With more thermal and medicinal water springs (118 in total) than any other capital city, Budapest can lay claim to being the ‘city of spas’. Dating back to Roman times, the city has a long history of bathing in the thermal springs but the Turkish occupation of Hungary in the 16th and 17th centuries was responsible for really bringing bath culture to the fore. You might think that bathing in an outside pool would be a summer activity but with the temperature of the springs in Budapest, winter bathing is an atmospheric treat not to be missed.
Many of Budapest’s luxury hotels have their own private thermal spas and some of these can be visited. Chief among these is the Hotel Gellért in Buda, with its grand indoor pool (the roof of which opens up in summer months) and outdoor pool with wave machine.
Back on the Pest side, the Széchenyi baths in the City park (Városliget) are a large complex in a grand yellow building. With several pools inside and out (with jacuzzis and chess boards to boot), the baths are wonderful in winter when the steam rises. In summer, night times often see popular “spartys” for the young and hip.
Harking back to the Turkish occupation, the Király baths were first built in the 16th century during the Ottoman rule, rebuilt by the König (Király=King=König) family after 1796 and then restored in 1950 following WW2 damage. Close to the Lukács baths on the Buda side of the Danube.
Some of the baths arrange special programs. The Rudas Bath, built in the 1500-s, gives home to regular night parties on Friday and Saturday nights, with great music and special light effects.