Your Guide To The Bath Houses Of Budapest

If you’re going to Hungary’s capital, then you cannot miss the most satisfying and relaxing thing to do in town, the Budapest bath houses. They have been around since Roman times healing ailments through the 125 thermal springs under the city. Some locals still swear by its healing powers, but you’ll more than likely be going there to cure a hangover.

Ironically, the bath houses now actually cause a hangover themselves, with huge parties bringing people from around the world to SPArty the night away. Whatever your reason for going this guide will tell you all the ins and outs of bath house etiquette, prices and how to do it like a local!

Related post: Bratislava things to do

Things To Know Before You Go

To be naked or not to be naked?

Unlike traditional Turkish and Roman baths, the Budapest bath houses are becoming increasingly male and female mixed. Some baths are keeping the traditions and depending on the day could be men only or female only. That means that if you want to get your birthday suit out it can only be those single sex days. Otherwise bring a bathing suit to cover all your naughty bits.

What if you don’t have a bathing suit?

Don’t worry, you can rent all sorts of things from the bath houses;

Bathing suits: if you haven’t packed your budgie smugglers or zungas most venues can rent you some bathers

Towels: some Budapest bath houses require you to use a towel when you’re in the sauna. So if you want to dry yourself at the end of the day you’ll need another towel.

Swimming caps: now, no-one likes wearing a swimming cap, but if you want to jump in the lap pool you’ll need to rent one.

Let us explain the cabins vs. lockers debate

The price lists for the baths can be confusing, with the main culprit being the whole cabins vs. lockers dilemma. Basically, do you mind getting naked in front of everyone or do you want some privacy?

Cabins: a small changing cabin you hire for the day. You store your things in there, get changed in there and who knows what else you do in there 😉

Locker: with this option you’ll have to get changed with everyone around you. The locker is big enough for your clothes and not much else

With both options you’ll get a fancy waterproof electronic wrist band to lock/unlock your things. They should be quite secure, but I still wouldn’t trust them with anything too expensive.

Related Post: Weekend in Krakow Guide

What’s the layout of the bath houses in Budapest?

All the Budapest bath houses have the same general layout, except some are just bigger and have more pools. This is how most look on the inside;

  • 1 lap pool for swimming
  • 1 or 2 big outside mineral-rich thermal pools
  • 4-15 indoor thermal pools with different healing minerals and temperatures ranging from 16-42 degrees
  • Dry saunas (up to 80 degrees inside!) and ice-cold plunge pools
  • Steam rooms
  • Different massage therapies
  • Workout facilities
1 of the 15 indoor thermal pool at Szechenyi | Photo by Wei-Te Wong

1 of the 15 indoor thermal pools at Szechenyi | Photo by Wei-Te Wong

How much do the Budapest bath houses cost?

We found this to be the most confusing part of the whole bath house experience, so we’ll try and simplify it for you. The best value-for-money option is if you go during the week and get a day pass that uses a locker.

Do you want a cabin or locker?

Cabins are the more expensive option.

How long do you want to be there?

Getting to the baths early and leaving early is cheaper than staying for the whole day. Some places will even put a time limit on how long you can stay at the baths which is normally around 3 hours.

Do you want to treat yourself while you’re there?

Lastly, you can just go to the baths or get a massage included in your price.

Do they have food or drinks at the bath houses in Budapest?

As you would expect, the food is pretty expensive at the Budapest bath houses. Your two best options for cheap food alternatives are;

  1. Eat up big before you go and leave when starvation is setting in
  2. Bring a small picnic to eat. Beware that not all the baths allow this option, though. We saw people with whole watermelons and big-scale picnics in Szechenyi.

Make sure you bring plenty of your own water for the day. The price of bottled water is quite high and you’ll be needing it if you’re jumping in and out of that sauna.

