The City of Spas
When arriving to Budapest, be sure to visit a thermal bath of which there are several throughout this dazzling city with a variety of services. With warmer temperatures upon us, now is a fantastic opportunity to try outdoor pools.
A top pick would be Széchenyi located a few minutes’ walk from Heroes’ Square. This was the first thermal bath I’ve ever visited in Hungary and I can say it was definitely a pleasant surprise. I can remember the architecture making me feel like a royal. The sunny yellow façade and the ornate fountains create an unforgettable experience. Széchenyi can be easily reached from Deák Square via metro line 1 since it has its own stop called Széchenyi fürdő. There are three enormous pools outside, one being Olympic-sized, while the others vary in size and temperatures. There is a whirlpool also and I do recommend trying it for an unusual and fun experience. This bath is great for warmer periods due to the extravagant outdoor pools. If one fancies chess, there are boards built near the bath’s walls. For an additional ticket, one can reserve a spa treatment bathing in beer. I’ve just personally tried this with a friend from Boston and we would definitely return. The ingredients are refreshing and make one’s skin so soft even after just forty-five-minutes.
Another thermal spa to visit during the summer season would be the splendid Rudas. The use of medicinal waters date back to the year of 1550. Rudas can be found on the Buda side of the Erzsébet Bridge at Döbrentei tér 9. There are six thermal baths and a large swimming pool with temperatures varying between 10-42 degrees Celsius. I’ve visited more than once and will continue to return. The architecture varies drastically with the interior having a unique blend of distinctive styles. This creates an atmosphere I have yet to feel anywhere else. Keep in mind that on Tuesdays the baths are open for women only. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday serve men only, so it is a true gender separated, naked (apron covered) bathing experience. Saturday and Sunday are for both men and women. While there, my friend and I found the staff to be helpful and inviting. The rooftop bath, especially during sunset or in later during the evening, is stunning. Be prepared for company as this bath is a top attraction. The views are truly remarkable. Thinking back, I’d recommend this bath for those who want a more modern and younger feeling in addition to wonderful views of Budapest. With the thermal bath being located in a slight bend of the Danube one can view many bridges and magnificent buildings from them.
My third suggestion would be the Gellért spa which is located on the Buda side as well, across from Liberty Bridge on Gellért Square. This bath can be easily reached via metro line 4 to the station Szent Gellért tér. When entertaining guests, I always mention this spa due to its early 1900s Art Nouveau glamour and elegance. Both its indoor and outdoor pools are breathtaking. With luxurious columns throughout, in addition to beautiful mosaics and hand-carved wooden moldings, be sure to photograph this Hungarian wonder. Since Gellért is quite large and spread out it may be slightly tricky to navigate at first. however, their staff have always been happy to assist. My favorite room is the interior pool with temperatures set to 36 degrees Celsius. With oversized teal mosaic tiles from the floor to the vaulted ceilings you’ll never want to leave. Just this past year, Ryan Gosling visited Gellért and shot the cover for GQ’s January issue in this exact room. There is much to see and do within this bath which makes for a fully-packed program. Whether alone, with friends or a partner, you won’t run out of baths, saunas and steam rooms to explore.
Fourthly, I have to mention Király spa (Fő utca 84) located on the Buda side, near Batthyány tér (station of metro line 2) across the river from Parliament. This hidden gem is spotted to be renovated in 2019. I’d recommend Király for those who want to experience the ‘Baths of Budapest’ although don’t have many expectations regarding traditional spa elegant amenities. This bath is quite local and I was invited there by a Hungarian friend for the first time. Their steam room is my top pick due to the tranquil aroma and immense vapor. Entrance is affordable with an adult ticket of 2,500 Huf. Once inside, there is a breath-taking octagonal pool with a unique Turkish dome. This is the largest bath of the spa. Around the interior perimeter, there are smaller baths for 6 or 7 people with varying temperatures.