On a recent train trip around Europe, I was intending to visit a spa in Budapest but I wasn’t expecting to visit 4 spas; 3 of which I would class as incredible spa experiences for different reasons in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Switzerland.
The Czech Republic
I was actually in search of thermal baths, which I did actually find in Karlovy Vary, but my incredible spa experience was not a thermal bath and it wasn’t in Karlovy Vary; it was in Plzeň . Having been a little disappointed with not finding outdoor public thermal baths in Karlovy Vary, I wasn’t expecting to have a spa experience. However, whilst scanning a local magazine for information about Plzeň , I spotted a hotel that was offering various spa treatments which, to my surprise and interest, included a beer bath and a beer massage. I found the website and was lucky enough to be able to book an appointment later that day for ‘beer relaxation’. I had absolutely no idea of what to expect but I am always up for new and unusual experiences and this was certainly going to be one of those!
My beer relaxation experience was exactly that – relaxing! It has to be one of the most unusual experiences I have had so far. I did, indeed, bathe in beer with beer on tap for complete beer immersion therapy. After that, I had a massage using beer oil and a combination of massage techniques.
Since then, I have discovered a number of places in the Czech Republic and other countries that offer beer spas and interesting alternatives using wine and chocolate. Hmmm… more to investigate!
Budapest is well-known for its spas, which are popular tourist attractions. I visited two of the five spas. Széchenyi is the largest of the thermal baths. I was taken aback when I first arrived and saw the outside pools and then all the indoor pools. Széchenyi is huge, it is well laid out, and the building, which is a neo-baroque style, is amazing. I made use of the indoor and outdoor pools of varying temperatures, the saunas, steam room, and freezing cold plunge pools. I just followed what the locals did! At night, when the outdoor pools lit up, it looked spectacular.
I also visited Lukács Thermal Bath which is smaller and quieter than Széchenyi and, even though it is free with the Budapest Card, seemed more ‘local’. There were mainly local people there whereas Széchenyi had a large number of tourists taking advantage of the facilities, as I was.
I wasn’t expecting to visit Switzerland and I had never heard of this particular town before so this final one was a real surprise. I was looking for a reasonably priced place to stay and, while looking at what accommodation was available in the surrounding area, I came across a town called Leukerbad. I searched the internet to see where it was and to find out more about it. I discovered that it had a thermal spa so that sealed the deal for me. It isn’t the easiest place to get to using public transport because the nearest train station is a 30 minute bus journey from the alpine town down a very windy mountain road.
When I arrived at my accommodation, the owner told me that I HAD to visit the spa and even gave me a towel to use. So, I followed her advice and went. I am so glad I did because the scenery was spectacular. There are two pools, one inside and one outside. It was incredible relaxing in an outdoor pool of warm water surrounded by the Alps. This is, apparently, the largest alpine thermal spa complex in Europe.
Spa Experiences in Europe
It was great to have these unexpected experiences during my trip and I was beginning to feel like the ‘Spa Queen’ of Europe. There are many other thermal spas and unusual spa experiences than those listed here that I have yet to experience but this isn’t a bad start! I feel as if I am on a bit of a mission now to try others in Europe at some point… soon, I hope!
Here’s where they are located on the map…
Have your say
What incredible spa experiences have you had in Europe?
I would like to thank Traveldudes and ACP Rail for giving me the opportunity to travel around Europe by rail with a complimentary Global Flexible InterRail Pass. During this time, I had these incredible spa experiences, which I funded myself.