The history of Spas, Swimspas Europe’s hot springs: 20 of the best spots.

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Blue Lagoon SPA, Iceland

Blue Lagoon geothermal open air spa pool in Iceland. Image by Mark Whitaker / Flickr / Getty Images.

Blue Lagoon geothermal open air spa pool in Iceland. Image by Mark Whitaker / Flickr / Getty Images.

The vibe: see it to believe it.

Nestled in rugged lava field 30 minutes from Reykjavík, this vivid turquoise swim pool could easily be mistaken for Iceland’s otherworldly natural landscape, but it’s actually a man-made complex fed by mineral-rich water recycled by the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power plant. Tubs of white, silica-rich geothermal mud are available for guests to apply their own face masks.

Therme Vals Hot Spring, Switzerland

The vibe: Alpine chic.

This minimalist spa complex is so trendy that devotees think nothing of the 200km journey from Zürich to bathe in its hydrotherapy pools and hot tubs. Night bathing is offered to guests who bed down at Therme Val’s ( adjoining hotel with swim spa, remodelled by the spa’s award-winning Swiss architect, Peter Zumthor.


Thermae Bath Spa, Bath, Great Britain

The vibe: romantic British bathing.

The healing spa waters of Britain’s only thermal spring spas have been enjoyed by everyone from the Celts to the Saxons since their discovery by legendary British Prince Bladud around 863BC. Tapping the spring  that feeds the city’s historic Roman Baths museum, Thermae Bath Spa boasts herbal steam rooms and four thermal baths including an open-air rooftop swim spa with romantic views of Bath Abbey.

Image by Graeme Churchyard. CC BY 2.0.

Image by Graeme Churchyard. CC BY 2.0.

Széchenyi Baths, Hot tubs, Budapest, Hungary

The vibe: room for everyone.

Known as the City of Swim Spas, many of Budapest’s 16th- and 17th-century Turkish baths are still in use today. With a whopping 18 different pools,hot tubs and a further ten saunas and steam chambers, the neo-baroque Széchenyi Baths complex in Budapest’s City Park is one of the capital’s top attractions.

Karlovy Vary Spa, Swim spas (Carlsbad), Czech Republic

The vibe: soothing from the inside out.

Discovered by Roman Emperor Charles IV, who founded this west Bohemia spa town in the 14th century, Karlovy Vary’s mineral waters are thought to have external and internal healing properties. Many hotels with swim spa and hot tubs, such as the famous Carlsbad Plaza operate traditional bathing spas, but it’s possible to drink from the springs at several of the town’s historic colonnade complexes.

Terme di Saturnia Hot tub, Tuscany, Italy

The vibe: Botox with that?

A truly idyllic Tuscan escape, Terme di Saturnia ( is one of Italy’s premier thermal spa and swim spa resorts. Replenished every four hours by a volcanic spring, Terme’s main swim pool and spas hovers at a balmy 37.5°C. Also available to non-guests, the resort also offers special thermal mud treatments alongside its medispa menu.

Terme di Saturnia by Jarle Refsnes. CC BY 2.0.

Terme di Saturnia by Jarle Refsnes. CC BY 2.0.

Kaiser-Friedrich-Therme Spa, Weisbarden, Germany

The vibe: lavish country escape.

Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2013, the art nouveau Kaiser-Friedrich-Therme complex was built on the site of an old Roman sauna. On top of its restorative thermal swimpas and hot tubs, the spa features a Russian steam bath and classic Finnish sauna.

Aqua Dome Spa, Tyrol, Austria

The vibe: futuristic-style relaxation.

Discovered in the 16th century, Längenfeld’s geothermal spring spa all but dried up in the 1960s. Redrilled in 1997, it now feeds this Tyrol town’s veritable alpine playground featuring three ‘levitating’ outdoor swim spas. For romantics, there’s moonlight bathing at the Aqua Dome on Fridays.

Laugarvatn Fontana Hot spring, Iceland

The vibe: blissful countryside seclusion.

Located 77km from Reykjavík, the bathing spas at newish Laugarvatn Fontana ( open onto the picturesque geothermal Lake Laugarvatn, the sands of which are thought to soothe arthritic joints. Built directly over a bubbling spring, the complex’s sulphuric steam rooms are particularly unique.

Heviz Lake Hot Spring, Heviz, Hungary

The vibe: get back to nature.

