27 Mar The Insider’s Guide to Budapest’s Alternative Baths
There’s a reason why Budapest is called the “City of Spas”. The city has over 80 geothermal springs and its numerous baths have become a tourist attraction in their own right. You’ll find queues going out the door of the Rudas Turkish baths, and every single tourist brochure will have the clichéd photos of the steaming outdoor baths in the Széchényi (usually the old men playing chess) or the art nouveau grandeur of Gellért thermal baths. If you want to take advantage of the city’s thermal water, but not with every single other tourist visiting the city, then here are our picks.
Thanks to the inclusion of the Lukács Baths on the Budapest Card, you’ll still find plenty of tourists visiting the humble Lukács baths, but you’ll also find plenty of locals, too. While the Lukács lacks the grandeur of its more famous siblings, the Széchényi and the Gellért, this large complex has two outdoor swimming pools, a heated activity pool, indoor thermal baths and an impressive sauna world. The prices here are also less for the tourists and more for the locals, so it’s a good alternative if you’re on a budget.
Location: Lukács Baths, II district, Frankel Leó street 25-29.
As the oldest bath still in operation in the city, the Király Bath can be thought of as the ruin pub of baths. It’s historic and slightly shabby, but that’s part of its charm. You really feel like you’re bathing in an archaeological relic in this authentic Ottoman bath. You won’t find the crowds of the Rudas, and every day is co-ed bathing (unlike the regular men’s days you’ll find in the Rudas).
Location: Király Bath, II district, Fő street 84.
Hidden inside a hospital, the Veli Bej is another Ottoman era bath, except unlike the Király it’s been fully renovated. This bath is rarely crowded as they cap the number of people who can go in at a time, which does mean you may need to pull a number and wait your turn at peak times. The Veli Bej gives you the feel of an original Turkish bath, but cleaned up and without the crowds.
Location: Veli Bej, II district, Frankel Leó street 17-19.
If you are really on a tight budget and still want to do the baths, then head over to the former industrial part of the IX District. Located just next to the Unicum Factory, the Dandár Baths are is a humble complex with the lowest prices and absolutely no frills. You won’t see any tourists here, mostly locals who come to take the water for health reasons. The interior can get pretty steamy, but if you get a ticket that includes the wellness section, you can enjoy the heated outdoor activity pools in the garden of the complex.
Location: Dandár Baths, IX district, Dandár street 5.7.
Meet Budapest’s youngest thermal bath! Located up in the same district as the Széchényi Baths, the Paskál may not have the turn of the century grandeur, but it certainly benefits from its lack of crowds. You’ll find various open air and covered pools with state of the art filtering and set in the heart of a converted park it’s a pleasant place to relax in the summer. There are 9 pools distributed between indoors and outdoors, at a selection of different temperatures. Even though these baths were built in 1989, they were recently renovated in 2016 and is a local favourite.
Location: Paskál Bath, XIV district, Egressy street 178/f.