Running below the city of Budapest are a series of thermal and medicinal water springs. In total there are 118 springs providing over 70 million litres of thermal water a day. With 15 public baths, and many private ones, it is no wonder that Budapest is known as the “city of baths.”
On my most recent visit to Budapest, I decided to visit the Gellert Baths. Located adjacent to the world famous Gellert Hotel at the base of Gellert Hill in Buda, the Gellert Baths were built between 1912 and 1918 in the Art Nouveau style.
My visit got off to a bad start. I entered through the wrong door and got terribly lost inside. Nothing like wandering around in your street clothes while everyone else is in their bathing suits as they stare at the crazy foreigner that doesn’t know what she is doing. I eventually found the change rooms, but that was after asking a number of people how to get around.
Once I got in the waters, things drastically improved. Gellért is famous for its main hall with gallery and glass roof, built in Art-Nouveau style. It truly is beautiful to be in the room.
There are twelve pools including six thermal pools with temperatures from 35°C to 40°C, a swimming pool and a wave pool outside (which was closed during our visit). The waters contain minerals that are said to heal inflammation, arthritis, circulatory diseases and other illnesses.
The thermal baths are difficult to locate as they’re hidden on either side of the mail hall. You need to walk through a massage area before you can access them which is kind of strange. You feel like you’re walking in the wrong place, but then you turn the corner and you see the baths.
The hotter baths have written on the wall the maximum length of time you should spend in them. The 40°C pool had a recommended time of 5 minutes. I could barely stand 2 minutes! I started sweating profusely and had to sit up on the edge because it was too hot. Even sitting in a 38°C pool, just above body temperature, was hard. I found it uncomfortable and yet oddly comforting.
After a couple of hours of soaking, I was feeling really relaxed. Towards the end I start dozing off. I probably could have fallen asleep in the water. I was half heartedly listening to the Boy chatter away, instead focusing on staying awake and not face planting into the water. It was with reluctance that I finally left the warm embrace of the waters.
Getting out was another adventure and a half. I managed to lock myself out of my locker all because it didn’t close properly. I had to wait forever at the help desk (hurray for Hungarian customer service), before someone finally was able to come and help me. The lady hit my locker a couple of times and it came loose. At least I had my clothes on at this point!
The rest of the day I was so relaxed. My muscles were warm and buttery. The sensation of moving and floating on water didn’t leave me the whole day. Even the next day traveling home my muscles felt super relaxed and comfortable. Writing this now, I really want to go again. It was pure bliss.
Ready to go? Check out my follow up post with 9 tips to make your visit to the thermal baths effortless.
Good to Know
Enter through the right door! I made the mistake of not listening to the cashier about which door to enter. She said the second door on the left, except all the entrances were on the right. So I picked one which turned out to be horribly wrong. The correct entrance is the middle door, right in front of the swimming pool. It is the second door on the right. The cashier mixed up her left and right and then I got horribly lost inside the maze of Gellert.
The thermal baths inside at Gellert at one point were separated by gender and you’ll see that reported around the web. Effective January 1, 2013 this is no longer the case – the facility is all coed now. I was there in February 2014 and encountered no separation.
At the time of writing tickets cost 4900 HUF on weekdays, 5100 HUF on weekdays for a locker. If you decide to get a cabin it is 5300 HUF on weekdays and 5500 HUF on weekends. A cabin is essentially a private change room where you can also lock your belongings. For the latest prices, check out the Gellert website. If you have a Budapest card, you can get 20% off your admission price.
1118 Budapest, Kelenhegyi út 4.
+36 1 466 6166
It is accessible by public transportation on tram 18, 19, 47 and 49, or on buses 7, 7A and 86.
Have you been to a spa like this? Did you find it as confusing as I did?