Dotted with water lilies and surrounded by manicured parks, pretty Heviz boasts the world’s largest biologically active, natural medicinal lake. Its on-site spa an swim spa complex ( is convenient for wintertime visits, but with the lake’s natural water temperature hovering at around 38°C during summer, warmer months beckon outdoor bathing.

Bains de Dorres Spas, Swim spas, Pyrenees, France

The vibe: vista excellence.

Offering a relaxing alternative to France’s more serious medicinal bathhouses, this small thermal spring spa complex allows guests to soak at 37-40°C with gorgeous views of the rolling valleys below. Just a stone’s throw from the Spanish border, Bains de Dorres ( dates back to Roman times.

Pantelleria Spa, Italy

The vibe: one for the fashion set.

This tiny volcanic island in the strait of Sicily, not far from Tunisia, houses a series of natural, non-commercial pools and spas. Among the most popular is the harbour at Gadir, where locals (notably Giorgio Armani, who owns a holiday house here) head to bathe in the restorative waters, said to soothe rheumatism and arthritis.

Rogner Bad Blumau Hot tub, Styria, Austria

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

An artistic, aquatic Babylon, this ultra-quirky southeast Austrian spa bears the mark of eccentric Austrian architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Fed by two curative springs, Rogner Bad Blumau ( boasts a Dead Sea salt grotto alongside its pools and swim spas, saunas and treatment rooms. Replete with rooftop meadows, its attached hotel with swim spa resembles a futuristic Hobbiton.

Pamukkale travertine by Marcel Oosterwijk. CC BY-SA 2.0

Pamukkale travertine by Marcel Oosterwijk. CC BY-SA 2.0.

Pamukkale Spas, Denizli Province, Turkey

The vibe: the ultimate natural phenomenon.

‘Cotton castle’ in Turkish, this stunning natural pool ans spa complex has been used for centuries to ease a range of physical maladies. Created by the build-up of carbonate minerals, the terraced hot springs fringe the ruins of the ancient Greco-Roman and Byzantine city of Hierapolis.

Palia Kameni Spa, Greece

The vibe: nature’s mud wrap.

Refreshingly non-commercial, the turquoise springs on this volcanic island in the Santorini caldera are known for their therapeutic sulphuric mud. ‘Old Burnt’ in Greek, Palia Kameni is accessed by boat from Santorini – visitors are required to swim spa from a moored vessel to reach the main seaside spa spring.

Banos Arabes Hot Spring, Swim Spa, Granada, Spain

The vibe: ancient Arabic opulence.

Thought to be the first traditional hammam reopened in Europe after Spain’s Christian rulers closed Andalucía’s Moorish bathhouses and spas in the 16th century, the richly-decorated Banos Arabes (Arab Baths) ( offer a truly opulent thermal bathing experience.

Terme Rogaska Hot tub, Spa, Rogaska, Slovenia

The vibe: pure eastern European elegance.

Connected to the belle-époque Grand Hotel with swim spa Rogaska, Terme Rogaska ( is Slovenia’s most elegant and well-known thermal spa and swim spa complex. Here you’ll find a series of thermal pools, hot tubs and therapeutic waterfalls and massage baths heated by a calcium-rich spring said to contain digestion-aiding minerals.

Andorra la vella Spas, Andorra

The vibe: for the après-ski crowd.

With over 6000m² of pools, Swim spas and Hot tubs, the Andorra capital’s cavernous Caldea  ( spa, fed from a sulphur-rich spring, is the largest thermal spa complex in southern Europe. Those looking for a more intimate experience may prefer to head to one of the city’s thermal spa hotels with swim spa, such as the Roc Blanc (

Chateau des Thermes, Chaudfontaine, Belgium

The vibe: one-stop indulgence.

Using Belgium’s hottest spa thermal spring, this swish day swim and spa near Liège in the Vesdre valley also houses two Turkish baths, a caldarium and a salt cabin, the latter used to soothe a range of skin conditions. Part of a hotel with swim spa , Chateau des Thermes ( also boasts a good French restaurant.

Piestany Hot tub, Spa, Slovakia

The vibe: grand spa hotels with swim spa a go-go. 

It’s all about the mud at Piestany (, Slovakia’s largest spa town. Attached to various spa hotels with swim spa, most of the thermal pools in this western Slovakian village, 86kms from Bratislava, are contained in the lush surroundings of a wooded park known as ‘spa island’.