20 °C)
  • One preparatory pool (the temperature here is 30 °C).
  • One learning pool (the temperature here is 30 °C).
  • One underwater traction pool (the temperature here is 34 °C).

Open-air pools in Széchenyi Thermal Bath:

  • One swimming pool (the temperature ranges from 26 to 28 °C).
  • One activity pool (the temperature ranges from 30 to 34 °C).
  • One thermal pool (the temperature here is 38 °C).

Open-air pools in the bathhouse. Photo taken by Tetiana Smirnova IGotoWorld PG.

Admission fee with private changing room included will cost 5700 forints if you visit the place during the daytime on any weekday, and 5900 forints on weekends or holidays.

Private changing rooms. Photo taken by Tetiana Smirnova IGotoWorld PG.

The admission fee with communal changing room included will cost 5200 forints and 5400 forints respectively on weekends and holidays.

Lockers in the communal changing room. Photo taken by Tetiana Smirnova IGotoWorld PG.

Cost of the additional services: prices for different types of massage and therapy vary from 5000 and up to 20000 forints.

The bathhouse welcomes both men and women.

Opening hours: from 6:00 till 22:00 daily throughout the entire year. Széchenyi Thermal Bath is even open during holidays. However, the visiting hours are shortened. Bathhouse also owns a snack bar where you can have a bite from 10:00 till 19:00. All the pools, including the open-air ones, function all year round.

Peak season in Széchenyi Thermal Bath: during the period between June and September the number of people visiting this place is at its highest. Other months are not as popular, although the pools can be pretty packed with people on weekends, especially in the evening, regardless of the season. You have a low chance of encountering a lot of people on weekdays from 6:00 till 12:00.

Where to find: Széchenyi Thermal Bath is located in the City Park, on Allatkerti körút, 11.

Gellért Baths – a prestigious bathhouse and hotel

The Danubius Hotel Gellért has a bathhouse situated within its territory. Local citizens highly encouraged IGotoWorld Team to visit this very place. This facility meant for hydrotherapy resembles a splendid palace designed in Art Nouveau style. In the year of 1927, a unique wave pool was built here which remains to be its main feature. It is also worth to note that some world movie stars took a fancy to the Gellért Baths. You can even find Ryan Gosling’s photoshoot on the Web made in this exact bathhouse. The exquisite interior is the reason: the pool decorated with specks of pyrogranite developed by Zsolnay manufacturer, changing rooms adorned with wooden elements, stained glass…

The main entrance to the Danubius Hotel Gellért. Photo taken by Tetiana Smirnova IGotoWorld PG.

The chemical composition of water: magnesium, calcium, bicarbonate, sodium, sulfate, chloride, fluorine ion. Water treatment is certified here.

Bath units in the Gellért Baths:

  • Four indoor therapeutic pools (water temperature ranges from 36 °C to 38 °C).
  • Two indoor underwater traction pools (water temperature here is 35 °C).
  • Two indoor immersion pools (water temperature here is 19 °C).
  • One indoor hydromassage pool (water temperature here is 27 °C).
  • One indoor sitting pool (water temperature here is 36 °C).
  • One open-air wave pool (water temperature here is 36 °C; closed during winter).
  • One open-air activity pool (water temperature here is 36 °C).

One of the indoor pools in the Gellért Baths. Photo taken by Christine und Hagen Graf.

Admission fee with private changing room included will cost 6000 forints if you visit the place during the daytime on any weekday, and 6200 forints on weekends or holidays.

Admission fee with communal changing room included will cost 5600 forints and 5800 forints respectively on weekends and holidays.

Cost of the additional services: the Gellért Baths offers a great variety of therapy and massage types as well as decorative wine baths. Visitors can find out the exact prices for everything on the spot; they range from 5000 and up to 20000 forints. Guests that live in the hotel can get some substantial discounts in the bathhouse.

Open-air pools at the Gellért Baths. Photo taken by Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose.

Bathhouse welcomes: both men and women on Sunday. However other days of the week are single-sex days. The swimming pool is open for both sexes the whole week.

Opening hours: from 6:00 to 20:00.

Peak season in the Gellért Baths: summer and holidays are the most popular times.

Where to find: the Gellért Baths is located in Buda district on Kelenhegyi út, 4.

Lukács Baths – the best healing waters in Budapest

The Lukács Thermal Bath is believed to be the most ancient bathhouse that has functioned since the Crusade era. Its hot springs are known to have the best curative water in the city. The bathhouse welcomes its visitors with thermal and swimming pools, saunas, massages and everything else.

The chemical composition of water: magnesium, calcium, bicarbonate, sulfate, chloride, fluorine ion. Water treatment is certified here.

Indoor pools in the Lukács Thermal Bath:

  • Three therapeutic pools (water temperature ranges from 32 to 40 °C).
  • Two immersion pools (water temperature here is 22 °C).
  • One Kneipp pool (water temperature here is 22 °C).
  • One sports pool (water temperature ranges from 33 to 35 °C).
  • One underwater traction pool (water temperature ranges from 33 to 35 °C).

Open-air pools at the Lukács Thermal Bath:

  • Two swimming pools (water temperature ranges from 22 to 26 °C).
  • One activity pool (water temperature ranges from 33 to 35 °C).

An open-air pool at the bathhouse. Photo taken by Christo.

Admission fee with private changing room included will cost 3900 forints if you come here during the daytime on any weekday, and 4100 forints on weekends or holidays.

Admission fee with private locker included will cost 3500 on weekdays, 3700 on weekends and holidays. Alongside the pools, the place includes a Finnish sauna, traditional sauna, Himalayan Salt Wall, steam room, sundecks.

