I tried the 4 Best Thermal Baths Budapest (2023)
Looking for the best thermal baths Budapest has to offer? I got you covered, I tried the 4 best and found my favourite
Budapest is known for its many natural hot springs. So, when you visit this beautiful city, a trip to one of its numerous thermal baths is an absolute must-do on your itinerary. The therapeutic waters, rich in minerals, are known to soothe aching muscles, rejuvenate tired skin, and provide much-needed relaxation during your travels. Simply put it’s the perfect way to relax after exploring the city. And the entrance fees are more manageable considering all other top sights in Budapest are free.
I spent 2 weeks in Budapest in 2023 and managed to visit 4 of the best thermal baths Budapest has to offer. And even though all of them have their own charm, I found my personal favourite: Rudas Bath.
To help you choose the perfect thermal bath experience for you, I’m gonna talk about the pros and cons of each one and explain why Rudas Bath is my favourite. With their alluring architecture, enjoyable amenities, and curative waters, these baths will provide an unforgettable experience during your visit to this enchanting city.
Tips for visiting the thermal baths
Before we take a look at the best thermal baths Budapest has to offer, I’m gonna quickly talk about helpful tips about visiting the thermal baths which apply to all Budapest baths I went to.
What to Bring
When visiting a thermal bath in Budapest, it’s essential to bring a few necessary items with you. These include:
- A towel, non of the thermal baths have a rental service but you can buy towels there.
- Flip flops, as they’re mandatory to wear.
- A swimsuit, all thermal baths require appropriate swimwear.
- Swim cap, if you want to swim in the lap pools.
- Money, all thermal baths take a card or Forint cash.
- Anything else you might need, like suntan lotion in summer, a book and so on.
Admission and Ticket Info
Admission prices for thermal baths vary depending on the spa you visit and on the day of the week, you visit. Tickets during the week are in general cheaper than weekend tickets.
The cheapest ticket you can get is at Lukács Baths during the week with 4,400 Forint (about €12). And the most expensive ticket at Rudas Baths at the weekends for 12,200 Forint (about €32). But it’s best to check the prices again online before your visit to a thermal bath since they can always change.
In some cases, you can find package deals that include additional services, such as massages or access to additional pools. It’s a good idea to check online for the latest pricing and possible discounts.
You can buy your tickets on the day at the thermal bath or buy them online on the webpage of each thermal bath.
During the evenings on weekends, some thermal baths host “sparties” (spa parties) with DJs and unique light shows, but these events often have separate, higher ticket prices.
All of the best thermal baths in Budapest, offer free lockers for visitors. You get a watch at the entrance with which you can access the baths and with which you can use a locker.
Depending on how busy it is on the day of your visit, the most difficult part is finding a free locker in the locker rooms. Once you found a free locker and put your stuff inside, simply hold your watch to the locking mechanism and turn it. To open the locker just put the watch to the locking mechanism again and turn the small lever to open.
In case you forgot your locker number, don’t worry, you can find small computers on the wall and when you hold the watch in front of them they display your locker number.
Etiquette and Regulations
Thermal baths have certain rules and guidelines you should follow to ensure a pleasant experience for everyone:
- Wear appropriate swimwear: All thermal baths require that you wear a swimsuit or trunks.
- Shower before entering the pools: This is both a hygiene measure and a common courtesy.
- Some baths are gender-specific, while others are mixed. Check before you go to ensure you’re comfortable with the setup.
- Nudity is generally not allowed in public thermal baths.
- In lap pools, you have to wear a swim cap. You should also be mindful of others and share space when needed.
What to Expect at a Thermal Bath
When visiting a thermal bath in Budapest, you can expect to experience the healing properties of the mineral-rich water. The thermal waters contain various minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and sodium, which are known to help improve skin conditions, soothe muscles, and provide relief from arthritis and other joint issues. These baths, like the popular Gellért Thermal Bath, also offer water with hydrogen carbonate and metaboric acid, contributing to the overall healing experience.
