The definitive guide to the best hot springs in Europe


Slipping into a tub after a long day is one of life’s little luxuries, but there is nothing like the restorative buzz of a dip in a real thermal pool. From Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon to ancient sulfur streams in the Pyrenees, here’s a look at some of Europe’s best hot springs.

Iceland’s Blue Lagoon is one of the most popular thermal baths in Europe © Roberto La Rosa / Shutterstock

Blue Lagoon, Iceland

The atmosphere: see it to believe it.

Emerging from rugged lava fields 30 minutes from Reykjavík, this vivid turquoise pool could easily be mistaken for Iceland’s otherworldly natural landscape, but it is, in fact, a man-made complex powered by water. mineral-rich water recycled by the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power plant. White silica-rich geothermal mud tubs are available for customers to apply their own face masks.

Thermae Bath Spa, Bath, England

The ambience: romantic British bath.

The healing waters of Britain’s only hot spring have been enjoyed by everyone from Celts to Saxons since their discovery by the legendary British Prince Bladud around 863 BC. Harnessing the spring that feeds the city’s historic Roman Baths Museum, Thermae Bath Spa features herbal steam rooms and four thermal baths, including an outdoor rooftop pool with romantic views of Bath Abbey.

Lake Heviz at night with the onsite spa visible in the background
The thermal waters of Lake Hévíz in Hungary reach a mild temperature of 38 ° C in summer © andras_csontos / Shutterstock

Lake Hévíz, Hévíz, Hungary

The atmosphere: Back to nature.

Dotted with water lilies and surrounded by well-tended parks, pretty Hévíz has the largest biologically active natural medicinal lake in the world. Its on-site spa complex is convenient for winter visits, but with the lake’s natural water temperature hovering around 38 ° C in summer, the warmer months are perfect for outdoor swimming.

Bains de Dorres, Pyrenees, France

The ambiance: Vista excellence.

Offering a relaxing alternative to the more serious medicinal baths in France, this small sulphurous thermal spring, located at 1450 m above sea level, allows guests to bathe at 37-40 ° C with magnificent views of the rolling valleys below. A stone’s throw from the Spanish border, the Bains de Dorres date back to Roman times.

The outdoor swimming pool at 7132 Therme Vals
7132 Therme Vals is one of the first thermal spas in Switzerland, attracting bathers from all over © 7132 Therme Vals

7132 Thermes de Vals, Switzerland

This minimalist spa complex is so trendy that enthusiasts do not think of the 200 km trip from Zürich to bathe in its hydrotherapy pools. An overnight bath is offered to guests sleeping in the adjoining Therme Val hotel, renovated by award-winning Swiss spa architect Peter Zumthor.

Palia Kameni, Greece

The atmosphere: Natural mud wrap.

The copper springs of this volcanic island in the Santorini caldera are known for their therapeutic sulfuric mud. “Old burnt” in Greek, Palia Kameni is accessible by boat from Santorini – visitors must swim from a moored ship to reach the main seaside spring. Avoid peak tourist season for the most authentic swimming experience.

Best of Budapest thermal baths

Széchenyi Baths, Budapest, Hungary

The atmosphere: room for everyone.

Known as the spa town, many of Budapest’s 16th and 17th century Turkish baths are still in use today. With 18 different swimming pools and 10 more saunas and hammams, the neo-baroque Széchenyi Bath complex in Budapest City Park is one of the main attractions of the capital.

Kaiser-Friedrich-Therme, Wiesbaden, Germany

The atmosphere: sumptuous country getaway.

Having celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2013, the art nouveau complex Kaiser-Friedrich-Therme is bursting with old-world charm. Its legacy of aquatic healing actually goes back even further, with the spa built on the site of an ancient Roman sauna. In addition to its restorative thermal pools, the spa features a Russian steam bath and a classic Finnish sauna.

A water fountain in Karlovy Vary
Karlovy Vary mineral waters are good to drink and drink, Czech Republic © Irina Burmistrova / Shutterstock

Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), Czech Republic

The atmosphere: soothing from the inside.

Discovered by Roman Emperor Charles IV, who founded this West Bohemian spa town in the 14th century, Karlovy Vary mineral waters are said to have external and internal healing properties. Many hotels, like the Grandhotel Pupp, would have been at the origin of the creation of Wes Anderson Grand Budapest Hotel, operate traditional spas, but it is possible to drink from the springs of several historic colonnade complexes in the city.

Hammam Al Ándalus, Granada, Spain

The ambiance: ancient Arab opulence.

Considered the first traditional hammam to reopen in Europe after Christian rulers in Spain closed Andalusia’s Moorish baths in the 16th century, the richly decorated Al Ándalus Hammam offers a truly opulent spa experience.

Laugarvatn Fontana outdoor pool with the Northern Lights visible above
The possibility of swimming under the Northern Lights makes a visit to Laugarvatn Fontana an alluring prospect © Laugarvatn Fontana

Laugarvatn Fontana, Iceland

The atmosphere: isolation in the countryside.

