12 of Europe’s Best Spa Towns

Mere mention of a European spa town conjures work-stopping
images of soothing hot springs, bubbling fountains and stunning
landscapes. And who couldn’t use some of that in the middle of
winter?

It’s a popular time of year for travelers to seek out wellness
experiences
, but for the great spa towns of Europe, therapeutic
waters are a year-round affair.

Once, there were approximately 600 major European spas. Today,
only a handful still exist in their original form, and many of the
towns have even been nominated for UNESCO inscription
(think: Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic; France’s Vichy; and
Spa in Belgium). They have been celebrated as both therapeutic
retreats and luxe destinations, known for stunning architecture,
glamorous resorts and idyllic countrysides.

Spa posters tempted travelers in the days before mass tourism.Spa
posters tempted travelers in the days before mass tourism.
Sure, the high-class spa resort is a travel confection largely
perfected in European spa towns. In fact, you can trace a direct
line from the spas common in many hotels and resorts to the great
European towns that flourished around the mid-19th century. And
though many of these destinations are known for having catered to
royalty, it’s possible to plan a city spa weekend on a budget.
Some of these spa towns have even welcomed familiar points
hotels.
Of course, pretty buildings and gorgeous landscapes
notwithstanding, at the heart of every great European spa town is,
well, water.

Italian Spa Getaways

Like San Pellegrino water? Well, you can literally bathe in it
at Italy’s
QC Terme San Pellegrino
, just a short drive northeast of Milan
in the small town that’s home to the namesake spring. The
therapeutic, magnesium-rich waters of San
Pellegrino
are heated to 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit, and
were said to be a favorite of both Roman emperors and Leonardo da
Vinci. The modern bath complex incorporates original frescoes with
sybaritic spa facilities and a signature indoor and outdoor
“thermal path” linking 30 spa experiences. A daily pass is
€48 (about $55).

One of the most celebrated Tuscan spas is Terme di Saturnia, in the tiny town of
Saturnia, and its main outdoor thermal pool is fed
by a hot spring of volcanic origin. The warm, mineral-rich water is
constantly replenished and is reputed to have myriad health
benefits. Day passes for the thermal pools start at €18 ($21),
and there is a luxury hotel on site, too. Aesthetically, the
setting is simply stunning: You’ll feel rejuvenated long before
entering the healing waters.

Another noteworthy Tuscan spa town is Montecatini
Terme
, home to a number of spa facilities and considered
one of the most important spa towns in Italy. Though the spa town
officially dates back to the late 1700s, its grand columns and
fountains place it squarely in the Art Nouveau movement.

The falls at Terme di Saturnia. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)The
falls at Terme di Saturnia. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons) French
Spa Getaways

The best-known French spa town is probably
Vichy, which has long been hailed as the Reine
des Villes d’Eaux, or the Queen of Spa Towns. But there are
plenty of new spa destinations in France to be excited about right
now.
In the French Alps, for example, there’s the new QC
Terme Chamonix-Mont-Blanc
 in Chamonix, which
sits at the intersection of Italy, Switzerland and France. In
addition to typical baths and pools, the wellness spa also features
Vichy showers, hydromassage tubs, whirlpools and a number of other
ways to commune with water.
Swiss Spa Getaways

Switzerland has a wealth of hot springs, around which numerous
spas are focused. The largest spa in the Alps is Leukerbad, in the
French-speaking canton of Valais, east of Geneva.
More than one million gallons of water flow into the town’s
thermal baths every day. Day rates for use of the expansive thermal
bath complex start at 30 Swiss francs ($31).

Leukerbad
spa in Switzerland. (Photo courtesy of Leukerbad)

Hungarian Spa Getaways

OK, so this one’s a
spa city
. But we’d be remiss not to mention
Budapest, home to the famous Széchenyi thermal
baths and grand, Art Nouveau Gellért Baths, among others. You can
bliss out at either of those for as little as around €20 ($23) a
day, making it one of the best options for budget-conscious spa
lovers — especially because it’s filled with great points hotel
options.

English Spa Getaways

Bath, in the lush Somerset countryside
southwest of London, was famous as a spa town even in ancient Roman
times. The actual Roman baths are today a museum, but travelers can
experience the town’s spa traditions at the Thermae Bath Spa. The indoor Minerva Bath
is the largest in the complex, but the views over historic Bath may
be our favorite. Basic entry is £36 (about $46). Book a room at
the Gainsborough
Bath Spa
, which opened in 2015, for access to the Spa Village
Bath, a circuit of saunas, steam rooms and natural pools fed by the
famed thermal springs.

The Gellert Thermal Baths. (Photo courtesy of Expedia)The
Gellért Thermal Baths. (Photo courtesy of Expedia) German Spa
Getaways

Germany’s best known spa town is
probably Baden-Baden. This famous spa
destination, on the edge of the Black Forest, dates back to 80 AD
and is known for entertaining great artists and notorious
politicians alike. But the historic spa town has plenty to offer
contemporary travelers, who can use Marriott Rewards points (25,000
per night) at the Roomers Baden-Baden, an Autograph Collection
property that debuted in 2016. And Hyatt is supposedly still

transforming
a 16th-century castle into a grand hotel with, you
guessed it, a spa.

Belgian Spa Getaways

Before going to the spa could mean just about any wellness
center, there was Spa, in eastern Belgium.
According to UNESCO, European aristocrats flocked here for the
rumored healing powers of the waters, and an entire town developed
around the primary spring. Unlike many other destinations on this
list, you can even use points for a stay here at one of two
Radisson Blu hotels (one across from the main thermal baths and
another just outside town). Both are available from 44,000 points
per night.

Czech Spa Getaways

One of the most famous spa towns in all of Europe,
Karlovy Vary is the biggest spa town in the
nation. Tourists interested in taking full advantage of Karlovy
Vary’s therapeutic offerings should bathe in the mineral waters
and then wander through trails that snake through the surrounding
forests.

Greek Spa Getaways

Greece is not typically thought of as prime European spa
country, but it has a number of hot springs, many of which are in
the town of Edipsos, on the island of Evia near
Athens. At the site of Thermae Sylla, Greeks have
been known to “take the waters” since the 4th century, but
unlike Aristotle, you can overnight in a luxurious wellness hotel
after your soak.
Featured image via Shutterstock.

Source: FS – All-Travel destinations-News2
12 of Europe’s Best Spa Towns