Ever since the Romans were here in the 2nd century, Budapest’s thermal waters have been drawing crowds. But things really got going when the Turks hit the town in the 16th century. There are over 100 natural springs in Budapest, generating over 70 million litres of thermal water a day. With 15 public thermal spas to choose from, we hope you’ve packed your swimming costume!
Dip a toe in the water with our guide to some of the best Budapest bath houses:
The spring here dates back to the 15th century and perhaps even further. The Turks loved this spring for its warm waters, and it’s still warm today. The Baths are part of the Gellert hotel but are open to non-residents. Depending on your preference, there are indoor and outdoor baths to choose from. On a sunny day we’d head outside for the waves in the outdoor pool.
Red Tour, Stop: Great Market Hall
This Bath has a long and distinguished heritage. In the 12th century, knights of the order of Saint John used the waters to cure the sick. By the late 1800s, people were coming from all over the world to take healing cures in this place. Look out for the marble tablets in the courtyard from people wishing to express their gratitude for being cured here.
Blue Tour, Stop: Margaret Island
This is one of the largest spa complexes in Europe, and was the first thermal bath constructed in Pest, with 18 pools and 10 saunas. Situated in the City Park, the baths are overlooked by an opulent neo-Baroque palace, where you can sit and enjoy the sun, and watch people take to the waters. Don’t miss the parties here on Saturday nights.
Red Tour, Stop: Heroes' Square
Built by the Ottoman Turks in the 16th century, this is one of the oldest Budapest baths. The octagonal pool lies in a magical place, with light filtering through from the dome above. Whereas many of Budapest’s other baths have been modernised and updated, this one continues to pay homage to its roots. You'll be transported through time at the traditional Kiraly.
Blue Tour, Stop: Batthyany Square/River Cruise
This bath opened back in 1930 and it still sports a distinctive art deco style, however, the facilities are very 21st century. Offering sauna access and massage services you can easily spend an entire afternoon here. If you fancy a game of chess, head straight for the wellness pool, where two chess tables are ready for bathers to begin a game. Perfect for stimulating your mind as your body rejuvenates.
Like Kiraly, Rudas Bath is one of the oldest Budapest baths. The octagonal pool sits under an ancient dome held up by 8 pillars. The bath opens late every Friday and Saturday, from 10pm to 4am, making this place perfect for a late night dip. Many bathers choose to wear aprons rather than traditional swimwear. As well as the pool, you’ll find a hamam (Turkish sauna) here, plus a warm thermal spring.
Blue Tour, Stop: Rudas Spa
VELI BEJ BATHS
The Veli Bej is in the same building as the Csaszar Hotel. There’s a large octagonal pool under a Turkish dome, along with steam baths and saunas. You can even get acquainted with the baths’ history, thanks to a special exhibit. Veli Bej has recently been renovated, bringing you the authentic Turkish experience with a modern twist.
Blue Tour, Stop: Margaret Island
DANUBIUS HEALTH SPA MARGITSZIGET
Situated on Margaret Island, the Danubius is part of a hotel health spa. Opened in 1979 as one of the first urban spa hotels in the world, it offers luxurious and inviting facilities. As well as the traditional pools and saunas there’s a salt cave, which is said to be good for the respiratory system. If you’re staying at the hotel, all the facilities are free.
Now that you’re thoroughly relaxed the only thing left to do is eat your way around this magical city. For our recommendations of places to go when hunger strikes, take a look at our list of the best places to eat in Budapest…