The ultimate wellness guide to Budapest
(CNN) — Renowned the world over for its beautiful architecture and breathtaking views, visitors flock to Budapest each year to experience the city's spas and wellness centers.
Drawing therapeutic waters from 118 natural thermal springs each day, a selection of Turkish baths provides visitors with a wide range of activities and treatments, while yoga retreats and wellness centers offer up a feast of fitness trends.
Here, we've compiled the ultimate wellness guide to Budapest to help you navigate your way around the best spa and wellness activities available when you travel to Hungary's capital city.
Thermal Beer Spa at Széchenyi Baths
Situated in the heart of the City Park, Széchenyi Baths houses a Beer Spa that offers a unique experience.
Visitors are treated to 36-degree hot water baths mixed with minerals and natural extracts used for beer brewing — hops, yeast, malt and barley.
This quirky therapeutic offering is delivered in six bath tubs, which can be used individually or with a friend.
Local beer is also served as an accompaniment to make the experience even more memorable.
To enter the Beer Spa, guests first have to pay for entry to Széchenyi Baths, then book an extra ticket to the alcohol-fueled bath tub area.
The baths also boast 10 indoor pools, an exquisite outside bathing area, saunas, steam chamber and massage rooms, with a number of other treatments available upon request.
Admission fee to Széchenyi Baths is around $21 on weekdays and $22 at weekends. The additional Beer Spa admission fee is $25 for one person, $30 for two.
Széchenyi Baths, Budapest, Állatkerti krt. 9-11, 1146 Hungary; +36 1 363 3210. Open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Medicinal massages at Rudas Baths
Rudas Baths offers various medicinal massages.
Courtesy Rudas Baths
While most spas and wellness centers in Budapest have a wide range of massage treatments at reasonable prices, Rudas Baths holds one of the more extensive massage programs.
This traditional Turkish bathhouse is one of the more popular thermal spas in Budapest, with a wide range of treatments and thermal pools with medicinal benefits.
Rudas Baths boasts a large octagonal plunge pool, five smaller thermal pools, a larger swimming pool, a rooftop hot tub, sauna, steam room and massage rooms.
But the jewel in this venue's crown is its vast array of medicinal massages provided by experienced masseurs and staff.
The aroma massage mixes natural healing powers with various fragrances and aroma oils to relax the mind and body and is recommended for those suffering from stress as well as sleeping difficulties. Meanwhile, the thermal massage soothes pains of the movement system, easing joint problems and muscle tension.
There are also a whole host of VIP massages on offer, including the Rosemary Wonder, Orange Happiness, Hungarian Wines and Elderflower Harmony massages, but the pièce de résistance is the Kolop medicinal mud treatment.
This healing mud is taken from the River Tisza, the second largest river in Hungary. Kolop was qualified as a medicinal mud in 1968 and has a natural healing factor that aids the joints and spine — perfect for sport injuries.
Admission is $18.60 during the week and $23 at weekends. Massages start from $22 for 20 minutes upwards. Steam bath open daily from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Rudas Baths, Budapest, Döbrentei tér 9, 1013 Hungary; +36 1 356 1010
Private Bath at Gellért Baths
Gellért Baths, or the Szent Gellért Gyógyfürdő, is based inside the world famous Gellért Hotel.
Although the bath house has a steam room, sauna, sun terrace, thermal baths and massage rooms, the best way to experience this traditional spa is by taking advantage of the private bath and massage rooms.
Built just over 100 years ago, it comes with its own sauna and relaxation room and serves as an ideal place to relax and unwind without bumping into other bathers.
Visitors can also take advantage of the many massages available thatpromote health and wellness, including mud therapy and herbal treatments.
Fees start from $20. Open daily from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Wellness center at Csillaghegyi Árpád Baths
Csillaghegyi Árpád Baths has an on site wellness center.
Courtesy Csillaghegyi Árpád Baths
The Csillaghegyi Árpád Baths is one of the largest open-air bathing complexes in Europe.
It has a 33-meter long swimming pool filled with mineral water and a comprehensive wellness and fitness center in an adjoining building.
Infrared and Finnish saunas are available with three activity pools, a whole host of thermal pools and relaxing medicinal waters.
The sauna world offers an aroma sauna, hellish sauna, a steam chamber, a large panorama sauna, a salt bath, a bio sauna, hot and cold-water immersion pools and a 36-degree temperature relaxation pool.
There's also a panorama terrace with spectacular views of the surrounding areas, along with an activity pool.
Admission fees starts at $12. Open daily from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Musically inspired treatments at Harmony Spa, the Aria Hotel
The Aria Hotel is one of the finest five-star hotels in Budapest and has the best boutique spa in the city.
The Harmony Spa was voted the Best Wellness Spa in Europe at the Boutique Hotel Awards in 2018, and offers a whole host of memorable wellness options.
Its unique, musically inspired spa treatments and private Harmony Rooftop Yoga set this venue apart from other luxury spas.
