If there’s one thing Budapest is known for at an international level that’s its amazing thermal baths, gaining the name of “City of Spas”. Hungary has one of the largest thermal-water reserves in the world and Budapest sits on almost 125 thermal springs, being the only capital in the world that has warm spring water flowing underneath.
If we go back in time, history teaches us that Romans first colonized the area on which Hungary now lies and founded the Aquincum (their regional capital) precisely because they wanted to utilise the thermal springs. There are no baths left today from the Roman times, but you can still see their ruins. The baths that are still in use today date from the Turkish period (1541-1686) and they were used for bathing and also for medicinal purposes.
In 1920’s Budapest realized the huge economic potential of the healing water springs and by 1934 it was already famous worldwide for its baths. Bathing in the thermal waters has become part of Hungary’s culture over the years and also a major tourist attraction.
The healing properties of these waters cannot be denied. The highly mineralized water that comes from 1000 metres under the city contains magnesium, calcium, fluoride, natrium and sulphates. These minerals that are absorbed through the skin and get directly into the bloodstream can help treat numerous conditions such as arthritis, poor circulation or skin conditions. They can also be used after having an accident, as a post-traumatic therapy.
Szechenyi Baths are the largest bathing complex in Budapest and one of the largest in Europe, boasting 15 thermal baths dating from 1913 and three outdoor swimming pools from 1927. The complex is majestic and glamorous and the outdoor pools are open all year round, so during winter, you can soak in the hot water while snowflakes fall and melt all around you like in a magical winter dream. Saunas and a variety of medical treatments are also available.
Gellert Baths date from the 15th century and are famous for their stunning Art Nouveau style with colourful mosaics, marble columns and stained glass windows. The baths have several indoor pools as well as an outdoor wave pool built in 1927 and an effervescent bath built in 1934.
Rudas Baths were built during the Turkish period, but they were renovated and today they offer state-of-the-art facilities. However, the amazing architectural elements from the Ottoman period were preserved – the octagonal pool under the 10-meter diameter Turkish dome is an outstanding feature. There are six thermal pools, one swimming pool and a jacuzzi that offers spectacular views of Pest’s skyline.
Lukacs Baths also date from the Ottoman period and were fully renovated in 1999. The baths are now a blend of modern and traditional elements and feature outdoor and indoor pools, as well as wellness area, a sauna world, a drinking hall and a gallery.
A visit to one of Budapest’s thermal baths is going to offer an extraordinary experience that will rejuvenate all of your senses.