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Spa Towns Overview

Delightful Destinations for Healing and Wellness

On this page you will find all the key information on spa towns. More specifically, these are towns that were founded to help improve health conditions and well-being using local natural resources and healing therapies.

Key Components of Spa Towns

There are many different types of spa towns and in every country of the world there are  very specific rules that determine when exactly a place is a spa town. To put it in a nutshell, a spa town usually exists where the following 4 points come together: 

  1. Presence of a natural resource that can be used for healing (e.g. mineral water springs, mineral mud)
  2. A particularly healthy local climate (e.g. clean air, warm weather)
  3. Local spa hotels with therapies for improving health conditions
  4. A particularly relaxing environment (e.g. spa parks, architecture, nature or traffic-calmed city centres)

In order to give you a clear picture of all the spa towns and the different holidays they offer, we will first explain the different types of spa towns and give you an overview of which special features are important for which spa town.

Afterwards you can get an overview of the most famous and beautiful spa towns in Europe - a perfect introduction if you’re looking for inspiration for a future trip.

Not sure where to go? Get in touch with of our spa towns travel experts to help you find the perfect spa town for you!

Different Types of Spa Towns

If you look back in history, you will always find spa towns. Even the Romans used mineral and thermal springs for therapeutic purposes. Taking care of one's health was "trendy" in every age and those who could afford it travelled from time to time to one of these special places. If you look at the map of Europe you can still see the spa tradition in the names of many places. Using the English "bath", the French "les-bains" or the German "Bad" in a town’s name all indicate that a town has a spa tradition.

Spa Towns with Healing Climates

In a climatic spa town, everything revolves around the local bioclimate. This has a special therapeutic effect and can help promote good health, usually thanks to a high air quality. There are two main types of climatic spa towns – those with stimulating climates and those with mild climates.

Strongly stimulating climate regions are usually seaside resorts such as the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the Atlantic coast, but also inland regions such as the Dead Sea. In addition to the coast, a stimulating climate can also be found in high mountain ranges - often over 1500 metres.

Between the coast and the mountains, often between 300 – 1000m above sea-level, we find mild climates. While the stimulating climate type serves to fuel metabolism and the body’s vitality, the mild climate, with its balanced temperatures and consistent humidity, are effective for relaxation.

Treatment programmes in climatic spa towns will centre around the natural benefits of the climate but also include treatents that make use of natural resources, such as seawater, mineral mud and locally growing herbs.

a view of the mountains

Spa Towns with Mineral Water Springs

In spa towns with thermal baths and mineral springs, as you might imagine, everything revolves around the town’s mineral water spring, which is either a hot spring (thermal) or a cold spring, and used for therapeutic purposes. The mineral water is usually used externally, for example in baths or steam rooms. When used in thermal baths, therapists can sometimes choose between hundreds of different mineral springs in the town, which all have different effects on the health. If they use a hot spring, the water is naturally warm of course and doesn't need extra heating. Thermal baths are also made using cold spring water or normal water, which is then heated above the average swimming pool temperature to 36°C+. Depending on the mineral water, it can also be drank and is often prescribed in specific amounts within a mineral water drinking therapy programme. How exactly the mineral water is used depends on the respective composition of the water. Based on this, you can decide which spa town will be best for which type of healing therapy:

spa towns with mineral water springs

Air Spa Towns

lady relaxing in a spa robe, breathing in the clean air

Along with the climatic spa towns there are also "air spas”. We will just briefly mention this type of resort town as they don’t usually offer health spa programmes. Air spas focus more on typical tourism and attract people looking for beautiful surroundings with good air. So, whilst air spas are certainly worth a visit, they are mostly not suitable for improving a specific health condition.

Seaside Spa Towns, Sea Spas and Thalassotherapy Centres

view of the sea

If the name of this type of spa town hasn't already given you a hint of what it offers and where, we can tell you that seaside spas are located on the coast and make use of the naturally healing properties of the sea, such as saltwater, sand, algae and the fresh, salt-containing seaside air. In addition to health tourism in the classic seaside resorts, thalassotherapy centres specialise in all kinds of therapies with fresh therapeutic sea remedies. In addition to swimming pools and the sea, there are also special thalassotherapy courses, seawater showers, hydromassages and many other delightful treatments to discover.

Spa Towns with Mud Baths and Thermal Mud (Fango)

What makes mud baths and fango spas so special is the use of natural mud or peat from local moors and natural spring locations. Peat, a type of mud that has been produced after millenia of composting, is freshly dug and often used as a remedy in the form of warm baths (approx. 39°C) - you will probably have seen pictures of this before. On the other hand, the thermal mud “Fango”, fermented mud with local thermal spring water, is mostly used locally as a mud mask treatment and on certain areas of the body, such as the back or the joints. With fango, both the temperature, mineral composition and active ingredients of the healing mud have a beneficial effect. Fango does not necessarily have to be applied warm and is applied as a cold mask in some cases. In addition to the mineral mud found in Italy and Hungary, there is also very popular healing mud at the Dead Sea.

lady relaxing with mud therapies at a mud spa

Spa Towns with Kneipp Therapy

Kneipp baths and Kneipp resort towns usually come under the category of normal baths. Kneipp therapy focuses on treatments using water within hydrotherapy health programmes. Part of this are the alternating baths with hot and cold water. In addition to water therapy, the modern Kneipp teachings also revolve around exercise and nutrition. A central factor is the strengthening of the immune system. Since the founder of this therapy, Sebastian Kneipp, was German, most Kneipp spas are located in Germany. Due to the internationally known Kneipp bath salts, more and more tourists come to the Kneipp spas to get to experience this therapy with the guidance of experts.

man enjoying kneipp therapy at a kneipp spa

The Most Beautiful Spa Towns in Europe

Now you know which different types of spa town there are – you are on your way to becoming an expert healthy holidaymaker! Get more inspiration and discover here: the most beautiful spa towns in Europe – we will take you on a virtual trip throughout Europe where you are sure to fall in love with more than one of the charming spa towns at the same time.

spa towns to discover Secret Jewels - Spa Towns to Discover

Travel Tips: Find and Book Your Perfect Spa Town

Now it’s getting exciting. Our travel experts have put together some key tips on finding the perfect spa town or health resort for your healthy holiday. Take a moment to think about it for five seconds... And? Not that easy, is it? When it comes to health and holidays, two very specific areas have to be considered at the same time.

Our travel experts advise you to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are my expectations of the holiday?
  • What is my initial health situation?

By combining the two answers you will find your most important criteria to help you choose a holiday.

On this basis, an expert can then give you an approximate recommendation on where to go for your health spa holiday. Get in touch with our experts here: contact SpaDreams.


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Start planning your spa town holiday here