Relaxed without borders: The most beautiful spas from Hungary to South Tyrol
As far as the wellness offer is concerned, Austria is in the best company; from the German superlative to the Hungarian bathing monument to the Swiss insider tip - a selection of the most beautiful spas in our neighbouring countries.
To Italy for pasta, to Hungary for a city trip, to Switzerland for skiing or to the Czech Republic for a beer? Geographically, Austrians are lucky to be able to choose from the full range. Whether culinary, cultural or leisure, the offer is great and the next possibility to cross the border is never very far. But what many do not know is that our neighbours also have a lot to offer in terms of high-quality relaxation.
The area of superlativesOur northern neighbour is known above all for culture, culinary delights and the art of brewing beer. A good hour's drive lies between Vienna and the Czech border, and it takes just under two hours to reach Brno. This is not the only reason why the second largest city in the Czech Republic, with its charming historic old town and quaint inns serving hearty Czech cuisine, is suitable for a day trip, because northwest of the city lies another good reason.
Infinit Maximus is the promising and quite appropriate name of one of the most beautiful spas in the country. In the midst of green space you swim in the outdoor pools with a view of the surrounding hilly landscape whilst the sauna village inside convinces with tasteful and spacious architecture. The saunas themselves are each dedicated to a theme and you can choose to sweat in a cave sauna, wine cellar or with the scent of citrus, honey or herbs in your nose.
If you continue in a northwesterly direction you will reach the Aquaforum spa in the historic spa town of Franzensbad near the German-Czech border. Here is not only one of the oldest peat baths in the world and a healing spring known since the early 16th century, but also the largest water park in the country, especially popular with families. Numerous indoor and outdoor pools invite you to splash around and extensive spa and wellness services provide recreation at the same time.
If you cross the border to Germany you will reach a gem north of Munich. The Therme Erding is considered the largest spa in the world, and that's saying something; 28 water slides and the wave lagoon provide the fun factor for the young and the young at heart, but when it comes to recreation there's nothing here that isn't. There is a choice of 24 saunas and steam baths, from the Russian log banya made from giant pine logs to the Nordic Kelo sauna. Sauna experiences that are not quite as well known are also offered. The thermal water comes from a spring more than two kilometres deep and then bubbles away soothingly in various pools. The healing effect for joints and skin is only one of its benefits.
In Baden-Baden's Friedrichsbad near the French border, on the other hand, you can immerse yourself in historic architecture. A visit to the Roman-Irish spa, which has existed for almost 150 years is therefore also a highlight from a cultural point of view. For below the numerous baths and pools, fed by twelve different springs, are the ruins of the 2000-year-old Roman bathhouse. And if you really don't want to share the sophisticated bathing pleasure with anyone, you can rent one of the beautiful private baths.
Architecture highlightsThe counterpart to the historic ambience can be found in the Swiss canton of Aargau, where a modern home has been built for the healing Glauber's salt spring in the Zurzach spa. The derrick building that brings the hot water to the surface also serves as a spacious sauna area on several levels, in three of the eleven different saunas the rule is 'Ladies only'.
The 7132 Therme in the Graubünden mountain village of Vals is even more modern and extremely stylish. Designed by architect Peter Zumthor and made of 60,000 quartzite slabs, the building was listed shortly after its completion and impresses with its reduced purist design in the midst of the lush alpine landscape. Inside, everything revolves around luxurious relaxation at the highest level, access is only granted to guests of the no less high-quality hotel of the same name who have registered in advance.
Modern architecture also sets the tone in Merano, South Tyrol; from the eleven outdoor and fifteen indoor pools of Merano Thermal Baths, you can look out over the mountain backdrop of the Alps or wander through the lovingly tended parkland after a bath and sauna session in the spacious spa. For exceptional cooling and boosted circulation after the infusion, the snow room provides a refreshing 10 degrees - and fresh snow year in and year out.
Brave like HerculesNear the Adriatic coast there is not only a spa that promises well-being, but a whole town: Abano Terme already carries its high healing water deposit in its name. The small town in Veneto has been known for centuries for its healing springs - legend has it that they helped Hercules to regain his strength. And not only health-promoting water bubbles out of the ground here, but also the mineral mud Fango has found its way into various therapies. Today therefore, the town is considered one of the most important and oldest thermal centres in Europe, and the density of high-quality wellness hotels is correspondingly high, among which some are also open to day guests. At the "Abano Ritz," for example, the day spa offer includes a hotel room available all day, as well as two treatments of your choice and a dinner at the end.
