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Bathing in Style: Budapest’s Spa Scene

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Budapest has some of the grandest baths in Europe, and they are much more affordable than you might expect: Hungarians see it as practically their democratic right to wallow in the thermal waters bubbling up from subterranean springs. A Budapest spa visit is one of the city’s must-do experiences, fantastically restorative and sure to ease any aches and pains from pounding the city streets. A basic ticket covers three hours in the pools, sauna and steam rooms (gözfürđo). You pay more to access extra services such as mud baths (iszapfürđo) or massages (masszázs).

Built in 1913, the magnificent Gellért baths, with original Art Nouveau furnishings, awesome mosaics, sculptures and stained glass offer the most exclusive experience (daily 6am–8pm; 3600Ft pool and cabin). You can get cheaper tickets just for the stunning thermal baths (which close earlier at weekends; separate baths for men and women). The popular Széchenyi Baths in Pest (w http://www.szechenyifurdo.hu) are the hottest in the capital, and strongly recommended. Right by Heroes’ Square, they boast large outdoor pools where old men play chess on floating boards, and fun features like water rapids and underwater bubble jets (May–Sept daily 6am–10pm, Oct–April 6am–5pm; from 2250Ft). The atmospheric Rudas baths, meanwhile, house a charming octagonal pool under a characteristic Turkish dome (men only Mon & Wed–Fri 6am–8pm, women only Tues 6am–8pm, mixed Sat & Sun 6am–7pm and Fri–Sun 10am–4pm; from 1500Ft).

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