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The 8 Best Thermal Baths in Budapest in 2023

Portrait of Adam Dimitrov.

Adam Dimitrov

Updated January 17, 2023

If you're planning a trip to Budapest, you'll definitely want to make time to visit one of the city's amazing thermal baths. They're not just a great place to relax, but also a cultural experience that you don't want to miss.

I've researched and visited many of the baths in this guide, and put together a list of the eight best thermal baths and spas to visit in 2023 to help you decide which one would be right for you.

Certainly some thermal baths are more luxurious, expensive and/or touristy than others, so I made sure to highlight different aspects of each bath.

Budapest Thermal Baths Map

WHY VISIT A THERMAL BATH?

Relaxation and rejuvenation: Visiting a thermal spa in Budapest is an excellent way to unwind and relax after (or before!) a long day of sightseeing.

The warm waters, saunas, and massage services offered at the baths provide the perfect environment for relaxing your body and mind.

Cultural experience: Thermal spas have been a part of Hungarian culture for centuries, and visiting one is a great way to experience a unique aspect of the local culture. Each spa has its unique history, architecture, and atmosphere, making it a memorable experience.

Indeed, Hungarians generally don't visit the most famous thermal baths often (like Széchenyi or Gellért). This is likely due to the high entrance fees. However, don't let this deter you —  the "touristy" baths are a must-see.

Health benefits: Although the science is inconclusive, thermal spas are sought for their therapeutic properties, which can help with everything from muscle pain and stiffness to stress and tension.

The warm, mineral-rich waters in the thermal baths have been used for centuries to improve health and wellness. Additionally, many spas offer additional treatments and therapies like massage, hydrotherapy, and sauna that can positively impact overall well-being.

1. Széchenyi thermal bath

4.0/5 +33.000 reviews (Tripadvisor)
4.4/5 +42.000 reviews (Google)

Visiting the Széchenyi Thermal Bath

Széchenyi is the #1 most visited thermal bath in Budapest. The popularity is well-deserved, but the flip side is that you can't have the place all for yourself.

Yes, many people do visit here, but Széchenyi's guest capacity is high - they receive almost 2 million tourists annually (ever been to a fifty-meter-long sauna?).

Bring a pair of flip-flops, towels, and a swimsuit with you. You will receive a plastic watch upon entry that you can use to open your locker. Dressing cabins are available for an extra cost (500HUF).

If you want to buy food or drinks inside, you will receive a top-up card that you can use and deposit the amount you want to spend. You will get the unspent money back after leaving.

💡 These might also interest you: Get a Széchenyi bath ticket with Pálinka Tour, soak in a tub of beer at the Beer Spa (with full day bath ticket) or try out the (in)famous Sparty, held every week on Saturday.

quick tips — Széchenyi Thermal Bath

2. Gellért thermal bath

3.5/5 +11.000 reviews (Tripadvisor)
4.3/5 +20.000 reviews (Google)

Visiting the Gellért Thermal Bath

Gellért is the #2 most popular thermal bath in Budapest, located in the Gellért Hotel on the Buda side of the city.

It was built in 1918 and features Art Nouveau architecture and design, with mosaics, statues, and frescoes adorning the interior — perfect for photo shoots. It's not far from the Central Market Hall and Gellért Hill, and it's easily approachable via the 47/49 tram or metro 4.

The bath has many indoor and outdoor pools, saunas, and steam rooms. Don't forget to bring a pair of flip-flops, towels, and a swimsuit with you, like in Széchenyi. Swimming caps are only required for the main swimming pool.

💡 These might also interest you: Book the Rudas Spa Wellness and Dining Experience.

quick tips — Gellért Thermal Bath

3. Rudas thermal bath

4.0/5 +3.000 reviews (Tripadvisor)
4.4/5 +10.000 reviews (Google)

Visiting the Rudas Thermal Bath

What's unique about Rudas bath is its out rooftop hot tub that overlooks the Danube and the Gellért Hill. It sure is lovely to soak in the warm pool in the grim winter months.

The other unique section is the Turkish bath area, originally built by an Ottoman pasha named Sokollu Mustafa in the 16th century. This section has intricate gender rules for visiting — see the timetable below for the exact time and date each gender can visit.

If you want to make your visit even more unique, try the nighttime bathing every Friday and Saturday night (10 pm - 3 am).

quick tips — Rudas Thermal Bath

4. KIrály thermal bath

4.0/5 +1.000 reviews (Tripadvisor)
4.3/5 +2.500 reviews (Google)

Visiting the király Thermal Bath

Note: Király thermal bath has been closed indefinitely since March 2020.

We are starting to enter the domain of smaller, cozier, off-the-beaten-path baths. This bath was also built by a Turkish pasha named in the 16th century, like Rudas.

Király baths don't have as many 19th century bells and whistles as the more ornamental baths like Széchenyi or Gellért. It's smaller and has fewer pools. But the vibe is unique — you feel like you've flown back to the 16th century and shared a bath with a pasha who built it.

It's frequented more by locals rather than tourists, so if you're looking for a more authentic experience, this is it.

quick tips — Király Thermal Bath

5. lukács thermal bath

4.0/5 +1.000 reviews (Tripadvisor)
4.4/5 +7.500 reviews (Google)

Visiting the lukács Thermal Bath

The history of Lukács bath dates back to the 12th century when knights of the order of Saint John and other Catholic orders settled near the thermal springs to cure the sick.

It was bought and renovated at the end of the 19th century by Fülöp Palotay.

