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Budapest's Legendary Thermal Baths

 

The Facts

 

Prices at the scenic older baths are in the $5 range for entry plus massage. Hours are typically from 6 or 6:30 a.m. to 6 or 7 p.m. (often later in summer.) Note that no reservations are taken and that massage areas often close on weekend afternoons. Phone numbers are not listed here because it's rare to reach an English speaker.

Most of the newer spas charge about $30 for entry and massage. Appointments are suggested for massages, although you can just show up.

Széchenyi 11 Állatkerti Körút, City Park (Városliget). Enormous Beaux-Arts baths complex with single-sex and coed spa zones, and a coed open-air thermal pool where devotees play floating chess. Decorations include crystal chandeliers and water-nymph murals.

Gellért 4 Kelenhegyi Út. Art Nouveau hotel complex with coed central pools and some single-sex zones with massage service. Throughout, there are spectacular domed stained-glass skylights and mosaics with touches of gold.

Király 82-84 Fö Utca; women Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday; men Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Intact 16th-century Ottoman bath with multiple starry skylights and womblike dark-stone walls.

Rác 8-10 Hadnagy Utca; women Monday, Wednesday, Friday; men Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. Neoclassical villa built around a domed Turkish bath, with an untouristy crowd.

Margitsziget Near Árpád Bridge, Margitsziget; 36-1/311-1000; 7 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Funky seventies hotel with orange-tiled baths area.

Hélia 62-64 Kárpát Utca; 36-1/270-3277; 7 a.m.-10 p.m. A blue-and-white Lego box of a hotel, with Western-style extended hours and views of the river and the Buda hills.

Aquincum 94 Árpád Fejedelem Útja; 36-1/250-3360; 7 a.m.-9 p.m. A calm spa in a hotel atrium, with white walls and, paradoxically, a jet-setting crowd.

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