11 UNESCO-listed spa towns in Europe to warm up in autumn
In Europe, 11 water cities have recently been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. These cities developed around mineral springs and created various spaces dedicated to therapeutic, curative and recreational functions. Flagship of European thermalism, particularly very popular between the beginning of the 18th and the beginning of the 20th century, they continue to attract many travellers today in search of well-being. They also have an exceptional environment, between bucolic walks and green urban parks. With autumn bringing its share of freshness, it's the perfect time to enjoy the sweet experience of a spa treatment. Here are the 11 great European spa towns to escape to for a weekend or a week of relaxation.
1- Bad Ems, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
In Germany, the town of Bad Ems is located along the Lahn River. It has 15 mineral springs, making it a destination of choice for health-conscious travelers. Located in the heart of the Nassau Nature Park, there are also many activities available in the area, such as hiking in the forest or paragliding. In its spa facilities, visitors can take advantage of treatments based on natural remedies, naturopathy or traditional Chinese medicine. In addition to this, there is also time in the swimming pool and saunas. Bad Ems is part of the Cultural Route of Historic Thermal Cities, certified by the Council of Europe.
2- Baden Bei Wien, Lower Austria, Austria
The town of Baden Bei Wien is only 25 km south of Vienna. Its sulphurous springs have made it famous and attracted great artists such as Mozart and Beethoven. A stay in the city for a spa treatment also allows you to enjoy its maze of winding streets, some of which reveal pretty Biedermeier-style houses. Between two sessions of massage or hammam, you can also go to the thermal park, where you will find beautiful monuments and the casino. The spa in Baden Bei Wien has a calm, relaxing atmosphere. It is an ideal place to regain vitality.
3- Marienbad, Karlovy Vary region, Czech Republic
Marienbad was consecrated a water town in 1818. Nestled in the beautiful Slavkov forest, it has forty springs whose waters are used to relieve all sorts of ailments, whether digestive, renal or even cardiac. Several hotels and other health establishments are equipped with spas offering a wide range of services. But the experience not to be missed is a gas bath with oxygen therapy. The other must-do is to get a cup with a spout to taste the waters, in the thermal pavilion. If the town is attractive, it is also because its architecture has been reworked in the neo-Renaissance and Art Nouveau styles, with colours and multiple ornaments. Its parks, the beautiful hilly nature around, the walks are not lacking and wherever you are you feel good.
4- Vichy, Allier department, France
It is at the foot of the Auvergne volcanoes that the pure waters of Vichy are born. In the town, several establishments offer cures during which the thermal waters are used to treat many ailments. For those who are curious, you should not miss the opportunity to taste the water from the Célestins spring, the best known in Vichy, which is available for free in the Hall des Sources and in the Pavillon des Célestins. If the city offers an ideal setting for a wellness stay, it is also because there are pedestrian streets where you can shop and many terraces. Not forgetting the architectural walks with neo-Venetian, Gothic, Flemish, classical and Art Nouveau villas, Swiss and English colonial style chalets. The Napoleon III park is a superb place to rest and in the evening, the opera awaits music lovers
5- Baden-Baden, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Back to Germany in the heart of the Black Forest. Baden-Baden is a charming city, undoubtedly one of the best destinations for a relaxing stay. It is home to the Caracalla Spa, 4,000square metres of space with swimming pools, saunas and other relaxation areas. There are also several places in the city where you can take a relaxing stroll, such as the Kurgarten with its shops, cafés, restaurants and galleries. Along the river Oos, the Lichtentaler Allee offers a green walk, including an old path from the 17th century. And Baden-Baden has a beautiful historic centre with narrow streets and baroque monuments, so that you can enjoy the view between two spa sessions.
6- Bath, county of Somerset, England
The city of Bath is mainly known for its superb Roman baths, located just a stone's throw from the abbey. With a hot spring, a sacred spring and a museum showing the objects found during the excavations, the site is superb. After this visit, you can go to the Thermae Bath spa, which is the only spa in Britain with a natural spring. For a fun getaway, another day is spent shopping at the Corridor, one of the oldest shopping arcades in the world created by architect Henry Goodridge in 1825. The city centre is also very pleasant and you can't miss a stop in a tea room to warm up. The city also has many parks where you can take a green walk: the Green Park, the Parade Gardens and the Royal Victoria Park.
7- Franzensbad, Karlovy Vary region, Czech Republic
Although Franzensbad is less well known than the other two Czech spa towns on the UNESCO World Heritage list, it has everything to delight lovers of more intimate atmospheres. You will feel as if you are taking a trip back to the 19th century, with its superb bathing establishments with pastel yellow facades and a mixture of neo-classical, baroque, Renaissance, rococo and gothic styles. A must is to walk around the city with a cup to taste all the springs of the resort. The town has lovely shady parks, where you can stop to taste a thermal wafer, a delicacy of the local gastronomy.
8- Bad Kissingen, district of Lower Franconia, Germany
What can we say about Bad Kissingen, except that it is the best place in Germany for well-being. Its mineral water and mud baths are known for their numerous health and skin benefits. Massage, salt inhalation, there are a multitude of ways to take care of yourself, whatever the establishment you join. The town is also architecturally interesting with the old town hall, a Renaissance building, and the present town hall, a former castle of the Heußlein family built in 1706. The Arkadenbau with its gardens, fountain and arcades is not to be forgotten. Around the town there are valleys and forests. More places to relax and enjoy the fresh air.
9- Karlovy Vary, Bohemia, Czech Republic
The largest and most prestigious spa in Bohemia, Karlovy Vary was founded in the 14th century and had its heyday in the 19th century and the Belle Époque, when artists and aristocrats from Central Europe came to spend time here. In the historic centre, which has preserved its prestigious architecture, you can taste spring water, visit museums such as the Moser crystal museum, and taste wafers of various flavours. The city has some majestic establishments where you can take a spa treatment. You should also think about going to the castle spas for a remarkable treatment session. On another day, you can take the funicular to discover a superb view of the city. Later on, the woods surrounding the city await the walkers, for a moment of communion with nature.
10- Montecatini Terme, Tuscany region, Italy
Nestled in the heart of green countryside between Florence and Pisa, the thermal baths of Montecatini Terme are among the oldest in Europe. The waters of Montecatini Terme have been celebrated for their benefits since ancient Rome, and they are the delight of Italian lovers who come to pamper themselves in one of the country's most beautiful regions. Its liberty-style decorations by Galileo Chini, its architecture composed of vaults and ceramics by Basilio Cascella, make it a historic city where it is pleasant to lose oneself in the streets and alleys. Between two sessions in a spa, you can also stroll through the art galleries, stop at the beautiful Palazzina Regia before going to the thermal park to breathe the fresh air. Golfing, hiking on the hills of the city, there are a thousand and one reasons to do yourself good in this relaxing city
11- Spa, Ardennes region, Belgium
Famous for its ferruginous waters, the town of Spa can be proud of having a name that has become part of the common language. This is not surprising, since it has played a pioneering role in the recognition of the medical virtues of thermal water. Of course, the place to relax is the Thermes de Spa, where you can enjoy balneotherapy, relaxation programmes, water games and peat baths. It is also very pleasant to walk around the village, such as the walk of the Domaine de Berinzenne, which leads to springs and valleys. There are also several interesting museums, such as the Museum of the City of Water and its works of art related to the city of Spa.