Known as the “City of Spas,” no trip to Budapest is complete without at least one visit to a thermal bath. Depending on which of the 15 public baths you choose, plan to spend at least several hours enjoying indoor and outdoor pools, steam baths, saunas and other amenities such as massage.
Budapest is a city famous for its geothermal baths, vestiges of a Turkish occupation which lasted more than 140 years. Navigating a modern day visit to one of these bathing sanctuaries is not uncomplicated, but it’s a worthwhile endeavour.
Typically, a bather purchases a ticket and receives a plastic wristband, which acts as a key to enter and to a specific locker. Attendants are on site to guide the confused.
Dabble Savvy: Bring a bathing suit and towel. If you forget, there are some stodgy suits for sale and a towel rental service. The“towels” however are more like a corner of a thin bed sheet, neither luxurious nor absorbent.
1. Built atop the city’s 70 million litres of warm thermal spring water, the Gellért Baths have been soothing souls and pruning toes since doors opened in 1918. Thermal baths, saunas, gender specific plunge pools and an open-air swimming pool with artificial waves provide hours of enjoyment. Design lovers will prefer the Gellért Baths to others, owing to the stained glass roof and Zsolnay tiles in the main hall.
Dabble Savvy: Head to the Gellért Hotel and Spa from the Great Hall Market. It’s a short walk across the Liberty Bridge (Szabadság híd) and on approach you can admire the Art Nouveau beauty of this impressive hotel.
2. Kiscelli Múzeum consists of a collection of fine art from the 20th century to the present, housed in a mustard coloured Baroque mansion opposite Margit Island. Locals rent Kiscelli for private parties but visitors can tour the setting, complete with furniture and an eclectic art collection from the period. There are summer concerts as well, so ask your concierge for details.
Dabble Savvy: It’s a wee climb so wear comfortable shoes.
3. Fortunately, the wine cellars of Királyi Borok are steps from Buda Castle and the Funicular that can deliver a thirsty tourist back down to Pest after a visit…which is strictly for research purposes of course. Traditional Hungarian wines, known as Tokaji are pleasantly sweet and light tasting and there’s no lovelier setting to enjoy them.
Dabble Savvy: If you plan to purchase, make sure to pick up a bubble sleeve, which protects your bottle in transit.