Ever since the first inhabitants, the soldiers of the Roman Empire set foot in Hungary, and founded Aquincum – today’s Óbuda -, the area has been famous for its hot springs. Hungary’s thermal water reserve is one of the largest in the world, thus it’s not overly surprising that Budapest is rich in world-class baths. Here are the best of the best, from us, to you.
Gellért, established in the 15th century, and characterized by Art Nouveau grandeur, is arguably the most famous among the historic baths of Budapest. During the Ottoman occupation, it was extremely popular among Turkish residents, mostly because of its size and its enviable supply of warm thermal water. Gellért provides separate male and female baths, indoor pools, a huge outdoor pool, relaxing possibilities, and medical treatments.
Nothing compares to diving into the outdoor pool of Széchenyi Bath in a snowfall. Since Széchenyi, which happens to be the largest thermal bath in Budapest, is open all year long, you can experience the characteristics of all four seasons while relaxing in soothing thermal water. You can also play chess with the regulars, get various medical treatments, sweat it out in the sauna, and even purchase healing water capable of improving your skeletal and respiratory system, while also curing stomach and kidney problems. Széchenyi has something to offer even for party people, since it houses the renowned events of Cinetrip.
Rudas Thermal Bath was built during the Ottoman rule of Hungary. This state-of-the-art complex has been operating since the beginning of the 16th century, and offers an eye-pleasing scene for swimming and tuning out the city’s noise. Due to an old tradition, there are separate days for men and women during the weekdays. Weekends are open for both genders, and are saved for night-time bathing. Moreover, thanks to a drinking hall, you can taste the water of all three springs – Hungária, Attila, and Juventus – bubbling beneath Rudas.
Lukács Thermal Bath was established by the knights of Saint John’s order, who settled in the area with the aim of curing the sick. Later on, orders from Rhodes and Malta took over what’s known today as Lukács Bath, and established their own monasteries with the same purpose – healing, that is. In 1880, the first spa hotel was erected, then, in 1937, a drinking-water hall was added to this state-of-the-art complex. As for its recent history, Lukács was wholly modernized and renovated in 1999, mixing innovation with tradition, and attracting even more guests of all ages and nationalities.
Király Thermal Bath was also built during the Ottoman rule of Hungary, so the noticeable Turkish-infusion in its architectural makeup is not a coincidence. In the 18th century, after the König family (hence the name “Király”, which means “king” in Hungarian) acquired the bath, a number of facilities were added, creating an unmatchably eclectic atmosphere, and an artistic cocktail of styles and ages. As for today, Király serves as a center of Budapest’s homosexual community, although heterosexuals are also welcome, as well as women on certain days.
Despite its history and quality of services, Veli Bej is one of the least well-known baths in Budapest, so we can easily denote it as a hidden treasure. It certainly won’t be a shock when we tell you that Veli Bej was built and established during the Ottoman occupation. Over the course of the years, the bath has gone through some tough times, but has been beautifully renovated over the previous decade. Architects and archeologists taking part in the renovation process restored as much of the original, multiple century-old constructions as humanly possible. As for the services, besides the expected high-end possibilities, pools of water rich in calcium carbonate await those with rheumatic problems or post-surgery symptoms.