Magnesium, calcium, zinc, fluoride ions and sodium. I’m not just listing random portions of the periodic table, these are some of the elements found in the hot spring waters of the Gellért hills. Hungary’s rich geothermal waters have been popular since Roman times. The Romans were followed by the Turkish who built more baths for both enjoyment and medicinal purposes.
By 1920, Budapest had an established reputation as a city of spas. Today, the city’s reputation continues on with estimates of nearly 1,000 sources of spring waters filling countless baths in the city. Therefore, when I visited the city I knew I needed to stop by a local bath.
The first bath we tried to attend was the well-known Széchenyi Baths, but as a typical summer afternoon, the baths were packed and the line was so long we gave up after about an hour of waiting. But I wasn’t going to give up, even though our departure from Budapest was scheduled for 11 a.m. the next morning.
We were staying in Buda and within walking distance from the Hotel Gellért, so I felt that visiting the unique baths housed within the hotel was meant to be. We arrived at 6 a.m., careful to get in before the crowds of tourists started to flock it. Luckily, it was only us and the locals there so early.
If only I could start every day by bathing in 40° C healing waters.
We arrived wired with the energy of trying to rush through it prior to our departure, but once we took a dip in the first warm pool, it was impossible not to relax. The beautiful Art Nouveau decor of carefully constructed blue tile work transported us back in time.
Inside, it was like playing inside a relaxation labyrinth. Every turn led to a new pool, a new massage wing, a different sauna.
The Gellért Thermal Baths are comprised of 13 pools. In addition to the multiple hot spring pools, an open air pool generates artificial waves every 30 minutes and another indoor swimming pool is filled with effervescent water. There are also Finnish saunas and cold water pools that accompany them. You can also schedule a massage or other treatments. Many locals come with prescriptions for specific therapies that are applied by the medical department within the Gellért Thermal Baths.
The effervescent pool is one of the most iconic potions of the Art Nouveau spa with columns that flank the perimeter of the pool and a sky light.
The Gellért Thermal Baths are the perfect place to spend a whole day. It’s fun to discover new sections while allowing the local waters to heal you. They are also not as crowded as other baths so it’s easier to get a more authentic experience.
You can choose to rent a locker or a private cabin to change. Also, don’t forget to grab a map, you’ll need it to move around.
Ticket with locker:
Weekdays: $6,200 Hungarian Forint
Weekends: $6,400 Hungarian Forint
6 a.m. - 8 p.m. Daily
Budapest, Kelenhegyi út 4, 1118 Hungary