Wherever we travel, we look for interesting cultural experiences to add to our itinerary. From food and wine to sports and music festivals – there are so many fun ways to add local culture into our travels. One of the most relaxing cultural experiences has been to visit thermal spas in Europe. In some regions, there are no thermal baths but cultural relaxation is reserved for the sauna. The spa and sauna etiquette also varies from region to region.
We decided to compile a list of the best baths, saunas, and thermal spas in Europe. Since we haven’t been to all of them, we asked other avid travelers for help. The result is this spectacular guide to the best destinations for local spas, baths, and saunas in Europe.
Use it to add some local culture and relaxation to some of these popular and offbeat destinations in Europe. This list may even add some destinations to your Europe bucket list. It includes major cities, small spa towns, and natural thermal features from all over Europe.
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Therme Wien, Vienna
Therme Wien is one of the premier thermal spas in Europe. The facility in the outskirts of Vienna has about 15 heated pools both indoors and outdoors. For example, there are salt pools, bubble pools, and cold plunge pools.
There is an extensive separate children’s area that includes sprinklers, water slides (both indoors and outdoors). There are also diving boards in this area. Spread throughout the facility are plenty of loungers so that you can relax.
The spa is separated into gender-specific areas and a gender-mixed area. There is also a nudist area that is not separated by gender. You must bring swimsuits and flip flops except in the nudist area. You can rent a towel if you don’t bring it. There are lockers to store your site and a cafe on-site as well. Only some of the staff speak English. It is a relaxing way to soak your tired muscles after all the walking you do sightseeing in Austria.
Therme Sveti Martin, Sveti Martin na Muri
Terme Sveti Martin is one of the top spas and resorts in Croatia. Situated in northern Croatia, not far from the border with Croatia the resort has been providing spa treatments for over a hundred years. There are some fantastic saunas and steam rooms here and a number of different thermal pools including a summer-only outdoor water park.
There are no women-only or men-only areas, everything is mixed. Swimming attire is not allowed in the saunas but a towel is provided to wrap around you. They have wonderful massage bars that you can purchase going into the sauna to rub over your skin as the heat melts it. The thermal pools are more like swimming pools and open to all the family.
You can also stay onsite here at both the hotel and self-catering apartments on the grounds which is one of the best family resorts in Croatia. There are a number of restaurants through the grounds with amazing food, including one dedicated to the techniques of Dr. Rudolf Steiner. Alongside all the spa facilities there is also badminton, golf, and a deer park. This is somewhere to come and really feel rejuvenated.
Casale Panayiotis, Nicosia
Cyprus is a beautiful island escape and many visitors arrive each year as late as November to make the most of the warm weather. However, If you crave respite from the heat, drive up to the village of Kalopanayiotis. There, you’ll find Casale Panayiotis, an award-winning resort and spa nestled in the hillside. Here, temperatures are cooler and you can indulge in some rest and relaxation.
Casale Panayiotis is part of an agritourism project which revives some of the most neglected villages in Cyprus. As you approach it, you won’t spot it right away as the resort is not one but a series of buildings that blend seamlessly with the village. Each one has stunning views that look down to the valley below.
The spa boasts an indoor and outdoor pool, a private herbal steam room, thermal baths, a rasul mud cabin and treatment rooms. Couples can even book a private outdoor whirlpool. Those feeling brave enough can also hop in the frosty-looking snow room. All you need to do is bring your swimwear and they’ll kit you out in robes, slippers and complimentary refreshments.
Reaching the spa is tricky. The best way to get there is to leave your car in the village’s central car park and ride down on the short cable car that costs just one euro each way.
Spa | Grandhotel Pupp, Karlovy Vary
Karlovy Kary or Carlsbad is a beautiful spa town in the Western Bohemia region of the Czech Republic. Surrounded by rolling hills and thick forests, the town is defined by the river that runs through its center and the mineral-rich springs that feed it.
For well over a hundred years, the town has been a hot spot for celebrities and socialites seeking privacy and spa treatments. This makes it the perfect destination for a spa getaway to visit some of the best thermal baths in Europe. The most famous spa in Karlovy Vary is easily the iconic Grandhotel Pupp.
