It’s a difficult and subjective task to make a list of the best hot springs in Europe. To some, a small natural pool surrounded by mountains and sheep is idyllic. To others, a historical bath around the amazing architecture is as good as it gets.
This list is a mix of natural, primitive pools and amenity-rich thermal resorts, all of which have great reviews and unique twists that set them apart from others. Let’s check out the top geothermal springs from Hungary to Iceland and plenty of countries in between.
Here are among the best hot springs in Europe, in no particular order:
Szechenyi Baths – Budapest, Hungary
Hungary is a hotbed of hot springs, and Szechenyi Baths is one of the best. It’s as if traditional American community swimming pools were combined with Neo-baroque-style clubhouse and multiplied by one hundred. It’s huge.
You’ll find 18 pools, some inside and others outside, of varying temperatures to choose from. When you need a break from the pools, there are spa facilities (saunas, steam baths, whirlpools, sun decks, etc.) and treatments to help you clear your head.
Other than the unique–and stunning–surroundings, Szechenyi differentiates itself by throwing Bath Parties during the summer months and special occasions. Hundreds of people can enjoy the relaxing waters while they listen to music. Basic snacks and quick hot meals are served in the cafeteria, and alcohol is available for purchase.
Poça da Dona Beija – Furnas, Portugal (Azores)
Poça da Dona Beija is seamlessly built into the natural world it sits in, the lush forest surrounding each of the stone tubs makes it feel like a tropical paradise. This former taro plantation lets guests in until 10:15 pm, so there are plenty of night bathing opportunities.
Water ranges from 31 inches (80cm) in the area for kids to 51 inches (130cm) at its deepest and sits at about 102℉ (39℃) year-round. Secluded pools are at different levels and were built for different purposes.
Some are filled with benches for socializing with friends. Another offers a place to meditate behind a waterfall, enclosed in the space between the cascading water and the rock. You can use ideally-placed waterfalls for hydromassage if you’re on a budget. If you’re not, check out the gift shop with postcards, handmade jewelry, clothing, toys, etc.
Hévíz Lake – Western Hungary
Lake Hévíz is second only to Frying Pan Lake in New Zealand on the list of largest thermal lakes, and the latter is too hot for swimmers. 4.44 hectares of surface area means plenty of room to spread out.
50 hectares of non-native forest protects the lake from the wind on three sides, courtesy of the 18th-century family who originally turned the land into a bathing resort. The clubhouse building in the literal center of it all offers sundecks on the outside and indoor pools, a sauna, and wellness services when you step through the doors.
Water is typically hot at around 97℉ (36℃) in the summer and drops to 75℉ (24℃) in the winter. There are many spas and thermal resorts in the area to explore if you want something more elaborate, but Hévíz has many types of physical therapy available for those with health concerns and is an excellent place to simply relax.
Pamukkale Thermal Pools – Pamukkale, Turkey
The Pamukkale Thermal Pools are located in the interior of Turkey, equidistant from Izmir and Antalya, and attract millions of visitors each year. Noted as one of the most popular destinations in the country, this cluster of travertine pools stands out in its temperate climate due to its snowy-looking appearance.
Terrestrial limestone deposits around the thermal springs leave behind an icy glow that can be seen for miles covering the side of a mountain. Against the white, the water gives off an iridescent blue color.
There is nowhere to spend the night near the pools, but the town below has plenty of options for food and lodging alike. As an added bonus, you can check off another UNESCO World Heritage Site off your list, the thermal spa of Hieropolis established at the end of the 2nd century B.C.
Loutra Pozar Thermal Springs – Aridaia, Greece
Loutra Pozar Thermal Springs takes its cue from nature when it comes to its design. The outdoor pools, one a basic swimming pool with thermal water and the other a thermal soaking pool set next to a river with a natural waterfall.
They’ve brought the outside in with carefully selected stone walls creating each of the 11 pools–each fitting six people–with artificial waterfalls that feel like they simply grew out of the forest. The hydrotherapy center offers two larger waterfall pools that fit 12 as well as two hamam-type pools that fit six each.
Multiple on-site cafes are open for all hungry bathers, and landscaped paths provide a pre- or post-soak meditative walk ending in–you guessed it–natural cascading waterfalls. Visits are best pre-planned and booked ahead.
Rogner Bad Blumau – Bad Blumau, Austria
Rogner Bad Blumau Therapeutic Center is a hotel and spa set in the hilly meadows of Styrian. The whimsical hotel and spa is the largest habitable work of art created by Friedensreich Hundertwasser and is heated using thermal water.
Two springs fill the pools while the other heats and runs the facility. There is an Olympic-sized lap pool, two freeform soaking pools–one fed from a spring containing salt, promoting buoyancy–and whirlpools that are around 97℉ (36℃) with the cold pool used for circuits the only exception.
Lounge chairs are lined up on the surrounding grass giving it the feel of an upscale garden party in the Hamptons.