This bath is often frequented by locals and tourists alike due to the alleged health benefits of the thermal water. The bath is more contemporary and functional in design than others and have several pools, saunas, and steam rooms perfect for 3-4 hours of simple relaxation.

quick tips — Lukács Thermal Bath

6. veli bej baths

4.5/5  +500 reviews (Tripadvisor)
4.6/5 +2.000 reviews (Google)

Visiting the veli bej Thermal Bath

Next, we have another Ottoman-built bath blended with modern architecture. There are a handful of pools and saunas here, so if you want more variety, try Széchenyi or Gellért.

It's not a prime tourist destination, so if you don't like the crowds, this is where you should come.

The bath is inside Hotel Cászár but is run by a non-profit religious organization, so the ticket prices are friendly.

quick tips — Veli Bej Thermal Bath

7. Dandár thermal bath

4.5/5 +500 reviews (Tripadvisor)
4.6/5 +2.000 reviews (Google)

Visiting the dandár Thermal Bath

Dandár is a more obscure bath with no charm for tourists visiting Budapest. The fact that it's outside the city's center doesn't help. It's a stone's throw away from Zwack Unicum factory — a manufacturer of a herb liqueur drink called Unicum.

The decor and the vibe are a bit plain, but if you want an authentic bathing experience where Hungarians hang out, this is the place.

quick tips — Dandár Thermal Bath

8. palatinus bath

4.5/5 +500 reviews (Tripadvisor)
4.6/5 +2.000 reviews (Google)

Visiting the palatinus Bath

Palatinus has the vibes of a beach more so than a thermal bath, yet the waters are the same as in Széchenyi.

It's located on Margaret Island, where one could spend a whole day exploring nature.

Loved by locals and tourists alike, you can have a great time here, especially in the summer.

quick tips — Palatinus Baths

why you should visit a thermal bath

Relaxation and rejuvenation

Visiting a thermal spa in Budapest is an excellent way to unwind and relax after (or before!) a long day of sightseeing. The warm waters, saunas, and massage services offered at the baths provide the perfect environment for relaxing your body and mind.

Cultural experience

Thermal spas have been a part of Hungarian culture for centuries, and visiting one is a great way to experience a unique aspect of the local culture. Each spa has its unique history, architecture, and atmosphere, making it a memorable experience.
Indeed, Hungarians generally don't visit the most famous thermal baths often (like Széchenyi or Gellért) - likely due to the high entrance fees. However, don't let this deter you —  the "touristy" baths are a visit-worthy too, even if you go just once.

Health benefits

Although the science is inconclusive, thermal spas are sought for their therapeutic properties, which can help with everything from muscle pain and stiffness to stress and tension. The warm, mineral-rich waters in the thermal baths have been used for centuries to improve health and wellness. Additionally, many spas offer additional treatments and therapies like massage, hydrotherapy, and sauna that can positively impact overall well-being.

BRIEF history — THERMAL BATHS

Budapest's thermal baths have a rich history dating back to the Roman Empire. The city's natural hot springs were discovered and used for therapeutic purposes by the Romans, who built the first public baths on the site.

The thermal baths continued to be used throughout the centuries by various cultures and empires that controlled the city, including the Ottomans, who built several grand bathhouses during their rule.

The thermal baths experienced a surge of popularity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when several grand bathhouses were built, such as the Széchenyi and Gellért baths, which are still in operation today.

Today, Budapest's thermal baths are a popular tourist attraction and a cultural heritage site - one of them (Gellért Baths) is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO — THERMAL BATHS

What to bring and wear

Thermal baths in Budapest require visitors to wear swimsuits and bring towels and a pair of flip-flops. They will charge you excessive prices if you buy them on the spot. You are not required to wear swimming caps for most baths except for lap swimming pools.

When to visit

The thermal baths are open year-round, but it's the most enjoyable soaking in the warm waters in the winter season.

The more popular baths are often crowded, which can reduce the enjoyment factor of your visit. If you go on weekdays versus weekends and the early morning hours versus later in the day, you have higher odds of avoiding crowds.

Facilities and services

Each thermal bath in Budapest offers different facilities and amenities, such as indoor and outdoor pools, saunas, steam rooms, and various services like massages, pedicures, or other treatments.

How long to stay

3-4 hours is more than enough to try every pool, sauna, and point of interest in any thermal bath.

Water Temperature

Water temperature varies between 30 and 40 degrees Celcius (86 to 104 Fahrenheit). You can check the exact temperature on a sign near any pool.

frequently asked questions

Are thermal baths safe in Budapest?

Yes — every thermal bath is safe for all genders. The "Sparty" in Széchenyi Thermal Bath has negative reviews from women, though.

Are thermal baths in Budapest free?

No — none of thermals baths are free. However, entrance to Rudas is free if you have the Budapest card.

Are the Szechenyi baths worth it?

Yes Széchenyi is the #1 most popular thermal bath in Hungary. However, some travelers are annoyed by the crowds and how touristy the bath is. The solution is to go before noon while it's emptier.

Do you need flip flops for Budapest baths?

Yes You need to bring flip flops, towels, and a swimsuit (as nude bathing is not allowed in any bath). You can buy the latter two at the entrance, but they are expensive.

What do you wear to a thermal bath?

You need to bring flip flops, towels, and a swimsuit (as nude bathing is not allowed in any bath).

Which is the best bath to visit in Budapest?

  1. Széchenyi Thermal Bath
  2. Gellért Thermal Bath
  3. Rudas Thermal Bath
  4. Király Thermal Bath
  5. Lukács Thermal Bath
  6. Veli Bej Thermal Bath
  7. Dandár Thermal Bath
  8. Palatinus Baths