Don't leave home without these essential tips, resources, and websites. » Read More
50 Top Wellness Destinations: Europe Text by Husna Haq Photo by Catherine Karnow
Spa guests enjoy Parkhotel Richmond in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.
Parkhotel Richmond (Czech Republic) The Spa: This grand Old World spa sits in a quiet park on the banks of the Tepla River in the historic spa town of Karlovy Vary. Treatments: Aquatherapy, underwater massage, and carbonic baths are legacies of a 600-year-old European healing tradition, "taking the waters." Local Sights:Enjoy the town's elegant Old World architecture from any of five renowned 19th- and 20th-century colonnades. 567/3 Slovenska Karlovy Vary 360 01, Czech Republic Tel. +420 353 177 111
Plum Village (France) The Spa: East meets West at this Buddhist monastery set amidst vineyards a 1.5-hour drive east of Bordeaux. Treatments: It's all about meditation—walking, sitting, and working—led by experienced Zen practitioners, including renowned Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1967. Local Sights: Soak in views of south coastal France (vineyards by the sea), or plan a day trip to nearby Bordeaux.
Brenner's Park-Hotel and Spa (Germany) The Spa: Visiting this elegant 19th-century hotel in the historic spa town of Baden-Baden at the foot of the Black Forest mountains is like entering a fairy tale. Treatments: Get the royal treatment with a selection of massages (shiatsu, South Pacific Lomi-Lomi), then soak in the Finnish sauna overlooking a bamboo garden. Local Sights: Visit historic thermal baths, the theater, and the legendary Festspielhaus concert hall, or trek the Black Forest.
Kiraly Bath (Hungary) The Spa: One of Budapest's oldest baths, this magnificent octagonal bathhouse was built around 1566 for use by a local pasha under the Ottoman Empire. Kiraly's architecture draws as many visitors as does its thermal waters. Treatments: It's all about the water. Thermal-water soaks in one of several pools are said to heal nerve- and respiratory-related illnesses. Local Sights: Budapest beckons at the doorstep.
1027 Budapest, Fõutca 84 Budapest, Hungary Tel. +36 1 202 3688
Blue Lagoon Spa (Iceland) The Spa: At the heart of this geothermal spa is the 1.6-million-gallon Blue Lagoon, a geothermal seawater pool surrounded by Iceland's iconic volcanic landscape. Treatments: Soak in healing geothermal waters rich in minerals and algae; try an invigorating salt glow massage; finish off with a cleansing silica mud mask. Local Sights: Make time for the marvels of the land of fire and ice—volcanoes, thermal springs, geysers, and icescapes.
240 Grindavik, Iceland Tel. +354 420 8800
Lisdoonvarna Spa Wells and Health Centre (Ireland) The Spa: This Victorian pump house put Lisdoonvarna on the map in the 19th century when visitors flocked to County Clare to "take the waters." The region is known for its healing sulfur and chalybeate springs. Treatments: Bathe in healing waters believed to cleanse and energize. Massages, wax baths, a sauna, and a solariam await in the spa complex. Local Sights: Enjoy parkland gardens and tour galleries in town. Note: Spa currently undergoing renovations.
Fonteverde Natural Spa Resort (Italy) The Spa: Amid vineyards and olive groves in the sun-soaked hills of Tuscany, this luxurious Renaissance-Medici resort was built in the 17th century. Treatments: Ancient Etruscan water therapy is the specialty; try thermal water soaks, hydromassage, balneotherapy, and the signature Mediterranean facial with olive oil, honey, and mud. Local Sights: For gorgeous views and full-flavored Tuscan meals, take a day trip to nearby Pienza or Cetona.
Località terme 1, 53040 San Casciano dei Bagni (SI) Tuscany, Italy Tel. +39 0578 57241
Hotel Weihrerhof (Italy) The Spa: The Dolomites overlook this 23-room Alpine escape situated on 25 acres (10 hectares) of meadows and woods on Costalovara Lake. Treatments: Traditional treatments include hay baths (a 30-minute steep in warm, damp hay said to infuse skin with nutrients) and Nordic walking (whole-body exercise and stress-release). Local Sights: Postcard-perfect daytrips abound: Try nearby Bolzano, a quaint Alpine town, or take in the picturesque Dolomites by foot or ski. 39054 Soprabolzano, Costalovara 22 Renon/Ritten, Italy Tel. +39 0471 345 102
Cagaloglu Hammam (Turkey) The Spa: Notables like Florence Nightingale and Kaiser Wilhelm II have visited this 18th-century hammam near the Aya Sofia mosque, outfitted with magnificent marble pillars, domes, and divans. Treatments: Soak in gender-segregated hammams or relax in the grand, marble-domed steam room. Finish with a vigorous scrub and rubdown. Local Sights: Leave time to wander suqs and mosques in culture-steeped Istanbul.
Cekirge Meydani at Kervansary Hotel (Turkey) The Spa: Originally built by Sultan Murat I as an inn for caravans trekking across Anatolia, this 700-year-old thermal bath in historic Bursa is fed by the Eski Kaplica, a thermal spring used in Roman times. Treatments: Relax with a mineral-rich basic soak, traditional kese exfoliation, and massage. Local Sights: Check out Roman and Ottoman architectural ruins in a Tuscany-like landscape.
Are you a real traveler? Someone who cares about authenticity? Who has a point of view about where we should travel—and how? Then tell us what you think and be eligible to win a trip to almost anywhere in the United States.