Last updated on January 26th, 2023 at 03:17 pm

If soaking in the warm waters of a plunge pool or swimming to your heart’s content in a large outdoor or indoor pool sound appealing to you, this guide to the best thermal baths in Budapest is sure to make you book your flights to the Hungarian capital soon!

Often dubbed the Spa Capital of The World, it’s no wonder Budapest has some of the best thermal baths in Europe. Budapest and its surroundings have been known for their thermal springs since ancient times. Spas in Budapest are part of the local culture and they are intertwined with the local lifestyle.

Hungarians visit the best Budapest spas either for leisure or for medicinal purposes. For us, travellers, exploring the city’s spa culture is one of the best things to do in Budapest. There are several thermal spas in Budapest and we hope to visit each and every one of them someday. For now, here’s everything you need to know about the 7 best thermal baths in Budapest!

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Watch our YouTube video about the best thermal baths in Budapest!

A Brief History of Budapest Spas

Although Hungary is a landlocked country, Budapest boasts over 100 hot springs, thanks to a geological fault along the Danube River. The Ancient Romans were the first to make the most of Budapest’s underground wealth when they founded Aquincum, an ancient Roman city in the Obuda district.

At the archaeological site of Aquincum, you can still see the remains of the old baths and learn how they managed to build a thermal bath system back then.

In 1541, Budapest became part of the Ottoman Empire. As a result, the Ottomans built more hammam-style baths in Budapest, such as the Rudas and Kiraly Baths. In later years, the Hungarians continued the city’s spa tradition by building more thermal baths in Budapest.

At the beginning of the 20th century, popular spas like the Gellert and Szechenyi Baths were built. With so many amazing spas in Budapest, it comes as no surprise that one of the city’s nicknames up to this day is the City of Spas.

This image shows the archaeological site of Aquincum.
The Romans built the first thermal baths in Budapest in the ancient city of Aquincum

Why Visit The Best Spas in Budapest

One of the best things to do in Budapest is to experience the city’s thermal baths. Some of the reasons that make us want to visit the best Budapest spas over and over again are:

  1. The architecture. From the Neo-Baroque Szechenyi Baths to the Art-Nouveau Gellert Baths, the ornate thermal baths of Budapest are built in different architectural styles, each of them promising a unique experience. Some of them, such as the Rudas and Kiraly Baths, even boast a historic Turkish Bath area, built by the Ottomans in the 16th century.
  2. The sparties. In other words, spa parties. Apart from visiting a spa complex during the day, some Budapest thermal baths offer night parties too. Soaking in the warm waters of the Rudas Baths rooftop pool while taking in the night views of Budapest is an unparalleled experience. However, the real sparty is held at the largest spa in Budapest, the Szechenyi Baths. Grab your sparty tickets here.
  3. The wellness. The obvious reason to visit a thermal bath in Budapest is for the medical benefits involved. The water coming from the natural Budapest hot springs contains various minerals that are overall good for your health. However, always consult your doctor before visiting a thermal spa in Budapest, especially if you’re pregnant or have a chronic condition.
This image shows the indoor pool at Gellert, one of the best thermal baths in Budapest.
The Gellert Thermal Baths are renowned for their gorgeous architecture

What To Bring To a Thermal Bath in Budapest

There are some essentials things to pack if you plan to visit a thermal bath in Budapest, as they are not included in your ticket:

  1. Swimsuit. Obviously, a swimsuit is necessary as you are not allowed to swim in the pools naked.
  2. Towel. A compact microfibre towel is handy when you go from one pool to another but also to wrap around you in the showers.
  3. Flip flops. They’re essential if you want to wander around from pool to pool in the thermal bath. Not only do flip-flops keep you from slipping over wet floor tiles, but you also avoid bacteria infections by wearing them.
  4. Swimming Cap. Although it’s not required in thermal plunge pools, wearing a swimming cap is mandatory in large swimming pools.
  5. Water Bottle. As you’ll be spending quite a few hours at the baths, probably in and out of saunas too, you’ll need to stay hydrated. So, don’t forget to pack your reusable water bottle.

However, you can always buy any of those items as well as miniature shampoo and shower-gel bottles at the on-site shops you can find in most of the best baths in Budapest.

This image shows Maria and Katerina wearing swimming caps at Gellert, one of the best spas in Budapest.
We bought our swimming caps at the Gellert Baths!

