Budapest is quickly becoming a trendy tourist destination for its rich culture and lovely neoclassical architecture. Yet many do not realize that Hungary sits on one of the richest geothermal water resources in the world. And because of this, Budapest proudly holds the title of the City of Spas, as it has more thermal and medicinal springs than any other capital city. The Romans are thought to have enjoyed the pleasures of these waters, dating as far back as the 2ndcentury when they established their regional capital in present day northern Budapest. However, it was the Turks who popularized the bath culture in the 16th century.
But first, what is thermal water and why is it good for you? Thermal water comes from a naturally occurring spring that emerges from the earth’s crust at a temperature exceeding 86°F. The water is said to have medicinal effects and is abundant in minerals such as sulphate, calcium, magnesium and fluoride. It is most commonly used to relieve skin afflictions such as eczema, rosacea and psoriasis, as its healing properties help relieve pain and itching. Soak away your aches and pains in these water for 15-45 minutes. If you are not in the need of any therapeutic treatments, not to worry. Hot springs are also great to relax in as they help with circulation, metabolism and absorption of essential minerals.
Today, you can find 15 public thermal baths in addition to over 50 private thermal spas scattered about the city, many of them located in hotels. If you plan a trip to Budapest, make sure you visit a bath house, whether it be the public baths or a private one in your hotel. It is a memorable experience with great health benefits.
5 must visit thermal baths
1. Széncsenyi Bath House
One of the biggest spa facilities in Europe, the Széncsenyi Bath House is a must visit if you find yourself visiting the city. Situated near Heroes’ Square and in the City Park, it is very easy to get to from anywhere in the city. Built in 1913, the bath has seen massive renovations and expansions since its inaugural date. They have several pools inside as well as 3 outside. Book a massage before you enter the baths, as you will feel even more relaxed since your circulation will be bumping. This bath is great year round, but extra special if you can manage to put your swimsuit on in the dead of winter. The steam from the water meeting the freezing air truly creates a magical atmosphere.
2. Gellért Hotel
Constructed in 1918, this bath house is located in the famous Gellért Hotel. It has indoor and outdoor pools, with the outdoor pool containing an artificial wave generator, which is great for families in the summer months. The interior of the spa is fitted with a wealth of Art Nouveau fittings, mosaics and stained glass windows. Many parts of the hotel and spa were damaged in WWII, but thankfully, after a big renovation, they have managed to restore the baths to their original condition.
3. Rudas Bath House
First built in 1550 during the Ottoman empire reign, the bath still features many elements of a typical Turkish bath such as the octagonal pool that sits below a 10m diameter dome. It is located on the banks of the Danube on the Buda side and contains 6 therapy pools and 1 swimming pool. What separates this bath house from the many others is that it is primarily used for therapeutic and rehabilitation purposes as it contains an outpatient clinic with an elaborate physiotherapy department.
4. Lukács Thermal Bath
One of the oldest hotel spa complexes in Budapest, Lukács Baths were built in the 1880s and named after Saint Luke, the patron saint of physicians. It was the first bath house in Budapest that provided medical treatments. If you are looking for a less touristy bath house and would like to be surrounded by locals, check this place out. It was recently refurbished and now houses a roof terrace to relax in the sun as well as sauna, fitness center and wellness area to receive alternative medical treatments.
5. Corinthia Hotel Royal Spa
If you are searching for the latest state of the art facilities and treatment, look no further than the Royal Spa located inside the Corinthia Hotel. The spa is known for providing vitality, tranquillity and well-being to all its guests. The spa contains a swimming pool, sauna and steam bath in addition to a relaxation area and fitness center. They also have 6 treatment rooms should you choose to receive a spa service, such as a facial or a massage.