One of the things Hungary is most known for is its thermal baths, which shouldn’t be surprising! There are over 1000 hot springs in Hungary. In Budapest alone, there are 123. So, get ready for a thermal bath tour of some of the best ones in Budapest!
To start, let me tell you a bit of history. A thermal bath is a place with natural hot water. Usually, these waters are believed to have natural healing qualities. Thermal baths are also referred to as spas. The hot waters come from hot springs and are usually of a high temperature, though many thermal baths also have cold water pools.
Back in the day, one of the reasons why the Romans invaded this city was for the hot springs in the north of Buda. They built some thermal baths there that you can still see part of the ruins to this day. Later, when the Turkish came, they also made new baths. These had both entertainment and medical purposes.
In 1934, Budapest was officially named “the city of spas”. They are not only beautiful on the inside, but offer you great views of some of Budapest's gems.
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Using the map of Budapest, you can explore all the thermal baths.
Starting on the Pest side of the city, we have the main European tourist attraction in town: Szhéneyi thermal baths. They are located in the city park, Varosliget. This is a beautiful park where you can also go for a pleasant walk, picnic, or just relax before or after your time in the baths.
Szhéneyi is the biggest thermal bath not only in Budapest and Hungary, but in all of Europe. It is the place where all Hungarians and tourists go, irrespective of the season.
Its construction started in 1909, though it had been planned since 1880. Finally, it opened its doors in 1913. A Hungarian politician, István Széchenyi, gave its name.
In 1960, they remodelled and expanded the baths, making them the size they are today. There are different kinds of pools, from cold ones to hot ones. The temperatures range from 10°C to 40°C, and there's also a medicinal therapy centre. Guests can also go to the saunas, with some even including aromatherapy.
There's something different about these thermal baths, which will grab your attention: individuals play chess on the outside of the pools. Many older adults head to these baths for healing therapy and to get together with friends to have a game.
If you like to do activities at night, like partying and hanging out in a pool, this is also possible here. Széchenyi is one of the most well-known baths in Budapest for its night parties.
In 1994, Széchenyi baths started hosting parties. Every Saturday, groups of friends would gather in the baths to listen to their favourite music, which was electronic music. Today, these parties are GIGANTIC. People from all over the world come here to experience them and have a great time.
They take place from February to December, including a party for New Year's Eve. So if you happen to be here around that time and don't have any plans, or want something cool to do, then you know where to go.
They put on a variety of electronic music, have light shows, bubble bath shows and more.
If you're in Budapest in summer or winter - actually the season doesn't really matter - but if you love a good beer, then you might also want to come here for a BEER BATH.
There are tubs with a capacity for two people filled with beer, and you can also drink as much beer as you want during the 45 minutes. Don't worry; you won't be drinking beer from the bathtubs. There are taps where the beer comes from, of course!
One of the benefits of these baths is the vitamin B in the beer and oils, which is all-natural for the body. The beer that they serve is an original Czech beer with 4% alcohol.
In total, there are six baths, each for a pair of two individuals. If you'd like to go with a bigger group, you can fit up to as many as 12 people, or six couples, at the same time.
For this experience, you will need to purchase an extra ticket, but it'll be worth it!
Crossing the river and moving to the Buda side, we have one of the biggest and most famous thermal baths in the city. Gellért bath was built between 1912 and 1918, so it is "quite new".
It is one of the most beautiful and elegant baths in Budapest. And of course, it was the place where those from the upper-class and politicians used to go.
There are so many details and things to see, even from the entrance. So make sure to look up when you enter to have a look at the dome.
Up until 2013, the bath was divided into areas for women and men. Though everyone could go every day, they were separated by zones. From January 2013, this rule ended, and now they can all experience the whole bath together.
One of my favourite things about this bath is the outside part. There, you can enjoy a sauna, a swimming pool and a hot pool. The bath also offers a fantastic view of the Danube river and the passing boats. It's a very relaxing and unforgettable experience.
One piece of advice, if you go during the winter, don't forget your flip-flops as you wouldn't want your feet to freeze like mine did!
Rudas thermal baths are located on the Buda side of the city. They were built during the XVI century and are next to the riverside. Due to the view they provide of the river and Pest side, Rudas thermal baths are one of the more popular thermal baths in Budapest. From the rooftop, you can have a perfect view of the parliament as well.
These thermal baths have different kinds of pools, from warm ones to cold ones. They also offer other services, such as saunas, massages and swimming pools.
One of the most famous pools is the one in the shape of an octagon. This pool is under a glass dome of 10 meters in diameter.
Up until 2006, women were not allowed to go into these thermal baths. It was this year that they changed the rules though. However, even nowadays, not everyone can go any day or time of the week they'd like.
On weekdays, women can only go in on Thursdays, while the rest of the days are reserved for men. Then on the weekends, anyone can come and enjoy the baths.
On the Buda side, there is another set of baths called Lukács. These are the oldest baths in Budapest and still operate today. They were built during the XII century.
On the XIX century, the Romans bought them and made many modifications to them. They were named in honour of Saint Lucas, who was known as a healer and is thought to be the same as the bath's waters.
People from all over the world have come to these baths to be 'healed'. One of the walls on the outside is actually covered with plaques from people who believed the waters healed them.
Dating from the second half of the XVI century, Kiraly baths were built during Roman times. It has an octagonal pool and a Turkish dome.
Later in 1796, Kiraly was bought by the König family, who rebuilt the whole bath to combine the old with the new.
Something interesting about these baths is that it never had direct hot water. Lukács thermal baths supplied the water to Kiraly.
In this bath, both women and men can enter without any exclusions. Among the services provided are different pools, saunas, outside hot tubs and a sunbathing garden as well as various kinds of massages.
Another interesting thing about this place is its name, which means King in Hungarian.
I have only mentioned 5 of the main baths in Budapest above. There are many more to explore and visit around Budapest, so don't hesitate to look for more and explore them.
As you can see, they are a big part of Hungarian culture, so don't miss out on visiting at least one of them! Now, I leave you with a list of my tips if you plan on going:
If you like water places, there's one where you can bathe just your feet during summer - the Margit Island Fountain. It also has music shows during the day.
This article was first published on Mar 30, 2020 14:17 UTC.
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