Budapest has some of Europe's grandest baths, and they are much more affordable than you might expect. Hungarians love to wallow in the thermal waters bubbling up from subterranean springs, and a Budapest spa visit is a must-do experience – it’s fantastically restorative and sure to ease any aches and pains. A basic ticket covers three hours in the pools, sauna and steam rooms (gözfürdo), with services such as mud baths (iszapfürdo) or massages (masszázs) extra: for information on all Budapest’s baths check w budapestgyogyfurdoi.hu.
Built in 1913 on the Buda side of Freedom Bridge, the magnificent Gellért baths, with original Art Nouveau furnishings, stunning mosaics, sculptures and stained glass, offer the most exclusive experience (daily 6am–8pm; from 5100Ft pool and locker). The atmospheric Rudas baths at Döbrentei tér 9 on the Buda side of Erszébet bridge, meanwhile, house a charming octagonal pool beneath a characteristic Turkish dome (men only Mon & Wed–Fri, women only Tues, mixed Sat & Sun; daily 6am–8pm; from 3200Ft). The popular, highly recommended Széchenyi Baths, by Heroes’ Square in Pest, are the hottest in the capital, with large outdoor pools where old men play chess on floating boards, and fun features such as water rapids and underwater bubble jets (daily 6am–10pm; from 4700Ft). On Saturday nights they stage steamy, extravagant SPArties with drinks, DJs and dancing in and out of the water (10.30pm–3am; tickets from €35/10,900Ft at w spartybooking.com).