What To Know Before You Visit a Spa in Budapest

Come prepared and make the most of the best thermal baths in Budapest:

  1. Some spas, such as the Szechenyi Baths, are very popular and can get really crowded, especially at the weekends. Therefore, it’s best to book your tickets in advance.
  2. Thermal baths in Budapest have large indoor and outdoor swimming pools, plunge pools, saunas, and steam rooms. Before you enter any pool check the water temperature first. It’s always displayed near the pool or steam room/sauna.
  3. Every spa in Budapest has women-only and men-only changing rooms with lockers and showers. If you prefer, you can pay a small extra fee for a spacious private cabin with your own storage room. Shower rooms are equipped with hairdryers but there isn’t any shampoo or shower gel available. You can buy small bottles of those at the on-site shops you’ll find at most of the best thermal baths in Budapest.
  4. Check the Budapest Spas website to make sure that the spa you want to visit is not closed for renovation works.
  5. By purchasing a Budapest Card, you have free access to the Lukacs Baths and a discount for some of the other Budapest baths.
  6. Tickets for Budapest spas are usually valid for the whole day. Therefore, try to allow enough time to enjoy to the fullest a unique experience like this.
  7. Most thermal baths in Budapest have an on-site café if you want to grab something to eat or drink. That said, eating is not allowed in the pools or near them.

Read our complete Budapest Travel Guide here!

This image shows a panoramic view of the swimming pool at Szechenyi Baths. In front of the pool, there is an electronic sign with information about time, weather, and water temperature.
All pools, like the outdoor pools at Szechenyi Baths pictured here, have signs displaying the water temperature

The 7 Best Thermal Baths in Budapest

1. Szechenyi Baths

Undoubtedly, the Szechenyi Baths are the most famous baths in Budapest. Opened in 1913, the Neo-Baroque Szechenyi spa complex is the largest medicinal bath in Budapest. It has 15 indoor and three outdoor pools. There is also a gym, saunas and massage rooms.

Buy your ticket for a full spa day at the Szechenyi Thermal Baths with an optional Palinka tour.

Although most of the indoor pools are not that impressive, the baroque setting of the outdoor pools will fascinate you. There’s a large swimming pool for avid swimmers and two warm-water pools. One of them has a built-in whirlpool for endless moments of fun. The other warm pool has a more relaxed vibe. So much so that you’ll see locals play chess in the pool.

This image shows a panoramic view of the outdoor whirlpool at Szechenyi, one of the best thermal baths in Budapest.
Don’t miss the whirlpool fun at the Szechenyi Thermal Baths in Budapest

The fun never ends at the Szechenyi Baths. You can even enjoy a beer spa in the complex. Soaking in a wooden tub and drinking as much beer as you want from the beer tap next to your tub doesn’t sound bad, does it? For more information about the beer spa, click here.

What’s more, you can visit the Szechenyi Baths at night. Sparties (spa parties) are held at the Szechenyi Baths throughout the year in any weather conditions.
Check the calendar and grab your tickets for a unique spa party with music and drinks.

The Szechenyi Baths complex is located in the City Park near Heroes Square. You can get to the Szechenyi Baths from Budapest city centre by riding the historic metro line M1 and getting off at the Szechenyi Furdo metro station. Alternatively, you can walk along Andrassy Avenue and reach the park through Heroes Square.

Although the Szechenyi Baths complex is massive, it can feel crowded and overwhelming. But, don’t worry. There are maps and signs everywhere and you can’t get lost. Access to the locker rooms is included in your ticket. The lockers are tiny compared to other thermal baths in Budapest. For a spacious cabin, consider paying the extra fee.

For opening hours and other information, check the official website.

This image shows the shower section in one of the indoor pools at Szechenyi Baths.
Inside the Szechenyi Baths in Budapest

2. Gellert Baths

Similar to the Szechenyi Baths, the Gellert Baths opened at the beginning of the 20th century, in 1918. Housed in the same building as Gellert Hotel, the Gellert Baths complex stands out for its Art Nouveau architecture.

The Gellert Baths were constantly in operation, even during the Second World War, until a bomb destroyed the formerly women-only section. As opposed to the original elaborate men’s section, the women’s section was rebuilt with a simpler design. Nowadays, the two sections are available to both men and women.

Buy your tickets here for a full spa day at the gorgeous Gellert Spa.

This image shows the intricate former men-only section at Gellert Baths. There are two signs indicating that water temperature is 40C.
The former men-only section of the Gellert Baths in Budapest

Yet, the true highlight of the Gellert Baths is the gorgeous indoor swimming pool, built in Art Nouveau style. Outdoors, you can have fun in the wave pool, which is very popular in the summer, or relax at the thermal pool with a sauna.

With its 10 thermal pools using water from the Gellert Hill hot springs, the Gellert Baths complex is not as packed as the Szechenyi Baths. The Gellert Spa complex is located on the Buda side of Budapest, near Gellert Hill, and you can get there by tram. Don’t get misled by Google Maps directions as the spa’s entrance is on the side of the building and not on the facade that looks on the Danube River.

