Relax in Style: Thermal Baths in Europe

Posted on September 01 2019

What I most look forward to when having a holiday is getting time to relax. Although, if you are like me I want to see as many of the sites as possible too.  Perhaps you can do both, relax while soaking up the city's culture by experiencing thermal baths. These natural hot springs are abundant throughout Europe and many of them have been turned into public pools or part of luxury resorts.

The mineral-rich water is believed to be good for enhancing blood circulation and detoxifying and toning the skin. These spas also offer a number of luxury packages including massages and facials. Yes please!

We have found a few for you to consider when planning your next trip to Europe, check out some of the baths listed below. 

Pamukkale, Denizli Province, Turkey

Literally translating to “cotton castle” this Turkish thermal bath boasts white formations and blue pools. It has been a spa since the ancient Roman times, and behind it you can explore the ancient city of Hierapolis. Pamukkale is located in the Denizli Province which is famous for these hot springs and the naturally formed limestone terraces called travertines. After walking along the travertines, you can take a swim in the Cleopatra pools. 

Blue Lagoon, Iceland

The blue waters provide a stark contrast to the black lava fields surrounding these pools, making it one of the most popular destinations in Iceland. Enjoy your time relaxing in the hot springs, the sauna or getting a massage. There are also cafes and shops where you can buy specialty skin care products.

For a truly luxurious experience you can stay in the newly built five-star hotel which features gorgeous rooms, floor to ceiling windows overlooking the lava fields, its own pool, steam rooms, yoga and a number of therapies and services.

Contrary to popular belief, these pools did not form naturally — they were built in 1976 as a way to utilise waste water from a nearby power plant that drills for steam and hot water. However, the water is completely clean and contains only natural minerals. Since the water is constantly flowing into the lagoon, all the water is renewed every 48 hours to keep it fresh.

Széchenyi Baths, Budapest, Hungary

Hungary is located on the Carpathian Basin, a part of the earth’s crust which is very thin, allowing water to rise to the surface more easily. As a result, there are over 1000 thermal baths across 80 percent of the country. Due to the natural minerals this water contains, it is said to be able to improve circulation, soothe sore muscles and fight inflammation.

The one that I experience while in Hungary is the Széchenyi Baths, one of the most popular thermal spas in Budapest. This complex has 18 geothermic pools, three are located outdoors and 15 are indoors. Included in your ticket price is access to saunas and steam rooms. You can also opt to receive massages or other spa treatments to make this an even more relaxing experience. 

Rogner Bad Blumau, Styria, Austria

This one has really caught my attention. Designed by Austrian architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser, this is far more than just a thermal spa or hotel; it is a work of art. It features golden domes, sculptures, round shapes, leafy green rooftops and colourful facades — it is also surrounded by meadows and fields which bring this artwork to life. The water is of volcanic origin and it is said to feel like silk against your skin. There are 11 different indoor and outdoor pools, as well as saunas and a relaxation room. Look at that view!

Aqua Dome, Tyrol, Austria

These thermal baths were originally discovered in the 16thCentury but were reengineered in the 1990s after they dried up. The Aqua Dome features three levitating pools — large bowl-like structures, filled with water from the geothermal springs, that hover above the landscape. Relax in the waters while looking out over the Alpine terrain.  What a very special way to take in a spectacular view.

Terme di Saturnia, Italy

This is definitely possible for me to visit on my next trip to Italy. Saturnia is a spa town in Tuscany, an hour from Sienna. You can choose to go the budget way and live like the locals and many tourists by changing into bathers in the carpark and take a dip in the nearby thermal springs, or experience the luxury of Terme de Saturnia. There are thermal pools that are part of this luxury resort, that you don't have to be a hotel guest to visit. There are four hot springs, two waterfalls, jacuzzis,  and a relaxation area for you to pass the time away. My husband will be extra pleased as there is also a golf course to enjoy. Well this seems like the perfect choice next time I am in Italy. Note to self: pack the bathers!

Where will you choose? 

Image credits: Guide to Iceland, Turkish Tourism Board, Guide to Iceland, Alvaro Jenik Photography, Rogner Bad Blumau, Ötztal Tourismus / Christoph Schöch,  Terme di Saturnia

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