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There are many reasons to visit Budapest these days: The US dollar is pretty strong in Hungary, the city’s ruin bars offer one of the most unique nights out you’ll ever experience, and, of course, there’s the baths. Hungary’s capital is known as the “City of Baths” because it’s home to around 125 thermal springs where you’ll find so-called healing waters said to aid with joint problems, circulatory issues, and, well, just help you relax.

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Because of all this, Budapest’s public baths (standard admission is around $20–$25) are a must-visit. And we’re not talking about the kind of tub you bring your rubber ducky to. These ancient bath houses are maze-like spas where you wander between indoor and outdoor soaking pools (set at varying temps) and steamy saunas. These kinds of relaxation meccas are hard to find in the States, so your first visit can be a little intimidating and confusing. But because no Budapest vacation is complete without an unforgettable visit to the baths, we created this handy etiquette guide.

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Flickr CC: Wei-Te Wong

DO visit different baths
With a handful of baths to choose from, you’ll definitely want to try at least a couple. The Széchenyi Baths and Géllert Baths are two of the most popular ones because of their large sizes (so many pools to take dips in!) and the inspiring cathedral-like architecture and adornments. You really do feel like you’ve stepped into another time period.

 

DON’T be afraid to show a little skin
No, you won’t be naked as you wander through the baths (definitely bring your swimsuit—it’s required), but the locker rooms and changing areas don’t offer much privacy. Which means you’ll likely be changing into your suit around others, so check your modesty at the door. All shapes and sizes visit the baths, and no one is looking…or judging.

 

DO bring your own flip flops
Walking barefoot on cold tiles can seriously kill your chill vibe, so it’s a good idea to pack a pair of sandals in your day bag. Plus, you’ll be walking outside, so you’ll want to protect your feet from the hot ground in the summer and anything else that might be lurking on the pavement.

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DO bring your own towel
This one isn’t as necessary, actually. If you forget your towel, or just can’t be bothered to pack one in your bag (or feel bad about “borrowing” one from the hotel), it’s okay. You can rent one for a small fee and a deposit, which you’ll get back at the end of your visit. But bringing your own towel is easier because you don’t have to worry about carrying the right amount of cash and you can avoid the towel line. The same goes for a swim cap. If you plan on doing laps in the swimming pools, a swim cap is required. You can buy one onsite, but it’s just as easy to bring your own.

DON’T worry about getting lost
These baths are maze-like meccas of saunas and soaking pools and more. And you’ll find that many of the guests here are first-timers and no one really knows where they’re going. And that’s okay! Prepare to spend a few hours to wander around and explore. If you’re not supposed to be in a certain part, an attendant will let you know. If you only stick to one area, you’ll miss some awesome aspects like wave pools, salt rooms, and a seriously soothing infrared sauna. Discovering these features will only want to make you come back for more.

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Tagged: Budapest, Europe

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