Simple, modern studios, suites, and apartments (affiliate link) decorated with an artful touch await overnight guests who will wake to spectacular mountainous views. Currently, they’re implementing an aquaponics pilot project for growing food for their various on-site restaurants.
To top it all off, there is also a fitness room and a full spa. Features include a hammam, various saunas and steam rooms, a salt grotto, and relaxation areas for naps
Llixhat e Bënjës – Benjë-Novoselë, Albania
Albania is often overlooked as a hot spring destination, but Llixhat e Bënjës is a gem of a natural hot spring in the southern countryside. It consists of multiple 86℉ (30℃) pools alongside a river. An 18th-century stone bridge frames the nearby Trebeshinë-Dhëmbel-Nemërçkë mountains for a lovely scenic soak.
Move a little further upstream, and you run into a canyon with breathtaking views. Bring your water shoes, and you can walk up the river and into the hills for hours if you want to add some activity to your day. There are even some rock climbing options in the area.
The pools can get busy, but the further you hike, the fewer people you’ll see. Bring a picnic, and enjoy the day. Wild camping is legal in Albania, so if you feel moved to pitch a tent, it’s not a problem.
Poseidon Gardens Thermal Park – Forio, Italy
If you’ve ever wanted to relax in mineral water by the beach, Poseidon Gardens Thermal Park is for you. With 20 pools that range from 82-104℉ (28-40℃), a steam grotto, and three “Kneip” groups to alternate between 104℉ and 61℉ (40℃/16℃) it’s hard to imagine a better place to kick back for a few days.
Located on the island of Ischia just off the Gulf of Naples, they also have three seawater pools for swimming laps or entertaining the kids. 500 meters of coastline are fun for all ages.
The dining options cover three things quintessentially Italian: a full-fledged restaurant; a cafe with antipasto, sandwiches, and pizza; and a wine bar with traditional fare. A visit to the wellness center staffed with medical personnel, personal trainers, and spa staff will get you feeling your best. Note that it’s closed for routine maintenance but is expected to reopen in April 2023.
Thermae Bath Spa – Bath, UK
A trip to Thermae Bath Spa isn’t just about the thermal pools. Roman and Georgian steam rooms, ice chambers, and a celestial relaxation room help make up their spa. The last of these offers guests a heated lounge chair in a dark room with twinkle lights, calming music sounds in the background while warm, scented air blows through.
The water is a balmy 93℉ (34℃) by the time it flows into the pools. Whether you’re looking for some meditative alone time or a social afternoon with friends in an exclusive pool, you’ll find it at Thermae Bath.
The on-site cafe provides light snacks and beverages, including alcohol. So cozy up to a table in your fluffy, white spa robes and enjoy the day.
Leukerbad Therme – Eastern Switzerland
Nothing says “refreshing” like Leukerbad Thermal Baths in the mountains of southern Switzerland. Water ranges from 82℉ (28℃) in the sports pool to 111℉ (44℃) in the stone grotto.
Whirlpools and outdoor soaking pools let guests get up close and personal with some snowy peaks at 4629 feet (1411m). Not only is it the largest thermal bath in Europe, but there are two waterslides and a “kids’ paradise” to make it a great option for the whole family.
Saunas and steam baths offer views of the Alps, and the spa and hair studio will make you look and feel your best. The kitchens serve up local and regional dishes as well as burgers for a delightful way to finish off your day.
Blue Lagoon – Grindavík, Iceland
The Blue Lagoon is a popular stop for tourists and locals alike due to its otherworldly scenery and luxurious facilities that blend seamlessly into the landscape. The sleek Scandinavian rooms for overnight guests (affiliate link) take advantage of this with views of the volcanic countryside and the endless sea.
As with most high-end hot springs, you’ll find a full-service spa. You’ll also find opportunities for floating therapy and an on-staff dermatologist to help guests treat skin issues like psoriasis with the aid of the mineral-rich spring water
Mealtimes bring new luxuries. Three restaurants are available, one recommended in the Michelin guide.
Aqua Dome – Tyrol, Austria
Just a short train ride away, Tyrol’s Aqua Dome’s surroundings can compare to the Swiss Alps. This four-star hotel & spa (affiliate link) is high-class all the way. Plus, there are tons of activities for kids, both in and out of the pool.
There is an assortment of indoor and outdoor pools, each with a different purpose. Large basins, unique bowl-like pools that have 5% salinity, and soft music playing are perfect for floating while enjoying the views. The thermal waters are 93-97℉ (34-36℃).
Those looking to be more active can check out the fitness center with classes available or book a session with one of the personal trainers on staff. You can also rent bicycles and hiking gear here or just stick to the e-bike if it’s snowing.
Europe is a magical place for a vast range of food, history, and outdoor adventures. Hot Springs may not be one of the first things that pop into your head when you plan a trip there, but it should be.
Take advantage of the thermal waters on the other side of the pond for a truly memorable experience. The best part is that many of them are even accessible by train.