The luxury hotel has been featured in cinema and storybook and it’s easy to see why when you visit. Inside this standout spa hotel, you’ll discover two floors of pools, baths, saunas, and treatment rooms. There are three mineral water pools; for relaxation, meditation, and massage. The facilities also include a Finnish sauna an herbal steam room and a traditional one as well as an ice fountain.
One of the best things to do in Karlovy Vary is to explore the historic colonnades and the hot springs they store. Each one is named and their mineral waters are drunk by locals and tourists for their medicinal traits.
Allas Sea Pool, Helsinki
Helsinki is a fun city full of enchanting architecture, a fascinating sea fortress, and hugged on all sides by stunning nature. One of the most unique things to do in Helsinki is to visit the facilities at Allas Sea Pool. There, you’ll find the ideal destination to relax, unwind, and experience the local Finnish sauna culture with bonus sea pools for cold and tepid water plunges. Even if you only have one day in Helsinki, it’s a must-do experience.
The facilities include a cold water sea pool and a heated pool which are 2°C and 27°C respectively. They are surrounded by a large floating deck that’s lined with lounge chairs for sunbathers. There is no separation by sex while using the pools and towels are available for rent or you can bring your own provisions.
The highlight of the Allas Sea Pools is the traditional Finnish sauna experience. There are three saunas; one for men, one for women, and a private sauna that can be rented for up to 20 people. You can enter the saunas with a bathing suit and towel or with just a towel. You will have access to saunas of varying temperatures with water buckets that you can use to wet the hot rocks in the center of the sauna.
Allas Sea Pool is located directly on Helsinki’s South Harbour, one of the most beautiful places in the entire city. From the decks above the pools, you have views of Uspenski Cathedral, Senate Square, and Helsinki Cathedral. There are also food and drink options on-site in case you’re peckish after time in the pools and saunas.
Kotiharjun Sauna, Helsinki
Kotiharju Sauna is not only the oldest sauna which started in 1928 but also the only remaining traditional wood-heated block sauna in Helsinki.
It is a family business and truly an experience that will not exist forever. Although there have been improvements throughout the year, the respect for tradition has meant that not much has been altered.
It’s a popular spot for locals but foreigners are also welcome. There are three sauna spots including a separate male sauna on the first floor and a second-floor female sauna in the traditional style beside a custom sauna that is treated electronically for small groups of up to 12 people.
The two main saunas seat up to 30 people, depending on how comfortable you feel with steam will determine where you want to sit in the room. Customers enter with a towel to sit on but are naked.
When you enter there are towels you can rent and it is wise to bring some money for a drink and of course traditional Finnish food as there are great snacks. It is common in the winter for people to take a sauna and then head outside into the cold with a drink to cool off while people-watching in the Kallio district. It is smart to bring a pair of sandals for this, as it’s an opportunity to chat with locals.
Spa Vichy Célestins, Vichy
Vichy is one of the most famous spa towns in France. It is located in the French region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, in eastern France.
The Romans discovered the multiple virtues of the hot springs coming from the entrails of the Auvergne volcanoes and they created the first thermal baths. In the 19th century, Vichy became famous thanks to some beautiful people like the Marchese de Sévigny or Napoleon III, who traveled frequently to Vichy for its thermal cures. The French emperor visited Vichy 5 times!
In Vichy, there are different places proposing thermal baths. For a moment of relaxation, choose the spa at the Hotel Vichy Célestins, with a sauna and hammam area. This spa is not exclusive to hotel guests, and it is considered upscale. The Spa at Vichy Célestins proposes a variety of treatments with different durations and any treatment over 50€ gives access to the hammam and sauna area.
We tested the trilogy of ‘Signature’ treatments which can be booked with a 2-hand or 4-hand massage and we were very happy with the overall experience (spa atmosphere + treatment). After a 15-minute hydromassage bath in thermal water cooled down to 35 degrees, we went to the vegetable mud wrap which is pleasantly warm, odorless and it leaves the skin super soft. This treatment is followed by a Vichy water massage shower which was our favorite part. After the treatment, don’t hesitate to explore the town of Vichy with its beautiful Art Decó architecture.
One of the most unique and interesting experiences that one can have when travelling through Georgia is visiting the iconic sulfur baths in the Abanotubani area of old Tbilisi.
