Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary (VII)

Tag: Budapest

Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary (VII)

Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary: Rudas Bath House – Turkish-style thermal bathing


Of Budapest’s Turkish baths, the 16th century Rudas is arguably the most beautiful. Its ten-meter-high domed ceiling has small pieces of colored glass allowing sharp rays of light to pierce the slightly radioactive water. The centerpiece is the large octagon-shaped pool, which is surrounded by stonewalls which give off a slight echo. Four small corner pools (with various temperatures) and an even smaller cold plunge pool were added during the late 19th-century. There are three saunas; a chamomile-scented two-chamber steam room, a drinking water fountain (warning: the water is hot), and wet massage rooms. 


Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary: Rudas Bath House – Turkish-style thermal bathing


Located on the Danube bank in Buda, near the Erzsébet Bridge, there is also a fantastic coed rooftop sunbathing area with some of the best views in town: rocky Gellért hill, the St. Gellért statue, the Castle, the Danube, and the bridges. Built when the Ottomans occupied the country, Rudás also has a newer wing, which holds an indoor swimming pool (which is always coed). Prior to the extensive — and much-needed — 2005 renovation, women were not allowed to bathe here (like in Turkish times). 


Now women have their own day to bathe (Tuesdays), while all other weekdays are reserved for men (and swim suits are optional). The clientele during the week is significantly composed of a group of elderly regulars. But weekends are now coed, and the late-night hours (10pm-4am) draw a younger crowd. 


The swimming pool keeps shorter hours from Monday to Wednesday; separate (cheaper) tickets are required.


Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary: Rudas Bath House – How to get there


Bus: 5, 86, 178, 7 (to Rudas or Döbrentei tér)

Tram: 18, 19, 41 (to Döbrentei tér)


Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary


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Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary (VI)

Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary: Király Bath House – Bathing Ottoman-style


The Király fürdő was built in 1565 by the Ottomans. One of the smaller bath houses, it is notable for its location inside the former city walls. Unlike most other bath houses, it isn’t close to a spring (water is transported from the Lukács), but its site was chosen so it could be remain in use during war times. 


Though the Király is long overdue for renovation and a bit of modernization, its regulars love its tranquility and old-fashioned atmosphere. Upon entering, the first pool is a cool one, next to a two-chamber sauna and a room full of wet massage tables. Beyond, the octagon-shaped main pool sits under a dome, with rays of light piercing the water, which laps over the edges and has a strong iron smell. There are two other small pools: a very hot one and an ice-cold plunge pool. Towards the rear, there’s a room full of showers and a steam room. 


Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary: Király Bath House – Bathing Ottoman-style


If the hot water wears you out, there’s a relaxation room on the upper level with lounges covered with blankets. From the outside, you’ll see the building’s two distinct parts—the stone Turkish section covered with metal domes topped with a golden crescent, and the two-storey green classical section that was added when it was owned by an 18th century aristocratic family. Surrounding the shabby ground floor courtyard are private green-tiled rooms holding tubs, originally meant for those who didn’t have bathrooms in their apartments.


Navigation: Once you buy your ticket and enter, walk up the spiral stone staircase following the signs for the gőzfürdő. In the dressing room you can change into your bathing suit. There are individual cabins where you will change and store your things. Summon the attendant to lock the door. You’ll keep one key, and she she'll lock another lock. 


Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary: Király Bath House – How to get there


Bus: 60, 86

Metro: M2 or HÉV (to Batthyány tér)

Tram: 19, 41 (to Batthyány tér)


Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary (V)

Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary: Szechenyi Bath House – In hot water in City Park


The Széchenyi, located in City Park, is Budapest’s most popular bath house, and rightly so. Completed in 1878, it was the first bath house to be built in Pest, and the Neo-Baroque building is one of Europe’s largest spa complexes. The outdoor half-moon-shaped pool is the iconic image of Budapest, which has graced the cover of many a guidebook. With the old men playing chess on boards propped up in the water, the heavy steam rising from the green-tinted water (which is especially lovely when snow is falling and wind is blowing), and the kissing couples scattered throughout the pool, this is the bath house to visit if you only have time to do one. 


In addition to the thermal outdoor pool, there’s also an outdoor lap pool and an “adventure pool” (which has currents pushing swimmers around in a circle). No matter how hard it is drag yourself away, head inside for seven more pools of varying sizes and temperatures, and six steam baths and saunas, some of which are scented and some which also combine light therapy. The atmosphere is grand, the rooms are cavernous, and the water is calming. 


Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary: Szechenyi Bath House – In hot water in City Park


The thermal water that fills the Széchenyi’s pools (which is high in calcium, magnesium, and hydro-carbonate) comes from a depth of more than one kilometer below the ground, and it is an astounding 170°F/77°C before it reaches the surface. Adjacent to the bath house is the drinking hall which serves mugs of the warm medicinal water for drinking. 


