Live Like A Local: A Guide to Budapest's Thermal Spas and Ruin Bars


Considering traveling to Budapest? We’ve got insider tips for you from the head concierge, Tamas Ungar, at Corinthia Hotel Budapest, rumored to be the hotel that inspired the movie “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Read the tips for the best thermal spas and ruin bars. 

First, begin the day exploring Budapest’s famous thermal baths. The city sits on a patchwork of almost 125 thermal springs, so there are plenty of baths to choose from. Travelers should note that some of these baths may not look extremely manicured, but the water is changed constantly to ensure it is clean.  A major plus is that many of the baths are open on the weekend.

As for what to wear, most baths are co-ed (with special times and days for men or women only), so bring a bathing suit, though you can also rent one. Men may also be required to wear a bathing cap in some cases, which also can be rented. There are lockers at these baths for your personal items, however, some are not high-tech and operate more like a coat check. You will need to get an attendant to open the locker and you will have to remember your locker number, in some cases, to get it reopened. 

Guests will notice that the layout of the thermal baths are mostly the same, with a series of indoor thermal pools where the temperatures range from warm to hot. There are also steam rooms, saunas, ice-cold plunge pools and rooms for massages. Travelers can also ask for special services like a red-wine bath and pedicures. Tip: specify what services you want to use when purchasing your ticket. Looking for something outside? Some spas have outdoor pools and fountains.

Try these baths:

The Rudas Baths is renovated and mostly men-only during the week. Most famous of the Turkish baths.

Gellért Baths is open to both men and women at all times and is known for its beautiful indoor swimming pools.

Széchenyi Baths is known for very hot water and 15 thermal baths with three swimming pools.

Veli Bej Baths was renovated in 2011, but still has five thermal pools and original clay pipes for pumping the water.

Király Baths is very authentic, but it is not the most beautiful. It is open to both men and women on all days.

Lukács Baths is the place for seasoned spa enthusiasts. The water is said to have healing powers. 

After a day at the baths, it’s time to experience some of Budapest’s famous ruin bars, which can generally be described as free-spirited bars in outdoor areas, complete with a relaxed vibe.

Fogas Haz, located at Akácfa utca 51, means “house of teeth” and is a popular ruin bar, which was rebuilt in 2010. We hear the décor is stylishly dilapidated and there is a dance floor. Best part? You won’t get gouged when ordering drinks, as the prices are reasonable. Szimpla Kert, at Kazinczy utca 14, is the best-known ruin bar and is visited by locals and visitors alike. We think this place sounds charming with an open-air cinema, bicycle fairs and houseplants left there for others to care for. Looking for a modern ruin bar? Head to Mazel Tov at Akácfa utca 47. This brick building was turned into a community center where Jewish culture is honored, though all are welcome, even kids. Guests will enjoy the garden, Hummus Bar, and Mazel Tovel, which is a club and restaurant combined with DJs entertaining every night and morning. 

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