Szechenyi front enterance | Photo by Wei-Te Wong

Szechenyi front entrance | Photo by Wei-Te Wong

What the thermal pools do to help your medical needs

The main attraction of the Budapest bath houses is the thermal waters that contain special healing minerals. According to people that know things, these minerals can heal a bunch of different ailments. There are even plaques at Lukacs Baths from patients thanking the bath house for curing them.

Ailments that benefit from the thermal waters include:

  • Joint degeneration
  • Protruded intervertebral disc
  • Bone system calcium deficiency
  • Neuralgia
  • Chronic arthritis
  • Chronic and semi-acute arthritis
  • Blood circulation problems
  • Degenerative illnesses of joints
  • Illnesses of the vertebral spine
  • Pains of the intervertebral disc
  • Aortic stenosis
  • Neuralgia
  • Stomach problems
  • Gallbladder
  • Kidney stones

How to do the Budapest bath houses like a real Hungarian!

If you want to get rid of your chronic arthritis or just a hangover this is the best way to go about being at the baths;

  1. Shower
  2. Go in one of the big warm pools and relax those muscles
  3. Jump into a cold pool
  4. Spend a few minutes in the sauna
  5. Plunge in the ice-cold pool
  6. Spend a few minutes in the steam room
  7. Plunge in the ice-cold pool
  8. Relax in each of the different temperature thermal pools
  9. Have a shower
  10. Play some chess
  11. Relax by the pools sunbathing till your heart’s content

Or just copy what one of the old locals are doing 😉

 

Budapest Bath Houses chess game at Széchenyi

Get your chess game on at Széchenyi | Photo by Wei-Te Wong

Who wants a Budapest bath PARTY!?

Nowadays, the Budapest bath houses aren’t just for day-time relaxing. They have taken a leaf out of the Las Vegas pool party book and started all-night raves on the weekend. Mariana and I didn’t get a chance to go to one, but from what we’ve seen they look insane.

 

 

Looks like a big production right? Well, the price of the tickets reflects that. It starts at €35 (early bird) and finishes at €160 if you buy it on the day of the party and want VIP.

They are held at either Széchenyi or Lukacs depending on the time of year. For a list of dates check out the SPArty website for details.

The 6 Best Budapest Bath Houses

Now you know the ins and outs of what to do in the baths it’s time to tell you a bit about the individual baths. There are 50 spas, baths and public pools in Budapest, but most of them you can forget about. Here is the low-down of the 6 biggest and best baths in town.

 Rudas Turkish Bath


Rudas Turkish Bath is one of the oldest and most famous bath houses in Budapest. It was recently renovated to keep it up with modern times. The main swimming hall is beautiful and the labyrinth of thermal pools and saunas will keep you happy all day.

 

Budapest Bath Houses inside Rudas bathhouse

Inside the Turkish bath of Rudas | Photo by Guillaume Baviere

 

Excellent choice if you want to go to a Turkish bath. Just remember there are no outside pools here.

During the week it’s a men-only affair except on Tuesdays where the girls get their turn. On the weekend everyone can party together

6 thermal pools

1 big indoor swimming pool

Saunas & massages: 8 AM – 10 PM

Swimming pool: 6 AM – 10 PM

Thermal pools: 6 AM – 8 PM

Friday & Saturday nights: 10 PM – 4 AM

1,350 – 34,000 HUF

The normal full-day thermal and swimming pool ticket is 3,900 HUF

Click here for a full price break down

Döbrentei tér 9, Budapest 1013

Buda, District 1

Veli Bej Turkish Bath


This is somewhat the hidden gem of Budapest’s bath houses. Tucked away in the corner of a hospital, it was renovated in 2011 and looks amazing. It’s also not part of the Budapest Bath Association making it cheaper than other places in town. There is also a maximum of 80 people allowed inside so it never feels over-crowded.

 

Great option for backpackers who want a cheap, fancy and not-crowded affair.

This bath house is open for men and women all week.

