Budapest: Top Thermal Spas

Oct 16, 2013

If you're ever in Budapest you probably can't avoid noticing that the thermal spas and baths are extremely popular and present nearly at every corner of the town, hence the nickname 'City of Baths'. In fact, your only problem would most likely to be deciding on which one to go to if your time’s limited! We had read about several baths before we got to Budapest and it was hard to narrow it down to only two that we'd actually have time to visit- the world-renowned Gellért Thermal Bath and Széchenyi Baths. These were our choices based on multiple reviews on their undeniable popularity. And yes, because of this reason they are also some of the most touristic ones, but in our defense, there is usually a good reason for such popularity- and we wanted to see what it was.

Gellért Thermal Bath

This remarkable Art Nouveau style bath was eye candy the minute we stepped in; the beautiful entrance hall with such details we felt like we’re in for some cultural feast rather than a spa! We got our tickets and followed a long corridor underground to get to our changing room. Now, there are a couple of things to pay attention to when visiting the Gellért Spa: First of all, there are many different types of tickets available at the entrance from foot massages to regular entry tickets. The admission for each was around 15€ and included the access to all the pools (indoor & outdoor), lounge areas, steam rooms and saunas. Secondly, it’s good to keep in mind that this bath is not entirely coed. Meaning there are areas that are solely for females or males, with the exception of Sundays when all areas are open for both sexes. This is the very reason we chose to go on Sunday!

We really enjoyed trying out the different thermal pools (each with different temperatures), relaxing in sauna and just taking in the gorgeous art that was all over us. This spa complex truly is a gem that surprised us with its quaint essence and beautiful art deco, and also with its labyrinth corridors that we had no idea where they’d take us next. When I think back, it might have not had as many choices of pools as the bigger and even more popular Széchenyi Bath, but it sure felt more intimate and peaceful- it all comes down to your mood and preference…

Széchenyi Baths

The next day we continued our little bath experiment and headed over to the City Park and to one of the largest public spas in Europe. Again, we went for the basic entry ticket covering all 18 pools, steam rooms, saunas, Jacuzzis and the locker.
Tip: Bring your own bathing suit, towel & flip-flops so you don’t need to pay extra! Plus if you’re into a real spa treat, be sure to check out their different massage treatments…

The place was big all right and nothing short of exquisite! We got around the place hopping in and out of different pools followed by multiple rounds of saunas and steam rooms. They sure have a wide selection of both- pools and saunas with various temperatures and other features. Although the rooms inside were luminous and had gorgeous high ceilings, the highlight of this spa must’ve been the courtyard hot pool that’s framed by the famous yellow palace-like building. Not only it is pretty, but also the outdoor pools are the most spacious ones where everyone can fit in without a problem. Which brings me to the only downside of the Széchenyi- the crowd. Even with all the pool options we were sometimes missing bit of tranquility (I may add that we were there off-season on Monday afternoon…I don’t know how hectic it can get on busier times!).

On the bright side, the hottest saunas and the coldest pools were naturally empty and we could find our quiet moment in those! Well, mostly in the saunas.
Tip: You could bring your own snacks & drinks to the outdoor pool, and/or there’s a poolside bar! We also read about parties on weekends (summer time) that take place in the huge outdoor pool…

To sum it up, both spas are well worth the visit. They both offer good value for money and ultimately a nice insight into Budapest’s thermal spa culture and lifestyle. If you’re looking to just lean back and forget about this world- head over to Gellért’s for its quaint and historic ambiance. If you’re feeling more energetic- head over to Széchenyi where you can participate to aqua gym class or perhaps beat the locals in their chess game (yes, there’s an actual chess table in the outdoor pool). But whichever spa you’ll end up visiting, the end result remains the same- you’ll walk out of there feeling super relaxed and ready for whatever Budapest throws on your way next…


(Note that weekend/ holiday tickets can be slightly more expensive)

How to get there?
Gellért (scroll down to “location”)


  • Tereza said...

    Beautiful photos :) Would it be possible to get this photo from you in a better quallity?
    It´s like a fairytale :) Thank you very much! Tereza Janisova

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