Hungarians don’t just enjoy the healing properties of the water by soaking in the thermal spas, they also drink it. At the drinking hall which is usually next to every thermal bath, you can buy thermal water for drinking. But to be honest, it’s a very acquired taste. I tried the thermal water from a drinking fountain at Lukács Bath and it’s very warm and tastes like metal.
Types of Pools and Baths
In a typical thermal bath, you’ll find a variety of pools and baths with different temperatures to suit your preference. For instance, you may come across pools with a water temperature ranging from 36°C to 42°C for a warmer soak, while other pools offer a colder plunge at around 16°C to 28°C.
Saunas and Steam Rooms
Aside from the healing water pools, Budapest’s thermal baths also provide saunas and steam rooms for you to enjoy. Many thermal spas have both saunas and steam rooms in different temperatures, so you can find the one you like best.
These facilities help detoxify your body, improve circulation, and aid in relaxation. Make sure to take breaks in-between sessions to ensure you don’t overheat and keep yourself adequately hydrated.
Massages and Wellness Services
Many of the best thermal baths Budapest has to offer provide additional wellness services to enhance your experience. Massage services are available in most baths, ranging from deep-tissue to relaxing aromatherapy options. Other wellness services may include facials, body scrubs, and various beauty treatments. If you want to get a massage or beauty treatment, make sure to inquire about these offerings upon arrival.
In case you don’t want to get a massage at the thermal spas, you can always get a massage at the many Thai massage places in Budapest. I tried out four different Thai massage parlours and found my favourite there as well.
The 4 best thermal baths Budapest has to offer
Budapest is known for its thermal baths, and visiting them is an experience you shouldn’t miss. In this section, I’m finally gonna talk about the best thermal baths Budapest has to offer which I visited. Those are not the only thermal baths but after researching online those are the best ones which are open year-round.
In my research to find the best thermal baths Budapest has to offer I read a lot about Király baths. Which sounds and looks amazing but in 2023 when I visited Budapest, Király Baths was permanently closed. That’s why I didn’t include it in this list.
Three out of the four best thermal baths Budapest has to offer are on the Buda side of the city. That’s to the west of the Danube River where the Buda castle is located.
Remember to bring your own towel, flip flops and swimwear. Embrace the relaxing and soothing atmosphere, and enjoy your time at Budapest’s famous thermal baths.
Széchenyi Thermal Baths is one of the largest medicinal pools in Europe, and its stunning architecture makes it one of the most Instagrammable spots in Budapest. With 18 indoor and outdoor pools with various temperatures, it’s also the biggest thermal bath in Budapest.
Széchenyi Baths is the only thermal bath out of the best thermal baths Budapest has which is located on the Pest side of the city. It’s located in the City Park, which is a beautiful big park in Budapest. Visiting the City Park should be on everyone’s to-do list for Budapest so many visitors combine a visit to the park with a visit to the Szechenyi Baths.
Sounds amazing, right? Well, it sounds amazing to a lot of people that’s why it’s the most visited thermal bath in Budapest. And that’s already the downside when I visited it was completely crowded. There were no free sun lounges anywhere and also the outdoor pool was overflowing with people. The only pool with not so many people in it was the outdoor swimming pool but I don’t really fancy swimming lines when I’m in a thermal spa. To be fair, I did visit on a bank holiday but what I’ve seen from other pictures it always looks very full.
The Rudas Baths are a mix of traditional Turkish and modern designs. This bathhouse has several indoor pools, including the famous octagonal pool in the Turkish bath section, as well as a rooftop pool that offers a beautiful panoramic view of the city. It’s one of the best thermal baths Budapest has to offer and my personal favourite.
The rooftop hot pool looked a bit worn down when I visited but a renovation was already scheduled for a week later. So, I’m sure when you visit it’s gonna be all new and shiny. And the view from the rooftop is simply amazing. Soaking in warm thermal water and at the same time enjoying the view of Budapest and the Danube River is one of the best things to do in Budapest.