1 big octagon thermal pool surrounded by 4 smaller thermal pools

1 big swimming pool

Everyday: 6 AM – 12 PM and 3 PM – 9 PM

2,240 – 2,800 HUF

Click here for a full price breakdown

Árpád fejedelem útja 7,

Budapest 1023

Kiraly Turkish Bath


Another 16th century Turkish bath house, but unlike Rudas it looks a lot more rundown. If you didn’t know better you would think it hadn’t been upgraded since opening. In other words this is pretty much as authentic as it gets.

Budapest Bath Houses outside Kiraly bathhouse

The run down Kiraly bath | Photo by Misibacsi

Small, rundown, authentic and no tourists! If you’re up for an off-the-beaten-track option this is your bath.

The bath used to be a male only bath, but recently it has changed to become mixed gender everyday.

4 thermal pools

Everyday: 9 AM – 9 PM

1,300-2,700 HUF

Click here for a full price breakdown

Fő utca 84, Budapest 1027

Buda, District 2

Lukacs Roman Bath


Built in 1894, it’s not the oldest or most extravagant, but it’s loved by locals. They come back for the supposedly amazing healing powers of the water. They even bottle their drinking water here to sell in fancy supermarkets.

 

Good to escape the crowds and still get the big bath feeling.

This is a mixed gender bath house.

3 outdoor pools

4 thermal indoor pools

Everyday: 6 AM – 9 PM

600 – 3,800 HUF

Free if you get the Budapest card

Beware that swimming caps are required for the lap pool and are quite expensive to rent/buy at the bath house.

Click here for a full break down of prices

Frankel Leó út 25, Budapest 1023

Buda, District 2

 

Gellert Baths


This is the most photographed indoor bath in Budapest. The art nouveau style from 1918 means there are lots of beautiful statues and detailing around the baths. The location is great if you’ve just finished your climb down from Gellert Hill and the giant bottle opener.

Budapest Bath Houses Gellert bathhouse

The main pool of Gellert | Photo by Roberto Ventre

Really fancy and nice for some photos, but otherwise quite expensive and not as fun as others

Prior to 2013 all facilities were male and female only. Now they are all mixed.

2 big hot indoor pools

3 even bigger hot outdoor pools

8 thermal indoor small baths

Everyday: 6 AM – 8 PM

1,800 – 35,000 HUF

The full-day thermal and swimming pool ticket is 5,100 HUF

Beware that swimming caps are required for the lap pool and are quite expensive to rent/buy at the bath house.

Click here for a full break down of the prices

Kelenhegyi út 4, Budapest 1118

Buda, District 11

Széchenyi Baths


This is the biggest, busiest and brashest of the Budapest bath houses. It has everything you would think it should and it all looks amazing. The main outside pools are a thing of beauty and chaos.

Hundreds of beautiful young people sunbathing and splashing away in the pools. Then right next to all that are old locals floating around playing chess.

Escape the crazy main pools in the massive indoor thermal pool complex. Here, you can jump from pool to pool having all sorts of fun conversations with tourists and locals alike.

They even have a beer therapy room with unlimited draft beer while you lay in your tub!

Budapest Bath Houses Széchenyi Bath House

The glorious and busy Széchenyi Bath House

 

It felt more like a busy public pool rather than a relaxing bath experience. In saying that, the place is beautiful, HUGE and a lot of fun. Best bet would be to also go to a quieter bath house if you come here, so you can actually relax.

The venue is mixed male and female.

15 thermal pools

3 big swimming pools

Swimming pools: 6 AM – 10 PM

Thermal pools: 6 AM – 7 PM

1,700 – 37,000 HUF

4,700 HUF for a day ticket with locker for the thermal and swimming pools

Click here for a full price break down

Állatkerti körút 11, Budapest 1146

Pest, City Park, District 14

 

 

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By |2017-01-11T16:02:59+00:00September 15th, 2016|Categories: Eastern Europe, Guide, Hungary|0 Comments

About the Author:

A twenty-something x engineer who loves eating strange things, jumping off things, can be a little OCD about most things and loves trying to make his travels as cheap as possible!

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