5 European spas so worth the self-care time out
The museums will still be there when your massage is over.
Living in Europe means taking advantage of many things—good food, better museums—but top on my list as I’ve wound my way across the continent (currently at 29 countries and counting) have been the spas.
Maybe it’s because life as an expat certainly has its challenges, but I’ve found that visiting these monuments to self-care have been just the thing I’ve needed. After all, when you’re face-down on a bed wearing nothing but a towel, your phone stashed far away in a locker, it’s impossible to not slow down and allow yourself to recharge.
Having visited fifteen different spas in the last two spas, I’ve seen the highs (marble everything, impeccable service, instant aaah vibes) and the lows—here are my favorites.
The Well (Oslo, Norway)
Maybe not as impressive as all of the fjords and glaciers in Norway, but this spa is the largest in the Nordic region. Once you get there (warning: it’s slightly south of the city, but it does have its own bus to take you to and from Oslo’s city center), you have 100,000 square feet to get your self-care on. If you’re not sure where to start, head to the roof—the hot tubs are what dreams are made of—or make time for the saunas tucked around the property. Also worth noting: The wine is on-point, and swimwear is only mandatory on Tuesdays (and it must be purchased from the spa).
Vabali Spa Berlin (Berlin, Germany)
Lush gardens? Check. Multiple types of saunas? Check. The perfect outdoor pool that’s open in summer and winter? Check and check! Vabali is my favorite spa in Berlin for all of the reasons listed above—and then some. For example, its got a meditation garden that I could spend all day in. Also: The massages are actually affordable, so go ahead and add-on. The spa’s suit-free but there are towels and robes for rent and slippers for sale, in case you’re traveling light.
Therme Bucuresti (Bucharest, Romania)
Romania is increasingly an Eastern Europe bucket-list destination, and it’s easy to see why: rich history coupled with stunning landscapes and breathtaking castles is basically vacation #goals. Its capital city, Bucharest, is a great place to start or end your travels—and if you have a little time, head straight to Therme Bucuresti. It’s about 15 miles north (the spa also has a dedicated bus, or you can take a quick, not-too-expensive cab ride) but well worth the trip. There are three sections to the complex, allowing for spa-goers of all kinds (including, ahem, kids) to find their space. Grab a book and curl up in one of the circular lounge chairs or book a deep tissue massage during the winter in an outdoor massage room—trust when I say it’s so worth it.
Spa Kings Court (Prague, Czech Republic)
This spot tucked inside the Hotel Kings Court is cozy—in the best way possible. It’s small, yes, but has everything you need to hit the pause button. I’d recommend opting for a treatment, because a) YOLO, and b) you’ll then get access to the full spa for the afternoon. Plus, it’s centrally located (near Old City), meaning you can get in some sightseeing before totally chilling out.
Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa (Inchydoney, Ireland)
If the stress of driving on the narrow and winding Irish roads is getting to you, plan for a pit stop in Inchydoney. This small island—with a population of just under 200 people on the Southern coast of Ireland—is as picturesque as it gets, and yet it boasts a four-star lodge and spa that could rival any big, cosmopolitan city. Don’t miss the seawater therapy pool—or, if it’s mid-winter and the wind has done a number on your skin, splurge on a milk and honey wrap.