Day 164: Bathing in Budapest

Men enjoying the warm thermal waters at Gellert Baths
What a way to start the day! An early morning stroll through Budapest’s tourist-free streets, crossing River Danube over a sunrise lit Liberty Bridge, and arriving at the Gellert bathhouse by 6am for a three hour morning bath…
Thermal water springing forth from a grand marble fountain

One of the grandest bathhouses in Budapest, the Gellert baths opened its doors in 1918 and much of its historical splendor is reflected in marble sculptures and mosaic floors. The city itself abounds in fountains of healing water with generous amounts flowing from its natural thermal springs daily. Claimed “Spa City”, it would be a crime not to indulge in the warm spring baths when in Budapest.. afterall, our tired bones deserved the luxury, no?

The reward for waking early – a traditional Hungarian spa all to oneself!

We spent an evening at the Széchenyi baths the day before yesterday, a massive complex of indoor thermal baths (with varying temperatures and mineral compositions) and outdoor swimming pools. There were more baths, steam rooms and saunas than I could remember! I don’t think we even made it halfway through the different pools on offer in our 3 hours there. It was mad crowded though and lacked authenticity – felt like 90% of the people there were tourists! But that didn’t really matter, it was going from 60C saunas to 18C ice cold water that had us in ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaaahs’!

Mosaic floors and art deco grandeur

This first Hungarian spa had us hooked, and we decided to check out Gellert before we checked out of Budapest. It was well worth waking up for! In addition to an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, Gellert has 3 thermal pools (36C, 38C and a cold 18C bath), a scorching hot sauna (100-110C!!) and a steam room. But for what it lacked in variety, Gellert made up for in decor. The baths were tranquil at this early hour, with only a handful of old locals who made their daily pilgrimage for a morning soak. No tourists, the way Buda used to be. This was it, the real Hungarian lifestyle.

Spring water to quench your thirst

Nothing beats sweating it out in a hot steam room feeling your muscles soften, jumping into an ice cold bath feeling your skin and pores tighten, then relaxing in warm mineral waters… and almost having the whole bathhouse to oneself – ultra relaxation!

Walking back across the Danube, rejuvenated, this was the moment I fell in love with Budapest.

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3 Comments

  1. Rafzana says:

    Wow, amazing! You guys really deserved a bit of relaxing. I feel like going to the thermal baths as well!

  2. ace says:

    sounds incredibly hot and cold! what a fun excursion xo

  3. Anke says:

    Wow, that looks great! Guess I should check out eastern Europe some day… Funny how I get to travel all over South America but don´t know so many parts of Europe or even Germany… We are in Santa Cruz today and will head on to the Pantanal (hopefully) tomorrow. :)
    All the best,
    Anke and Hardy

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