German spa resorts (Heilbad / Kurort)


Everyone needs a little rest every now and then, and one of the best ways to rest and relax is to visit a nice and peaceful spa – known in German as Heilbad or one Kurort. This guide explains what facilities you can expect to find and how you should behave, and also lists some of the most well-known German spas, which are now considered attractions in their own right.

german spas

Going to the spa to relax is by no means a new phenomenon; in fact, the truth is quite the opposite! The word ‘spa’ is believed to derive from the Belgian town of Spa, formerly known as the Roman name. Aquae Spadanae.

Since then, spas have come a long way, today offering traditional healing therapies from all corners of the world – from relaxing hot saunas to cold ice baths – and experimenting with new technologies to make your trip to the spa always relaxing. even more peaceful.

Thermal baths in Germany

The thermal baths in particular are a centuries-old spa tradition, with spas around the world providing hot and relaxing bathing spots both indoors and outdoors.

In Germany, thermal baths are not only part of a destination spa, but are also destinations in their own right. Some of the best thermal spas in the country include natural hot springs set in beautiful mountainous landscapes and national parks – well worth a visit for a truly immersive relaxation experience.

What is the word for spa in German?

As is the case with many German words, the word for “spa” is not straightforward, as the language has specific words for specific types of spa.


If you have been here for a while, you may notice that the names of many cities in Germany begin or end with the word “Bad”- this indicates that these are traditional spa towns, such as Bad Homburg, Bad Honnef or Wiesbaden. Cities with “Bad”’In the name often contain a Heilbad, or medicinal bath. Medicinal baths, located in places with natural hot springs, have been popular across Europe for hundreds of years.


The Kurort is a more unique type of spa, with its origins in relatively recent history. In Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics, health and wellness pensions were very popular ways for busy workers to recuperate on weekends and holidays. The resorts combined a hotel stay with curative spa treatments such as aromatherapy and massages.

Although many of these spa retreats collapsed during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, there are still many health retreats in Germany. The country is also home to Luftkurorte – spas with pure and pure air, considered beneficial for health and recovery.

Unlike many other countries, in Germany the emphasis is on preventive therapy as well as medicine. This means that there are often cases where spa treatments can be covered by German health insurance, and doctors can prescribe a trip to the spa for those who need a break.

Spa facilities

With so many different spa towns and resorts to visit in all of Germany’s federal states, it’s no surprise that the range of different treatments available offers something for everyone as well.

german bath

Although often centered around a large swimming pool, public baths in Germany are by no means regular public recreation centers. Instead, they usually offer a luxury package of heated pools and saunas to relax on.

german massage

While not all spas offer massage therapy, those that do generally offer a wide range of relaxing treatments. Pedicures, reflexology, and back massages are commonly available in many spas, and energy healing treatments such as chakra balancing massage can be found in spas with a more holistic feel.

German sauna

The sauna is a great place to detox and rest sore muscles. Often expats and internationals can find the prospect of stepping into a sauna intimidating, as Germans are known for their “no swimwear” culture. After the initial shock, however, it can be quite liberating and the health benefits are well worth it – don’t forget to bring your towel to sit on!

Saunas in Germany also have a Saunameister (sauna master) who will perform a Aufguss during your spa session. The Aufguss consists of infusing water with essential oils and pouring it over the sauna coals, before the Saunameister use a towel to wave the scent around the room.

Thermal culture

Do I have to bring my own towel? Do I really have to take that cold shower before I jump in the pool? As an expat, it can be difficult to know what the rules are for visiting spas and saunas in Germany, so here are some tips to help you avoid the embarrassment.

Spa label

While you are at the spa, it is a good idea to stick to these principles:

  • Read the spa rules! They will likely be posted on the locker room walls or on the spa website.
  • For hygienic reasons, be sure to take a shower before entering the pool or swimming areas.
  • It is important to wear swimming shoes such as flip flops, as it is frowned upon to be barefoot in communal swimming pools in Germany.

German sauna culture

Love it or hate it, going to the sauna in Germany is being naked! Here are some rules to follow:

  • Saunas are a clothing-free zone, so it’s best to do like the locals and ditch your swimsuits. It may be uncomfortable at first, but keeping yourself covered can make other sauna users uncomfortable, and they may actually perceive you as unsanitary.
  • Make sure to bring a towel to sit in the sauna – it is very important to make sure that your body does not directly touch the sauna seats. This also applies to the feet – no direct placing of your feet on the wood!
  • Keep your eyes on you. It goes without saying, but make sure you only look people in the eye or the face, and be careful not to look at others.
  • Do not wear flip flops inside the sauna; just leave them outside the door.

