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Szechenyi Spa Baths - Budapest - Hungary
Photograph: Shutterstock

The 10 best spas and baths in Budapest

Need to cool off? If you’ve had enough sightseeing, kick back and wallow at one of the best spas or baths in Budapest

Written by
Jennifer Walker

Budapest’s bathing culture goes back centuries – to the Romans and perhaps beyond – and today you’ll find a variety of baths and spas that cater to (nearly) every taste. There are 16th-century Turkish baths built under the Ottoman occupation; there are grand fin-de-siècle pools with art nouveau details and neoclassical colonnades; there are art deco bath buildings, ultra-modern thermal facilities and even outdoor beach-style bathing spots. You could spend all holiday hopping from bath to spa to bath to spa and still have pretty much the best time of your life. 

There’s a reason some of very best spas and thermal baths in Budapest often rank among the city’s top attractions and things to do – go and experience them yourself. 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Budapest

Best spas and baths in Budapest

Széchenyi Baths
Photograph: Shutterstock

1. Széchenyi Baths

One of the largest thermal bath complexes in Central Europe, the Széchenyi Baths in City Park are far and away Budapest’s most famous. With an exceptional backdrop of classical columns and canary-yellow walls, it’d be easy to spend an entire day in its 13 indoor – and three outdoor – pools. On Saturday nights in summer, pop-up bars line the exterior pools for Széchenyi’s notorious ‘sparties’.

Rudas Baths
Photograph: Jennifer Walker

2. Rudas Baths

This charming complex is split into three parts: the Ottoman-era steam bath, the swimming pool and the recently opened wellness centre. The cupola-covered Turkish bath with its octagonal main pool dates back to the 16th century. Bathing is single-sex during the week but mixed on the weekend. The Roman-style swimming pool and wellness centre are always mixed. Our tip? Hotfoot it to the rooftop jacuzzi with front-row seats over the Danube.

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These art nouveau baths, located at the bottom of Gellért Hill and adjoining the hotel of the same name, capture the golden age of 20th-century Budapest with their marine-tiled indoor thermal pools and intricately carved columns surrounding the indoor swimming pool. The exterior includes smaller pools and a large swimming pool, famous for its 1920s wave machine that runs on the hour.

Király Baths
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / BáthoryPéter

4. Király Baths

Just a few minutes from Batthyány Square, these are the city’s oldest Turkish baths. The charmingly run-down Király must also be one of Budapest’s cheapest, and wallowing under its pin-pricked dome really is like travelling back in time. It’s very much no-frills here – you won’t find a swimming pool, and there isn’t much else beyond a few saunas and steam cabins.

Veli Bej Baths
Photograph: Jennifer Walker

5. Veli Bej Baths

Hidden inside a hospital just off the Danube, you’ll find the Veli Bej Baths. Like Rudas and Király, this Turkish bath complex also dates back to the 16th century. The interior is clean and has striking salmon pink walls, but original features like the stone arches and cupola remain. The four side pools each boast a domed chamber and are heated to different temperatures. Note that there’s a cap on numbers, so at peak times you may get a ticket and be asked to sit in the café for 20 minutes.

Palatinus Baths
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / Daniel Somogyi-Tóth

6. Palatinus Baths

Margaret Island has its own thermal water springs, and in 1921 Budapest’s first open-air thermal bath and pool complex took advantage of that. This art deco, Bauhaus-influenced spot is ideal if the weather’s nice, and if it’s not, don’t fear – following a 2017 makeover, Palatinus also boasts indoor facilities for the winter months. Come for the architecture, and stay for the vibe (fun, friendly, filled with locals). 

Dandár Baths
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / Misibacsi

7. Dandár Baths

Neighbours with the Zwack Unicum factory in Pest’s post-industrial XI District, the Dandár Baths are the best choice if you’re on a tight budget. These 1930s baths are off the tourist track, and though the décor is modest, you’ll almost certainly take the waters with locals here. The interior baths are filled with thermal water, and many elderly Budapestians come here for their alleged curative properties. There are also two heated pools outside.

Lukács Baths
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / Christo

8. Lukács Baths

These 19th-century baths close in Buda may not be as grand as the Széchenyi or Gellért, but they certainly have their own old-world charm. The bath complex begins at the drinking hall and moves through a luxuriant garden lined with placards of grateful patients whose ailments were cured by the water. Head in, and you’ll find a maze of tiled changing rooms, outdoor swimming pools, saunas, a heated activity pool with jacuzzi bubbles, and a flashy neoclassical thermal section decorated with statues.

Dagály Baths
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / Christo

9. Dagály Baths

Head to this Danube-side complex in northern Pest for thermal baths in a eye-catching social realist setting. Dagály boasts two large swimming pools, two thermal pools, a massage pool, plunge pool, Kneipp pools, children’s pools, activity pools, and excellent views of the Danube and the Buda Hills – so you can pair your swim with photo-worthy panoramas. 

Római Beach Baths
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / Christo

10. Római Beach Baths

Located in north Budapest, on the Buda side, the area around Római Part is becoming increasingly popular thanks to its riverside beaches – and trendy beachside bars. Római Beach is an official outdoor bathing complex where lukewarm karst water fills the pools, and where you can lie on loungers in the sun or channel your inner child at the water slide park. This is an excellent choice if you’re in Budapest with kids and want to spend a day splashing around outside.

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Gift hunting in Budapest doesn’t have to mean lugging home industrial quantities of Hungarian paprika and outsize (though no doubt delightful) works of embroidered folk art. In fact, there are few more diverse places to go shopping – and find pretty much exactly what you’re looking for – than here.

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