Sunday morning – we decided we wanted to try on of Budapest’s many spas. We quickly picked one and we planned our trip to the Rudas Thermal Bath.
The Rudas Spa was founded around 1550. The thermal bath is in the centre of the spa, which was created during ottoman occupation. Even to this day, it is almost totally in its original state. Fort he longest time only men were allowed to use the bath. Rumour has it that politicians and journalists met here for intense conversations.
Arrival at the thermal bath
The Rudas Spa is on the Buda side of the Danube at the base of Gellert Hill. From the outside, the entrance doesn’t really look like it belongs to one of the most beautiful baths in Budapest.
The entrance hall has a practical and plain design. It houses the ticket counters, as well as a small spa café wich is used by the guests of the bath. There are different ticket options. We opted for the thermal bad ticket with access to the sauna. We did not use the pool and wellness area or any of the massages. I was a little surprised that the ticket was for „admission with changing room“. Turns out that all guests get their own changing cubicle. One leaves all personal belongings behind and a special key opens the door to the cubical.
Tip: Don’t arrive too late in the day. When we left the bath at around 13.00 the only chance to get into the bath was when someone else left.
On the way to the thermal bath from the changing rooms one is welcomed by a cloud of steam. I am speechless as we enter the bath. 9 red marble columns carry a dome that is an estimated 10 meters high. Underneath the dome is an octagonal basin. This is where guests sit or stand around and chat. The design and the architecture trap the sound and the room is filled with a muffled murmur. There is only very little light in the room and I can’t see any artificial light sources. Only the glass skylights in the dome allow some light in. In the four corners of the room I spot more basins.
Our first destination is the big basin. The water has a pleasant temperature, like a bathtub. Later I spot a sign that tells me that it was 36°C. We relax for a little while and enjoy the water. The composition of the water in the Rudas Spa allegedly supports recovery from joint problems. A little later, I also test the other basins that all have different temperatures (42°C, 33°C, 30°C, 28°C).
The usage of the sauna and the steam sauna are included in the ticket price for the thermal bath. The wellness area has a sauna, too. One uses the sauna in their swimming costume here. The instruction to use a towel was only followed by me. All of the other guests sat or stood in the sauna without one. Yes, they really stood in the sauna!
There are three compartments in the sauna that are separated by doors. From the first to the last compartment the temperature rises from 50°C to 90°C. But the really surprising thing was the lack of benches. Instead, there are chairs in the sauna. There was a maximum of 6 seats and if those were taken you had to stand. As standing in a sauna isn’t all that relaxing I remained in the first compartment on an empty chair. But that turned out not to be too relaxing either because there was a constant stream of people walking in and out or through the sauna. Some of them multiple times within only a few minutes. We grabbed a quick shower after the sauna and then went looking for the relaxation room. There were 8 loungers that were, of course, taken. But after a little look around we found a quiet area in the back of the bath.
We really enjoyed our stay at the spa. After a little over 3 hours, we walked back to the hotel with the firm decision in mind to plan for another day at a spa on our next trip to Budapest.
Rudas Spa Döbrentei tér 9
1013 Budapest, Hungary
Opening hours (2018):
Pool: 06.00 – 22.00
Wellness and sauna: 08.00 – 22.00
Steam bath / thermal bath
daily: 06.00 – 20.00
Friday and Saturday: 22.00 – 04.00
For women: Tuesday
For men: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
Mixed: Saturday, Sunday
Ticket prices (2018):
Thermal bath and pool – ticket with locker:
Monday to Friday 4200 Ft
Weekend 4700 Ft
Thermal bath with changing room:
Monday to Friday 3500 Ft
Weekend 4000 Ft
Friday, Saturday between 22.00 and 04.00 5100 Ft
There are other kombi tickets and discounts available.