Traditional Spas Around the World
Collected by Chris Ciolli, AFAR Local Expert
Sauna. Banya. Onsen. Hammam. There are as many words for spa as there are social bathing traditions around the world. From natural hot springs, to swimming pools full to brimming with thermal waters, to the dry heat of Norwegian-style saunas, here are a few spas worth visiting on your next trip.
54290 Trier, Germany
The very idea of a spa getaway was born in Germany. Spa towns like Baden-Baden, Wiesbaden, and other 19th-century wellness retreats became the models for resorts across Europe and the United States. Some of those original grand old hotels are...
Åstorgsgatan 1, 00500 Helsingfors, Finland
At Kotiharjun, you'll find the city's only remaining traditional wood-burning sauna. An old-fashioned urban retreat favored by Helsinki locals since 1928, Kotiharjun welcomes travelers without catering specifically to them. As tradition requires,...
40 Hangang-daero 21na-gil, Hangangno 3(sam)-ga, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
In Korea, nothing spells relaxation like a jimjilbang, or Korean bathhouse. For over a thousand years, Koreans have used public bathhouses not only as a means to get clean, but as a social gathering place to chill out with family and friends....
Budapest, Állatkerti krt. 9-11, 1146 Hungary
It's an unforgettable experience: Getting up at the crack of dawn in mid-winter, walking through the large municipal park on the Pest side of town, checking in to the Széchenyi Thermal Bath (mostly with Hungarian pensioners because tourists...
Budapest, Kelenhegyi út 4, 1118 Hungary
Throughout Budapest are a whopping 123 therapeutic hot springs, but these, in the stately, slightly dusty Hotel Gellért (built in 1918) might be the most famous. The communal bath in the center of the hotel spa is for everyone, but the most...
Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa Mahallesi, Hamam Sk. No:1, 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Enjoying a hammam experience while traveling in Istanbul was at the top of my list, but it was hard to choose where to soak! After all, the ritual of Turkish bathing wasn't one I was willing to just "leap" into; after stripping down to their bare...
Japan, 〒321-1662 Tochigi-ken, Nikkō-shi, Yumoto, ２５４９−５ 栃木県日光市
These little wooden structures house pumps that send piping-hot water from sulphur hot springs to the many inns and B&Bs dotting the area around Oku-nikko, a picturesque resort town located in the mountains of Nikko. It's a fantastic overnight...
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