This district is located at the base of the beautiful Narikala fortress in the old town of the Georgian capital and has been an important part of the city’s culture since its founding. In fact, according to legend, the 5th-century King Vakhtang of Iberia discovered the naturally hot water in Abanotubani and thus founded the new capital here. Tbilisi actually means “warm place” specifically after these waters.
Today, the Abanotubani district is home to a number of different bathhouses and Georgians through the city and country will sing about the healing benefits that the sulfuric waters have. One of the most popular baths to visit in the area is the Chreli-Abano baths, which are located in a beautiful building that is reminiscent of a mosque. There are different levels of rooms you can books here, some with just a hot bath, some with a hot and cold plunge and some with a hot bath, cold bath and a sauna. You can also opt to get a massage, as well. Keep in mind that a massage at these baths isn’t necessarily a relaxing experience. A masseuse will come into your room and rub you down with an exfoliating scrub that removes quite a bit of skin. The end result will leave you feeling very smooth, but the process is a bit of an experience.
There are also public bathhouses in the Abanotubani district that have different men’s and women’s areas, however, it is most common for visitors to book a private room.
Bad Abbach, Regensberg
While there are plenty of amazing thermal baths in Germany, there is something about going to the more local, not as touristy locations that really get you oh so relaxed (and appreciative of the local culture!)
Bad Abbach’s Kaiser Therme is just that. Located just outside of Regensburg, or as a day trip from Munich, this spa is still very large, but you’ll pretty much only find locals relaxing for the day here.
The main mineral baths are open to anyone who pleases (all ages) and are perfect for soaking those travel-weary bones. Come splash around inside and swirl around in the lazy river or go outside where you can enjoy more of the rich mineral waters lounging around or get a workout in swimming laps in the giant pool. You’ll find little jets along the walls of the pools which are the perfect massagers!
And then, of course, there is the adult, nude, Saunawelt (Sauna World). Don’t worry, nobody cares what you look like and everyone is naked, just like you. Enjoy plenty of different styles of saunas (steam, dry, colored, scented, and more!) or just relax out in the garden or sit in the silent room in your own little towel cocoon. When you are finished, head to the “Dead Sea” cave, where you get all the mineral benefits of breathing in the salt air. No matter how you choose to relax at Kaiser Therme, I promise you will finish your spa day feeling like a new person!
Caracalla Therme, Baden Baden
Baden Baden is named for the relaxing baths located in this gorgeous German city. If you’re planning a trip to Germany, it’s the perfect place to include and enjoy some of the best thermal baths in Europe. With a few to choose from, you can bounce around but if you’re time-limited head to Caracalla Therme.
At Caracalla Therme you’ll find a spa that offers everything you could want in one of Europe’s best spas. There’s an indoor and outdoor collection of mineral pools that are heated at various levels. There are pools and sections that are adults only and on the ground level, you will bathe in swimming attire.
One floor up you can visit the adults-only section of the spa which features more mineral baths of various temperatures. This section requires guests to visit in the buff, but it’s something you get used to and is part of German spa and bath etiquette.
The grounds also include some of the best saunas in Europe which are restricted to the adults-only section. There are three outdoor sauna cabins that can be enjoyed in a mixed setting and two indoor saunas where visitors are separated by sex. The facilities also offer spa treatments and services for an additional fee.
We stumbled on this incredible mineral spa, indoor waterpark, and Black Forest oasis while researching our road trip through Germany. One look and we had to book a day there! It was an incredible facility and we’re so glad that we found this spot.
The facilities are massive and include an adults-only area called Palais Vital. It’s designated for spa treatments and like most German baths, it’s a non-clothing area. Besides 18 themed saunas, it has two floors of mineral baths and relaxation pools.
There are three other areas for families. The first features an enormous pool and tropical landscape. The coolest part is that it’s inside of a glass dome, so you have sweeping views of the Black Forest and Lake Titisee from inside. There are also two sections with water slides for children and adults (including us). Our favorite was riding the half-pipe which was thrilling on an inflatable innertube. We really enjoyed our time there and that when it got too crowded or we felt like relaxing we could retreat to the adults-only section.
