When we decided to go to Budapest the first thing that came to my mind was “We MUST go to the Budapest Thermal Spas!!!” I was so excited having seen so many photos and Pinterest posts about them. But other than general imagery about what to expect we found it difficult to locate practical information about them. Like do you need to wear shoes? How much will it cost? Will there be food there? Should I bring my own towel? What is the best Spa to go to if I can only go to one? Where do I put my stuff while I am in the pools? So now that we have experienced the baths in all their glory we thought we’d write a guide to Budapest Thermal Spa’s and Baths.
Which Baths should you go to?!
First thing’s first you have to decide WHERE you want to go! Budapest has LOTS of thermal spas and baths all over the city. We did a bit of research, got recommendations from friends and family, and did a bit of Pinterest-ing and decided we really wanted to visit the Gellert and Szechenyi Baths. There are far more options than just these two. The Ruda’s and Thermal Beer Spas ALSO looked really exciting but we didn’t have enough time for all four! If you can only go to one spa, then we recommend that you go to Szechenyi. The reason being is it was (in our opinion) the most beautiful. Having been a lot of places in Europe the Szechenyi spas gave us the most Eastern European vibes. The building that it is in is constructed to look like a palace. It has a yellow and cream-colored exterior with traditional arches and ornate marble statues. It is visually stunning. While we also thought the Gellert Spas were gorgeous we both agreed if we came back and could only go to one it would be Szechenyi. Additionally, Szechenyi has 3 outdoor pools, (they have several indoor pools) all of which were in working order when we went. Whereas Gellert only had 1 outdoor pool and its large wave pool was closed for winter.
What should you bring to the spa?
While it does have some information on the spa websites about what to bring/ dress code these things aren’t suuuuper obvious or easy to find. Therefore we got to the spa and were slightly underprepared. Most of the spas require slippers or sandals in the communal areas. We didn’t anticipate this, and they wouldn’t allow us to wear our Allbirds sneakers, but you can purchase sandals there. What we didn’t realize (because the front desk guy, conveniently forgot to mention this) was that you could also rent slippers. We ended up buying slippers for about $20 for two pairs. Had we known renting was an option we would have rented, however now we do have some slippers that we can use on the road and that also double as a souvenir so we’re not too mad about it.
No idea what the cost to rent slippers is but the cost to rent robes is around 2000-3000 HUF (which equates to around $6-8) so I imagine the cost of the slipper rental would be less. You can also rent towels and even swimwear at the spa, which we didn’t know, so we did bring our own. It all costs more than bringing your own items but rest assured if you are in Budapest and didn’t bring something you can likely rent or buy one at the spa.
How much does it cost to go to the Spas?
The average price of all the spas we went to/ looked at cost between 5000-7000 HUF which equates to around $15-20 per person. The prices are higher on the weekend, additionally, it’s more crowded on the weekends, so we recommend going during the week.
Where do I put my stuff when I am in the pools?
As content creators who carry a lot of expensive cameras and tech gear around with us basically everywhere we were super concerned about what to do with our stuff while at the spas. Thankfully the price of admission includes either a locker or a private cabin. If you get a Cabin it provides a lockable room for you to place your belongings in and to change in. If you get a locker you get a locker which codes to your wrist band and opens and closes only to your band. Cabin tickets are more expensive than lockers so we only purchased locker tickets. Lockers do not include private changing areas. Though the way the lockers worked at each spa was slightly different. The Szechnyi Spa had a men’s, and women’s locker room, whereas Gellert had a shared locker room. Since at Szechnyi it was a gendered locker area Matt and I felt totally comfortable changing in the Szechnyi spas. At Gellert, they had all the lockers in the same area with changing rooms, reminiscent of a fitting room at a department store, scattered throughout. The changing rooms had doors that locked from the inside but there was only a handful of these and men and women both used them. So there was a bit of a queue to get into one. Again, we were totally comfortable changing in the Gellert Spas but if you are reading this and aren’t comfortable with changing in front of others or with other genders close by you may want to consider a cabin ticket.
Is there food at the spas?
YES! There is totally food at the spas. Both spas have bars, and restaurants, actually I believe they had a couple at each! That said they were not cheap. We spent about 3-5 hours at each spa and just timed it so we ate before and after.
Other Spa tips!
How to get there: Both spa’s we went to are easily accessed by public transit lines. We found Budapest to be a very walkable city and that Gellert and Szechenyi were about a block away from the nearest tram/ metro stop. The cost of a 24 hr metro ticket is about 1500 HUF, which is just shy of $5. It works for busses, trams, and metro.
Drink LOTS of water and take breaks: The spas have a way of sucking you in and the warm water makes you never want to get out of the pool. But be wary, you can get super dehydrated and overheated sitting in warm waters for too long. We’d get out every 20-30 minutes and walk to another pool, or sit on a lounge chair for a minute! Matt even dunked himself in an ice bath! (It’s a real thing.) All the spas have pools that are cooler, (like 75 degrees instead of 100) so if you want to cool off but aren’t ready to get out of the water go from the hot to the cold pool and let your body temperature go down. Also, bring a water bottle and be sure to drink every time you change pools.
You can buy tickets online or in-person: We purchased one set of tickets online and one in person. We didn’t have issues with either but we were there in the offseason. The websites for all of the spas recommend purchasing ahead so you can skip the line at the ticket counter.
There is no real dress code and no one cares what you look like!: This was probably our favorite part of the spas. I find in the US that people can be really judgy about what body type belongs in what swimming suit etc. At the spa’s (and in Europe in general) no, one gives a shit. There is no real dress code and everyone just wears what they are comfortable in, there were no rude teenage girls laughing at full-figured women, or obnoxious college bro’s harassing people. I saw women in swimming suits that looked like dresses, and men in teenie weenie speedos and everyone had a great time. As long as you are comfortable and have some form of swimwear on you’re A-OK.
We ABSOLUTELY recommend going to a thermal spa if you visit Budapest and would go so far as to say its a MUST do.
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