Located 77 km from Reykjavík, the pools at Laugarvatn Fontana open onto the scenic geothermal lake Laugarvatn, whose sand is believed to soothe arthritis joints. Built directly above a bubbling spring, the resort’s outdoor mineral pools are especially alluring, especially when the Northern Lights pierce the night sky above us.

Pantelleria, Italy

The ambiance: One for the fashion ensemble.

This small volcanic island in the Strait of Sicily, not far from Tunisia, is home to a series of non-commercial natural pools. One of the most popular is the port of Gadir, where locals (notably Giorgio Armani, who owns a vacation home here) bathe in the healing waters, believed to soothe rheumatism and arthritis.

Bathers relax in the terraced hot springs of Pamukkale in Turkey
Pamukkale, Turkey’s terraced hot springs are a magnificent natural spectacle © Akugasahagy / Shutterstock

Pamukkale, Denizli province, Turkey

The ambiance: The ultimate natural phenomenon.

Translated as ‘cotton castle’ in Turkish, Pamukkale is a magnificent complex of natural pools that has been used for centuries to relieve various physical ailments. Created by the accumulation of carbonate minerals, the terraced hot springs line the ruins of the ancient Greco-Roman and Byzantine city of Hierapolis.

Caldea, Andorra la Vella, Andorra

The atmosphere: For après-ski enthusiasts.

With more than 6000 m² of swimming pools, the cavernous Caldea spa in the Andorran capital, supplied by a source rich in sulfur, is the largest thermal spa in southern Europe. It’s a good choice for those who like to socialize while simmering, with the spa hosting popular cocktail parties. Those looking for a more intimate experience should try one of the city’s boutique thermal spa hotels, like the Roc Blanc – perfect for relieving an après-ski ailment (or hangover).

The outdoor pool at the Austrian spa complex Rogner Bad Blumau, with a model volcano next to the pool
The Austrian spa complex Rogner Bad Blumau has a surreal touch © Nunner Patrick / Rogner Bad Blumau

Rogner Bad Blumau, Styria, Austria

The ambiance: if Middle-earth had a day spa.

An artistic and aquatic babylon, this ultra-eccentric spa in south-eastern Austria bears the stamp of eccentric Austrian architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Fed by two healing springs, Rogner Bad Blumau has a Dead Sea salt cave next to its pools, saunas, and treatment rooms. Filled with rooftop meadows, its adjoining hotel resembles a futuristic Hobbiton.

Chateau des Thermes, Chaudfontaine, Belgium

The ambiance: one-stop indulgence.

Using the hottest thermal spring in Belgium, the Chateau des Thermes near Liège in the Vesdre valley is home to an outdoor thermal swimming pool, two Turkish baths, a caldarium and a salt hut, the latter used to soothe various skin conditions. . Part of a hotel, this chic day spa also has an excellent French restaurant.

The outdoor swimming pool of the luxury Terme di Saturnia complex in Tuscany
The luxurious Terme di Saturnia complex, in Tuscany © Terme di Saturnia

Terme di Saturnia, Tuscany, Italy

The atmosphere: Botox with that?

A true idyllic Tuscan getaway, Terme di Saturnia is one of the first spas in Italy. Replenished every four hours by a volcanic source, Terme’s main swimming pool oscillates at a mild temperature of 37.5 ° C. Also available to non-guests, the resort offers special thermal mud treatments in addition to its medispa menu.

Klevevška Toplica, Klevevž, Slovenia

The atmosphere: brave yourself for a dip in the Slovenian wilderness.

With the water temperature boiling just below 20 ° C, the tiny outdoor spring in the Slovenian village of Klevevž attracts a more rugged type than the country’s glitzy spas. But bathers who make the pilgrimage here will be rewarded with a bath in a wonderfully serene forest setting, with the medieval Klevevž Castle visible in the distance. For something a little more refined, Dolenjske Toplice, one of the oldest and prettiest spa towns in Slovenia, is a short drive away.

The Aqua Dome complex with its “levitating” outdoor swimming pools shrouded in snow
The Aqua Dome complex in Austria is home to three spectacular “levitating” outdoor pools © Aqua Dome

Aqua Dome, Tyrol, Austria

The atmosphere: futuristic-style relaxation.

Discovered in the 16th century, the geothermal source of Längenfeld practically dried up in the 60s. Released in 1997, it now supplies the real alpine playground of this Tyrolean city with three “levitating” outdoor swimming pools. For romantics, there is a moonlit bath at the Aqua Dome on Fridays.

Piestany, Slovakia

The atmosphere: the big go-go spa hotels.

Everything revolves around mud in Piestany, the largest spa town in Slovakia. Attached to various spa hotels, most of the thermal pools in this village in western Slovakia, 86 km from Bratislava, can be found in the lush setting of a wooded park known as the “thermal island”.

First published May 2013, updated September 2021.


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