An Insiders Guide to the Best Thermal Baths in Budapest
Budapest is a city bequeathed by mother nature with natural thermal springs, which people have bathed in for medicinal purposes since antiquity. After major developments in bath infrastructure coupled with a spike in tourism, Budapest’s thermal bath culture has been elevated onto a global stage. With thousands of people from around the world visiting the Magyar capital to bathe in the mineral-rich waters. The selection of baths in the city is extensive, so with the help of our bath-loving local, Willie G, we’ve narrowed down the very best thermal baths in Budapest that you should check out.
Király Thermal Bath
Király Thermal Bath is the go-to spot if you’re a history buff, not fascinated by the glitz and glamour. of the more decadent bathhouses on this list. Sure, you don’t have some of the ostentatious bells and whistles of the grander baths in Budapest. Yet there is something downright mystical about the atmosphere of Kiraly. It has everything you could ever need to unwind, in a compact and easy to navigate space.
Constructed in 1565 and remains essentially unchanged to the present day. Of course, modern amenities have been added, but the essential construction of the squat, rectangular stone building topped with its signature series of cupola domes is of the original design.
The dominant feature in Király is the octagonal main pool which clocks in at a scintillating 36 degrees Celsius. You walk into the subterranean facility and are instantly confronted by the gently rippling waters. As you submerge yourself and stare up at an enormous scooped out watermelon rind, lovely light floods down through small circular portholes. Adding an ethereal, enchanting and surreal vibe.
There is also a delightful little courtyard in the centre of the facility with an enormous bucket to soak in. Just like the rest of the Király thermal bath, the waters are actually transported via Larchwood pipes from the nearby Lukacas thermal baths. Király has a double-chambered sauna as well and one of the best steam rooms in the whole city. There is also a cold pool, a hot pool (40 degrees Celsius) and a lukewarm pool that is perfect for meditation. Cycling through all of these options so easy, since everything is in such close proximity.
The preferred spot for bathing purists who don’t mind leaving without the photo opportunity. It’s not the place to come if you are with a big group, but it makes for the perfect zone of relaxation if you are by yourself or in the company of a lover/friend.
Day Pass + Changing Cabin – Weekday: 3000Ft, Weekends & Holidays: 3300Ft
Daily Pass + Locker – Weekday: 2700Ft, Weekend & Holidays: 3300Ft
Location | Opening Hours: Mon-Sun: 9AM-9PM (Cash Desk 8PM)
Széchenyi Thermal Bath
Széchenyi Thermal Bath is the most renowned of all the thermal baths in Budapest. Step inside this mineral-rich maze, and you’ll be left in awe by its sheer size and grandiosity. Despite being filled to the brim with tourists, which although can take away a tad from the overall experience. It’s still one helluva bathhouse, totally worth checking out if you’re in town.
It’s an attraction and if that is something you want out of your experience, who can blame you. It feels like you’re in a theme park at times, particularly in the outdoor area section. Which is comprised of two enormous thermal pools decked out with spectacular statuary, ringing all the way around by the signature yellow facade.
The indoor section has much more to offer than anywhere else on this list, with a labyrinthine collection of thermal pools, saunas, steam rooms and areas that defy description. It took our local Willie, an astute thermal bath bandit his 8th trip to Széchenyi baths before he realised that there were two enormous Finnish Saunas below the indoor sections.
The Széchenyi Thermal Bath is an ideal spot to go with a group, particularly if you are with friends on the raucous side. At some of the other bathhouses on this list, you will get dirty looks if you talk too loud or behave out of turn. At Széchenyi, pretty much any behaviour can go unnoticed. That is both the advantage and disadvantage of this particular shrine to bathing.
It’s a spectacular bathhouse but not one that is meant for those who want peace and quiet. Particularly on a Saturday night when they have their famous weekly Sparty. A hedonistic rave not for the faint-hearted and the admission fee a bit heavy on the wallet. However, if you do happen to fork over the high admission fee then get ready to have a bloody good party.
Day Pass + Changing Cabin – Weekday: 6400Ft, Weekends & Holidays: 6800Ft
Day Pass + Locker – Weekday: 5900Ft, Weekend & Holidays: 6200Ft
Location| Opening Hours: Mon-Sun: 6AM-10PM (Cash Desk: 9PM)
Dandár Thermal Bath
Dandár Thermal Bath is the place to go if you want to experience a truly local vibe. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anything other than Magyar being spoken when soaking in the mineral-rich thermal water here. Mostly because it has the cheapest prices, something that has made Dandár a firm favourite amongst the locals.
There is an indoor and outdoor section, the latter in which Dandár thermal be that truly shines. The two kidney bean-shaped pools are wonderful places to sip a beer, submerge yourself in the thermal mirth and chill. You can buy your lager at the small ‘büfé’ indoors, and they even let you bring your own alcohol if you are so inclined. There are a couple of saunas here and a steam room as well.
