At the end of a busy day, most people find solace in the warmth of a relaxing bathtub to take away the day’s stress. If you have the time, you can magnify this experience by making a trip to a luxurious thermal pool. Europe, in particular, has been famed for its deep, restorative hot springs that run throughout the year. Some are ancient, like the Saturnia Hot Springs, while others are relatively modern like Switzerland’s Therme Vals. Here is our pick of the top 7 hot springs to visit in Europe.
1. Thermae Bath Spa
Thermae Bath Spa is located in the city of Bath, England, and is an award winning natural spa with the only naturally warm, mineral-packed waters in the country. The open air rooftop pool and indoor Minerva Bath are great for relaxing, offering excellent view of the city. You can also head to the aroma steam rooms to refresh your senses, where there are over forty spa treatments and packages. Thermae Bath Spa does not charge any membership fees and you can just choose a two-hour spa session in the New Royal Bath. A complete spa session includes full access to the aroma steam rooms, open air rooftop pool, the indoor Minerva Bath, and the Springs Café and Restaurant. However, the New Royal Bath is an adult-only venue and kids below the age of 16 are not allowed.
2. Saturnia Hot Springs
Saturnia is a small town located in Maremma, in the municipality of Manciano. It is nestled over a hill, overlooking the renowned thermal springs. It has a very old history, as evidenced by the gorgeous Porta Romana that date back to the second century B.C. These were created by the Aldobrandeschi family. The Bagno Santo, or Holy Bath, also represents the town’s glorious past. Once you are in Saturnia, be sure to pay the medieval Church of Santa Maria Maddalena a visit. It is adorned with breathtaking artistic masterpieces, and houses the Aldobrandeschi Fortress and the Archeological Museum. The thermal springs in Saturnia consist of several springs starting from Mt Amiata to the hills of Fiora and Albenga, all the way to Talamone and Roselle. The ancient Romans and Etruscans were actually aware of Saturnia’s warm sulphurous waters, which boast a temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius as well as therapeutic and relaxing properties.
The mountains surrounding the Landmannalaugar area are brilliantly multicolored as they are formed from sour magma produced in the magma chamber of a volcano just south ahead. This area has a high concentration of rhyolite and is the second largest high-temperature geothermal area in the country, after Grimsvotn. The magma chamber containing the geothermal heat and the sour-magma is the largest of its kind in Iceland. While the pitch black Hrafntinnuhraun lava field surrounding the area was created in 872 AD from a volcanic eruption, the sour lava fields near Landmannalaugar were a result of an eruption in the year 1480. Hot springs and hot water streams have originated from the edge of these fields, as well as cold water that blends together to create a little warm river. The resultant warm-water pool is unique and an excellent bathing destination all year round, boasting a temperature of between 36 and 40 degrees C.
4. Matlock Bath
In 1896, a warm spring was discovered at Matlock Bath. During the second half of the 17th century, the waters were used for medicinal purposes. The old bath was actually made in 1698 and consisted of lead- lined wood. The first spring boasted a temperature of 68-degrees F and supplied what was later referred to as the Old Bath Hotel and subsequently the Royal Hotel. The construction of the bath involved four people: Mr Benjamin Hayward from Senior Field, Cromford, Reverend Joseph Ferne – Matlock Church’s Rector, Mr George Wragg from Matlock, and Mr Adam Wolley from Allen Hill. Later, the lease was bought and two buildings erected, leading to the development of a coach road in 1702. Soon, the village grew into a watering place. Another spring was discovered, which saw the creation of the New Bath Hotel. A third spring was found, but it was slightly colder than the rest. Consequently, the Fountain Baths were created and given access to the public. The discovery of these 3 springs was a significant contribution to Matlock Bath’s success as a spa.
Chaudfontaine is the only town in Belgium with naturally hot water springs. These were discovered in 1673 by the local people, but were only publicized during the nineteenth century. It boasts excellent facilities such as a gastronomic restaurant, a beauty space, and a thermal space. The latter includes an outdoor swimming pool with spring water constantly heated to a temperature of 34 degrees C, where visitors can enjoy invigorating hydro-massages, cold food baths, a steam bath, and three saunas. The beauty space, which is located on the first floor, is a relaxing cocoon. The staff dispense all types of mind blowing thermal and hydro therapies, beauty treatments, and massages. The location is also ideal for long walks and features a wide range of other distractions like museums, an excellent weekend flea market, and the largest pedestrianized shopping area in Europe.
Wiesbaden is filled with soaking facilities fed by its constantly flowing natural hot springs with blistering temperatures of between 102 and 108 degrees. Water is not recycled at the Wiesbaden. It originates from deep within the surface of the earth and is not affected by chemicals or additives while flowing through the pools. As a result, the springs have been praised for their medicinal and healing properties. Since substances such as hair gels and lotions usually promote bacteria in the hot springs, all bathers are required to shower extensively before entering the waters at the Wiesbaden. Children below the age of five are not permitted in the springs. However, they have access to a small plastic pool that can be filled from the main pool.
7. Therme vals hot springs
The thermal baths are a breathtaking, internationally-renowned architectural masterpiece developed by Peter Zumthor. The construction process involved 60,000 slabs of quartzite and the thermal baths were categorized as a listed building immediately after completion. The springs contain highly-mineralized water at a pleasant 30degrees Celsius and a unique atmosphere that makes the whole experience truly memorable.