My Travels, Postcards From Hungary

Bucket List Budapest: A Guide to Thermal Baths

If you are looking for some fun, relaxation, and a way to (literally) soak up a bit of Hungarian culture, a trip to one of Budapest’s many thermal bathhouses is a must. Budapest is home to over 100 thermal springs, which have been used for their healing waters since Ancient Rome. While no operational Roman baths exist today, there are plenty unique and interesting bath houses available for use today. Heading to the baths was one of my favorite activities I did in Budapest, here is some helpful information to read before you go.

Choosing a Bath

To select the best option for you, head to the Budapest Baths website. There you can find pricing, hours, and information on the vibe of each bath house. While I only visited one bath during this trip to Budapest, here are the ones I’m dying to head to!

Rudas Baths -Constructed in the 16th century, this Turkish bath house featuring a traditional octagonal pool is one of the oldest in Budapest.

Screen shot 2015-12-30 at 3.24.10 PM

The octagonal shape of the pool is a feature of traditional Turkish bath houses. Image: Baths Budapest

Gellért Baths– This ornately decorated Art Nouveau bath house was built in 1918 and houses houses 10 different pools of various temperatures and even has an outdoor wave pool. Though the entrance fee is more expensive than some of the other baths, it is generally not as crowded and the structure is stunning. 

The Art Nouveau decor will transport you back in time. Image: Baths Budapest

Széchenyi Baths – I chose to head to the Széchenyi Baths, one of the most popular baths in Budapest due to its massive size (the complex has 3 large outdoor pools, for a total of 18) and beautiful Neo Baroque architecture. The bath house is also well known around tourists for its bath parties, where the structure remains open late at night and transforms into an club like spa.

Thermal Bath. Budapest, Hungary.

Pro tip: head to the baths about an hour before sunset so you can experience them during the day and at night.

Before You Go

Make sure to check that the baths you want to go to are open for your gender (and the gender of those in your group) during the time you wish to visit! Many traditional baths have men only and women only time slots.

Thermal Baths. Budapest, Hungary.

I loved how the yellow of the building looked against the blue sky backdrop and blue pools.

What To Bring

  • Money (Entrance to Széchenyi costs about 16 Euro, and is discounted if you purchase a Budapest Pass)
  • Swimsuit
  • Flip Flops
  • Towel
  • Hairbrush, makeup, deodorant or anything you may need to freshen up with afterwards
Thermal Baths. Budapest, Hungary.

The baths take on a different character at night. The steam shows just how nice the water is compared to the air temperature.

How It Works

At the Széchenyi Baths you are given a wristband which also serves as the key to your locker. DO NOT lose this, as you will have to pay to replace it! There are locker rooms, changing areas, and bathrooms perfect for getting ready. There are hair dryers provided as well. They wont get your hair completely dry, but they do the trick! I recommend bringing your towel around with you and leaving it by the pools while you are relaxing. When you are ready, make your way to the baths and take the plunge!

Budapest-Bath-Party-Szechenyi-Atmosphere

The bath parties are almost like a club, complete with lights and music. Image: Budapest Baths

The Baths

The outdoor baths are perfect in the winter for staying warm, even though it is cold outside! The three main pools are of different temperatures. A common sight in the warmest pool are groups of locals playing a game of chess while enjoying the baths. The cooler pool is the perfect place to do a few laps. If you are looking for some fun, a warm pool with a whirlpool at the center and massaging jets is a great place to hang out.

Thermal Baths. Budapest, Hungary.

A shot of the slightly cooler lap pool.

The Spa

Once you are all pruny and ready to dry off, step into the sauna or treat yourself and take advantage of some of the bath house’s spa amenities, like a massage.

Is Budapest on your bucket list? Which baths would you head to?

Budapest baths graphic

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2 Comment

  1. Reply
    Jesper, The Biveros Effect
    January 7, 2016 at 9:32 pm

    Thank you Catalina for the guide, the thermal baths sure is a must once visiting Budapest. 🙂

    1. Reply
      Catalina
      March 7, 2016 at 5:36 pm

      Jesper,

      Glad you found it useful! The thermal baths certainly are a must for Budapest and are one of my favorite sights in the city.

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