select - Eastern European spa resorts
Written by Oryx
The ancient Greeks and Romans first recognised the benefits of mineral waters, and the Europeans still value hot springs to this day. Here are some Eastern European spa resorts to set you tingling.
For a quintessential Budapest experience, take to the baths. Hungarians have been enjoying hot springs for 2,000 years. The Ottomans added a distinctive architecture, and the Hapsburgs embellished thermal resorts with beautiful detail. Gellért Baths is the most opulent, featuring marble columns and stone lion heads spitting water. The 16th-century Király Bath is also very fine, and shows the clear influence of former Turkish rule in its octagonal dome, through which light filters from skylights, sending sparkles across the pool below. Locals spend hours here, playing chess, chatting, and soaking: a Budapest afternoon at its best.
Distance: 3,757 km
Flight Time: 5 hours, 55 minutes
Snow-capped, forested mountains, rising to nearly 3,000 metres, start just 90 minutes out of Sofia, where monasteries, old villages, and dozens of hot-spring resorts add to the attraction of a weekend escape. Velingrad is the most beautiful of the spa towns, sitting in a picturesque valley and offering over 70 sources of curative mineral waters.
Flight Time: 7 hours 5 minutes
Frequency: 4 flights a week via Bucharest
Forty kilometres north of Zagreb, the spa town of Stubicke Toplice sits in a lush agricultural valley of vineyards and neatly tended fields. First mentioned in the 13th century, its naturally heated mineral waters bubble up at a steamy 43–69ºC and are cooled before being fed into a series of outdoor pools, where devotees soak before going on for massage and therapy treatments said to be good for rheumatism.
Distance: 3,894 km
Flight Time: 7 hours, 50 minutes
Frequency: Daily via Budapest
The spa resort and artists’ retreat of Konstancin-Jeziorna is just 20 km south of Warsaw, surrounded by pine forests and natural reserves with many walking and cycling paths. The spa town is known for its balmy microclimate and mineral springs, which attracted wealthy patrons in the early 19th century. Today historical villas and mansions compete with modern hotels that overlook a stretch of river, an elegant spa park, and a natural salt chamber said to be good for respiration.
Distance: 3,493 km
Flight Time: 6 hours