In Slovenia, the signs are once again pointing to fun for the whole family. In summer the Aqualuna water park at Terme Olimia, the largest of its kind in the region, is the place to race, while in winter it's a bit more leisurely. However, those seeking peace and quiet will find time out in the modern wellness area all year round. "Selfness" is the motto here and means the relaxed finding of one's own centre with the help of saunas and relaxation zones, along with stress-reducing exercise units from Qi Gong to water tai chi, which recharge one's store of serotonin.
A dose of adrenaline, on the other hand, can be found in Terme 3000, sometimes just at the sight of the enormous slide constructions. Some of them are actually reserved for the very bravest; a 22 metre slide almost vertically downhill, or feel the centrifugal forces on your body in the "Aqualoop".
Royal relaxInstead of a full load of action, our southeastern neighbours have the opportunity for cinematic amazement. A visit to Budapest sometimes feels like a stroll through a backdrop; the impressive neo-Gothic Parliament on the banks of the Danube and Budapest Castle on Castle Hill are just two of the many imposing structures to admire here. Another one hides one of the largest historical baths in Europe. Budapest is not only a picturesque capital, but also a spa city with well over 100 healing springs. One of the deepest and hottest of them supplies the Széchenyi Spa in the Pest City Park. The magnificent palatial complex houses numerous indoor and outdoor pools, steam baths and saunas - and is an incomparably spectacular sight to behold.
Visually, the Lotus Therme Hotel & Spa near the shores of Lake Balaton cannot quite match, but here too visitors are helped by natural resources. The Hévíz healing mud is said to have health-promoting effects, and not far from the five-star hotel there is even a whole thermal lake that is particularly effective for rheumatic and motor disorders.
A detour across the borders is therefore worthwhile in every direction, and especially from a wellness point of view. Because it may be a myth that the grass is always greener on the other side - but this level of relaxation shows that there may be some truth to it after all.
Infinit Maximus Brno
Indoor and outdoor pools are nestled in lush greenery, the modern sauna area offers various themed saunas. Afterwards, the natural bathing pond beckons with bone-chillingly cold temperatures.
Hrázní 327/4A, 635 00 Brno - Brno-Kníničky
The largest spa in Bohemia is modelled after an ancient thermal bath and is particularly suitable for families thanks to water slides and an adventure pool.
351 01 Franzensbad
Whether adventure pool, world of slides, VitalOase or sauna world - the largest thermal spa in the world really plays all the pieces.
Thermenallee 1, 85435 Erding
Bathing like the Romans; in the stately building you can bathe under the historic dome in thermal water from twelve different springs. Afterwards you can visit the ancient bathing ruins.
Römerplatz 1, 76530 Baden-Baden
The mineral-rich water from the Glauber's salt spring is a boon for muscles as well as skin and joint problems. The derrick also serves as a sauna area on three levels.
Doctor Martin-Erb-Straße 11, 5330 Bad Zurzach
The luxurious wellness temple is worth a visit for its looks alone; 60,000 quartzite slabs are responsible for the purist look.
Postal road 560, 7132 Vals
The spacious complex is surrounded by the South Tyrolean mountain panorama, which thanks to the generous glass surfaces is never lost from view, even from the 15 indoor pools.
Piazza Terme 93 9012 Merano BZ
Hotel Abano Ritz
Thanks to its position in the Euganean Basin, the small town of Abano has a large number of healing springs that are used everywhere. Guests of the Day Spa can also relax in their own room between treatments.
Via Santuario Monteortone 19, 35031 Abano Terme PD
In the water park ten slides are available. In the Family Spa the family may curl up together. There is enough space for the grown-ups to retreat in the "Orhidelia" wellness area.
Regionalna Cesta 219 24, 3254 Podčetrtek
In summer action is on the program, but you should at least be free from giddiness, because the free-fall slide is not called "Kamikaze" for nothing. Indoors, rest and relaxation are the order of the day.
Kranjčeva ulica 12, 9226 Moravske Toplice
From the outside as well as the inside, the palatial building offers spectacular views - and a few curiosities: in the Beer Spa you bathe in hops and malt while tapping as much beer as you like.
1146 Budapest, Állatkerti körút 9-11
Lotus Therme Hotel & Spa; in addition to the spa and wellness area, the spacious hotel complex also focuses on health, with the help of the Hévíz healing mud and its beneficial effects.
8380 Hévíz, Lótuszvirág utca 1.