Hammam Baths, Athens
Hammam Baths in Athens is a beautiful place in the center of the Greek capital where you can relax in a soothing steam bath and enjoy a heavenly massage. Greece was part of the Ottoman Empire for centuries so it’s only natural that the tradition of the Turkish bath found its way here.
You can indulge in the self-service hammam experience and let the heat and steam in the marble room release toxins from your body and cleanse your skin with soap and a loofah. Or you can heal your tired body with a more exquisite experience where your time in the steam bath is followed by a professional exfoliation and massage. You may also add further treatments such as masks or facials.
Once you leave the steam room you are treated to tea and Turkish delight. If your body still craves more relaxation there is a dry room where additional massage treatments are offered.
Note that contrary to hammams in other countries, Hammam Baths is a mixed-gender facility, and Tuesdays are the only day dedicated to women. You don’t have to bring more than a swimsuit as towels and flip flops are included in your stay. You don’t even have to worry about skin and hair care: Hammam Baths has moisturizers, deodorants, hairdryers, and styling products which you can all use for free.
Thermal Spa Agia Paraskevi, Loutra, Kassandra, Halkidiki
If you happen to be in Greece and are searching for an inviting thermal spa, look no further than the Agia Paraskevi baths in Halkidiki. Set on a cliffside overlooking the Aegean Sea, this Halkidiki Spa offers an indoor-outdoor swimming pool with thermal waters, hydro-massage services, a steam bath, sprinklers, and individual bathtubs and services can be booked separately or as a package.
The water is rich in minerals like sodium chloride and bromide which are thought to help with conditions like Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, and Μyalgia- Μyositis as well as Psoriasis and Cystitis. The warm waters remain between 34.5 and 36°C and are the perfect place to unwind!
In addition to the natural hydrotherapy treatments, the Agia Paraskevi offers aromatherapy, sports, therapeutic, and cellulite massages so you’re bound to find a treatment that suits you.
Whether you want to spend most of your time lounging on the sunbeds admiring the view, enjoying drinks and snacks in the cafe, or dipping in and out of the warm waters, you’re sure to have a restorative and rejuvenating day!
Rudas Thermal Baths, Budapest
One of the main things Budapest is known for is its vast array of thermal baths. The “City of Spas” stands on top of rich mineral springs, which made the area attractive already to the Romans. During the Turkish period (16th – 17th centuries), bathhouses thrived and bathing in the thermal waters has remained a popular relaxation/healing activity until today.
Rudas Thermal Baths were built in 1566, following the Turkish style of bathing. The main hall houses an octagonal pool with a series of smaller pools of different temperatures around. Massive columns and dark tiles make it look like you’re underground. One of Rudas’ main perks is a warm water pool on its rooftop.
Apart from the actual pools, Rudas offers a sauna, massages, and wellness treatments. Rudas holds same-sex days during the workweek, while the weekends are mixed. But Budapest has many more thermal baths. Right next to Rudas, there’s Gellért Thermal Bath known for its Art Deco style. Then there’s Széchenyi with a large outdoor area, Lukács Baths known for medical treatments, and Király Baths as one of the oldest baths in the city.
The custom in all baths is to wear a swimsuit and shower before entering a pool. It’s highly recommendable to bring a pair of flip-flops. Upon entering, everyone is given an electronic bracelet as a key to the locker. In a swimming pool, one must wear a swimming cap, which can be rented too.
Myvatn Nature Baths, Myvatn
Mývatn Nature Baths are without a doubt one of the best thermal soaks in Europe. This steaming bath is located off Ring Road in Northeast Iceland, near the Diamond Circle and the Hverir geothermal hiking areas. It is 65 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Follow the signs for Jardbodin in town.
This silica-rich, milky blue lagoon varies in temperature from 97°F- 104°F and has a fine sand and gravel bottom. The pool is man-made and fairly large with the deepest spot around four feet. Myvatn also features two natural saunas, a large hot tub, a children’s pool, and an onsite restaurant.
Wristbands are available to purchase at check-in for alcohol drinks to sip while soaking…max 3. Take a breath of chilly Iceland air while fully immersed in the hot healing waters and gazing out over Lake Myvatn and the distant mountains.
Reservations are recommended but not necessary. Separate changing facilities for men and women with free lockers, soap, shampoo, and conditioner are available. A naked shower is required before the entrance to the soaking area. Swimsuits are necessary for the lagoon. Remove jewelry before soaking to prevent damage.
