The Soaking Life

The Pursuit of Health, Good Food and Hot Water

Hungary’s Underground Gem: The Cave Bath of Miskolc

One of four indoor pools at the Cave Bath of Miskolc

Featuring Guest Blogger Krisztina Fazekas

The geothermal baths of Miskolctapolca have been known for their healing properties for centuries. Long before the contemporary structures of the Cave Bath of Miskolc (known as Barlangfürdo in Hungarian) were built, medieval monks and Ottomans sought the benefits of these baths. We are pleased to present a guest blog and photo gallery by Krisztina Fazekas, who recently visited this extraordinary setting in Northern Hungary. Enjoy more of Krisztina’s images at her website, Erre-Arra.

Miskolctapolca is approximately two hours from Budapest. Why would a visitor travel two hours to this small town after arriving in Hungary’s capital city? First of all, Miskolctapolca, which lies at the foot of the picturesque Bükk Mountain, is one of the most beautiful regions in northern Hungary. Second, the thermal baths of this area offer a one-of-a-kind experience to visitors from around the world.

Visitors enjoy a variety of services and a menu of spa therapies

The Cave Bath of Miskolc is a true curiosity among thermal baths, as water of these temperatures cannot be found anywhere else in the European karst. The baths have been in operation since 1723, but it wasn’t until World War II (in 1941) that the modern version was constructed. After opening in 1941, Miskolc went straight to third place on the European Baths list. Since then, the bath has been reconstructed and renovated several times in recent years.

Inside the caves there are four pools, ranging from 30 to 35 degrees C (86 to 95 degrees F). The open outdoor beach area has three pools, ranging from 28 to 30 degrees C (82 to 86 degrees F), one of which is a children’s pool. With two entrances where visitors can come in and go out, the cave is practically a tunnel; it is impossible to get lost inside.

A fountain stands beneath a stained-glass dome


Outdoor pools provide the opportunity for aquatic exercise

One of the entrances opens onto a 14×14-meter foyer. In the middle of the hall, a sculpted fountain stands below a 6-meter diameter stained glass dome. This entrance is only open in the summer. The other entrance reflects the fact that you are really in a cave. When you pull open the hidden door (located below the shell structure over the outdoor pools) you’ll find yourself inside a cavern whose walls have been shaped by centuries of mineral deposits.

Miskolctapolca’s thermal water provides therapeutic benefits for the joints, heart and vascular system. The crystal clear, humid air is good for the respiratory system. You can pamper your tired, stressed back in the cave with the propellant water. While you are bathing, special lighting effects in the underground whirlpools provide a unique experience.

Soaking after dark is an unforgettable experience

The thermal spa includes a sauna, garden, plunge pool, whirlpool, neck shower, water massage, water jet massage, steam bath, weight bath and water exercise. The menu of spa services includes mud baths, medical massage and underwater gymnastics.

The Cave Bath draws soaking enthusiasts from all over the world

Like the Szechenyi Baths in Budapest, the Cave Bath of Miskolc sets its sights on the younger generation, offering swimming at night and giving the spa an unforgettable, complex and unique atmosphere.

Mineral-rich waters can ease sore muscles and aching joints

Mineral deposits from the geothermal waters line the cave walls

So should you drive all the way back to Budapest after your visit to the Cave Bath of Miskolc? It’s not worth the trouble! After a long day of soaking in this spectacular setting, you can stay overnight in one of the many surrounding inns, hotels or cottages. As a resort town, Miskolctapolca provides plenty of accommodations, not just for Hungarian tourists but also for visitors from around the world. For a list of recommended lodging in Miskolctapolca, visit the spa’s website.

Photographs and text copyright Krisztina Fazekas, 2013.

Author: Anne Tourney

I am a registered nurse and freelance writer who specializes in health and nutrition topics. I have a background in medical-surgical nursing, behavioral health and geriatric nursing. My special interests include alternative health, massage and, of course, balneotherapy.

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