Budapest / Hungary

Visiting Baths in Budapest: Tips for First-Timers

Updated April 27, 2024

I’ve never been one for public displays of affection, nudity, or self-indulgence.  However, on a recent trip to Budapest, I found myself interested in all three. Before visiting the heart of Hungary, I really didn’t know what to expect.  I had seen pictures of the Hungarian Parliament and heard stories about how the city reminds people a little bit of my hometown, Detroit, but I was unaware of just what I might find.

“Son, you know it’s actually two cities there right?” my father quipped when I told him about the planned trip. “It’s Buda and Pest!” (he insisted on pointing out its pronounced “Pesh”).  He added, “You’re going to love it there!” 

At first glance, I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. We walked through Buda Castle, checked out the scene along the Danube, and even enjoyed an evening boat ride so we could see the city all lit up.  But, it wasn’t until I found myself at the Gellert Thermal Baths that I really understood just why this city is so magnificent!

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Budapest Szechenyi Chain Bridge in Budapest

Visiting Gellert Thermal Baths in Budapest

As it turns out, Gellert Hill in Buda sits atop natural geothermal pools.  According to Gellert, these pools were discovered back in the 12th Century and have been healing people with their natural powers ever since (the water is filled with natural minerals that are said to have relaxation and medicinal benefits).

The baths were the highlight of Budapest for me because I had never experienced anything like it.  We purchased two adult tickets with a locker, which was 6,600 HUF per person (Hungarian Forint, which is about 20 US Dollars).  They have male and female changing rooms, which aren’t rooms at all — think of a high school swim locker room — nothing fancy.  

Once changed, I entered the indoor bath area where the waters varied in temperature, from warm baths around 96 degrees to 104 degrees Fahrenheit!  Sitting in the baths I could feel my tension and stress fade away.  I have to say the experience was completely relaxing and worth the price of admission.

What to Bring to a Budapest Thermal Bath

Before heading to the baths in Budapest, it’s important to know what to bring and what to leave behind. Most baths provide towels and lockers for a fee, so you don’t need to bring your own. Leave behind any valuables or jewelry, as they can easily get lost or stolen in the water.

  • Bathing suit
  • Shower shoes or flip flops
  • Shower products (soap, shampoo, etc.) if you want to shower and get ready after the bath experience.
  • A towel if you don’t want to use the one that is provided. It’s also smart to have two towels, one for after the bath, and one for after the shower.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind When Visiting the Thermal Baths in Budapest

Before visiting the baths in Budapest, it’s important to understand the bathing etiquette. This includes showering before entering the pools, not bringing food or drinks into the water, and respecting the dress code. Some baths may require you to wear a swim cap or specific swimwear, so be sure to check the rules before you go.

In addition to that, keep these other things in mind before you go:

  • Get a cabin if you don’t want to be nude in front of others — otherwise you should expects high school gym locker-room experience.
  • If you’re sensitive to temperature, pay attention to the temperature warnings at each bath.
  • There is a sauna and it gets VERY hot — seriously, I thought I could handle it and only lasted a few minutes.
  • Drink plenty of water before and after to avoid dehydration.
  • On average most thermal baths in Budapest are around $30 – $40. Prices during the week are generally cheaper.
  • Make sure you check restrictions before you go! Some baths have days and times that are just for women or men, and other times are co-ed.

Are the Thermal Baths in Budapest Worth Visiting?

Yes! The thermal baths in Budapest are definitely worth visiting — it is a unique experience and one that is integral to the Hungarian culture. Aside from hanging out with locals in a towel, the baths are an excellent way to relax and have loads of health benefits like improving circulation, easing pain or stiff muscles, detoxing the skin, and much more.

It is the perfect activity after a long day of walking and sightseeing!

When is The Best Time to Visit a Thermal Bath?

The best time to visit a thermal bath is first thing in the morning during the week. Not only is the admission generally cheaper, but the crowds will be smaller. Before you go, check the Bath’s website to ensure there aren’t restrictions on the day and time you want to visit.

Some thermal baths in Budapest have days or times that are just for women or men, and other times are co-ed.

the outside pool at the Széchenyi thermal bath in budapest on a bright sunny day
Széchenyi Thermal Bath

The Best Thermal Baths to Visit in Budapest

With so many thermal baths to choose from in Budapest, it’s important to find the one that best suits your needs. Some baths are more traditional and historic, while others are more modern and luxurious. Some are known for their party atmosphere, while others are more peaceful and relaxing.

Do your research and read reviews to find the bath that fits your preferences.

#1 Széchenyi Thermal Bath

Budapest, Állatkerti krt. 9-11, 1146 Hungary
This is the largest thermal bath in Budapest and probably the most popular and recognizable. There are nearly 20 pools at Széchenyi with varying temperatures and activities (swimming pool, thermal pool, etc.). It is open everyday, even on holidays.

#2 Gellért Thermal Baths

Budapest, Kelenhegyi út 4, 1118 Hungary
Gellért is well known for its gorgeous Art Nouveau architectural style — think stained glass windows and intricate tile. You’ll find ten pools of varying sizes and temperatures and a sauna and spa. It is open every day, even on holidays — if you’re not into a party scene, it’s best to avoid this bath on Saturday nights.

#3 Rudas Thermal Bath

Budapest, Döbrentei tér 9, 1013 Hungary
Interested in bathing in a palace? Rudas was built in the late 1500s and retained many original medieval charms. Unlike other baths, Rudas offers late-night hours on Friday and Saturday, and you’ll find days just for women and men during the week.

One more important note: visitors love the rooftop hot tub, which provides impressive city skyline views.

#4 Lukács Baths

Budapest, Frankel Leó út 25-29, 1023 Hungary
If you need healing, come here. Thanks to the onsite medical staff and medicinal pools, they can help ease whatever ails you. This is also a great choice if you’re looking to get away from crowds, as it’s less touristy (there is live music on Saturday night, which is a bit of a party). It is smaller than the other thermal baths as there are only four thermal pools and four swimming/wave pools.

More Travel Help!

Now that you’re ready to experience the thermal baths in Budapest, you might be looking for other European travel inspiration! Don’t miss these guides and articles.

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