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Why is Budapest Called the City of Spas?

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Why is Budapest Called the City of Spas?

Budapest is the capital and cultural powerhouse of Hungary, a jewel of Central Europe known for its iconic views of the Danube river alongside dramatic Baroque and neo-Gothic architecture. But more than that, Budapest is also nicknamed the “City of Spas.” Its thermal hot springs have been drawing visitors from far and wide since the time of Ancient Rome through modern-day Hungary.

A Brief History of the Spas of Budapest

The hot springs of the area have been in use for centuries, drawing everyone from Roman conquerors to 19th-century nobles and today’s vacationers. According to Wikipedia, Roman military officers first established settlements at the baths in the 1st century A.D., followed by Greeks and Celtic people. The spas were in regular use through the 16th and 17th centuries, when some of the city’s most extravagant and stylish springs were constructed (most still stand today).

The 18th century was a boom century for the spas, as Hungarian nobles built several outdoor pools and neoclassical structures around them to accommodate private parties, concerts and other events. During this time, some of the most famous baths included Király, Rudas, and Széchenyi, all commissioned by wealthy Hapsburgs patrons who desired to outdo each other with their grandeur, elegance, and extravagance.

The 20th century brought with it political and economic upheaval to Hungary, eventually culminating in decades of Soviet rule beginning in 1949, followed by the fall of communism in 1989. Today, the city has restored many of its thermal baths, making them available to all travelers looking to relax while touring this majestic city.

Types of Spas in Budapest

The city boasts many types of spas, from historic baths to luxurious spa hotels. The main types can be broken down into two main categories: recreational baths and thermal baths.

Recreational Baths

The recreational baths—including Széchenyi, Lukács, Gellért, and Rudas—are pleasant excursions in which visitors can immerse themselves in thermal pools, saunas, and steam rooms. For a full experience, visitors should plan to stay most of the day to relax and enjoy the various facilities. Many of these traditional baths also provide massage services for added relaxation. Additionally, some offer natural thermal water said to contain minerals with therapeutic benefits for ailments such as arthritis or tendonitis.

Thermal Baths

Thermal baths can be found throughout the city. These baths are often much smaller than their recreational counterparts but provide all the benefits of natural thermal springs less expensively and informally. Visitors here can enjoy a bath in a smaller location free from the strain of tourist crowds and higher prices associated with larger thermal baths.

The Benefits of Soaking in the Hot Springs of Budapest

The medicinal value of hot springs has been well-documented over the past 3,000 years; soaking in spring water is thought to help with joint pain, arthritis, and fatigue. Hot springs also have an impressive record when it comes to cardiovascular health; research has shown that being submerged in hot spring water can help with improved circulation in the veins and reduced risk of atherosclerosis or “hardening” of the arteries.

The most well-known benefit associated with hot spring bathing is relaxation; immersing oneself in warm water can also promote physical and psychological well-being by assisting with muscular relaxation and calming emotions. For travelers looking for a well-deserved break from hustle and bustle of everyday life, one can’t beat an afternoon or evening spent at a Budapest spa.


No matter what you’re looking for—healing thermal springs free from tourists, a luxurious spa vacation with friends or family, or simply an afternoon getaway from everyday life—Budapest will oblige with its network of spas large and small throughout the city. Whether you’re seeking medical treatment or an escape from day-to-day life, Budapest’s thermal spas have something for everyone. Almost two thousand years in running, these natural thermal springs have been used throughout history by everyone from ruling empires to modern-day vacationers alike—the perfect testament to Budapest’s therapeutic charm.

An Insider’s Guide to Budapest: The City of Spas

Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is a city of contrasts, with a rich history and vibrant culture. Most famously, it is known as the City of Spas because of its abundance of natural thermal baths. Besides the well-known attractions, there are so many hidden gems in Budapest that only locals would know. In this insider’s guide, you’ll discover a few of these and other exciting experiences that will make your visit unforgettable.

Local Attractions: The Hidden Gems

While the popular landmarks like the Fisherman’s Bastion, Parliament Building, and Buda Castle are must-sees, Budapest has many hidden gems waiting to be discovered. For example, have you heard of the Hospital in the Rock Museum, which is a Cold War-era nuclear bunker turned into a museum? Or the Vajdahunyad Castle, a stunning structure with a blend of different architectural styles? And how about the Citadella, where you can get stunning panoramic views of the city?

Dining Spots: Savoring Local Cuisine

Hungarian cuisine is a delight for the senses. Some dishes that you should try include Goulash soup filled with meats, vegetables, and seasoning, served in a rich paprika broth; chimney cake, a sweet pastry cooked over an open flame and coated in cinnamon sugar; and lángos, a fried dough topped with cheese, sour cream, and garlic. For a taste of local food culture, visit the Central Market Hall, the oldest indoor market in the city, to explore the many food stalls selling local delicacies.

Cultural Experiences: Uncovering the Traditions

Budapest is a city steeped in culture, with its artistic and musical traditions and festivals worth exploring. The Hungarian National Museum is an excellent place to learn in-depth about the country’s history and art, and the Hungarian State Opera House is an architectural masterpiece. If you’re looking for some live music, head to the Budapest Jazz Club, where some of the best jazz musicians play. And if you’re lucky enough to visit Budapest in August, don’t miss the Sziget Festival, one of the biggest music festivals in Europe that takes place on the Island of Freedom.

Local History: Captivating Stories

Budapest has a rich and fascinating history that goes beyond the usual tourist attractions. The city was once two separate towns, Buda and Pest, separated by the Danube River. When the Hungarians united these two towns, the Chain Bridge, one of the most iconic bridges in the world was constructed to join them, symbolizing the nation’s unification. Another captivating story is “The Tragedy of 1956,” where Hungarian nationalists tried and failed to overthrow the Soviet-backed government, resulting in a brutal crackdown that lasted for weeks.

Off-the-Beaten-Path: Unique Tips

To experience Budapest like a local, take the #2 tram route on the Danube River for stunning river views, go on a guided tour of the Jewish Quarter that played a significant role in shaping the city’s culture, and rent a bicycle to explore the city’s parks and bike-friendly streets. And if you’re feeling adventurous, head to the Caves of Budapest, where you can explore over 100 km of underground caves beneath the city.

In conclusion, Budapest is a fascinating city with countless hidden gems and unique experiences to offer visitors. Embrace this insider’s guide and discover Budapest like a local would.

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Why is Budapest Called the City of Spas?

Experience Adventure Like Never Before: Book Your Tour Today!