Gellert Spa and Baths in Budapest, Hungary

By alison - August 28, 2012 (Updated: January 16, 2015)

This entry is part 3 of 9 in the series Euro Summer 2013.
Gellert Spa and Baths in Budapest, Hungary

Gellert Spa’s beautiful effervescent pool

It’s no secret, I love relaxing at a great spa. So, when I visited Budapest, Hungary, home to dozens of modern and traditional spas and Turkish baths, I knew I had to visit one. My pick – Gellért Spa and Baths.

I was curious to see how the Hungarian bath experience differed from spas in Belgium. So, early one morning, my friend Jenn and I, set out to spend a day soaking our cares away.

To reach the Gellért Baths, we decided to walk across one of Budapest’s seven bridges, the Liberty Bridge, taking us to Buda from Pest. The Gellért Hotel and Spa complex sits at the base of the bridge beneath Gellért Hill.

The Liberty Bridge, Budapest, Hungary

Walking across the Liberty Bridge, you see the Gellert Hotel off to the left.

Despite sharing the building with the Hotel Gellért, the Gellért Baths run independently run and are reached through a side entrance, beside Gellért Hill.

Walking into the vast Art Nouveau entrance hall, we were momentarily silenced. The beautiful arched ceiling is crowned with stained glass and the room is decorated with palm trees and statuary. If this hallway was any indication, we were in for quite an experience.

Gellert Spa's Art Nouveau Entryway

Gellert Spa’s Art Nouveau Entryway

Our second moment of awestruck silence came when we looked at the spa’s price-list. It wasn’t the prices causing our muteness, but the sheer number of options: hours of entry, cabins, lockers, treatments… it was all a bit overwhelming. Luckily the woman behind the glass ticket window was friendly and helpful and even advised us that the changing cabin was plenty big enough for two, saving us a few thousand HUF.

We then made our way underground to the vast changing rooms, where we rented towels and found our cabin. The front desk clerk was correct. There was plenty of room to safely store all of our belongings inside. After a quick change into our swimsuits, it was time to hit the pools.

Our first stop, was Gellért Spa’s most famous pool – the effervescent bath. This indoor pool is 26⁰C and, as the name would suggest, is slightly mineral-y and bubbly. Bathers are required to wear caps in this pool, which we purchased for about a euro. (Top tip, take a shower cap from your hotel for free.)

Gellert Bath's effervescent pool

The bubbly and beautiful effervescent pool

If 26⁰ isn’t hot enough for you, there is a smaller ‘sitting pool’ heated to 36⁰C.

The water for the Gellért baths comes from a variety of springs bubbling out of Gellért Hill. These natural hot springs are rich in magnesium, calcium, sulphate-chloride, hydrogen-carbonate, fluoride ions, and sodium. Rumour has it, the water here helps cure arthritis and circulatory problems, as well as spine, muscle and joint deterioration. All we know is our skin felt nice and we were incredibly relaxed after a day in the healing waters.

Because it was a hot and sunny day in Budapest, we didn’t want to spend all of our time soaking indoors. We headed outside to enjoy the sun and check out the three outdoor pools.

The largest and most dramatic of Gellért’s pools is the 500m2 wave pool. This pool makes waves every half hour signaled, inexplicably, by blaring the opening bars to ‘America’ from West Side Story, over the PA system.

Gellert Spa's wave pool

The 500m wave pool (un-wavy at the moment)

Above the wave pool is a smaller 36⁰ pool and a shallow children’s pool. There is also a small sauna with a plunge pool for cooling off.

Gellert hot tub and sauna

Enjoying the hot tub with the sauna and cold plunge pool in the background

Surrounding all of these pools are terraces with lounge chairs for sunbathing. There is also a restaurant and take-away counter, which were seriously over-worked and under-staffed when we visited. Our ‘quick bite to eat’ took over two hours.

Gellert Spa and Baths

Scenes from Gellert – The building at night, roomy terraces with space for sunbathing and the wave pool.

We happened to visit on Sunday, not realising this was ‘family day.’ Through the rest of the week, in addition to the pools mentioned above, there are separate areas for men and women. These separate sections contain small pools, saunas and treatment areas.

So how did it compare to Belgian spas? All in all, I didn’t find it very different. The Art Nouveau architecture was lovely, the facilities were up to date and everything seemed fairly well organised. However, the Gellért Spa is geared towards tourists and not as traditionally Hungarian as some of the other bath complexes in the city.

I guess I’ll just have to return to Budapest to conduct more research…

Do you have a favourite spa in Europe? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
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  1. Comment by Marisol@TravelingSolemates

    Marisol@TravelingSolemates August 30, 2012 at 22:37

    Hi Alison, nice post about Gellert Baths. I visited the spa in the late 90’s. I had a great time with my friends. The spa was so dirt cheap way back then that it was affordable even for us who were traveling in a shoestring. I heard from a friend who visited recently how expensive it had become. I guess its still worth a visit — when you’re in a spa city you have to go to a spa. But like you said, it’s good to do a research to find less touristy and maybe less pricey alternative.

    • Comment by Alison


      Alison August 31, 2012 at 10:13

      Hi! I’m sure Gellert is probably more expensive than some of the more ‘local’ baths in the city, but certainly compared to prices for spas in Belgium it was quite cheap. I still think it’s worth a visit but I’d love to try some of the other as well!

  2. Comment by aysegul

    aysegul September 23, 2012 at 12:45

    Thanks for the post. It seems great, actually I really liked your photos!

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