As I mention in a previous blog post, one of the biggest things that drew me to choose Budapest for this solo trip was their abundance of thermal baths (also called Turkish baths). If you’ve never gone to a thermal bath, it’s a lovely experience. Traditionally, the water is actually a hot spring sourced from the earth below, so it has natural heat and minerals for your enjoyment.
Plus, these spas usually have multiple pools at varying temperatures, a cold pool, a sauna, a steam room, and more. Although I only went to two baths during my trip (trust me, I thought I would go more but I ran out of time!), I’ve also provided two more spas at the end of this post that were recommended to me.
Alright, enough preamble – let’s get into it!
Table of Contents
What I liked about it
Gellert was nice and spacious with multiple areas to soak in, and I found it to be quite peaceful despite the crowds. Due to the property having so many pools both indoor and outdoor, it wasn’t hard to find some spots of solitude to enjoy the warmth.
I also had the opportunity to get a brief massage before I got settled into the baths, and this really set the tone for the rest of my time at Gellert.
Another experience that I recommend doing at the thermal baths is settling into a hot pool for a while; and then jumping into the super cold one. It sounds daunting, but it’s actually SO refreshing! I saw the locals doing it, and figured I’d give it a go even though I was a bit nervous at first.
Pricing and hours
Gellert is generally open 6am to 8pm Monday through Sunday, but be sure to double-check their website before planning your visit!
Rudas Thermal Bath
Rudas is a bathhouse that I actually only went to at night and, according to the local with whom I visited, Rudas is the only thermal bath that is open late (past midnight). With that in mind, I can’t say that Rudas would have been my top choice overall; but the surreal experience of being in an outdoor thermal bath overlooking the city lights while the rain gently splashed onto the water made it 100% worth it.
What I liked about it
It’s as simple as what I said above: the nighttime bathing! Rudas’ layout is certainly much more compact that Gellert and other spas in the area, so this isn’t one to go to if you prefer a more spacious experience. However, there was a really peaceful and romantic atmosphere that the rooftop bath brought to life. So, I would especially recommend this experience for couples etc.!
I will say, the main Turkish bath is lovely and makes you feel like you’ve gone back in time…so besides being up in the rooftop bath, this is where we spent most of our time!
Pricing and hours
Besides these special nighttime hours, Rudas’ opening hours vary (ex: the underground Turkish bath is only open Thursday through Sunday), so be sure to check their website for exact opening times.
Honorable Mentions: Szechenyi and Véli Bej
The last two baths that I want to mention are ones that I did not personally visit, but were recommended to me by multiple people.
Szechenyi is Budapest’s most well-known spa, but that also makes it the most touristy (which is why I stayed away). However, I have heard that it can be really fun – especially in the summer time!
Császár Baths, or Veli Bej, is one of the oldest Turkish baths in Budapest and recently renovated, making it another great option to have a proper thermal bath experience. However, it is 40 minutes out of the city, so you will have to plan your day out a bit if you choose to visit. I simply ran out of time on my trip and had other activities that I wanted to do in the city, otherwise Veli Bej would have been the third bath house on my list!
So, which of these baths pique your curiosity the most? If I went back to Budapest tomorrow, I think I would prioritize seeing Veli Bej first; and then schedule an early morning at Gellert to beat the crowds!