Complete with a pool, Finnish and infrared sauna, aromatic steam bath and private cabanas, a visit to this wellness center is a heavenly experience.
Admission fees start at $30. Open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Aria Hotel, Budapest, Hercegprímás u. 5, 1051 Hungary; +36 1 445 41 80
The Oriental Spa at Aquaworld
Aquaworld is one of the largest aqua parks in Central Europe, with plenty of activities for the entire family.
While there are water slides, wave pools and other water attractions on site, its well-equipped spa is one of its best features.
The Oriental Spa wellness and fitness center delivers a relaxed ambiance away from the hustle and bustle of the water park, with a wide selection of treatments to choose from.
Exotic baths, relaxation pools and steam baths are available along with a unique sauna world and massage and resting beds.
Admission fees start at $10.50. Open daily from 7 a.m. to 9:40 p.m.
Aquaworld, H-1044 Budapest, Íves Street 16; +36 1 2313 760
There are plenty of yoga centers dotted around Budapest, offering varying levels of intensity and relaxation.
But while yoga retreats are becoming an everyday sight across the city, only a few offer classes catered to English speaking expats and visitors.
The Bikram Yoga Center is locatednear Astoria in the heart of Budapest and offers a strict series of 26 poses in a controlled 38 to 40-degree environment.
Developed by Indian yoga master Bikram Choudhury, the 90-minute sessions follow a maintained order to provide positive effects on the mind, body and soul.
There's also the ASRAM Yoga and Meditation Center, whichoffers seven teaching styles, including power, yin and spine focused yoga.
Complete with two studios, one in Buda and the other in Pest, this meditation center offers a wide range of options as well as outdoor retreats during the summer months.
The Margaret Island running track is popular with locals and travelers.
Courtesy Hungarian National Tourist Office
Budapest has many activities for those who like to keep fit while traveling the world, with a wide range of free outdoor fitness and street workout areas in and around the city.
Városmajor park has seven outdoor gym machines and static equipment, while Margaret Island holds a specially constructed street workout park and a running track that circles the island.
If you're a fan of hiking, János Hill is a natural treasure, perfect for those who like to combine exercise with taking in scenic views.
Standing 528 meters high, János-hegy is the highest point in Budapest with the Erzsébet-kilátó, or the Elizabeth Lookout Tower, (built in 1910 and named after Empress Elisabeth of Austria) at the very top.
János-hegy and the lookout tower can be accessed by a hike through the lush forest, or by taking the Zugliget Chairlift (Libegő) high above the treetops.
While the lookout tower is free to enter, prices for the chair lift start at $3.
Thermal baths and spas
The thermal springs at Lukács Baths have been in use since the 12th century.
Courtesy Lukács Baths
Budapest is famed for delivering some of the finest examples of traditional spas and bathhouses on the planet.
Dating back to 1565, Király Baths is one of the oldest spas in the city, and offers a wide range of wellness options. Its magnificent cupola-topped pool is accompanied by a thermal pool, massage rooms, a sauna and steam room.
There's also Lukács Baths, situated on the Buda side of the city, which has indoor and outdoor thermal springs that have been in use since the 12th century.
Once an important healing spa and treatment center, the building is now made up of four warm thermal baths, a cold plunge pool and a number of massage and treatment rooms.
Meanwhile Veli Bej, or Császár Baths, was renovated in 2017 to highlight a large octagonal hot water pool surrounded by four smaller pools.
The historical building also has a modern swimming pool, steam baths, Jacuzzi, sauna and a special bathtub for hydrotherapy.
Kempinski The Spa in downtown Budapest is one of the finest spas in the city.
The Aria Hotel mentioned above is not the only five-star spa experience available in Budapest. The Four Seasons, the Ritz-Carlton, the Kempinski and the Corinthia Hotel all offer some great spa and wellness packages.
One of the more luxurious spa destinations in Budapest, the Royal Spa at the Corinthia Hotel has a galleried 15-meter swimming pool as well as relaxation rooms, saunas, a steam bath and Jacuzzis. ESPA treatments are also available for a relaxing facial or body massage.
The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace includes a relaxation pool, sauna, separate steam rooms for men and women and a whirlpool.
Private rooms are available for sensual massages along with Vichy shower treatment rooms and a lounging area.
Located in the center of Budapest, the Ritz-Carlton Spa offers a full menu of treatments as well as a sauna, steam room, thermal suites, Jacuzzi and an eye catching indoor pool.
Finally, Kempinski The Spa, in downtown Budapest is one of the nicest luxury spas in the city, offering a variety of Elemental Herbology treatments and massages. It also houses a fitness center, Finnish and bio saunas, a steam room, a Kneipp-bench and a tepidarium as well as an indoor pool.
The Ritz-Carlton, Budapest, Erzsébet krt. 9-10, 1051 Hungary; +36 1 429 5500Nathan Kay is a well-traveled freelance journalist with more than 15 years of experience in print and online journalism. His interests lie in tech, news and travel writing.