Hot springs were discovered thousands of years ago
Those clever Romans – they discovered the benefits of spring water
It is believed that the Romans discovered the health benefits of spring water as far back as 1300BC. Spa towns began to develop in areas around mineral springs – the first being the town of Spa, in Belgium.
The health benefits of spring and sea water were clear. British seaside resorts became popular in the 18thcentury, as people felt the benefits of being by the sea – Whitby, Scarborough and Bath, to name a few. During Victorian times, people enjoyed escaping the smoke-filled cities to spend time by the sea in the fresh air. Doctors often prescribed a dose of sea air to those who were suffering from respiratory problems like asthma.
This was one reason for the development of tourism; with a beach holiday being one of the most leisure activities. So, the power of water became an important attraction for a holiday – whether it was by the sea, or close to a mineral spring.
A spa holiday on prescription
Therapy holidays were very common in Germany
In Germany, we call spa towns Kurort or Heilbad (meaning spa town). You can recognise them by the word ‘Bad’, as in Bad Neuenahr. Bad means bath – particularly associated with a warming bath. The word ‘bad’ is often included in some place names in Germany, like In Baden-Baden or Wiesbaden. Here, it refers to the mineral springs. Only places, where healing water, or natural mineral springs that are used for medical therapies and treatments, can be called a Kurortor Heilbad. In the seventies and eighties, spa towns had a reputation of being quite old fashioned. At that time, doctors would prescribe a two, three, or even a four-week stay in a spa town for those suffering from certain health conditions – mainly for the older generation. The facilities were quite basic, and were mainly funded by the Gesetzliche Krankenkasse (National Health System).
Wellness and spa breaks
Luxury holidays to improve health
Over time, spa towns began to drastically change. It was only in certain circumstances that doctors could prescribe a period of rest in a spa town. They began to attract visitors wanting a wellness and spa break. It became big business, with many hotels investing huge sums of money refurbishing their facilities, and changing their wellness and spa areas into luxurious retreats; offering packages with medical consultations, nutritional advice, exercise, beauty treatments, and fantastic food options. Town centres also adapted to the change, offering modern restaurants and cafés, family-friendly attractions in town, as well as in the surrounding areas.
Quality time with friends and family
Activities, a bit of pampering, and a good old chat – perfect
I don’t know about you, but I often enjoy a little escape with my besties or my Mum. Now that I’m in my forties, I’ve become more and more interested in going to a hotel that offers a spa package – maybe with a special treatment to help me relax and improve my health. I also prefer places to be located in natural surroundings, where I can be active and discover the local area. After a day out, there’s nothing better than coming back to a cosy hotel with a nice spa area.
Now the spa towns in Germany are beginning to change, I’m interested to see how they adapt to meet the needs of the younger generation. As visitor’s expectations begin to evolve, it puts extra challenges onto hotels, and local amenities to provide the right facilities for those expectations. Sustainability, healthy eating, outdoor activities, as well as a welcoming atmosphere, are becoming more important when deciding on where to go.
In recent years, I have become really interested in Pilates and yoga; as well as trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle with eating the right things and ensuring I get the right work-life balance. I’ve therefore started to look for some nice retreats in Germany.
Many places are situated in a stunning landscape; making them ideal if you enjoy walking, cycling, or even something more adventurous. I also like the idea of learning something new – whether it’s about nutrition, exercise, mindfulness or meditation. All of which is offered in various wellness hotels in Germany. So, if you can recommend somewhere beautiful, please do let me know! I’d love to have a look at it, or even try it out for myself!
Seezeitlodge Hotel & Spa – a place to escape
Tastefully designed, a view of the lake – perfect for a wellness break
The Seezeitlodge Hotel & Spa is a wonderful new spa hotel located in the Saarland region. Although it’s not located in a spa town, being situated on Bostalsee lake does make it rather special.
I was lucky enough to visit this hotel in May 2017, and I particularly enjoyed the spacious, and beautifully designed spa area with its indoor and outdoor swimming pools. The treatments are carried out by experienced therapists, and the whole ambience of the hotel is calm and relaxing. I went with my husband, brother and sister-in-law, and we were blessed with some fantastic weather. We were able to enjoy our dinner outside on the impressive terrace with its views across Bostalsee lake.
Best spa towns in Germany
Discover Germany’s spa towns
I thought it might be useful to list out some of the popular spa towns in Germany. We briefly visited Baden-Baden on the way back from a holiday in Italy. As we were only there for one night, we didn’t have much time to discover the place in any great depth. But we really liked Baden-Baden’s town centre, with its beautiful green areas, its high street full of lovely looking cafés and restaurants, as well as the pristine surrounding area.
Another spa town we discovered is Bad Tölz, in Bavaria. We stopped off there while on a cycling trip from Lenggries. It has a picturesque town centre, beautifully painted houses, and a pedestrianised high street. Its Christmas market is also highly recommended, and it usually starts earlier than many of the other Christmas markets. Check out more about Bad Tölz Christmas market on my event calendars on my Facebook page and on my website nearer the time.
The last one on my list that I’ve personally been to is Norderney. The island is well-known for its thalassotherapy treatments – and it comes with a personal recommendation. A mix of healthy sea air and the wonderful treatments leaves you feeling completely relaxed. The island also offers plenty of other things to do. You can read about my stay on Norderney island here.
Top spa towns in Germany:
Heiligendamm, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, on the Baltic Sea (half an hour’s drive from Rostock).
Bad Oeynhausen, North Rhine-Westphalia (an hour’s drive from Osnabrück and Hanover).
Wiesbaden, Hesse, close to the Rhine (an hour’s drive from Frankfurt am Main).
Bad Wildungen, Hesse, close to the Kellerwald-Edersee national park, in the Sauerland region.
Bad Harzburg, Lower Saxony, close to the pretty town of Goslar.
Norderney island, Lower Saxony (closest cities are Bremen and Oldenburg).
Bad Pyrmont, Lower Saxony (around an hour’s drive from Bad Oeynhausen and Hanover).
Bad Ems, Rhineland-Palatinate, close to the Rhine (only a 20-minute drive from Koblenz).
Bad Neuenahr, Rhineland-Palatinate. It’s located in a beautiful wine region, close to Rhine (around half an hour’s drive from Bonn and Koblenz).
Bad Wildbad, Baden-Württemberg (a 50-minute drive from Karlsruhe and Baden-Baden).
Badenweiler, Baden-Württemberg (a 40-minute drive from Freiburg and Basel, in Switzerland.
Baden-Baden, Baden-Württemberg (an hour’s drive from Strasbourg, in France.
Bad Wörishofen, Bavaria (Allgäu region), and close to Ammersee lake and Augsburg (half an hour from Memmingen airport).
Bad Kissingen, Bavaria (around an hour’s drive from Bamberg and Würzburg).
Bad Tölz, Bavaria (half an hour’s drive from the well-known Starnberger See and the Tegernsee lakes).
Bad Wiessee, Bavaria; located on the idyllic Tegernsee lake (50 minutes from Munich).
Bad Reichenhall, Bavaria (Berchtesgadener Land region), Located not far from the beautiful Chiemsee lake (half an hour’s drive from Salzburg, in Austria).
Bad Griesbach, Bavaria, is located close to the Danube River (half an hour’s drive from Passau).
Bad Füssing, Bavaria, located next to Bad Greisbach, and close to the Inn River.
Bad Birnbach, Bavaria, next to Bad Griesbach.