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Palatinus Baths, Budapest, Hungary
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The 10 best spas and baths in Budapest

Exhausted from all the sightseeing and partying? You deserve to relax at one of the best spas and baths in Budapest

Peterjon Cresswell
Written by
Peterjon Cresswell
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Budapest is Europe’s spa capital. Historic, ornate, and sights in themselves, their heritage dating back to Ottoman or Habsburg times, spas here are for a whole day’s relaxation and even for night-time fun, given the late Saturday sessions at the Rudas and pool parties at the Széchenyi

No visit to Budapest is complete without one to the spa. Most are around £25/€30, but budget-friendly options include Lukács and Veli Bej. Bring a towel, your swimming costume (this isn’t Germany – Hungarians don’t do naked saunas), flip-flops, a dressing gown in winter, and a bank card to buy drinks and snacks inside. Here are the best spas in Budapest.  

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This guide was updated by Peterjon Cresswell, a writer based in Budapest. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines. 

Best spas and baths in Budapest

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Think of Budapest spas and you think of the Széchenyi in City Park, an ornate complex of 13 indoor and three outdoor pools. The classic image of old Hungarians playing chess in the water here is one that’s fading fast – tourists and expats comprise most of the clientele these days. The Széchenyi is a memorable experience, and a must-do for your first time in the city, not least when snowflakes fall from starlit skies over bathers in winter. Year-round pool parties, Sparties, are a regular fixture on Saturday nights.

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The adjoining hotel may be closed for long-term renovation but the illustrious Gellért Baths are very much open for business. Done out in the same Art Nouveau style as the landmark building overlooking the Danube by Liberty Bridge, the Gellért captures the Silver Age of Budapest between the wars. Marine-tiled interiors and intricately carved columns surround the indoor pool, while in summer, one of the world’s first wave machines has been entertaining bathers for nearly a century. Note the plaque by the embankment opposite the Gellért, marking the spot where seaplanes would whisk visitors to Lake Balaton as part of the Grand Tour.

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  • Things to do

While nowhere near as grand as the Gellért or Széchenyi, the Lukács appeals to its many regulars thanks to the significantly lower cost of admission and more easily accessible bathing areas. Plaques lining the walls of the luxuriant gardens attest in various languages to the healing power of the thermal waters here, which once soothed weary soldiers on their way back from the Crusades. The long-term renovation of the in-house Sauna World means that some features may still not be available but the outdoor and indoor pools should keep you happily relaxed for a few hours. In summer, the roof is given over to sunbathing, backdropped by the green slopes of Buda.

Rudas Baths
Photograph: Shutterstock.com

4. Rudas Baths

This charming complex by Elizabeth Bridge is split into three parts: an Ottoman-era steam bath, a swimming pool and a contemporary spa centre. The cupola-covered Turkish bath with its octagonal main pool dates back to the 16th century, a recent makeover doing justice to its heritage status. Bathing is single-sex during the week but mixed at weekends, when the Rudas stays open for special sessions until 3am on Friday and Saturday nights. The rooftop jacuzzi provides front-row seats over the Danube, space at a premium once the stars come out.

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Palatinus Baths
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5. Palatinus Baths

Margaret Island is Budapest’s oasis of recreation, with its own thermal springs that also feed two spa hotels. On the western side overlooking Buda, the Palatinus has been entertaining Hungarians young and old for just over a century. Opened just after World War I as Budapest’s first open-air thermal bath and pool complex, revamped in impressive Bauhaus style just before World War II, the Palatinus is what’s known here as a strand or lido, full of water features for kids, who flock here in droves all summer. It’s only after a 2017 makeover that the baths opened year-round, allowing adults to take advantage of the 15 pools and various spa treatments.

Veli Bej Baths
Photograph: Jennifer Walker for Time Out

6. Veli Bej Baths

Part of a hospital complex near the Lukács Baths, the Veli Bej shares the same 16th-century Ottoman heritage as the Rudas and the long-closed Király here on the Buda side. Only converted for contemporary public use in recent years, this smaller complex operates daily between 3pm-9pm, as well as 6am-noon at weekends, and your ticket is valid for three hours. Original features like the stone arches and cupola remain from the Turkish era, while the sauna area feels neat and modern, equipped with an ice machine and showers. 

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Dagály Baths
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / Christo

7. Dagály Baths

The Dagály (‘High Tide’) is of its time, both 1948 when the incoming Communists constructed it in Socialist-Realist style, and 2017 when it was rebuilt to accommodate the adjoining Duna Aréna in order to host the World Aquatics Championships the following year. On Népfürdő utca (‘People’s Baths Street’) in north Pest, this sprawling complex spans the best of both eras: still appealingly retro-tinged and affordable, it comprises several pools, each given a contemporary makeover. Extensive greenery, backdropped by the Danube and Buda slopes, allows you to plot up here for the day, doing as locals do by spreading out your towel and breaking out the sandwiches. 

Római Beach Baths
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / Christo

8. Római Beach Baths

Named after the nearby stretch of the Danube where the Romans set up camp 2,000 years ago, the Római is a strand, a summer-only lido full of flumes, slides, splashing and shrieking. It’s great with the kids, perhaps not so ideal if you just want a calm soak and a few hours with a good book – although the grounds are spacious (and shaded) enough for you to find a quieter spot. There’s a large lane pool, too, and kiosks serving the classic Hungarian beach snack, lángos, a mess of fried dough and sour cream. Nearby is Római part, an embankment lined with bars and fast-food outlets, where a temporary lido is also set up in summer, this limited area of the Danube clean enough to swim in.

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9. Alfréd Hajós National Pool

If you’re just after a quality swim for the price of two beers, this historic pool complex on Margaret Island fits the bill perfectly. Designed by Hungary’s first Olympic champion, who won a swimming gold in 1896 then another medal for stadium architecture in 1924, the Alfréd Hajós is where generations of Hungarian athletes have trained for major championships. 

Several such events have also taken place here, most recently the World Aquatics Championships of 2022, but that doesn’t mean you can’t quietly knock out a few lengths with a modest breaststroke. In summer, like the Palatinus (see above) nearby, the Hajós, as it is known, transforms into a family-friendly lido.

10. Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest

The Gresham is one of several high-end hotels in town happy to throw open its impressive spa to non-guests, in this case from 8am-10pm daily. Overlooking the Chain Bridge from the Pest embankment, this fin-de-siècle Art Nouveau landmark was converted into a five-star hotel by the Four Seasons group in the early 2000s, since when it has accommodated many a Hollywood A-lister. As well as panoramic views of the Danube and Buda cityscape, the spa offers treatments such as Hungarian moor mud therapy and soothing massages in gold particles, as befit the once-in-a-lifetime nature of staying here in the first place.

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