Since the Bronze Age, people have been treating ailments ranging from skin conditions to nervous complaints using the natural thermal water from springs in the Budapest area. The plethora of baths in the city today also offer the simple pleasure of bathing in good hot water. Budapest baths are a great meeting spots for friends, family and businesses. Budapest baths started with the Romans’ love for hydrotherapy, but spa culture blossomed in Hungary when the country was under Ottoman control in the 16th century. Nowadays, the fifteen public spas are the biggest attractions in Budapest, attracting millions of tourist annually. Here are some of the best things to know about baths in Budapest.
Top baths in Budapest
A Turkish bathhouse built during the Ottoman era in the 1570s. Recent renovation has brought the spa back to its original grandeur and turned it into a modern facility. This Budapest bath is open for a long hours, so you can soak throughout the day. It features a large pool with four separate smaller pools at different temperatures. Its numerous services include a Jacuzzi, steam room, Finnish spa, showers, and Kneipp Walking – a therapy that involves walking barefoot in the snow, derived from the wellness philosophy of the Bavarian Sebastian Kneipp, a big advocate of hydrotherapy and one of the founders of the popular naturopathy movement. This bathhouse is one the hidden gems of Budapest, visited mostly by locals. Don’t miss the onsite exhibit of Ottoman-era archaeological artefacts.
This is a perfect destination for meeting other international visitors. The bathhouse features a magnificently tiled main pool suitable for swimming and features indoor and outdoor thermal pools. It is a beautiful Art Nouveau spa, one of the best places to go in summer, with a large open-air wave pool and shaded terraces. Gellért baths offer tourists a perfect relaxing spot in the heart of the city, with English-speaking staff and a wide range of services and facilities, such as the Thai massage and private bathing.
This is an enormous Neo-baroque spa in the heart of the main park in the city. With three outdoor pools, it is a great place to go on sunny days. A swimming cap is mandatory attire for entering main swimming pool. If you are looking to enjoy a more sedentary soak, try out the whirlpool and the hot pool where people play chess. The baths are also mixed-sex which makes it a great place for couples, and it has a rear entrance for easy access to the private cabins. This Budapest spa also hosts pool parties on Saturday nights in the summer.
This bathhouse is located in the Buda district and it is among the main Turkish hammams constructed by Ottoman ruler Sokollu Mustafa. It is also among the oldest bathhouse in Budapest, featuring an octagonal pool and a large dome. The spa features a Turkish-Hungarian fusion restaurant with a Jacuzzi and mind-blowing views of the city. There are also four new pools with architectural highlights such as glass features that light up the inside. Discover the six therapeutic pools of various sizes and temperatures. The prettiest is the Turkish octagonal pool, under a dimly-lit dome. Beside the pools are steam and dry saunas, and a comfortable area to rest after a hot bath. Following the men-only tradition of Turkish hammams, Rudas applies this restriction some days of the week. Nowadays, however, some baths are reserved for women, and there is no restriction at weekends.
This is chiefly a local attraction and does not feature the grand architectural highlights found in most of the city’s spas. Its five thermal pools are said to cure all kinds of joint and spinal problems. Be on the lookout for the marble tables, and don’t miss the chance to drink the therapeutic waters. The two courtyards each have a pool, and there is a sauna and steam room and a hydrotherapy hospital.
This is a therapeutic spa that was originally built in the 16th century, during the Ottoman era, and is among the oldest bathhouses in Budapest. The mineral-rich thermal baths are exclusive to Király. Many classical features of the Turkish bath survive. Although the Király Baths now stand in need of some repairs, the thermal waters are still in good shape and it has a wonderful aura and charm. Along with the original Turkish section, there are some Hungarian additions, including wings constructed in the Neoclassical style during the 19th century. There is a dry sauna that you can visit before soaking in the mineral waters and – for afterwards – a steam sauna in one of the two side domes.
This spa is located on Margaret island and was established in 1919. The Palatinus Baths have a special place among Budapest’s spas, being the first outdoor baths in the city. They offer the visitor a wide range of pools such as giant slides, hot baths, a wave pool, thermal baths, and saunas. The complex covers 75,000 square metres and is a great place to go during the summer with children. The outdoor baths are usually open from June to mid-September.
Lying somewhat further from the centre of Budapest, in the 9th District, the Dandár Baths have three thermal baths of different temperatures, as well as a sauna and two outdoor pools. The Dandár baths is a local attraction and is a great choice for a family visit.
The Paskál Baths are a great family-friendly summer destination in Pest. It welcomes visitors with a wide range of facilities, including nine indoor and outdoor pools and a wellness area with several saunas. There is also a restaurant and a sports area in the complex.
Tips when visiting Budapest baths
- Come with flip flops. Avoid walking around barefoot. When you are in a pool, just leave your flip flops by the side. During the summer, the outdoor dry surfaces can get very hot and you will be glad of the footwear.
- Bring a swimming cap, or buy or rent one there. It is mandatory for swimming in some pools, and you will be barked at by the lifeguard if you are not wearing one! The rule does not apply if you are only going to use the thermal baths.
- Take a water bottle with you. Sitting in the hot pools makes you extremely thirsty, so it is good to have drinking water handy. There are also water fountains for drinking the thermal water at several points throughout every spa.
- It is also a good idea to bring a bath towel with you, because many of the Budapest baths do not rent them.
- You should plan to spend some hours at the baths. For perfect relaxation in the spa, it is best to spend a couple of hours there, moving from a pool to another. You can also start exploring from the cooler side and then move to the hot pools. Some of the Budapest baths also have games you can play when you are in the water.
- You can show some skin. The baths in Budapest do not have actual changing rooms and people do change out in the open. If you prefer, however, you can get complete privacy by renting a cabin.