The Turkish bath in Rudas Bath features a stunning 10-meter diameter dome supported by eight pillars. The pool directly underneath the dome is surrounded by four smaller pools ranging from 28°C to 42°C and off to the side are some steam rooms.
Make sure you can visit the Turkish bath before going to Rudas Baths because it’s the highlight of any visit. They have some women’s only days, some men’s only days and some mixed days. Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to take pictures at the Turkish bath but believe me it looks like you’re bathing in a traditional bath from the Ottoman empire.
The only downside of Rudas Baths is that it can be confusing to navigate. I had some trouble finding my way through the baths.
Close to the Rudas Baths, there’s also the Rudas Drinking Hall where you can get some thermal water for drinking. Make sure to bring an empty bottle with you to take some of the sulfurous water for consumption with you, which is said to have health benefits.
The Lukács Baths might be less touristy than the previous ones, but it’s nonetheless one of the best thermal baths Budapest has to offer.
With a history dating back to Roman times, these baths offer both indoor and outdoor pools, as well as thermal water fountains for consumption both in the Drinking Hall in front of the thermal baths and inside the baths. Located close to Margaret Island, the surrounding park area is a great place to take a walk and enjoy some fresh air after your visit to the baths.
Lukács Baths have three big outdoor pools, two of which are just for swimming lanes. The third outdoor pool is for relaxation with a whirlpool in the middle of the pool. But to be completely honest this pool was too cold for me to relax in. It felt nice and warm when I first entered it but then soon after it didn’t feel warm enough.
The indoor thermal bath area features multiple smaller pools with different water temperatures. It looks very cute and tucked away in smaller rooms with open archways in between. Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to take pictures of the thermal spa area. The warmest pool has 42°C and there’s a special fountain with drinking thermal water which flows into the pool. So you can try fresh thermal water while you soak in thermal water.
The Gellért Baths are famous for their art nouveau style, complete with stained-glass windows, colourful porcelain tiles, and Roman-style columns. Architecture wise Gellert Baths are definitely the best thermal baths Budapest has to offer. Even if you don’t want to go there for soaking in thermal water just entering the building and marvelling at the entrance hall is worth it.
Gellert Baths boast a variety of pools, including an outdoor wave pool. The wave pool was not turned on when I visited but to be honest the water would have been too cold anyway for me. When I go to a thermal bath I want to soak in really warm water.
The most beautiful indoor pool is the pool for swimming lanes. It’s surrounded by beautiful columns and a retractable roof. Since this pool is for swimming lanes the water is rather cold and you’re only allowed in with a swim cap.
I think usually they have a separate women’s and men’s side of the thermal bath area but when I visited both were mixed. The layout of both are exactly the same just on opposite sides of the sports pool. There are two thermal pools facing each and two saunas with different temperatures.
My favourite thermal bath in Budapest
My favourite one out of the best thermal baths Budapest has to offer was Rudas Baths. I absolutely loved it there and could have easily spent hours and hours there.
The reasons why I think Rudas Baths is the best of the best thermal baths Budapest has to offer:
- Way fewer people than in Széchenyi Thermal Baths
- Hot tub on the rooftop terrace with a great view
- Best Turkish bath with steam rooms and smaller pools with different water temperatures
- Very hot water, the hottest pool is 42°C
- Very nice and big sauna area
The History of Thermal Baths
Budapest, often called the “City of Baths,” is famous for its thermal baths. Rich in minerals and therapeutic properties, these baths have been a part of the city’s culture since Roman times. As you immerse yourself in the warm waters, imagine the ancient Romans enjoying the same benefits over 2,000 years ago.
During the Ottoman rule in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Turks built many baths in Budapest, some of which still exist today. These baths, with their characteristic domes and octagonal pools, reflect a unique blend of Roman and Ottoman architecture. By visiting these historic baths, you can appreciate the long-standing tradition of bathing in Budapest.
