There are a lot of geothermal springs bubbling up around Hungary. The country has taken advantage of these in the form of elaborate public baths, no doubt a leftover from the days of Turkish occupation. Going to the bath is a highly social activity in Hungarian culture meant to heal any ailments and provide an opportunity to socialize. Thankfully they aren’t like German baths and wearing a bathing suit is compulsory. We visited a few of the different ones around Budapest and outside the city but I can safely say that communal bathing is not for me. Floating in a warm pool with two dozen strangers and their bacteria kinda ruins the relaxation part for me. Why is the water cloudy? Is geothermal water chlorinated? What are all those particles floating around me? All these children never appear to take bathroom breaks. These are thoughts best left in your locker.
Taking the communal part of the bathing to the extreme, some of the baths offer late night bathing on the weekends geared towards a younger crowd. We visited the Rudas Bath on a Saturday night and were surprised by how busy it was. As the night went on, all the pools began to fill up with mostly 20 somethings either chatting or canoodling in the pools. Also when I say late night bathing, I mean really late night. The bath opens at 9pm and goes till 4am. I suppose it would be a good place to hang out before an early flight if you wanted to save on a night’s accommodations. We saw a few people rolling in luggage who looked to be doing just that. In the summertime one of the baths even hosts bath parties complete with laser lights and club music.
The buildings and rooms are quite beautiful and I can see why the Hungarians aren’t too mad at the Turks for their years of occupation since they left behind some really nice bathing culture and more recently, delicious kebabs. I don’t have any photos of the baths unfortunately. Who takes their camera into a bath? I also didn’t want to be “that guy” with the gopro in the bath and there were some of those.
We were excited to visit the Cave bath in Miksolc on one of our day trips. We heard about this thermal bath that was built into a cave system and a large complex of other pools. In reality it’s a family water park with tons of screaming children. It was fun to explore the cave rivers for about a half hour but there is no chance of relaxing with so many screamers floating around. I’m also probably missing the point of public baths in Hungary. They seem to be places for socializing and splashing around rather than time to relax and rejuvenate.