Budapest holds the title "City of Spas" since the year 1934, as it has more thermal and medicinal water springs than any other capital city in the world.
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 water treatments in the healing spa waters for Hungarian patients. In the last few years, the bathing culture has been ingeniously fused with trance spa parties (sparties), so you can even be part of once in a lifetime cool bath parties.
When in Budapest, go to the baths. Even if you are not a big fan of public bathing, it is well worth putting aside your reservations about baths. But if you are not a water person, you can still visit the baths for the building: e.g. Szechenyi Baths has short, 15 min guided tours on most days throughout the week. You can book a massage or just enjoy personal treatments, hydrotherapy, mud therapy, etc.
Which is the best baths in Budapest?
If you spend more than 3 days in Budapest, we strongly recommend trying more baths. Each has a distinct character and is worth a visit for its own merits, pools, architecture, history, style, programs. If you only have three days, you can try the most popular bath, the Szechenyi Baths and Pool in the City Park (mixed all week), or the Turkish Rudas Baths (mixed at weekends), or, if the beautiful Gellert Baths (mixed at weekends). Budget travelers may find the recently refurbished Veli Bej Baths a great option (also has a historical Turkish pool). The more ruinous Kiraly Bath may appeal to those who like odd, cool, historical – communist things (weird in a good sense, ‘quirky’ – as in cool special historical bath, with odd white clothed personnel from the communist times, outdated interior, cheap prices, completely local clientele). Lukacs Baths is probably the most visited by Hungarians, so if you are a tourist who wants to mingle with the locals and keenly seeks out non-touristy places, Lukacs is your best bet.
Relaxing and Exciting baths in Budapest
Most of the baths in Budapest, have several pools with various sizes, facilities, activities, temperature etc. so there is bound to be a pool, which you will like. During day time, the baths are mostly visited by those who want to feel the healing power of the water, use the jets in the pools to get some water massage, play chess with old pals, chat with friends, take their foreign friends to the baths to share the joys of bathing, enjoy a massage, giggle at the fish pedicure, revitalize in the saunas and steam rooms (plus the cold plunge pools), do laps in the swimming pool, have a few beers at the cafe, laugh at the whirlpools (Szechenyi Baths) and fun wave pools (Gellert Baths), and at night may go and enjoy the sparties (spa parties).
Most baths have various bath tickets. Full day tickets usually include the use of all bath pools and facilities, but not the personal care services (massage, manicure or hairdressing). If you are planning to spend a spa day or half a day in a Budapest bath, make sure that you book the spa services in advance (the pools and facilities do not need to be booked, but in the high season the baths get very full, so you can save yourself about 45 min by buying the tickets in advance at the more well known baths, especially the Szechenyi Baths)
You can buy tickets to spas at the reception.