Unique Thermal Bath Experiences
Budapest is famous for its thermal baths, offering a variety of experiences to help you relax, rejuvenate, and soak in the city’s rich history. In this section, we’ll explore some very unique thermal bath experiences that you can enjoy during your visit to the best thermal baths Budapest has to offer.
Sparties at Széchenyi
One of the most popular thermal baths in Budapest is Széchenyi. This sprawling complex features numerous pools, both indoor and outdoor, as well as a unique party atmosphere. On certain nights, Széchenyi hosts so-called “sparties,” or spa parties, where you can enjoy live music, DJs, and a lively atmosphere while soaking in the healing waters.
I didn’t attend any sparties myself because for hygiene reasons a lot of drunk people in a pool don’t appeal to me. But it’s definitely one of the unique things you can do in Budapest.
Beer Spa in Budapest
For a truly unique experience, why not try a beer spa? Yes, you read that right—a spa where you can soak in a tub infused with beer ingredients. While enjoying the warm jacuzzi, you can also sip on unlimited beer from your very own tap. This one-of-a-kind experience can help reduce stress and promote relaxation while offering something different from the traditional thermal bath.
Art Nouveau Architecture Tour
Budapest’s thermal baths are not only known for their healing waters but also for their stunning architecture. The Gellért Baths is a prime example of Art Nouveau architecture, featuring stained-glass windows and colorful porcelain tiles adorning the walls. As you soak in the relaxing pools, take time to appreciate the intricate details and design elements that contribute to the unique atmosphere of this historic spa.
Benefits and Therapeutic Effects of Thermal Baths
Budapest is famous for its thermal baths, which offer numerous health benefits and therapeutic effects. In this section, we will explore the effects of thermal baths on muscle pain relief, arthritis treatment, and improved blood circulation.
Muscle Pain Relief
During your visit to a thermal bath, you’ll be able to soak in mineral-rich waters that can help alleviate muscle pain. Warm water relaxes muscles and increases blood flow, promoting healing in sore or injured areas. So, whether you’ve had an intense workout or simply need a break from everyday stress, a thermal bath can provide effective relief and help you feel renewed.
If you suffer from arthritis, Budapest’s thermal baths may offer a natural remedy to help manage your symptoms. The warmth of the water eases joint stiffness, while the mineral content of the water, such as sulfur, can have positive effects on arthritis when absorbed through the skin. These baths can also complement other arthritis treatments, making them a valuable addition to your wellness regimen.
Improved Blood Circulation
Another therapeutic effect of thermal baths is the improvement of blood circulation. The warmth of the water encourages blood vessels to expand, which allows better oxygen and nutrient delivery to cells and tissues throughout your body. This in turn promotes overall wellness and better organ function, giving you a revitalized and invigorated feeling.
FAQ about the best thermal baths Budapest has to offer
Are Budapest thermal baths worth it?
Yes, the thermal baths in Budapest are worth visiting. Budapest is called the city of baths and it’s an amazing experience to soak in some hot thermal water in the middle of this beautiful city.
What is the most famous thermal bath in Hungary?
The most famous thermal bath in Hungary is Szechenyi Thermal Bath. It’s the biggest and most visited thermal bath in Budapest and one of the biggest thermal baths in Europe.
What is the main thermal bath in Budapest?
The biggest and most popular thermal bath in Budapest is the Szechenyi Thermal Bath. It has 18 indoor and outdoor pools and is located in the middle of the City Park.
How long to spend at Szechenyi Thermal Baths?
The time you want to spend at Szechenyi Thermal Baths depends in my opinion on whether you manage to get a sun lounge. Without a sun lounge to properly relax one to two hours is enough time. But when you have a sun lounge and a book to read you can easily spend more time there.
Do you wear clothes in Budapest baths?
You have to wear appropriate swim wear at all the best thermal baths Budapest has to offer. This means a bikini or bathing suit for women and trunks for men.
Do the thermal baths in Budapest smell?
Even though the thermal water in Budapest contains sulfur the thermal baths do not smell bad.