With six main spas to choose from (plus one on the way!), they offer an experience for every one, travelers, tourists and locals alike. Visiting at least one is highly recommended!
Széchenyi Spa is the biggest of all the spas in Budapest and is definitely the most popular for that reason. Two thermal springs provide water to the medicinal baths that was built in 1913 to include three outdoor pools and fifteen indoor pools!
The spa is named after Count István Széchenyi de Sárvár-Felsővidék, an Hungarian politician who died in 1860. His son, Béla Széchenyi was famous for his extensive travelling – which I thoroughly approve of! As this spa is one of the most famous and popular in the city, it provides more of a tourist experience than one of hanging with the locals.
Gellért Spa was built to be part of the Gellért Hospital that also stood on site, although when it was opened in 1918 it came after hundreds of years of rumours of the site providing healing waters from it’s springs. Some of these rumours mention use of these waters not only by the Ottomons, but also the Knights of St John in the 12th century.
In 2008 it underwent an extensive restoration, and since has become one of the most photographed spas in the world, due in most part to it’s incredible architecture.
The rumours of 12th century use of the site on which Lukács Spa stands are a bit more believable, as the site was used as a monastery for centuries before being opened as a spa hotel in 1880. This spa is definitely one to visit if you want to stay away from the tourist crowds and relax with the locals.
Honestly, it’s not as pretty, as large or as architecturally impressive as the two above, but it was my spa of choice as it is a little cheaper and less crowded.
Rudas Spa is the most traditional of all the baths in the city. Built by the Ottomans in 1550, it holds the closest architecture and design to the famous Turkish baths, and visitors often leave their swimming costumes behind to bathe in traditional aprons. Probably due to the lack of swimming costumes, the bath has specific days for men and women to visit, and only offers mixed bathing on weekend.
Unfortunately for us ladies, the only female-only day appears to be Tuesdays, with the rest of the week reserved for male bathing. If you wish to visit Rudas, I suggest checking with your hostel/hotel reception, or calling the baths, to be certain of when you are allowed to visit.
Built towards the end of the 16th century, Király Spa is similar to Rudas in that it is closer to the Turkish style than other baths in the city, however it doesn’t provide separate bathing for men and women despite being men-only for centuries. The domed building holds four pools, one in the traditional hexagonal style of the Ottomans, plus a small jacuzzi.
Whilst it is not the prettiest bath to see, as it is one of the two oldest in the city (along with Rudas) it is a great place for those who know and are interested in Hungarian history!
6. Veli Bej
Veli Bej Spa is definitely one of the lesser known Turkish baths in Budapest – only once in my seven months there did I hear anyone refer to it! Which is a shame as it is extremely well preserved and beautiful inside, if a little tricky to find.
Lesser known to tourists due to it’s re-opening as recently as 2011, it is a great place to go to relax away from the crowds after a long walk around town. Use this bath less as a sight to see and more as a spa!
I have included this Racz Spa in the guide, despite never having visited myself as it was due to re-open last summer, 2014, after years of renovations troubled by finance issues. It dates from the Ottoman period, and is now part of a luxury spa and hotel in the Buda area, and so the rumor is that ticket prices will be far from budget friendly.
If you are a luxury traveler who is looking for extreme elegance however, it looks like this could be the place for it!
As you can see, Budapest is the ultimate city in which to take a break from intensive travelling and really indulge!
Next in the Budapest Special – 7 Places To Shop in Budapest!
Lots of love,