Light dances and sparkles through the stained glass, sending magical beams of color down through the misty air and illuminating the warm wafts of swirling steam prior to coming to rest beneath the surface of the pool where calming minerals, pumped up from natural springs, soak in the skin of the patrons of this Gellert Baths, slowly massaging all the pains and aches of everyday life. Artistic sculptures and mosaics and Art-Nouveau furnishings stand alongside historical Ottoman architecture, aesthetically satisfying the eye and calming the entire body further. Welcome to Budapest, the relaxation capital of the world.

The Gellert baths – constructed upon the site of a medieval hospital, in which the benefits of the’healing waters’ of the underground springs have been recorded as early as the 13th century – are possibly the most beautiful baths in Budapest; however they are only one instance of a broad and diverse culture of comfort this beautiful European capital has embraced. A rather different approach to bath-time is the more family-orientated Szechenyi Furdo, the largest medicinal baths in Europe, which includes hot and cold pools and steam rooms that combine exquisite Baroque architecture together with the more light-hearted – like the elderly regulars who float around, sipping beer and playing hockey.

The baths of Budapest, though unquestionably a must-do, are far from all Hungary’s beautiful capital has to offer, and actually serves as the perfect rest from sightseeing. Budapest is a city steeped in history and shaped by culture, and a lot of this may be seen in the national galleries and museums – although prime examples may also be seen dotted around the city itself. Budapest is home to various buildings and sites of historic, spiritual and aesthetic worth, such as the Great Synagogue, the second largest of its kind in the whole of the world.

Another must-visit the place is Castle Hill, a UNESCO world heritage site and host to a number of the most intriguing attractions to tourists, like the Royal Palace, Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church. As well as the obvious attraction of those landmark buildings, the whole region is filled with charm, be it in the winding cobbled streets, the tiny friendly cafes, the baroque houses, or some of the finest resorts in Budapest.

Other areas of interest will be the Basilica of St. Stephen, a stunning building whose history is one plagued with issues, of faulted plans and allied bombings – but which today stands as a monument to Hungarian perseverance and pride – and Heroes Square, a fabulous symbol of 19th century Hungarian Nationalism, that is also home to the Szépmüvészeti Múzeum (Museum of Fine Arts) and the Múcsarnok (Palace of Art).

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