Photo: © BudapestSpas.hu
From tempting hamam spas to classic Hungarian favourites, Budapest offers some of the finest thermal bath opportunities in Europe – here are our favourites.
If you’re going to Italy then taste the food, if you’re off to France, take in the architecture, but if by any chance you happen to be heading to Hungary; then take a bath! Often referred to as the ‘City of Baths’ Budapest is internationally renowned for its refreshing, historic, and invigorating thermal pools.
The properties of Budapest’s stimulating thermal waters have been recognised since Roman times, when the sprawling bathing complex was considered a primary landmark. Today, these ruins may be admired at the Aquincum Museum. The 16th century brought about the invasion of the Ottoman Empire, and Budapest saw the introduction of several hamam-style spas or Turkish baths, which are still very much present today.
Whether you’d rather bathe indoors or outdoors makes no difference, Budapest offers it all – here are our top six recommendations.
How about a bath with a side of history? The stunning Király Bath is one of the city’s oldest, and is said to date as far back as the 16th century. This classic spa is vestige of Turkish rule and was built inside the city walls in order to protect it from any sieges or attacks. Heavily damaged during WWII, the bath was eventually restored and opened to the public and today is one of Budapest’s most popular baths, thanks to its octagonal pool and large dome structure.
Another strong contender for Budapest’s best spa is surely Rudas Bath; another 16th century large thermal pool with a Turkish history. But whereas Király is modest in both size and structure, Rudas is grand. Recently refurbished, the complex offers six thermal pools, five wellness water holes, and a swimming pool. If you’re visiting in winter we strongly recommend taking a dip in the rooftop pool – nothing better complements a soothing baths than swirling snowflakes.
Part bath, part water park, the Széchenyi Bath isn’t merely the largest thermal bath in Budapest, but ranks amongst the largest baths in Europe. Expect an astounding 15 indoor pools as well as three massive outdoor pools to choose from. Expect to spend a day soaking in the waters and leaving with flushed cheeks and wrinkly fingers.
Does lying about soaking in a pool dound dull? The Dagaly Bath keeps things alive with the inclusion of a wave pool, a water cannon, and a beach volley court that are infinitely more reminiscent of a theme park than a serene spa. If you’re on the lookout for indulging in the supposedly medicinal waters however, a dunk in one of the several mineral-rich rubs is definitely a must, followed by a massage, and a tubing session down the lazy river of course!
Lying on some sort of thermal hot spot (literally!), the presence of Lukács Bath explains the importance of thermal baths as far back as the 12th century. During that time, the baths hosted monastic baths, and more recently, a spa hotel was built in the 1880s. Today, Lukács Bath is vastly popular amongst locals and hosts a number of neon-lit bathing parties along the year.
Sometimes refered to as Veli Bej Bath, the Császár Baths have historic Turkish origins – and although being abandoned for a number of years, a recent restoration has proved an immediate success. Despite still having its original dome structures in place, the Császár Baths have been entirely refurbished and today include chic features such as an infrared sauna and sleek copper trimmings.