You’ve got your modern luxury-hotel spas, where piped in New Age music soothes your worries away while you get a massage, facial or other treatment. And then you have your European spa towns, thermal baths that date back 2,000-plus years to Roman times. While there’s nothing wrong with the former (we’ve never met a spa treatment we didn’t like), it’s the latter that delivers all the rest and relaxation but with an added dose of heritage, history and Mother Nature. So as the weather outside gets chilly, it’s time to think about treating yourself to some relaxing, healing thermal water at one of our favorite spa cities in Europe.
Baden-Baden literally means Bath-Bath, so it should come as no surprise that this town has long been a favorite bathing location among locals and visitors alike. Over the past several years, the thermal baths of Baden-Baden have drawn everyone from backpackers to royals, likely because of the palatial character of the baths. For example, looking up while bathing in Baden-Baden’s Friedrichsbad Spa is like looking towards the dome of a cathedral; appropriately enough, the healing properties of the thermal springs offer the opportunity for a relaxing, spiritual communion. For easy access to the spa, book your stay at the Hotel am Friedrichsbad.
This one is no secret; baths in Budapest are world renowned and located all over the city. Budapest hosts a wide variety of baths from public swimming pools with water slides to private, luxurious spa baths. The most popular bath in Budapest is Szechenyi Baths and Pool, which is located in the City Park. If you’d like to check out an authentic, historical Turkish bath, head to Kiraly Bath, Rudas Bath or Veli Bej. Budapest has access to more than 1,000 springs, so bathing here is the most natural thing to do. When you’re finished, return to your accommodations at Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest for more relaxation and comfort.
Arguably one of the most important aspects of Icelandic culture is bathing, so there is at least one public swimming pool or wild hot spring in every town, no matter how small. However, there is only one spa in Iceland that combines the healing properties of bathing with beer! Head up to the town of Dalvík to Bjórboðin, the Beer Spa. You’ll soak in beer, water, hops, and yeast with your own Kaldi brew on tap next to you. Make sure to book in advance because space is limited to 14 guests per hour. If you’d like to bathe in water afterward, head outside to the outdoor water hot pots and enjoy the view of Eyjafjörður (Island Fjord) outside. When you’re ready to crash, head up the peninsula to the quaint village of Siglufjörður and stay at the celebrated Siglo Hotel.
Again, the name says it all in Bath, England, where you’ll find ancient Roman baths. These baths are still available to visit, but guests cannot enter the water because they represent a protected historical and archaeological site. If visiting the Roman baths inspires the need for a thermal dip, head to Thermae Bath Spa. Thermae features several mineral water thermal baths, a rooftop pool and a lazy river. The new wellness suite features several steam rooms as well as an ice room, infrared room, and body jet showers. Pulling inspiration from its ancient heritage, Thermae Bath Spa would have certainly been up to the standards of the Romans. To continue the Roman-inspired spa theme, book your stay at The Gainsborough Bath Spa.
Charming, artistic and friendly, the town of Poprad lies at the base of the High Tatras. While the Tatras are a popular spot for winter sports and summer hikes, Poprad is famous for its water arena called Aqua City. Aqua City is an intense, impressive combination of water park, spa and wellness center—including 13 indoor and outdoor pools, water slides, saunas, an ice cave, banyä treatments, and even a sauna show. Whether you’re in Poprad for relaxation, rejuvenation or excitement, Aqua City has something for you. You can even stay on-site at Hotel Aqua City Mountain View to maximize your spa time.
Our second entry for Hungary, Heviz literally translates to “thermal.” The town outside of Keszthely is home to a thermal lake with a wellness health spa located right near the middle of it, accessible by a dock. The water itself plays host to a number of healthful microorganisms and dissolved gasses that provide healing enrichments to the water. While it may not be the clearest water you’ve ever experienced, the extra ingredients are what makes the water good for your joints, muscles and relaxation. For your accommodations, book with the nature-inspired Hotel Naturmed Carbona.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is worth seeing at least once in a lifetime. The terraced, limestone-laden turquoise pools are perfect for spectacular photos but are guarded today. You are allowed to walk along the limestone without shoes, but bathing is generally not encouraged anymore. There is, though, a special swimming pool that has been designed to provide a bathing area around the protected pools. Plan to go an hour or so before sunset so that you can see the colors in the diminishing light. If you don’t get the chance to soak in the waters as much as you would have liked to, stay at the nearby Doga Thermal Health & Spa to take advantage of the on-site spa facilities.
Montecatini Terme, Italy
This lovely Tuscan town is famous for, you guessed it, thermal waters. It is certainly advisable to patronize one of the nine art-nouveau thermal spas and pamper yourself with a mud bath, or even drink the water directly. While you are exploring the town, make sure to appreciate the beautiful fountains that adorn the spa complex in this stunning town. To add a round of golf in with your spa rituals, book the Grand Hotel Croce di Malta Wellness & Golf.
Did we miss your favorite European spa city? Let us know in the comments!
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