Relax and enjoy some of the best spas, wellness centres and thermal baths in Switzerland! From mountain views to cityscapes, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
[Editor's Note: Many thermal baths and spa centres close down for maintenance in mid-summer. So make sure you check out the opening details of your intended spa before visiting it for the first time.]
As the most mountainous country in Europe, Switzerland is also renowned for its natural thermal springs, with beneficial and therapeutic qualities. Many of these thermal springs were discovered as early as the Roman times. It would be impossible to give a comprehensive list of all the spas and thermal baths scattered all over Switzerland. Instead, we present a guide to the range and varieties of spas available for you to experience and enjoy. Wherever you live in Switzerland, you won't be far from a spa.
Claiming to be the most exciting waterpark in Switzerland is Aquabasilea in Pratteln. It is a large and beautiful spa and wellness centre which has everything – leisure and vitality pools, a sauna area, spa facilities and a fitness centre all under one roof. Attractions include water slides, a wave-pool for children and whirlpools. The sauna area has a choice of different types of sauna (with separate zones depending on whether you want to keep your swimsuit on or prefer to go without). If you're used to small intimate saunas, the large sauna holding up to about 50 people at once is rather a different experience. Spa facilities include everything from massage to facials and cosmetic treatments.
The baths at Rheinfelden have expanded their facilities and been re-christened Sole Uno Wellness-Welt. Part of Rheinfelden's Parkresort, including a lovely hotel by the river and a rehabilitation centre, it's very popular, and with reason: the water provided for the pools is Rheinfelder Natursole® and the whole place has a very nice atmosphere. Again, there are separate zones for the clad and unclad. The swimming pools have relaxing water jets under the surface and sculpted waterfalls. Downstairs is a quiet area with a saltwater pool you can float in, and shower rooms with water dripping from the ceiling like a tropical down pour. There are three Finnish saunas (indoor and outdoor), complete with wood stoves. Try the "Wenik-Ritual", a Russian sauna where you're plied with tea, fresh fruit and vodka, whipped with birch branches (the essential oils are apparently good for the circulation) and given a honey-and-salt rub. If you find the sauna too hot, there is also a bio-sauna and steam room.
The Elements Thai Spa is inspired by traditional Thai massage and the philosophy of the four elements: earth, water , wind and fire. These are in perfect balance, promote well-being and a healthy lifestyle.
In the spa, you can enjoy their expert use of specific essential oils. These high-quality, organic oils are individually blended according to the needs of each specific client. You'll enjoy the aromatherapy, and feel relaxed as the oils soothe away the tension of body, mind and soul.
The trained staff is highly qualified, and you'll be able to immerse yourself in the world of the Far Eastern tradition and enjoy the soothing and relaxing effects of our diverse treatments.
If you don't have the time or money for an all-out retreat, you can enjoy a number of spa experiences right in the city of Zurich.
One of the most, deservedly, popular is the Thermalbad & Spa Zürich, in the old Hürlimann brewery in Enge. The thermal baths are designed to look like huge versions of the beer barrels they have replaced. The spa also offers an Irish-Roman spa ritual, a two-hour progression through steam and water baths of various temperatures, including a body peel, and (for an additional charge) several massage and clay body wrap options. Perhaps the most enticing feature in good weather is the rooftop bath, with its view of the Zurich skyline.
Children, accompanied by an adult, are welcome in the baths but not the spa area, and the spa area is reserved for women on Tuesdays. Swimwear is required throughout, although it can be rented, as can bath towels.
Even more centrally located is the Holmes Place Spa, which, along with the health club, is found on the top floor of the Jelmoli building. The spa includes saunas, steam baths, whirlpools, relaxation rooms and an ice fountain: cool off and invigorate yourself be rubbing ice chips on your glistening skin. The atmosphere is cool and elegant. Treatments on offer include massages, foil wraps, and facial treatments for both women and men. Towels, bathrobes, and slippers as well as hot fruit teas are included in the price of admission. The spa is open 9:00-21:30 weekdays and until 19:30 Saturday & Sunday.
Relatively few people would associate airports with relaxation, but those that would have probably visited the fitness and wellness centre at Zurich airport. Airport Fitness has mixed, women's and men's saunas, a Turkish steam bath and plenty of places to relax. There are a wide variety of massage options, including even a hot chocolate massage, as well as facial treatments, manicures and waxing. Spa users are also welcome to use the fitness facilities, including classes — and if your training shoes and clothes are already checked in or haven't yet arrived, you can even rent a kit.
The Rigi Kaltbad is located on the top of the Rigi mountain, nestled between Schwyz and Luzern. With a breathtaking view of the alps, you can enjoy the facilities and unwind year around. There are many pools that are open to guests of all ages. The Spa Area requires the guest to be a minimum of 16 years old, and features a large herbal sauna.
When the Bernese feel the need to get away from it all for a few hours, there's no better place than enjoying a spa.
The spa's name comes from its octagonal-shaped building that once housed Berne's first gas-fired boiler. Located below the Bundeshaus and just across from the Marzilibad, Oktogon is practically in the center of Berne, but once you step inside you'll feel you've left Switzerland and traveled to the land of the Arabian Nights. Warm, spicy colors, dim lighting and flickering candlelight give it the Middle-Eastern ambience befitting a hammam. At Hammam & Spa Oktogon, you can experience this age-old tradition on their hamman circuit.