While the indoor section is not as complex as some of the other baths in town – it has everything you need with two large thermal pools and a cold plunge to chill down your body temperature. Take note that it is only in these indoor pools where you will be soaking in the ‘thermal’ water, with its signature mineral composition and accompanying smell. The outdoor pools are hot, but not as pure. Some people don’t like the sulfur odour, but others would literally use it as cologne if given the choice.
If you want to be extra professional about things you can even sample some of the waters by taking a traditional drinking cure, available outside the entrance to the locker room.
Inside Pool & Sauna Pass + Locker – Weekday: 2000Ft, Weekends & Holidays: 2300Ft
Indoor & Outdoor Pass + Locker – Weekday: 2800Ft, Weekend & Holidays: 2900Ft
Location | Opening Hours: Mon-Fri: 6AM-9PM, Sat-Sun: 8AM-9PM
Gellért Thermal Bath
Gellért Thermal Bath is an Instagrammer’s wet dream, coated from head to toe in that ever so idiosyncratic, turn-of-the-century design principle known as art nouveau. This bathhouse is equal parts elegant and gaudy. Most definately one of the most unique and intriguing thermal baths in Budapest.
However, you must keep in mind that it is the most expensive bathhouse in the city, so you’ll be hard-pressed to find any locals here. But the photo opportunities are limitless and the waters are as genuinely relaxation-inducing as anywhere else on this list. One thing to keep in mind is that they don’t accept Euro’s here.
You’ll feel glamorous at Gellért, we can promise you that much, and location wise it is probably the best of any of the baths, located just in the shadow of the indomitable citadel. A trip here is best done at the tail end of a spectacular walk up to the peak of Gellért hill.
Day Pass + Changing Cabin – Weekday: 6700Ft, Weekends & Holidays: 7100Ft
Day Pass + Locker – Weekday: 6300Ft, Weekend & Holidays: 6600Ft
Location| Opening Hours: Mon-Sun: 6AM-8PM
Rudas Thermal Bath
If you want to sous vide yourself in hot water then head to Rudas Thermal Bath. The thermal baths obviously take the centre stage, but the panoramic view across the Danube adds an extra layer of awesomeness to the bathing experience.
Rudas is an awesome place, which is evident in its popularity, with people lining up to get inside. Especially on the weekends, when the Turkish section of the thermal baths is open. This beautiful, reconstructed Ottoman era, dome-covered bathing room – is only Co-Ed on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The Wellness section – which the Danube jacuzzi is a part of – is Co-Ed every day of the week. But Willie wouldn’t recommend heading here unless you are able to get the full Turkish experience.
Of course, you are free to check out the single-sex days during the week – but do note that your experience will be really a bit too authentic on those days. Nothing else is required of bathers on the single-sex days besides a strange-looking loincloth and many chose to go completely nude. Not the best sights to see when you’re trying to soak up so thermal goodness.
Rudas is a great bathing option, a terrific place to take a date for the Danube view alone. Plus on the weekends you have the option to check out a night session as they keep the bath open until 4 AM! And what a way to start or end a night out that would be.
Day Pass, Wellness, Thermal & Locker – Weekday: 5500Ft, Weekend & Holidays: 6900Ft
Location | Opening Hours: Mon-Sun: 6AM-8PM
Lukács Thermal Bath
Lukács, Lukács, Lukács. Where do we begin??! Oh, this is perhaps one of the lesser-known but best thermal baths in Budapest. It’s a perfect mix of size, variety, atmosphere and a local vibe to boot.
It is not as grand as Széchenyi, as elegant as Gellért, as ancient as Király, as cheap as Dandár, nor do you get any awe-inspiring views of the Danube like at Rudas. Lukács simply is what it is.. wonderful!
At Lukács you have plenty of areas to explore and they are essentially divided into two main sections: indoor and outdoor. The indoor section feels like the Turkish style baths at Rudas and Kiraly, but it lacks the signature Cupola dome. Nonetheless, the waters here are ideal and the steam room is my favourite in the whole city.
The outdoor section of Lukács Thermal Bath is like a mini version of Széchenyi. It is much more compact and lacks a bit of the wow factor – but on a sunny day, it must be one of the best places on the entire European continent to chill out. This bath is also much cheaper than its more famous cousin and is never too crowded with tourists.
Lukács is the perfect spot to go if you are with a group of friends and want to try out something authentically local. Plus the walk to the entrance is one of the most idyllic areas in the entire city with its beautiful white.
Day Pass + Changing Cabin – Weekday: 4100Ft, Weekends & Holidays: 4300Ft
Day Pass + Locker – Weekday: 4600Ft, Weekend & Holidays: 4800Ft
Location | Opening Hours: Mon-Sun: 6AM-10PM
If you’ve spent the day relaxing in one of the bathhouses above and are looking for some food or maybe a drink. Then be sure to check out some more articles on Budapest. Or why not download the Like Locals app and get real-time recommendations on the best things to do and see in Budapest, as reccomended by the locals. Download the Like Locals now on App Store or Google Play.