Which Thermal Baths Should You Visit?
Budapest's famous thermal baths are an institution. (No wonder we finish some of our tours at Széchenyi or Gellért.)
Join us as we explore the pools of the capital with our guest blogger Lucas so you can decide which one you'd like to visit.
by Lucas Aresin
Hot water, cool design, countless pools. You might even bump into Ryan Gosling. Where do you think he was photographed when he was here for a movie shooting? Thermal baths offer more than just a great location for amazing pics. Besides warmth, cool design, the minerals in the water are believed to relieve health problems such as joint degeneration, bone problems, arthritis, and neuralgia. Not that Ryan would need it just yet. It's the literal feel-good package for grayer days, with our without him, read on to find out which of Budapest's baths will become your next favourite thing!
We've visited this beautiful place before on this blog. Széchenyi bath looks stunning before you even go in with its neo-baroque architecture. Coincidently, it is also one of the largest spa complexes in Europe. It was the first thermal bath of Pest and comes with fifteen indoor pools, as well as saunas, steam rooms, aqua fitness opportunities, whirlpools, jets, a sun deck on top of the beautiful architecture, and much more, including massages and beauty services. The open-air pool, which stays open all-year-around, is even more appealing in the winter. Watch the hot steam rise from the crystal surface of the pool where the heated water meets the chilling air. If time is money for you, and you have more of the latter than of the former, the Széchenyi fast-track allows you to pass the long queues. Széchenyi is also the location of the spa party series aka the sparty which usually runs Saturdays.
Lukács thermal bath has been around for a long time, since the first bath to be built in this area, which consists of a 1230 square meter park, was already erected in the 12th century (since then, it has been modernized quite a few times, we reckon).
The swimming pool offers three large pools between 200 and 370 square meters in size. The thermal bath part of Lukács offers up to 40° Celsius of water temperature. That ought to boil the stress away efficiently. If that's not enough, you can try the Kneipp pool (very cold water), the sauna, the sinking pool, the lounge, and a Himalayan salt room, which can improve inhalation for those with respiratory problems. Connected to the bath is also a hotel, which can be booked all year round.
This is actually the third time we cover this bath on this blog, which might just tell you that Rudas is worth a visit. Rudas was established in the 16th century and has since become a historical thermal bath. You can expect the usual – pools and sauna amidst a beautiful, ancient-looking architecture. Then, there are therapeutic programs, such as foot care or a body scrub. The undisputed highlight and unique selling point, however, is the rooftop Jacuzzi. There's little that beats a night on the rooftop of a swimming facility, sinking into the bubbling water and watching the city lights brighten the night, even if it's already cold outside. To further warm you up inside, go back inside and try the worthwhile Hungarian-Turkish fusion menu.
Király is a Turkish bath that has four thermal baths of different size and temperature. The coldest one still champions 26 cozy degrees Celsius, but if you want to boil, try the 40 degrees Celsius pool. As expected, the mineral-rich water (calcium, magnesium, etc.) makes it perfect for people with bone and muscle problems, or for those who just want to preemptively pamper their bodies. Király bath's interior transports you back to a former age of kings (Király means king - but the name itself actually comes from the family König (German for king)- they purchased the bath in 1796)It stands to question, however, if the Kings back then had underwater water jet massages. On the other hand, they probably did have steam baths and drinks. All these await you at Király bath.
I'm not getting tired of praising the architecture of Budapest's thermal baths. They simply look stunning and make a great first impression. This is true for Gellért bath just the same. When you enter with beautifully embellished floors under your feet and arched hallways above your head, you feel elevated already before you've even submerged yourself in the hot mineral waters. Gellért bath is perfect for every season with a number of indoor bath sections (two sparkling water pools and eight normal thermal bath sections) as well as three outdoor pools with an impressive area of 500 square meters. If the waters won't make you feel better, the interior and exterior will. Sinking into glass-clear, paradisian hot spring waters surrounded by carefully carved stone pillars that look like they come straight from the past is a unique experience. Thirsty for more? Check out Ryan Gosling's photos at Gellért!
Veli Bej is Budapest's largest Turkish bath that dates back to the 16th century. Besides the hot pool with thermal water, you'll find a jacuzzi, a steam room, saunas and even an aromatherapy pool inside. Fun fact: this traditional bath is run by a Roman Cathlic order. The maximum capacity is 80 pax - it's good to know there is a limit, so it won't get too crowded. Veli Bej is closed between 12-3pm, so make sure to go before or afterwards.
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