Located in the former municipality of Buda, the Gellért Baths rank very high on the list of the best bath complexes in Budapest – along with, of course, the iconic Széchenyi thermal bath.
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Brief history of the Gellért Baths
Budapest, an ancient thermal town
The Gellért Baths ( Gellért gyógyfürdő in Hungarian) are undoubtedly one of the most famous spa complexes in Budapest, but the Hungarian capital has many more. Why this craze for thermal baths in the Hungarian capital?
The answer is simple: the city once was under Roman rule, and then, much later, under Ottoman rule. And what do these two cultures have in common? Their love for the thermal baths! The Romans and later the Ottomans discovered thermal springs in the Hungarian capital: a godsend!
Although they left Budapest many moons ago, the tradition of thermal baths has remained and become deeply rooted in Hungarian culture!
And the Gellért Baths in all of this?
Part of the famous Hotel Gellért, located at the foot of Gellért hill ( Gellért-hegy ), the Gellért Baths were founded in 1918. Designed in the Secession style (a trend of Art Nouveau), they are not, however, the first spa complex ever to be built on this site.
Thermal springs were discovered on the current location of the baths as early as the 13 th century. Later in the Middle Ages, a hospital was built on the springs so that patients could benefit from their medicinal properties. Under the Ottoman Empire, thermal baths were built in place of the hospital, but were destroyed at the end of the 19 th to make room for the Liberty Bridge.
Entrusted to Hungarian architects Ármin Hegedűs, Artúr Sebestyén and Izidor Sterk, the construction of the Gellért Baths began in 1912. The baths were inaugurated 6 years later, in 1918. The Gellért Baths were later expanded in 1927 and 1934 with an artificial wave pool and a whirlpool, but were partly destroyed during the Second World War.
Renovated after the war, the baths were closed again in 2008 to be fully refurbished. As of 2013, all the complex’s pools are open to both men and women.
⚕️ Gellért Baths: waters with therapeutic virtues? ⚕️
Once in the baths, it’s impossible not to notice the smell of sulfur in the air!
The water of the Gellért Baths indeed contains calcium, magnesium, hydrocarbonate, alkalis, chloride, sulphate and fluoride. It is said to have many therapeutic virtues: relieving joint pain, as well as back pain, circulatory disorders or asthma.
Visiting the Gellért Baths
Located at the foot of Gellért Hill, in the former municipality of Buda, the Gellért Baths are worth a visit for their impressive Art Nouveau architecture… as well as to enjoy a moment of relaxation in the beautiful thermal pools.
Wonderfully well preserved, the Gellért Baths are a very fine example of “Secession” style architecture, combining Art Nouveau aesthetics and oriental inspirations.
The main hall, richly decorated with mosaics and crowned with a glass roof, is particularly stunning. The swimming pool, lined with pink columns and topped by a glass roof is also absolutely gorgeous.
The pools of the spa complex are covered with ceramics from the famous Hungarian Zsolnay factory. For the record, it the very same factory that made the colored tiles covering the roof of the Great Market Hall.
Swimming and relaxation
Let us not forget that the Gellért Baths are above all a thermal bath complex. So just relax and enjoy a nice swim!
The bath complex includes 13 indoor and outdoor pools. The water temperature fluctuates between 26 °C / 78.8 °F and 38 °C / 100.4°F.
The thermal baths also have a Finnish sauna, steam cabins and a naturist solarium for women and families. They also offer a wide selection of treatments and massages: pedicures, wine therapy, chocolate treatments, etc.
⚠️ Please note: the wave pool is only open on sunny days, from May 1st to September 30th.
Getting to the Gellért Baths
The Gellért Baths are located in the former municipality of Buda, on the right bank of the Danube, opposite the Liberty Bridge.
The nearest public transports are:
- Tram : Szent Gellért tér stop (lines 18, 19, 41, 47 and 49)
- Bus : Szent Gellért tér stop (lines 7, 86, 173 and 233E)
The hop-on hop-off bus tours also stop near the baths.
Admission rates vary between 5,900 and 6,500 forints per person depending on the day of the week and whether or not you want access to a private cabin in the changing rooms. Access is free for children under 2 years old.
The prices for massages and treatments vary from 7,000 to 20,000 forints.
👉 To avoid queuing, especially during high season and school holidays, Captain Ulysses recommends booking a skip-the-line ticket in advance: skip-the-line entrance
Gellért Baths opening hours
The Gellért Baths are open every day from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
⚠️ following the Coronavirus pandemic, the opening hours of the baths have changed. They are now from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Though bathing suits and towels are available on site, you should still bring your own. A pair of flip-flops can also come in quite handy.
Some pools require visitors to wear a swimming cap. But if you haven’t brought one with you, no worries: you can always buy one on site.
If you have booked a treatment or a massage, remember to arrive at least 30 minutes in advance, otherwise your wellness session will be cut short!
👙 Széchenyi Thermal Baths 👙
Bigger than the Gellért Baths, the Széchenyi Thermal Baths are the most famous thermal baths in the city: definitely worth a visit! Find out more in Capitain Ulysses’ detailed article: Széchenyi Thermal Baths.
👉 And you can book your skip-the-line tickets here.
👉 Skip the lines: book your tickets and visits in advance!
👉 Looking for tips and recommendations? Here are all of Captain Ulysses’ suggestions!
🛏️ Accommodation: if you’re looking for an accommodation in Budapest, Captain Ulysses highly recommends Booking. You’ll find a wide choice of hotels, hostels and apartments in the Hungarian capital. The Captain recommends in particular:
– tight budget: Avenue Hostel
– intermediate budget: Tempo Life Apartman
– to treat yourself: Hotel Moments Budapest
🎟️ Activities: as for booking visits and tourist activities, Captain Ulysses recommends three websites: GetYourGuide, Tiqets and Civitatis. Guided tours, cruises, skip-the-line tickets, tourist activities… there’s plenty to choose from!
🎫 Citypass: If you are staying in Budapest for several days, you might want to consider investing in the Budapest Card. It includes free public transport, free entrance to the Lukacs Spa, two guided tours, free entrance to 17 museums, as well as numerous discounts.
🚐 Transfers: Budapest airport is located about twenty kilometers from the city. If you want to take a load off your mind, you can book a private transfer into Budapest’s city centre from the airport. A car will be waiting to take you to your accommodation in the city. Find out more: airport transfer.
🚌Transport in Budapest: Budapest’s public transport system is well-developped and quite easy to navigate: metro, bus, tram and even ferry. If you wish, you can also opt for a hop-on hop-off bus tour which stops at all the top tourist attractions in Rome (audio guide included). Otherwise, there’s always the good old local ways of getting around the city: in a russian jeep or a Trabant.
✈️ Flights:Captain Ulysses highly recommends booking your flights on Skyscanner. You’ll be able to compare countless offers to find the best deal. If your dates are flexible, you can also compare prices over several months to find the cheapest flights possible.
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