Secret Lagoon Hot Springs, Flúðir
The Secret Lagoon Hot Springs is a must-visit on your trip around the Golden Circle in Iceland. Guest will be amazed by the beauty and the reasonability of price for this natural hot spring. The temperature stays at around 38 degrees celsius. The water is warmed by the natural geothermal spots and geysers around the “pool” area. Since this is a natural hot spring, you will be able to swim around until you find the right temperature at the right spot for you.
There are facilities at the hot spring that are separated by men and women which have lockers that are free of charge but don’t forget to take your key out with you. You will be required to shower before entering the geothermal pools. You will shower first and then put on your swimsuit to go enjoy the water. On your way out of the locker rooms, grab a few pool noodles that are provided free of charge so that you can relax in the water. The Secret Lagoon Hot Springs is very kid-friendly and definitely worth a stop on your next family vacation.
Hotel Terme di Saturnia
Already known 3000 thousand years ago for the quality of its waters, Saturnia is one of the most popular thermal destinations in Southern Tuscany. The Hotel Terme di Saturnia & Golf Resort is the main attraction, with its beautiful thermal park, modern and personalized treatments, and delicious local food served in the 2 restaurants on site. You can choose to sleep in the resort, in which case the entrance ticket to the hot springs pools is included, or to stay in one of the cheaper B&B around and pay the daily entrance fee to use the pools. Hotels and B&B in the surrounding area usually offer coupons and discounts for their guests.
Men and women use the same pools and a bathing suit is mandatory. You can choose among numerous thermal treatments: mud therapy, inhalation therapy, hydropinical therapy, massage, body treatments, and beauty treatments – hundreds of possibilities.
It is also possible to have special assessments done like a medical check-up, dermatological check-up, nutritional consulting, and more. If you are a bit tired of being pampered all day there are plenty of things to see around. Hotel Terme di Saturnia offers a bike rental service (electric bikes are available) and guided tours to discover the beautiful Tuscan Maremma.
Terra Nostra Garden, Furnas
The Azores are a treasure trove of hidden, wonderful natural spas, although few are quite as amazing as Terra Nostra Garden. Situated in the town of Furnas on the eastern side of Sao Miguel Island, the spa has long been a favorite for locals and tourists alike. The spa consists of a large open-air swimming pool that is heated to a soothing 35-40°C temperature by a volcanic spring underneath the pool.
Along with heating the pool, the volcanic spring enriches the water with essential minerals that are known to relax and rejuvenate the body and mind. The pool was built in the 18th-century and was enlarged in the 1930s as the Azores grew in popularity. Surrounding the pool is a large botanical garden where you can spend time drying off as you walk amongst the tropical flowers that grow along the pathways.
In addition to heating the thermal pools, the volcanic activity gives birth to one of the island’s most famous dishes, the Cozido das Furnas, which can only be found in the town of Furnas. The dish is buried in the ground where the heat of the volcano below slow cooks the meat and vegetables over the course of a day, giving the dish a truly unique taste. To fully round off the experience, a stay at the on-site hotel is a must and every visit comes with full access to the park throughout the day. This is one of the best hotels in Sao Miguel and worth an overnight at.
The entrance to the park is 8 Euros for adults and that price includes both the spa and botanical gardens. The pool itself is not split by gender and welcomes everyone together. Changing facilities are available within the park but you will need to provide your own swimwear and towel. The park is open every day from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm.
Caldeira Velha, Ribeira Grande
If you have been dreaming of going to a spa treatment on a remote island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, this is now possible. Set in the heart of the Atlantic, the island of Sao Miguel is prominent for its thermal natural pools. One of the most famous is Caldeira Velha, which is also a biosphere reserve and a natural park in the Azores.
The spa complex of Caldeira Velha is located in the middle of the island of Sao Miguel and close to the hiking trail to Salto do Cabrito. It is one of the most visited thermal complexes on the island, because of its beautiful environment.
Caldeira Velha consists of 3 pools, two of which are close to the entrance and the temperature of the water is not over 25 degrees Celsius. However, most of the people go to the third one, which is the most visited thermal pool in the Azores. It is known as the waterfall of Caldeira Velha and is one of the most enchanting places on the island. Surrounded by lush green vegetation with cool water, it is a bather’s heaven.
