If you’re thinking of visiting Budapest then here is everything you need to know about the best spas in Budapest.
I went to Budapest in January for a long weekend and honestly had the best time. I absolutely adored the city and think it is the perfect weekend escape. It has everything you need, incredible architecture, lovely people. delicious food and of course, amazing spas or public baths.
The spa culture in Budapest is like nothing else. There are over 10 thermal baths in Budapest and it is more affordable and common for people to just spend an afternoon or early morning before work at one of these beautiful public spas than it is in the UK.
In the UK the spas are a luxury, it’s something you look forward to for a birthday or special treat, not being cheap it certainly isn’t a regular occurrence for many. The most luxury spas in the UK still don’t match up to the thermal baths in Budapest.
The architecture, the tiling, the sheer number of options for heated pools, saunas, steam room and more. You can get lost in many of the thermal baths in Budapest they are so big and can easily spend a full day in them.
You just can’t go to Budapest without visiting one of the spas. It is absolutely the best thing to do in a city that is full of amazing things to do.
Everything you need to know about the best spas in Budapest
I visited two of the best spas in Budapest in January. I started as a novice, not doing my research before hand and so I didn’t understand what I needed or the best way to book. So I thought I would share everything I learnt about the visiting the spas in Budapest so you don’t have to make the same mistakes as me.
How much do the spas in Budapest cost?
The spas are really reasonably priced considering just how big they are.
Most of the spas cost around £12.50 entry and that includes use of a locker to store your things. You can stay as long as you want. It is a bit more expensive if you pay on the door, so book online in advance if you can.
All the main public baths in Budapest can be booked via one website. There they show all the opening times and images of the spas to see which one you might fancy.
What do you need to take to the spa?
This is where I got caught out, not taking the right kit needed to be allowed in. There are certain things you know you need, like a swimsuit for example! However, there are others you may not think about.
As we flew out with RyanAir we had opted for ‘under the seat’ luggage only, so we certainly didn’t have space to pack things like towels.
We had wrongfully assumed we could hire one at the spa, however this wasn’t possible and the only option was to drip dry or buy a towel. Which was an annoying added expense.
The same was true for flip-flops, in the UK they often give you little slippers as you arrive, but not at the thermal baths in Budapest. They are also compulsory, so again we had to buy some.
If you choose to swim in the main pools you also have to wear a swimming cap. These aren’t needed for most of the spa pools, but are required in the
So you will need:
- Towel (you can’t rent them)
- Flipflops or slippers
- Swimcap (for main swimming pool anyway)
- A water bottle (they have natural thermal water taps you can use to drink from)
Do they do food at the thermal baths?
Yes! At least the two spas we went to did do food. Lots of people spend a full day there so they have a cafe with hot and cold food and drinks.
At the Gellért Spa we certainly got hungry after using up all that energy in the sauna and steam room and tried out the cafe.
We had a really simple chicken and chips with a pickled salad. It was delicious and just what we needed. The menu included lots of Hungarian classics like Goulash and fruit soup, which is kind of like a smoothie in a bowl.
Are the spas accessible?
They are reasonably accessible with a separate wheelchair friendly entrance. I also found a lot of the pools had seat lifts on the side that can lower people into the pools.
What are the benefits of the thermal baths in Budapest?
The thermal baths are meant to be healing waters, it’s one of the reasons why they are so popular.
They can help improve circulation, help aching muscles and fight inflammation.
The spas have springs or taps you can drink the water from too or fill up your water bottle. It is mineral rich water that comes from caves underground and has been known to treat a variety of issues like kidney stones, liver diseases and stomach issues.
Honestly, if I lived in Budapest I think I would be at these spas every day!
The Best Spas in Budapest
Széchenyi Thermal Baths
Széchenyi thermal baths or spa is the largest spa in Budapest and one of the largest in Europe. The options are just incredible.
The large curved outside pools sit in the middle of the 100+ year old large yellow neo-baroque style building. It is a beautiful striking building with one side used for changing and the other an endless series of different indoor heated thermal pools.
The spa is generally open 7am to 8pm daily. So we decided to wake up early and get there for opening time. We almost snoozed that alarm, but we got ourselves up at 6.30am and oh my it was so worth it!
There are two hot thermal pools at around 36 degrees C outside, that include fountains and even a small circular lazy river that whooshes you round and round. It was fun to watch the older women going round with their flowery caps on as they caught up with friends. What a beautiful lifestyle.
Between the two thermal pools there is a large lane pool, its a bit cooler and it’s there you have to wear a swimcap!
Move inside and you will move through incredible rooms and halls filled with different smaller heated pools at all different temperatures, from 40 degrees to a super cold plunge pool. They have saunas at different temperatures, aroma rooms and multiple steam rooms too. In fact, we went in the steamiest steam room I have ever been in, so steamy I almost sat on someone’s knee.
I can imagine it being a beautiful place to be in the summer, but it was perhaps even more special in the winter, when you’re sat in a hot pool with cold wind at your face.
If it’s not relaxing you’re after then maybe look up the ‘Sparties’ yes that’s right, parties in the pool! How much fun!?
Gellért Thermal Baths
Gellért Thermal Baths is incredible. It was the first spa we visited and it set the bar high! the large pool with tall columns either side and a balcony looking down on people swimming below looks like something the Romans had built.
This is the main pool, where you have to wear a swimming cap and is generally used for lane swimming. Gargoyles squirt waters at the edge.
Move through to another area and you will find two heated pools, one at 36 degrees and one at 40 degrees. The internal architecture is spectacular with beautiful curved tiled ceilings and stone statues surrounding the pools. There are saunas and steam rooms too.
If you pay a bit extra you get a private cabin, which includes a private area with a bed and large locker. Perfect for families or for friends to have a cosy space for changing and to store your things. The main changing areas are quite cramped and though there are private changing areas, there aren’t many it is a unisex changing area. I would imagine when it is really busy it would get quite cramped.
They do have two outside pools, though one was closed for winter when we went. It is a really deep and large wave pool that I imagine is lots of fun in the summer. The smaller heated pool was working fine, as was the sauna and plunge pool beside the pool.
Gellért really is a beautiful spa and thermal bath and depending if you can I definitely recommend trying to fit both spas into your visit to Budapest.
Other Great Thermal Baths to try
Other than our hotel spa, Thermal Margaret Island, we only got chance to try the two thermal baths in Budapest. There are lots more to try though! Here are a few that look fantastic!
- With views across the river Rudas Spa looks incredible!
- Lukacs Spa is smaller but still beautiful and has pool parties too.
- Smaller Dandár still has everything you might need for a healing spa trip!
- Several more Budapest spas are listed on this Budapest Thermal Baths website.
So have I tempted you to try one of the best spas in Budapest? Let me know if there is anything else you would like to know.