Navigation: Buy your tickets either inside of the main entrance (which is across from the Circus) or the side entrance. You’ll get a plastic watch, which you swipe on the turnstiles to enter. There are changing rooms for women and men, which have lockers to store your belongings. Alternatively, there are private cabins. 


Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary: Szechenyi Bath House – How to get there


Metro: M1 (to Széchenyi fürdő)


Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary (IV)

Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary: Lukács Fürdö – Where the intellectuals once held court


Despite the soulless modern tile work, the Lukács bath house shows a faded elegance. Pools are surrounded by thick columns and the lovely green courtyard holds a statue of St. Luke and fat old plane trees. One wall is lined with plaques engraved with messages of gratitude from past bathers who have benefited from the medicinal water, which comes from springs directly below the ground and from a nearby karst cave which holds one of the world’s largest thermal water chambers. 


Located in Buda near the Margit Bridge, the Lukács has a long history beginning as early as the 12th century when the Knights Hospitaller founded a convent, monastery, and churches here. They built baths, using the thermal water to heal the sick. When the Turks arrived in the 16th century, however, the sulfate water was used mainly for making gunpowder and for milling. The yellow neo-Classical building was added in 1894 and also held two spa hotels. During the Communist era the Lukács was a favorite intellectual hangout, and its regulars still include journalists, artists, and musicians. 


Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary: Lukács Fürdö – Where the intellectuals once held court


The bath house was partially renovated in 2007, and part of a brick tower from the Ottoman era is visible next to the round bath (the hottest one). There are two warm baths, a cold plunge pool, a sauna, and a steam room. Outside, there are three unusually-shaped open-air swimming pools (which are not hot) and a roof-top sunbathing area. A “drinking hall” is staffed by a white-coated attendant who fills thick glass mugs with the warm, sulfurous water for a few forints. 


Navigation: Enter from Frankel Leo út to purchase tickets. Pass through the courtyard, and enter the building on the left. There’s a row of box-like cabins, and upstairs there’s a coed-changing room with closet-sized cabins and aisles of lockers, which the attendant will lock for you (it is your responsibility to remember your locker number!).


The nicest time to visit is during the off-hours, since weekends can be downright packed, and the steam bath feels like an overcrowded meat locker. 


Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary: Lukács Fürdö – How to get there


Bus: 6, 60, 86 (to Császar-Komjadi uszoda)

Tram: 4, 6 (to Margit híd), 17 (to Szent Lukács Gyógyfürdő)

HÉV to Margit híd

Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary (III)

Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary: Hajós Alfréd Pool – Where the Olympians train


Despite being land-locked, Hungary is a land of water lover's, and champion swimmers and water polo players. This large swimming complex on Margaret Island is where they come to train, and often compete. It is also open to mere mortals who want to come swim laps. If you're around during a water polo tournament, don't miss the chance to come see a match.


There's plenty of green space for lounging around or sunbathing between laps, and there's a small children's pool in the shade. There are more pools inside, as well as a sauna (which usually closes about an hour before the pools close).


Be aware that opening hours can be erratic, and pools will occasionally close early if there is a sporting event or practice scheduled. In that case, wander a bit further down the island and try the Palatinus pools instead.


Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary: Hajós Alfréd Pool – Transport


Tram: 4, 6 (to Margit híd)

Bus: 26 (to Hajós Alfréd Uszoda)



Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary:  Palatinus Strand / Thermal Bath – Fun in the Sun


Palatinus, Budapest’s largest swimming complex, is more like a water park than a swimming pool. Located on the western side of Margaret Island, this is where Budapest comes to cool off during the summer. Its 11 different pools include water slides, an adventure pool, a wave pool, several swimming pools, and two open-air thermal pools. All pools are open-air, and the many shallow pools make it especially popular with families (as well as the young-at-heart).


There are playgrounds, plenty of grassy areas for sunbathing, and vendors selling beer and junk food. Water in the pools comes from the thermal springs on Margaret Island (though in all but the two warm thermal pools it is filtered, so it loses most of its mineral content). Expect long lines during the summer weekends, but come after 4pm on weekdays for the cheapest entry prices. For more serious swimming on the island, the nearby Hajós Alfréd pool, which has two lap pools, would be the best choice.


Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary:  Palatinus Strand / Thermal Bath – Transport


Bus: 26, 134 (to Palatinus Strand)


Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary (II)

Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest Hungary: Gellérth Bath House – Elegant Art Nouveau Bathing


The Secessionist-style Gellért, built in 1918, offers more pretty architectural details than the other bath houses, you can still expect the same gruff service and confusing entrance hurdles. Enter the bath house around the corner from the hotel (follow the sign that says “swimming pool”), and you’ll be dazed by the opulent surroundings: frescoed ceilings, intricate stone columns, tile mosaics, brass railings, statuettes, and domed ceilings. 


Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest Hungary: Gellérth Bath House – Elegant Art Nouveau Bathing


There are three main sections, which hold a total of eight thermal pools, two Jacuzzis, and several saunas and steam rooms. There is a women’s thermal bath area and a separate men’s thermal bath area (where bathing suits are optional), and a co-ed area with a small thermal pool and a swimming pool surrounded by columns and balconies (which vies with the Széchenyi as one of the most frequent guidebook cover photos). On Sundays all pools open up for both men and women. The three outdoor pools (which include a very popular wave pool) are open seasonally, and the grassy grounds are wonderful for sunbathing.


Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest Hungary: Gellérth Bath House – Elegant Art Nouveau Bathing


The Gellért is the city’s most expensive thermal bath, and the crowd consists of more tourists than locals. It’s connected to the Danubius Hotel Gellért, but the spa is run independently. Though the hotel and the bath house have seen better days, free entrance to the baths and pools is a definite perk for hotel guests. All of the usual bath house services are available here, including Thai massage and a variety of other massages, and a day hospital which offers medical treatments. The Gellért’s thermal water comes from its own spring inside of Gellért hill. 


Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest Hungary: Gellérth Bath House – How to get there


Tram: 18, 19, 41, 47, 49 (to Szent Gellért tér)

Bus: 7, 86, 173 (to Szent Gellért tér)

Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary (I)

Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary: Császaár-Komjádi Pool – Where the serious swimmers swim

Though the vibe here isn't as pleasant as at the Hajós Alfréd Uszoda, the city's other main lap-pool complex across the river on Margaret Island. But the pools here, on a traffic-choked street in Óbuda, attracts serious swimmers. 


There is a full-sized lap pool outside, a smaller lap pool which is often used for lessons, and a children's pool which is ever-busy with patient instructors teaching kids how to take their first strokes. The outdoor pools are open year-round, but there are also indoor pools (under a roof which can open up) and saunas. 


This pool is perfect if you want to just get in some quick laps, but since the concrete, tree-less grounds provide no shade, it won't make you want to linger. 


Bus: 86, 160, 206 (to Császár-Komjádi Uszoda)



Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary: Dagály Strand / Thermal Bath – Pools for all ages


During the summer the Dagály, located near the Pest side of Árpád Bridge, is a nice alternative to visiting the more crowded pools on nearby Margit Island. The attraction during the cold months is the two large open-air thermal pools, where tourists rarely venture. The Dagály swimming complex covers nearly 20 acres of park-like grounds next to the Danube, much of it is grassy and perfect for picnics. 


During the summer, the place has a retro-resort-like atmosphere, with playgrounds, a tennis court, fast food, cotton candy, and kids playing with water toys. There are a eight pools, including two lap pools (50 meters and 25 meters), several children’s pools, and a wave pool. There are a few sauna, treatment rooms, and plenty of room for sunbathing. 


The thermal water—rich in calcium, magnesium, sodium, and fluoride—comes from an on-site spring, which was discovered in the 1930s when drillers were looking for oil, but instead found thermal water. Look out for the drinking fountain (a statue of a woman bending over, located by the entrance gate) that spurts medicinal drinking water.


Navigation: Buy your tickets and enter the characterless rows of changing cabins and lockers, which on busy days means slippery, muddy floors. Head downstairs to the gaudy tiled hallway leading to the sauna area and the thermal pools (which are separated by a glass wall). During the summer a second entrance is added, which bypasses the changing rooms. 


Metro: M3 (to Árpád híd)

Tram: 1, 1A (to Népfürdő utca)

Bus: 115 (to Népfürdő utca)

Nightlife in Budapest, Hungary

For those wanting to burn the midnight oil in the Danube metropolis, Budapest will not disappoint. Hungarians know how to celebrate and are very social, hospitable and openhearted.


Numerous bars, clubs, wine bars and quaint beer cellars cater to partiers with exotic and traditional drinks. Modern, quaint bars or hip spots are on the list of options – there is something here for everyone.


Party hot spots have recently been established in particular in the area around Lake Balaton.


Above all, the city of Siofok, with its wide range of options, is a favorite destination when it comes to nightlife in Budapest, Hungary.


Visitors should definitely try the Hungarian wine and schnapps, which is often homemade.


1. Anna Café (Nightlife in Budapest, Hungary – Café)

Anna Café can be found in the middle of the shopping mile and pedestrian area. Here, one can try one of the many coffee varieties on offer, enjoy a snack and watch the people of the city go by.


2. Alterego Club (Nightlife in Budapest, Hungary – Gay & lesbian)

Alterego Club is one of the hippest clubs for the gay crowd. Drag shows take place several times a week, attracting not only a gay and lesbian audience. Here you can enjoy an appealing atmosphere offering style and glamour.


3. Liszt Ferenc Square and Raday Street (Nightlife in Budapest, Hungary – Other)

Night owls will find multiple bars, pubs, clubs and cafes around Ferenz Liszt Square and on Raday Street. In the evening, both party animals and those who prefer things a little more relaxed find their way here to see out the day. This spot is popular with both tourists and locals.