When going to Caldeira Velha bring flip-flops and a towel, as well as a swimsuit. The entrance fee to enter Caldeira Velha is 8 euros and the ticket is valid for up to 2 hours. This is done so that the thermal pools don’t get overcrowded. Plus, it is good to note that it is better to go to the pool on a rainy day. That way you will enjoy more the hot springs of Sao Miguel.
Nothing takes the edge off a chilly winter’s day in Bucharest better than a trip to Therme. This wellness center is a local institution and one of the best places to visit in Romania’s capital any time of year.
Therme is a massive indoor complex (the second-largest of its kind in Europe) located north of the city center. Free shuttles from the city run to Therme throughout the day.
The center is divided into three zones: Galaxy, The Palm, and Elysium. There are dozens of wet and dry saunas, Jacuzzis, indoor and outdoor thermal pools, and a Salt Library (a beautiful reading room with walls made from Himalayan salt). Some rooms are themed – one sauna has David Attenborough documentaries playing on a huge screen – can you imagine anything more soothing!
There are several restaurants inside and outside, two white-sand beaches that operate during summer. Massage, aqua fitness classes, yoga, and Pilates are all on offer, as well as free sauna sessions where therapists use different essential oils.
The highlight of Therme is The Palm. The massive indoor/outdoor pool heated to 91 Fahrenheit features is edged with 500 tall palm trees and features an underwater bar. Galaxy (a mini waterslide park) is perfect for families.
There are a few etiquette tips to keep in mind when visiting Therme. Importantly, you should always carry a towel with you to sit or lie on in the sauna. It’s also mandatory to shower before entering the pools. Bring your own flip-flops (the shop is a bit pricey) and pack a wet bag to bring your swimmers home in.
Hammam Al Andalus , Granada
If you want to add a local experience when you visit Granada, then you should include a visit to the Hammam Al Andalus to your itinerary to the city.
Hammam Al Andalus in Granada has been built inside an old 13th-century building which is believed to have been a public bath before the Christians have imposed the ban on Islamic culture, after the Spanish Inquisition.
A visit to the Hammam Al Andalus is a very relaxing experience. You must book a slot in advance, because only a limited number of people are allowed in the hammam at the same time. This is to maintain a quiet and peaceful environment where each guest can relax.
The hammam offers both a water circuit and treatments. The most popular procedure is the kessa massage, a traditional Arabic treatment of exfoliating the skin with a traditional glove. The guests have a choice of four different oils and, at the end of the session, they receive the glove and a red grape natural soap to take home.
The water circuit involves several pools with water at different temperatures, from ice cold to hot. The interior of the hammam has been designed to resemble the old baths of the Alhambra Palace, so everything feels very royal inside: Arabic door frames with intricate sculptures on them, mashrabiya windows, beautiful mosaics, and tall candle holders. The light is dimmed inside the hammam.
Hammam Al Andalus requires all the guests to wear bathing suits. Long hair must be tied in a ponytail at all times. The hammam provides towels free of charge.
Thermae Bath Spa, Bath
Thermae Spa offers a truly unique experience and it is an excellent destination for a getaway. It is located in the historic city of Bath in the southwest of England with plenty of interesting things to do and see.
It is the only spa in the country that uses natural, thermal water coming from an underground spring. Bath spa has a great heritage, a first spa was built by the Romans between 60 and 70 CE. You can still visit the original building of the Roman spa which is very well preserved and you can get a guided tour to find out more about it.
Thermae Spa is a lovely place to chill out. The best feature of the spa is its heated, roof top pool from where you can enjoy the gorgeous view of the city including the spires of Bath Abbey. It is best enjoyed in the evenings when the city is beautifully lit up. The main spa has a whirlpool, lazy river, sauna, steam room an ice rooms and an area where you can relax.
The is also a café where you can get a light lunch with a glass of bubbly. The changing rooms are mixed but there are private cubicles where you can change into a bathing suit. You also get a robe and slippers to use within the facility. The spa also offers a variety of packages including different types of beauty treatments and massages. The general entry ticket starts from £35.
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