The baths of Budapest are a wonder to behold. The city has several nicknames, the ‘Paris of East’ or the ‘Pearl of the Danube’, but its designation as the ‘City of Spas’ is perhaps the most famous.
Budapest has held this distinct title since 1934, boasting more thermal and medicinal water springs than any other capital city in the world. The ancient city sits on a fault line, and its thermal baths are naturally fed by 120 hot springs, providing over 70 million liters of water a day.
Take a dip in one of the city’s many public baths, enjoy a unique spa experience, or stay in one of the health spa resorts and bathe your cares away.
Live the Local Culture
The thermal waters were enjoyed by the Romans as early as the 2nd century AD (ruins of which can still be seen today), but it was during the Turkish occupation of Hungary in the 16th century that the bath culture really started to flourish.
The bathing culture of the Hungarians is very lively and health-conscious: not only are water sports held in great respect, but the young and the old all enjoy the spa waters and the fun bath complexes. Aqua-therapy is part of the regular medical practice, and doctors often prescribe patients water treatments in the healing spa waters at the baths.
The layout of most of these baths is similar: a series of indoor thermal pools where temperatures range from warm to hot, steam rooms, saunas, ice-cold plunge pools and rooms for massage. Some have outdoor pools with fountains, sprays and whirlpools, and pools for swimming laps. While all have staple parts, each spa has its own unique characteristics.
Dating back to 1913, Széchenyi is the largest medicinal bath in Budapest, and one of Europe’s largest public baths boasting 18 pools, 15 of which are spring-fed thermal pools, and offers onsite food and drink as well as massage and facial care services..
Built between 1912 and 1918 in Art Nouveau style, the Gellért Baths are some of the most beautiful and elegant baths in Budapest. Its columned, Roman-style swimming pool may look familiar, as it is the most photographed spa in Hungary. The complex also has great views from its vantage point on top of Gellert Hill.
A Turkish dome and octagonal pool give the Rudas Bath the unique characteristics of a Turkish bath. Built in the 16th century, it remains one of the oldest thermal baths in Budapest. Even if you don’t like to get wet, the Rudas Bath is a must-see for its remarkable architecture and history.
One of Budapest’s smaller baths, the Király Baths is also one of its oldest. Built in the second half of the 16th century at the beginning of the Turkish occupation of Hungary, this Turkish bath sits under a traditional octagonal roof.
The beautifully restored Császár Baths houses one of the oldest Turkish baths in Budapest. The historic bathhouse, built in 1570 and originally named Veli Bej, has a traditional octagonal pool. It’s a unique place where history, beautiful architecture and tradition meet state of the art facilities.
Take a dip in the bath that remains a favorite among the locals since its opening in 1894. The courtyard of Lukács Baths is littered with marble tablets dating back to 1898, left behind to express gratitude from those who have been cured in its waters.