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Szechenyi Spa Baths - Budapest - Hungary
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The 9 best spas and baths in Budapest

Exhausted from all the sightseeing? Kick back and relax at one of the best spas or baths in Budapest

Jennifer Walker
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Jennifer Walker
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The relaxation, the sweet relaxation. Budapest’s bathing culture is a thing to celebrate and boy, oh boy, have they been celebrating here for a while. It all started with the Romans (although it might go back further than that), and every civilisation since has had a go at perfecting the art. You can’t go wrong with the 16th-century Turkish attempts, grandiose affairs that strive to draw a straight line between the earth and the stars. Close your eyes here, and you will be transported to another world entirely. Sound like we are getting carried away? You haven’t experienced the magical baths and spas of Budapest.

The very best spas and baths of Budapest are some of the most marvellous attractions on the continent. You’ll find everything from neoclassical colonnades to ultra-modern thermal facilities and everything in between, even outdoor beach-style bathing (if such a thing takes your fancy). Whatever your thermal bath style of choice, you’re in for a treat in the Hungarian capital.

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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’.

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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.

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Dagály Baths
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / Christo

3. 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. 

Rudas Baths
Photograph: Jennifer Walker

4. 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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Dandár Baths
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / Misibacsi

5. 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.

Veli Bej Baths
Photograph: Jennifer Walker

6. 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.

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Lukács Baths
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / Christo

7. 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.

Palatinus Baths
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / Daniel Somogyi-Tóth

8. 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). 

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Római Beach Baths
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / Christo

9. 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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