We’re continuing our journey through thermal waters in the Alps. Last week, we covered natural thermal baths in Switzerland. Today it’s time to have a look at what Austria has to offer.
Alpentherme Gastein – Bad Hofgastein (www.alpentherme.com/en)
Alpentherme Gastein is a huge leisure complex with 110,000sqft of swimming pools and something for everyone. Expect an eyebrow-raising amount of nudity which is perfectly acceptable, though ladies will be pleased to know that there is a Women Only area, which has its own saunas and relaxing areas. Alpentherme Gastein has a massive range of treatments and activities, from within their fitness and sports centre to many massages and beauty treatments, as well as the natural hot springs which have weakly mineralised water containing radon. As of 2012, entry for a day ranges from 20-30 Euros, but the Carte Gastein gets you a 50% discount. Alpentherme is located in the ski resort of Bad Hofgastein – excellent location for your next holiday.
Felsentherme Gastein – Bad Gastein (www.felsentherme.com/en/index.php)
Felsentherme is particularly popular for its outdoor natural thermal waters in which you can swim as the snow falls around you. The views from both the hot pools and the sauna across the snowfields are stunning and panoramic. Expect pools of varying temperatures, a sauna cave as well as other saunas, a salt cave, a sanarium, a beauty centre and a fitness centre. The thermal waters are obtained from Glauber’s salt thermal bath 430m depth. No swimwear allowed – towels only, and plenty are carried rather than worn – so don’t go in with a shy attitude. Many hotels in Bad Gastein resort offer discounts for entry. Not a cheap option – 20 Euros for three hours – but beautifully maintained, large and lovely.
Therme Aqua Dome – Längenfeld (www.aqua-dome.at)
It may sound like a water park, but the Aqua Dome is actually a new, huge and excellently maintained hotel and spa, though you can of course just visit for the day. If you stay at the hotel, you get access to the spa area from 7am until 11pm. The pools require swimsuits but the saunas are au naturel, and you can get treatments such as massages and facials to further relax you. The sulphur spa water is obtained from a depth of 1800m and is unique, and the complex is pretty unique as well, with gigantic elevated bowls of water serving as pools to create the illusion of weightlessness and giving a surreal, extraterrestrial feel to the place. Langenfeld has been used as a spa retreat for several hundred years, the earliest written record dating back to the 16th century, and Aqua Dome has been around since 1986. It is a slick operation which is very highly rated. At 40 Euros for an unlimited day pass at weekends (that’s the top price available), it’s pricey, but generally agreed to be worth every cent.
For skiers: Langenfeld is just a few kilometers away from the famous Solden ski resort – yes, that’s where the FIS Ski World Cup starts its season. It is good to consider booking Langenfeld accommodation, use the ski bus to ski lifts and enjoy the old town and its thermal waters in the afternoon.
Grimming Therme – Bad Mittendorf (www.grimming-therme.com)
A high tech, high spec spa in a giant complex in a tiny little village, Grimming Therme is a beautiful thermal baths centre with water containing more than 40 different minerals, and the complex is so large that over a million litres of rich spring water flow into the baths every day. Grimming Therme is a particularly good choice for families, as it has a children’s club and you can get baby monitors so that you can have time to yourself without worrying about the kids. As such, there can be quite a lot of noisy kids around, but there is also the option of paying extra for the kid-free areas. The indoor and outdoor pools both have jacuzzi beds within them so you can be massaged as you soak, and they also have saunas and a full range of wellness treatments.
Therme Nova – Köflach (www.novakoeflach.at)
A smaller and more intimate thermal water centre, Therme Nova has a small indoor pool for bathing, the waters of which come from the Barbara Piber district. There is an emphasis on spa treatments here, rather than bathing or outside facilities or views, though there is a sauna area too. There are many programmes for fitness activities such as water aerobics on offer, and there is a Palm Garden in which you can set up a sun bed and catch some rays. It’s a little cheaper than most – a day card is 20 Euros – but there are fewer facilities.