Baths, Swimming Pools and Lidos

Budapest is a well-known city of thermal springs, but you can do a lot more than just peacefully bobbing around in hot water. There are plenty of opportunities for swimming laps or splashing about.

During the summer, it's all about the lidos, but this being Budapest, even these will have thermal waters filling some of their pools. Dagály, opened in the 1940s has a post-Communist air about it, but its many outdoor and indoor pools dotted around an extensive park make it one of the most popular summer venues for families. The nine pools of Palatinus on Margit Island offer waves, bubbles, slides and thermal waters and it has been chosen as one of the most beautiful outdoor swimming pools by readers of The Guardian. The Romans already discovered how great Budapest was for bathing, and there are three lidos around Aquincum that can trace their origins back to the time of the Roman settlement; Római, Csillaghegyi and Pünkösdfürdő are the oldest, smallest and probably most charming lidos in Budapest set in beautiful parks and their off-the-beaten-track location means that they are less crowded than most venues on the weekends. Many historical thermal baths also offer outdoor pools and swimming pools.

The Art Nouveau splendour of Gellért Baths and the enormous complex of Széchenyi Baths with over a dozen indoor and outdoor pools of varying temperature make them the most popular destinations. While the recently-renovated Rudas is famed for its 16th century octagonal Turkish baths, it also has a swimming pool for laps, and the newly opened southern section offers more pools, saunas and a panoramic Jacuzzi. Aquaworld is one of Europe's largest water amusement parks that offers thrills for the whole family all-year round. The modern complex under a massive glass dome has fifteen indoor and outdoor pleasure pools, eleven slides, Jacuzzis, saunas and wave pools. The design was inspired by the temple of Angkor Wat; palm trees and suspension bridges complete the tropical atmosphere.

For serious laps, the Hajós Alfréd National Swimming Pool cannot be beaten with two outdoor 50m pools, an indoor and an outdoor 33m pool and children's pools for teaching. Just opposite on the Buda side of the river, the Császár-Komjádi Swimming Pool offers five indoor and outdoor pools and sunbathing terraces. As both venues host international sporting events and train national athletes, certain parts of the complex may be closed to the public. MOM Sport Centre has a 25m indoor pool for laps, an indoor teaching pool and an outdoor pool that is covered and heated in winter. The pool at Life1 and Oxygen gyms can be visited with a one-day ticket.