Europeans love tasty food, good wine and, at the end of the day, enjoying a great time at the spa. From Iceland to Estonia, spas are an integral part of European life (if we go back in history in Greek and Roman times, we will understand why it’s pretty much a part of collective mentality) and often one of the city’s major tourist attractions. But do not think about some New Age scenery that take place in luxurious spaces where you receive hand massages with chocolate and where you can drink Japanese tea. European spas are hot and are located in buildings dating back centuries ago. The great part is that you leave these places feeling rejuvenated and with the feeling that you took part in something special with great tradition.
These three spas that we classified in a top three in the Eastern European region offer not only treatment for body and soul, but also an essential insight into the cultural space where they are located. After all, what better way to know a place than sitting naked in front of the inhabitants? 😀
Szechenyi Thermal Baths – Budapest, Hungary
Budapest was officially recognized “the City of Spas” since 1920, but the hot springs downtown have been enjoyed including by the ancient Romans, whose bathrooms are still running nowadays. There are many options in the surroundings, but one of the best is the Szechenyi spa complex, situated in a grand building with 10 indoor and three outdoor baths. Here you also have saunas, hot tubs and turbulence tubs in which you can relax.
Kalma Sauna – Tallinn, Estonia
Estonians, just like their Finnish neighbors, have a cult of saunas. They are good for the heart, skin and also a great place for socializing. In any house having a sauna is mandatory, and if not, there are public ones, as it is Kalma Sauna, the oldest sauna in Tallinn, dating from 1926. Spend a few hours at Sauna Kalma, hopping between cold showers and even colder pools and then back in the hot sauna.
Cagaloglu Hamami – Istanbul, Turkey
Turkish baths are found in all major cities, but nothing compares to the experience lived in an authentic communal bathroom in Istanbul. The oldest and grandest spa is Cagaloglu Hamami, where you can bathe under an amazing Ottoman marble dome built by Sultan Mehmet I more than 350 years ago. You are here in a warm room, accompanied only by the person who takes care of you, and the relationships that you will established here will reach a few different levels, passing through the stage of relaxation to the one of domination, if you keep in mind that you will be massaged and rubbed with a thick glove that will remove more layers of dead skin than you ever imagined that you have. This entire operation together with the massage usually takes more than an hour, but you can linger there as long as you want, while you drink tea and enjoy the warmth around you.
Photo source: Picture 1: istanbul.com; Picture 2: propertyturkey.com; Picture 3: ferretingoutthefun.com; Picture 4: inyourpocket.com; Picture 5: gotohungary.com; Picture 6: dopaminejunkie.org; Picture 7: isea2011.sabanciuniv.edu