Cost of the additional services: prices for massage range from 5000 and up to 12000 forints. Additional services also include various types of massage, mud treatment, underwater traction baths, a sauna world (offers a great deal of various sauna types) etc.

The bathhouse welcomes both men and women.

Opening hours: from 6:00 till 22:00 daily all year round. Well room is open on weekdays from 10:00 till 18:00, the sauna world – from 9:00 till 21:00 (from 14:00 on Mondays).

Peak season in The Lukács Thermal Bath: summer and holidays are the most popular times.

Where to find: Lukács Baths is located on Frankel Leó út 25-29.

Király Thermal Bath – Turkish royal resort

Király Bath (literal translation King’s Bath) is another famous old bathhouse. It survived through the time of Turkish dominion. The construction of the bathhouse began back in 1565. It is located at Buda Castle. Király Bath is pretty small and not as busy in comparison with the bathhouses mentioned earlier. There are only indoor pools, however. The Lukács Thermal Bath supplies the place with thermal water.

One of the pools in Király Thermal Bath. Source: kiralyfurdo.hu.

The chemical composition of water: magnesium, calcium, bicarbonate, sulfate, chloride, alkali metals, fluorine ion. Water treatment is certified here.

Pools in Király Bath:

  • Three therapeutic pools (water temperature ranges from 32 to 40 °C).
  • One immersion pool (water temperature here is 26 °C).

Admission fee with private changing room included will cost 2800 forints (on weekdays till 12:00).

Admission fee with private locker included will cost 2500 forints (on weekdays till 12:00).

Cost of the additional services: 6200 forints is the price of the most expensive relaxing massage. Sauna costs 6600 forints per two hours (maximum four people at once).

The bathhouse welcomes both men and women. However, the children under 14 are not allowed into thermal water.

Opening hours: from 9:00 till 21:00. The ticket office is open till 20:00.

Where to find: Király Thermal Bath is located in Buda district, on the Danube’s bank, near Margaret Island, on Fő utca, 84.

Rudas Thermal Bath – a bathhouse with the best panoramic view

Rudas Thermal Bath is a fancy bathhouse from the era of Turkish dominion. People have been coming here to improve their health for almost 500 years. Moreover, these ancient balneological thermaes are considered to be a very precious architectural and historical complex. Earlier only men were allowed to the bathhouse, but after the reconstruction, it was as accessible to women. The open-air rooftop pool offers a fascinating view of the Danube.

Rudas Thermal Bath at the foot of Gellert Hill. Photo taken by Tetiana Smirnova IGotoWorld PG.

The chemical composition of water: magnesium, calcium, bicarbonate, sodium, sulfate, chloride, fluorine ion. Water treatment is certified here.

Pools in Rudas Thermal Bath:

  • Five indoor therapeutic pools (water temperature ranges from 28 to 42 °C).
  • One indoor immersion pool (water temperature here is 16 °C).
  • One indoor swimming pool (water temperature here is 29 °C).
  • Two indoor thermal sitting pools (water temperature here is 32–36 °C).
  • One indoor Juventus (water temperature here is 42 °C).
  • One cooling pool (water temperature here is 11 °C).
  • One rooftop pool (water temperature here is 36 °C).

Rooftop pool on Rudas Thermal Bath. Source: rudasfurdo.hu.

Admission fee: for only thermal baths - 3500 forints during daytime on weekdays, 4000 forints on weekends and holidays. The combined ticket which includes both thermal and swimming pools will cost you 4200 forints and 4700 forints on weekends and holidays accordingly. Price for bathing on Friday night is 5100 forints.

Cost of the additional services: relaxing massage will cost no more than 6500 forints. 20000 forints is the amount to be paid for the most creative and expensive VIP massage in Rudas Thermal Bath which usually lasts for 70 minutes.

Bathhouse welcomes: women on Tuesdays and men on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. On weekends both men and women can visit the bathhouse.

Opening hours: the pool is open from 6:00 till 22:00. Wellness services and the saun world – from 8:00 till 22:00. Therapeutic bath – from 6:00 till 20:00. Night bathing on Friday night (both sexes allowed) – from 22:00 till 4:00 (the sauna world is already closed at this time).

Where to find: Rudas Thermal Bath is located on Döbrentei tér, 9.

Spa parties and spa festivals in Budapest

Széchenyi Thermal Bath has been organizing so-called “Sparty”, spa party, since 1994. It offers live DJ music, fire shows, dancing performances, bar cocktails and, of course, laser light show. Pool party all night long will undoubtedly bring you an unforgettable experienceы considering how good Hungarians are at having fun. It is no secret that Budapest is often called the capital of parties.

Beside Széchenyi Thermal Bath, these kinds of parties are sometimes held at Lukacs Baths, Gellért Baths, and Király Baths.

The highlight of Széchenyi Thermal Bath is, without a doubt, believed to be the Cinetrip Festival. This party that lasts from dusk till dawn is the place where you can enjoy swimming in a thermal pool, stirring live music, laser show, aerialist performances, fire shows, 3D projections and strong drinks.

Tickets for the Sparty and the Cinetrip Festival can be purchased on the website SPArty Booking. They will cost from 45 and up to 85 Euro.

When will it take place: Sparty is carried out quite often on weekends all year round. The Cinetrip Festival is held twice a year: the first time in August, the second time somewhere around New Year. Dates and prices are listed on the website, link to is given above.

Budapest is famous bot only its landmarks – people call it “the City of Baths” as well. People from all over the world come here to improve their health, unwind, have some fun at parties or just relax and spend their time off beneficially.

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