For opening hours and other information, check the official website.

This image shows a top view of the indoor swimming pool at Gellert Baths.
The gorgeous indoor swimming pool at the Gellert Baths

3. Rudas Baths

Located at the foot of Gellert Hill on the Buda side of the city, the Rudas Baths are among the most historic baths in Budapest. Built in 1550 by the Ottomans, the Rudas Baths complex is famous for housing one of the most stunning historic Turkish baths in Budapest. The Turkish Bath area is open on different days for men and women. You can check the opening hours here.

Besides the historic Turkish Bath, the Rudas Baths complex is equipped with modern wellness and spa facilities, among which the indoor swimming pool stands out. However, the highlight of the Rudas Baths is the rooftop thermal pool with its panoramic views of Budapest.

This image shows the indoor swimming pool at Rudas, one of the best thermal baths in Budapest.
The beautiful indoor swimming pool at Rudas Baths in Budapest

The rooftop plunge pool is not as big as we would expect, but we had some of the best moments on our Budapest thermal bath hopping adventure there. What we love about the Rudas Baths is that you can buy night tickets and enjoy fantastic night views of Budapest while soaking in the rooftop thermal pool under the stars.

Click here to buy a ticket for a full spa day in Rudas Bath and a 3-course meal.

For opening hours and other information, check the official website.

This image shows the rooftop pool at Rudas Baths on a cloudy day.
The rooftop warm-water pool is a unique experience on a cold and cloudy day

4. Kiraly Baths

The Kiraly Baths complex is yet another historical bath in Budapest, built by the Ottomans in the Middle Ages. The highlight is the traditional Turkish Bath with its octagonal pool and Ottoman dome. Moreover, there are three smaller pools of various temperatures and a modern jacuzzi.

The Kiraly Baths are located on the Buda side of the city, near Margaret Bridge.

Note: The Kiraly Baths are temporarily closed for renovation works. Check the official website for more information.

One of the best places to indulge in a traditional Turkish bath is Istanbul and here’s everything you need to know before you visit a Turkish hammam for the first time!

5. Lukacs Baths

Housed in a less ornate spa hotel, the Lukacs Baths used to be the locals’ spa in Budapest. However, this doesn’t mean that Lukacs isn’t one of the most historical baths in Budapest too. The first who used its hot springs, before the Ottomans, were the Knights of The Order of Saint John.

The highlight of the Lukacs Baths is the outdoor swimming pool, set in the heart of a beautiful courtyard. On the walls, you can see marble tablets placed by people who wanted to express their gratitude for being cured at the spa.

The Lukacs Baths complex is located on the Buda side of the city, near Margaret Bridge.

Entrance is free for Budapest Card holders.
Moreover, Lukacs is one more bath in Budapest where you can enjoy a beer spa!

For opening hours and other information, check the official website.

6. Palatinus Baths

Located on Margaret Island, the Palatinus Baths operate since 1919. Initially, the Palatinus complex had a huge outdoor swimming pool where Hungarians enjoyed the first outdoor baths in Budapest.

The Palatinus Baths have been renovated several times throughout the years. The large outdoor pool is now divided into three parts and the functionalist main building houses indoor thermal pools. The Palatinus Baths are more popular in the summer for the amazing outdoor pools, such as the exclusive wave pool.

For opening hours and other information, check the official website.

This image shows a park on Margaret Island.
A stroll around the gardens of Margaret Island before or after relaxing at the spa isn’t a bad idea

7. Dandar Baths

Located on the Pest side of Budapest, a bit far from the city centre, the Dandar Baths attract more locals than the other Budapest baths on this list. Initially, the Dandar Baths complex started operating as a sanitary bath. Yet, later on, it was renovated and converted into a thermal bath.

There are indoor medical pools and an outdoor wellness section featuring two leisure pools and a sauna.

For opening hours and other information, check the official website.

Spending a relaxing day at one of the best thermal baths in Budapest is one of the most unique ways to remember your trip to the Hungarian capital. Have you ever visited any of the best spas in Budapest? Let us know in the comments!

If you’re planning a trip to Budapest soon, watch our YouTube video about the best 3-day Budapest itinerary!

WORDS & IMAGES: Katerina
EDITING: Maria

Disclosure: We experienced three of the best thermal baths in Budapest, the Szechenyi, Gellert and Rudas spas, on press visits. As media and marketing specialists, we often visit destinations on press tours or as part of marketing campaigns, but under no circumstances does this affect our opinions about the places we visit and the experiences we try. Rest assured that you will find nothing but honest reviews throughout our content.

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