After you check in and change into a pestemal, a linen cloth to cover your body, the first stop is the Sogukluk, where warm herb-infused steam opens your pores and begins to loosen your muscles. Don't linger too long in this room; it's just the first of eight stations. Splash yourself with refreshingly cool water and head out to the central bathing room, the Sicaklik with its impressive 13 meter high cupola. The centerpiece of this room is the warm water pool where you can soak for as long as you like between visits to the other rooms, which encircle the pool. In the Kese room, you exfoliate your skin with a rough mitt that removes dry flaky skin while stimulating your circulation. In the Bingül, whatever tension you have will melt away in the 45C herbal steam. At the Lif station, you'll lather up with an olive oil based soap and massage it in with a special mitt for a peeling effect. Afterward, you can relax in the warm pool, or lounge in the Nabelstein area where you can sit or lie on hot-stone heated benches. This is where you'll wait for a hammam attendant to pick you up for your traditional soap bubble massage. After the massage, you might like to try another natural beauty treatment, the Rhassoul, which is a mudpack made of Moroccan clay.
Once you're thoroughly cleaned and steamed, you'll leave the wet area of the hamman and go upstairs to dry off, change into a dry pestemal and chat with your friends while enjoying a cup of tea in the Hammam bistro. One floor higher, in the Camekan, you can relax or even take a nap on comfortable mats with plenty of pillows.
The Victoria Jungfrau Hotel is located in Interlaken. With a gorgeous location, you can enjoy the spectacular view while you relax in the luxurious spa facilities. The facilities are spacious, and you can enjoy the outdoor salt pool. If you book a spa treatment, you can also use the Sensai Select Spa facilities, complete with exclusive saunas that are divided by gender, and a well-appointed rest room.
For those who haven't got a whole day to spare, there are many spas that open late into the evening.
Whether it's after a day's skiing, or a day at the office, there is something quite special about being able to swim under stars surrounded by the outline of the Alps. One such place is Les Bains de Lavey where you can swim or soak till your heart's content until 21:00 during the week and until 22:00 Fridays & Saturdays.
These baths in the Valais are one of the closest to Lausanne/Geneva and around 15 kms from Aigle. If you want to stay overnight there is hotel accommodation provided on site. The Bains de Lavey claim to have the warmest thermal waters in the country. It has three pools (two outdoor and one indoor), the temperature of the water is maintained at 32-36C and here you will also find neck massage showers, whirlpools pressure jets, waterfalls and more. The spa's own website says: "A fairy-like atmosphere descends after dark, when the largest outdoor thermal pool is illuminated." This author can attest to the magical atmosphere!
Once you have soaked in the waters, you can walk (quite quickly in the invigorating outdoor air!), to the "pavilions" which house both a Nordic centre with saunas and cold water wells, or the Serenity pavilion where you can relax in ultra violet lighting, soft fragrance and music, or simply read a book in the relaxation area by a fireplace. Away from the pavilion and in the main building, the Oriental Centre has a mixed hammam, separate Turkish baths, water fountains and another relaxation area for more de-stressing.Thankfully the prices of swimming under the stars are not astronomical either.
A little further afield, the Bains de la Gruyère in Charmey also offer thermal bathing, massages, water therapy and wellness packages. These baths are situated in a stylish modern building amongst the stunning Fribourg countryside.
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Splash e Spa Tamaro is located in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland. A short train ride from Lugano, this waterpark and spa has something for the whole family to enjoy. Children, and fun loving adults, can enjoy one of the five slides and wave pool. For those seeking relaxation, the spa has four different saunas, and outdoor salt pool.
For those seeking a longer "wellness break", Thermalp Ovronnaz could be the ideal solution. At just under two hours' driving time and at a distance of less than 160km from the centre of Geneva, the Valais village of Ovronnaz lies at 1350m on the south-facing slopes above Rhone Valley between Martigny and Sion. The village is situated just 10 kms off the main Martigny-Sion autoroute, and is reached up winding zigzags through steeply terraced vineyards. It is flanked by a dense evergreen forest and mountain peaks of a stark but natural beauty.
Thermalp is situated towards the top of the village. Fed by the naturally warm springs piped up from under the ground near Leytron (a village below on the Rhone plain, famous for its Humagne vines), the centre has two outdoor pools kept at a constant 34C (the strong waterjets are wonderful for an underwater massage), an indoor pool with a separate baby pool and a Jacuzzi only for adults (38C), as well as all the facilities associated with "Alpine Wellness", including a sauna and separate steamroom. There's a fully equipped gym, with daily "aquagym" and fitness classes.
Offering a full range of therapies conducted by the medical centre, there are also therapeutic and beauty treatments carried out by qualified staff. Many clients come to Thermalp on the recommendation of their GP, and medically related treatments are often compensated by the clients' healthcare insurance. The attraction of a resort like Thermalp at Ovronnaz is its friendly atmosphere and emphasis on inclusivity, especially as children up to the age of seven go free.
7132 Vals Thermalbad Hotel might be among the best-known, and beloved, thermal baths in Switzerland. With its stunning architecture (by rockstar architect Peter Zumthor) and amazing landscapes, the waters of the facilities have been well visited for the past hundreds of years. It's important that you book in advance of your trip, as the spa can only accommodate a limited number of guests per day.
Bad Ragaz is home to the Tamina Therme. This spa and wellness centre is part of a hotel, but is open to the public. With its beautiful architectural details, it is an oasis in the canton of St. Gallen. The Tamina spring is the source for the water and was discovered in the 13th century! In 1872, the site became home to Europe's first thermal water indoor pool. It is home to a two large indoor pools, one large outdoor pool and has a very good sauna area as well.
Contributors: Samantha Suarez-Maier, Caroline Thonger, Allison Turner, Querida Long, Anitra Green
Photos: ©BlueWaterCom.ch,©Parkresort Rheinfelden, ©hammam-bern.ch