a large ship in the water

A First Time Guide To Budapest's Thermal Baths

Budapest is well known for its thermal baths and ‘taking the waters’ is part of everyday life for the locals. There are several baths to choose from around the city, some more historic and fascinating than others, and the one you pick will depend on what you’re looking for – rest and relaxation, a little fun or people watching.

Whichever thermal bath you choose to take a dip in on your visit to Budapest, you’re guaranteed a memorable experience in a sumptuous environment that is relaxing, refreshing and rejuvenating. Spend time alone or with your partner, get to know the locals, pamper yourself and above all, enjoy this experience that is uniquely Budapest.

At Emerald Cruises, we recommend that all guests travelling on one of our luxury Danube river cruises sink into one of Budapest’s revitalising thermal baths. It’s a chance to relax, unwind, and drink in the heritage, customs and beauty of one of Europe’s most spectacular cities.

Discover more about Budapest and the city’s thermal baths in our in-depth guide.

Table of contents

What to expect at Budapest's thermal baths

Each of Budapest’s thermal baths has different opening times and rules on who may visit, so check the websites and tourist guides before you go. Most will open every day, with extended hours during the weekend.

Male-only and female-only days used to be common, but these are rare now, although some baths also have male-only or female-only sections. All sessions at the Széchenyi Baths, located in City Park, are mixed – perfect for spending some quality time with your partner. The outdoor thermal pools are a wonderful romantic experience – as the sun sets, you can relax together and enjoy the peace and tranquillity as you look up at the stars.

Where a bath is running a men-only or women-only day, or in the same-sex sections of the bath, men will be given a drawstring loincloth and women will be given an apron-like garment – although a lot of people will just wear a bathing suit instead. Bathing suits are required on mixed-sex days and can be hired if needed.

Some of the thermal baths and pools also require that you wear a bathing cap – even if you are male. You can either bring your own or purchase a disposal plastic one which may be free or a low cost (around 200Ft/50 pence). You can also rent a towel if you need one, usually for about 1000Ft (£2.70) although you’ll be given a sheet when you go into the rest areas.

Admission to Budapest’s thermal baths is typically around 2400Ft (about £6.40) for a couple of hours during the week, or an hour and a half at the weekend. These time limits are rarely enforced, so don’t worry if you’re too relaxed to move, as it’s very unlikely that you’ll be thrown out after your time is up.

Layout of a typical thermal bath

Most of Budapest’s thermal baths are laid out in a similar fashion on the inside. There is usually a larger, cooler pool where people are actually swimming – together with smaller, hotter pools for relaxing and unwinding. You’ll find a number of indoor thermal pools with varying temperatures that range from warm to hot. You’ll also find saunas, steam rooms, a plunge pool, massage rooms and areas to sunbathe. Some of the baths have outdoor pools which may feature whirlpools, sprays and fountains. Given the water temperatures, they can be open year-round.

Some of Budapest’s thermal baths (for example, the Király) don’t look as attractive as others – but be assured that they are very clean, and the water is changed constantly. A pair of flip flops or plastic sandals is recommended in any case, regardless of which of the city’s baths you visit, as the floors can be slippery.

What treatments are available at the thermal baths in Budapest?

Spa treatment mother and daughter

Budapest’s thermal baths typically offer a range of both medical treatments and pampering. A massage will cost around 5000Ft (£13) for 20 to 30 minutes, while a pedicure will cost around 3500Ft (£9.30). A more unusual treatment, the red wine bath, will set you back 8900Ft (about £24).

Some of Budapest’s thermal baths offer a wider selection of treatments than others. If you’re interested in the full spa experience and would like to enjoy a few treatments, Gellert Spa may be the best thermal baths to go for. The centre specialises in massage, with a variety of treatment options available, while the Hungarian mud therapy treatment is also one of the most popular options for visitors looking to truly unwind.

Thermal baths to visit in Budapest

Budapest’s location on a series of hot springs has meant that the city has hosted thermal baths since the Roman Period. The waters which bubble up to Budapest’s surface are steaming hot and rich in minerals, making them ideal for therapeutic bathing. The Roman custom of hot-spring bathing has passed through the centuries, with the Ottomans, Turks and Hungarians continuing the tradition. Today, Budapest is home to a total of nine medicinal thermal baths and 123 hot springs, making it one of the most thermal-active cities on Earth.

Wondering which thermal bath to visit in Budapest? Discover our pick of the city’s best thermal baths and pools in our interactive map below.

Budapest thermal baths visitor information

The procedure for undressing and getting into the baths depends on which bath you go to. Many of the baths now have an electronic bracelet which will give you access to a locker or cabin. Some of the older baths – Gellért, for example – require that you find an empty locker or cabin, get changed and ask the attendant to lock it for you. You’ll then be given a tag that you can tie to your costume or apron. You’ll need to remember your locker number as it won’t be the same as the one written on the tag, to prevent theft if you lose it.

If you’re longing to sink into the thermal baths of Budapest, you can with Emerald Cruises. Our luxury cruises on the river Danube, including our signature Danube Delights itinerary, features a trip to the Hungarian capital, giving you time to take a dip in one of the city’s beautiful baths. To find out more, talk to us on 855-222-3214.