Best Thermal Spa to visit in Budapest
Budapest can be enjoyed at every season: in the summer you can appreciate balmy weather, while enjoying your coffee on numerous terraces that the city has got. In the winter you can go to the Christmas market or warm yourself in thermal spa waters.
There are many baths in Budapest to choose from: some are close to the city centre, some will take a bit of time to reach. Some baths have got the modern look about them and some are more traditional, preserving old grandeur and beautiful interiors. For me, the choice was clear – Gellert Baths, as they are walkable from the city centre, just on the other side of the river and interior inside the baths is a like a jewel box. I also discovered during my visit that they had one thermal pool outside, which was an added bonus of enjoying warm water, when it was really chilly outside.
Gellert Baths are located in the Hotel Gellert and form part of the complex , where in the olden days people, who were well off, could come and take the waters. The interior is certainly reflective of the Old Europe with lots of open spaces and marble statues, which greet you immediately upon the entrance.
Once you paid for your admission, you are given the bracelet, which you will use to lock your cabin. When you buy a ticket , there are two options: first one with Soviet-style cabin or a private changing space, which looks luxurious and you have much more space as opposed to the cabin option. It certainly is worth extra pennies, especially if you are with the family.
If you selected a basic option, then you will be greeted with changing cabins a-la Soviet style. There is some charm in them as wel, I felt I was transported into my school swimming lessons in a second!
Once you changed into your swimming costume, you have a variety of options: big pool (bear in mind that you need to either purchase a swimming hat or bring your own), thermal pools with different temperatures, outdoor thermal pool, saunas with different temperatures, steam room, ice pool, showers with different streams… are you still with me?
Yes, you can spend a whole day there trying out the facilities, but we felt that around 3 hours was sufficient time to enjoy majority of them.
Thermal water pools and showers are located in an area, which kept majority of the original Art Deco design and it is a pleasure to be there and just look at the details on the walls, benches and fountains. There is plenty of drinking water, which you can help yourself to.
You will see suggested times as to how long to spend in the mineral pools, as it is not good to be there for a long period of time. One of the thermal pools is considerably hotter than the other and you will see that it is less crowded, as it becomes quite hot to sit there even for 5 minutes.
One of the highlights for me was the outdoor pool and the sauna. It is a little bit of a distance from the main building to the pool, but you will enjoy going in the warm pool even more and would not want to leave! Sauna is located next to the outdoor pool and there is a massive bucket, filled to the brim with icy-cold water, which you can jump into after the sauna, and refresh yourself!
All in all, it is a great way to spend an evening in Budapest! Unfortunately, Gellert Baths advise that their thermal pools are not recommended for children, but there are Paskál, Palatinus or Csillaghegy Baths, which are suitable for children.
After you finished with your thermal water sessions, you can either relax with a cup of something warm in the Gellert Bath’s cafe or walk/get a taxi to a restaurant and indulge in hearty Hungarian fare. This is exactly what I did and wrapped the evening with foie gras and delicious apple strudel!
Disclaimer: My visit was hosted by Gellert Baths, but all opinions are my own.