Hungary’s capital city is world renowned as a destination blessed with a profusion of restorative spas. Whether it’s the famous Gellért or Széchenyi baths that draw you to Budapest, or public baths at Margaret Island (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), or any of the dozens of other aquatic options, you won’t be disappointed.
What far fewer prospective visitors to this beautiful city are fully aware of are the nearly 170 caves and cave systems that are available for tours and exploration. The same thermal activities that explain the larger number of natural baths, springs, and wading pools are responsible for the extraordinary network of caves in the region.
Serious spelunkers will be richly rewarded for indulging in a little urban exploration. Many unknown caves were discovered during major construction projects in the early 20th century, and new nooks and crannies are being happened upon to this day.
Casual tourists seeking underground adventure should take care to pay a visit to one or all of the following sites.
1) Pálvölgyi Cave
Pálvölgyi Cave is easily accessible by bus (as are all of the caves recommended here). At more than 10 miles in length, it is one of the longest in the area, and while it cannot be explored in its entirety, its steep passages and ladders are not for the young or the infirm.
2) Szemlőhegyi Cave
The cool, damp air within Szemlőhegyi Cave is reputedly beneficial for people suffering from respiratory disorders. Happily, you needn’t be unwell to enjoy this assemblage of aragonite crystals and other rock formations that are on display here.
3) Castle Hill
The caves beneath Castle Hill are fascinating for more than just geological reasons. During WWII, the 50-foot-deep, 4,000-foot-long complex was specially outfitted by the army and civil defense organizations for use as a bomb shelter, hospital, and operational headquarters, and parts of the cave system have been used as wine cellars at least as far back as the 16th century.