The best spas in Germany

Now that the rules for spas and saunas are clearer, why not explore the possibilities of a German spa trip! Since there are so many, you’re sure to find one in your area, but some are so special that you might find yourself driving or taking a train to experience the best of the best. If you are traveling further afield, some spas may also offer a pickup service from their nearest airport – be sure to check the options before booking.

Here are some of the top rated chill out spots in Germany:

Spa hotels in Germany

Rest and recover at a beautiful German spa hotel – there are many wonderful choices!

Wellness hotel Jagdhof

Unwind in beautiful surroundings, in beautiful Bavaria, while the staff at the Wellnesshotel Jagdhof pamper you with endless spa treatments and German cuisine buffets. Offering a selection of heated indoor and outdoor pools, Jacuzzis, saunas and a saltwater bath, the Wellnesshotel Jagdhof has something to help everyone relax.

Alpenhotel Zechmeisterlehen

The Alpenhotel Zechmeisterlehen combines fantastic cuisine and a wonderful location with relaxation and beauty treatments at the spa – all in a family setting! With an indoor swimming pool, an outdoor swimming pool, a jacuzzi, a saltwater swimming pool and even a natural water pond, the hotel offers a very wide range of choices for its guests.

Das Graseck

Located right next to a glacier, Das Graseck is the perfect place to enjoy the peace and quiet outside of the city. Accessible only by cable car from the hotel, this is truly a unique hotel, which also offers a preventive medical experience including a health check-up and treatment.

Wellness centers in Germany

Need a designated relaxing getaway? Look no further than the great German wellness center! It’s a one-stop-shop for a bit of peace and quiet away from work, school, or just the general stress of downtown life.

Strandhotel Kurhaus Juist

Nestled along a beautiful beach on the Dutch border with Germany, the Strandhotel Kurhaus Juist offers some of the country’s best spa treatments in beautiful surroundings. With beachfront yoga classes and a sea-view swimming area, the hotel creates a calm and serene atmosphere in a grand and luxurious environment.

Villa Stéphanie at Brenners Park-Hotel and Spa

In its former palace life, Villa Stephanie is a beautiful property located adjacent to the Brenners Park Hotel, home to one of Europe’s most modern spas and some of the most advanced spa treatment facilities. Next to Villa Stephanie is Haus Julius, which houses a clinic specializing in combining holistic medicine with nutrition and detox science to find the perfect program for clients.

Spas in Germany

In search of serenity but not want to visit a spa or a hotel? A thermal spa might be the best option for you! Bathing in hot water can have the same benefits as spending a weekend in a wellness retreat, but often for much less! Here are some of the best spas Germany has to offer.

Thermal baths and Badewelt Sinsheim

From a distance, Thermen und Badewelt Sinsheim may look like part of a tropical resort town somewhere in the Pacific, with clear blue water and exotic palm trees, but this relaxing paradise is more like Baden-Württemberg! Thermen und Badewelt Sinsheim is home to several large heated swimming pools (both indoor and outdoor), and is also equipped with a sauna and a sports pool.

Erding thermal baths

Known to be the largest spa in the world, Therme Erding has a reputation for going all out. The resort has a wave pool, tropical spa, and over 30 saunas and steam rooms!

Water parks in Germany

If chilling out on the weekends is still not your style, why not head to a water park for a more adrenaline-filled break. Essentially an amusement park with a little extra water, these amusement parks are the perfect getaway for the whole family during the school holidays.

Galaxy Waterslide World

Galaxy Water Slide World, in the same location as Therme Erding, is home to 27 water slides and even offers a virtual reality water slide experience for the more adventurous visitors. The resort is ideally located near Munich and has the largest water slide in Europe.

Tropical islands

Do you want to really feel in heaven? Tropical Islands Resort in Brandenburg can take you there! The resort offers everything from mini golf to indoor hot air balloon rides, while being surrounded by man-made rainforests, tropical landscapes and swimming pools!

Ready for your spa visit?

Now that you know all about spas and saunas in Germany, it’s time to go and book a trip! Summer or winter, whatever the weather, the spa is the place to be.

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