Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness on Sunday, September 27th, 2015.
If you’re planning a trip to Budapest, then you probably have at least three things on your “must do” list already: having dinner at Zeller Bistro, visiting at least one ruin pub, and going to the baths.
However, then you might immediately face the dilemma of which bath you should go to. Of course, if you start doing some research, you will quickly find all the big names, such as Gellért, Széchenyi, or Rudas Baths. But you might be the type of visitor who would rather discover some more hidden baths so that you can avoid the crowds of tourists.
After all, going to the baths is about having some quality relaxing time and about spending hours in the pool, doing nothing, except for thinking about which pool should be the next one you try. So although we love Gellért and Széchenyi and all the other popular baths because they are very pretty, indeed, in this post, we will tell you about a less known bath, called Veli Bej.
The exterior of Veli Bej. Photo: Veli Bej official Facebook page
Veli Bej, which has a classified status, is the oldest Turkish bath (hamam) in Budapest and it dates back to the 16th century. It’s also good to know that Veli Bej is not part of the network of Budapest baths as it belongs to a hospital and it’s cheaper than most of the other baths in the city. What we love about Veli Bej is that it’s small and so it has a very intimate atmosphere. The number of visitors, who can be in the bath at the same time, is limited to 80 people, so it never gets crowded.
It was recently renovated and the modern architecture and design have been nicely incorporated with the old Turkish style. When you enter the bath (accessible through the dressing room), you will find three separate areas that are, of course, connected to one another. There is a medical area with a swimming pool, a built in kneipp bath, a jacuzzi and a weight bath (only for patients at the hospital).
The pools are in the old Turkish building, between the medical and the wellness areas. As you enter, your breath will be just simply taken away: The lights on the walls are dimmed and the pools are lit from the bottom, which creates a truly magical atmosphere. The pool in the middle, which is the biggest Turkish pool in Central Europe, has an octagon shape.
The water in this pool is 36 degrees celsius and it is 100% thermal water. There is no chlorine added to the water that is completely changed four times per day. Above the pool, there is a beautiful cupola.
You should visit the bath during daytime because in this way, you can see the lights coming through the the skylights of this cupola, which is quite pretty. There are also four hidden pools in the four corners. These are small pools that can fit only four people at the same time and they have different temperatures between 23 and 40 degrees celsius.
The central pool. Photo: epiteszforum.hu
Cupola and the skylights above the central pool. Photo: Veli Bej official Facebook page
The central pool. Photo: Veli Bej official Facebook page
The central pool. Photo: Veli Bej official Facebook page
The third area is the wellness area, which is accessible either through the pool area, in this case you have to go through a little outdoor courtyard, or you can also go around the pool area where you can find beds for relaxing. In the wellness area, you’ll find everything you need: two steam saunas as well as Finnish and infra saunas, an ice machine, and showers with various functions, such as cold fog or tropical drizzle.
The little outdoor area can also serve as a cooling place after the you’re done at the Finnish sauna. At Veli Bej, you can also have a massage, but make sure you make your appointment in advance or when you purchase your ticket.
Left: the original Turkish plaquet. Right: the ice machine with the pretty tiles. Photo: Veli Bej official Facebook page
The outdoor area. Photo: Veli Bej official Facebook page
The relaxing area. Photo: Veli Bej official Facebook page
How to Get There
If you’re not familiar with Budapest and only spend a couple of days in the city, it might be a little difficult to find Veli Bej. But if you follow these directions, then there should be no problem.
- Veli Bej is on the Buda side and it’s close to Margaret Bridge. The easiest way to get there is to take the tram number 4 or 6 until the Buda side of Margaret Bridge.
- When you get off, start walking towards the Pest side until you reach the stairs that take you under the bridge.
- Then turn left and start walking North, so the river should be on your right. The road where you’re walking is not on the river bank, so you should see a big road on your right and a green area on your left.
- Continue walking towards North. There will be a little playground on your left.
- Walk until you reach the parking lot and then turn left.
- Veli Bej is in a big white building with glass doors. You can also see the cupolas of the bath from the street.
- If you enter through the café, the entrance to the bath will be to your right.
If the bath is full (the limit is 80 people), don’t worry, you will get a number and you can wait at the café. The best time to go is during the week either in the morning or at 3:00 pm when they open for the afternoon. During the week, the evenings can also be busy.
Veli Bej is much cheaper than most of the other baths in Budapest. Your ticket is valid for 3 hours, but you can also stay longer if you pay an extra fee. With your ticket, you can use all the facilities, but if you want to get a massage, you have to pay for that separately.
Tickets: HUF 2800
Massage for 15 minutes: HUF 1990
Massage for 30 minutes: HUF 3490
Massage for 45 minutes: HUF 4990
Massage for 60 minutes: HUF 6390
Massage for 90 minutes: HUF 8990
In the Bath
When you purchase your ticket, you’ll get a plastic rubber band (with a shape of a watch and adjustable in size) that you have to wear at all times while you’re at the bath. It is with this rubber band that you can enter and exit the bath, and you’ll use this to open and close your locker. You’ll also be given a locker number and you rubber band will only open and close this specific locker.
Surprising as it might be, the dressing area, where the lockers are, is mixed-gender, and it is in the small changing boxes, which can be closed from both sides, that you can change to your swim suit. It’s a little bit of a nuisance but actually you would find the same system in many other baths, too. When you’re done with changing, you can access the bath through the shower/restroom area. As you enter the dressing room, for woman, this will be on the left, for men, on the right.
Make sure you have two towels, one that you use at the bath and the other that you can use after showering. In the saunas, it is compulsory to use a small towel that you can sit on. You should also have a pair of slippers for the bath area. Read our Budapest baths FAQ for more information.