With the increased popularity of river cruising in recent years more travellers are visiting Budapest as it is one of the main ports for Danube itineraries and among the scenic city’s ‘must see’ sights are the thermal baths that have soothed travellers since Roman Times.
With some 123 natural springs and two dozen baths dotting Budapest there’s no shortage of places to take the plunge but a good place to begin is with one of the two largest and most well known bath complexes: the Gellért Baths and the Széchenyi Thermal Bath. Having a limited amount of time I chose the Gellért Baths as it was just across the river from my hotel and left my visit until the day before flying home so I’d be refreshed and relaxed for the journey.
The Gellért Baths were built between 1912 and 1918 in an opulent Art Nouveau style and are part of the adjoining luxury Hotel Gellért on the Buda side of the Danube.
Photo by author
The main entrance features an intricately tiled fountain with statue and stained glass that unfortunately wasn’t in operation for my visit but was worth admiring nonetheless as was the gilded glasswork on the domed skylight.
Photo by author
The interior is as impressive as the lobby with the main pool lit by a clear glass skylight giving the feeling of being outside. Off to the sides are a number of mineral pools of varying temperatures and benches to take in the sheer opulence of the facility while commending yourself for having the good sense to experience it.
Photo immediately above Gellért Gyogyfurdo by Roberto Ventre is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License.
At both Széchenyi and Gellért men and women bath together and swimsuits – normally tiny Speedos for the men as this is Europe after all – are worn in all but a few clothing optional locations. Expect prices for an afternoon of relaxation in the baths to be around CAD$20 with locker rental but extras such as massage, admission to the outdoor naturist (read nudist) summer sundeck, or something called a chocolate treatment will all add to the overall price.
Budapest health spa’s by Alex S. Gabor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
After an enjoyable visit to the Gellért Baths I’d recommend a visit to Budapest’s Market Hall which is directly across the river and a sprawling indoor commercial hub with three levels and dozens of shops selling handicrafts, fresh fish, wines, and inexpensive meals from the food stalls. A bratwurst and a beer was my break from city sightseeing although the borscht was as cheap as, well, borscht!