Wednesday, November 13, 2013

N for natural

With the year drawing to an end it's hard not to draw a conclusion after searching for 18 months for great and natural soaks in Europe. 

I would like to say that Europe is home to the best soaking in the world, with naturalness listed high on Eurosoakers list. But ... it's not.

What has happened? Over the centuries hot springs have fallen victim to the upper echelons of European society. Natural occurring springs have been developed into exclusive retreats hoping to offer the affluent an elixir to possible eternal life. Wake-up call: there's none.

No, despite all medical claims and the overt medicalization, hot springs in Europe are still just a side-line to a healthy life. In the process of medicalization, the spiritual life has been sacrificed. healthy mind, healthy body?

Now soaking is available to all, leading to question whether hot springs are just a gimmick in the leisure and wellness industries?

'Baño nudista en el nacimiento de aguas termales de El Saladillo'
Spain. Source.

Naturally there are exceptions. And it seems that these are more often then not to be found on the rims of what Europe is. Greece, Italy, Spain and Iceland for instance.

Should hot springs be natural? 
Yes. Maintaining the heat is not so difficult thereby offering more the access to natural sources of aqua heat with there being bodily and spiritual advantages. 
And enjoying these au-naturel offers more opportunity for deep thought, which assists the spiritual reflection and stepping out of the info age based on an imaginary and fantasy world which everyone seems to pine for. A time. Out.

Can the tide be turned? Let's hope so.

With some trepidation I publish the following: natural soaks, some ancient others to be enjoyed naturally. Open to free air. Without chlorine. And mostly free of charge.

Let's hope the list can expand in the years forward!

  •  Gjirokastër: Benja (natural)
  • Azrakan (ramshakle)
  • Hanqavan/Hankavan (enclosed, still quite primitive bathing place)
  • Karvachar (free and natural) 
  • Sisian: Vorotan (little enhanced, free)
  • Kärnten: Maibachl, Villach (seasonal, natural)
  • Ilidza (small free pool, somewhat enhanced)
  • Blagoevgrad: Rupite (free, natural)
  • Varna (beachside pool, fee paying)
  • Varaždinske Toplice (Roman remains, soaking attributes?)
Czech Republic
  • Ústí nad Labem: Teplice (natural)
  • Ariege: Merens Les Vals (free, natural)
  • Auvergne: La Bourboule (free, enhanced riverside tub)
  • Cantal: Chaude Aigues (many streetside fountains)
  • Corsé: Sartene - Caldane (small fee, little enhanced pool) 
  • Hautes-Alpes: Plan de Phazy (warm spring, free, open air)
  • Languedoc: Bain de Saint Thomas (fee-paying, outside, enhanced (not really wild))
  • Languedoc: Bains de Dorres (fee-paying, outside site)
  • Languedoc: Canaveilles (see below for an impression!)
  • Languedoc: Les Bains de Llo (fee-paying, outside)
  • Languedoc: Prats Balaguer (free, no development, truly wild)
  • Pays-Basque: Gamere / Camou (free, cave entrance)
Bains de Canaveilles, source

  •  Borjomi (open-air concrete pool)
  •  Tbilisi (many ancient but still functioning sulphur soaks)
  • Central Greece: Evia-Epidos (small fee, beach hotspring)
  • Central Greece: Thermopylae (free, faded development)
  • Chios: Agia Markelle (beach hot spring)
  • Drama: Termies (free, little enhancement)
  • Edessa: Loutra Pozar (fee-payment, open-air some wild)
  • Ikaria: Loumakia (free, beachside)
  • Ikaria: Agia Kyriaki (beach hot spring)
  • Kavala: Eleftheron (free, faded development)
  • Kea: Kynthos - Thermia (ancient / enhanced)
  • Kos: Agios Fokas (beach hot spring)
  • Kos: Agia Irini (beach hot spring)
  • Kos: Nisyros - Avlaki (beach hot spring)
  • Lemnos (Limnos):  Agiasma (enhanced with mud bath)
  • Lesvos: Eftalou (enhanced, ancient)
  • Lesvos: Panagia (free, bath tub)
  • Lesvos: Loutra Geras (fee-paying, ancient)
  • Lesvos: Polychnitos
  • Milos: Ta Bania (little enhanced)
  • Milos: Lutra Lukkou (enhanced)
  • Milos: Paleochori (beach hot spring)
  • Milos: Tria Pigadia (beach hot spring)
  • Milos: Kimolos - Prasa (fee, enhanced)
  • Samotharki: Therma (free, little enhanced)
  • Samotharki: Pigi Frikion (free, wild)
  • Samotharki: Pigi Podoloutron (fee, open-air)
  • Santorini: Palea (free, wild, only reachable by boat)
  • Santorini: Plaka (free, little enhanced)
  • Serres: Agistro (ancient)
  • Xanthi: Termes (free, older development, newer facilities also available)


  • Heves: Egerszalók (salt mountain with fee paying open air pools, maybe not so natural)
  • Northern Hungary: Miskolctapolca (fee-paying hot spring cave)
  • Zala: Heviz (fee paying, natural hot spring lake)
  • East: Laugarfell (small natural pool)
  • Northeast: Ostakarið (tub with natural thermal water)
  • Northeast: Hólsgerði (small hot pool) 
  • Northwest: Biskupslaug (natural small pool)
  • Northwest: Hveraborg (natural pool, free)
  • Northwest: Grettislaug (stone lined pool) 
  • Northwest: Reykjavellir (small natural hot pool)
  • Reykjanes: Skátalaug (natural pool)  
  • Snaefellsnes: Landbrotalaug (natural small tub, free)
  • South: Seljavellir (natural swimming pool fed by hot spring, free)
  • Southeast: Hveravellir (natural pool, free) 
  • Southwest: Gunnuhver (geothermal plant overflow, free)
  • Southwest: Hveragerði (natural warm river) 
  • Southwest: Marteinslaug (natural pool, free) 
  • Southwest: Rjúpnabrekkur / Rekjaladur (hot river, varios soakable places) 
  • Southwest: Sundlaug (natural hot spring pool)   
  • West: Grafarlaug (swimming pool with warmish water)
  • Westfjords: Drangsnes (open air hot tubs)
  • Westfjords: Hellulaug (small hot pool) 
  • Westfjords: Hörgshlíð (small hot tub)
  • Westfjords: Nautaeyri (natural small pool)
  • Westfjords: Pollarin (small tub)
  • Westfjords: Reykjafjörður (large pool, free)
'Rjúpnabrekkur, wasserfallbaedli'
  • Calabria: Caronte (free, wild, slightly enhanced, spa overflow)
  • Calabria: Grotte delle Ninfe (warmish developed springs with mud and original hot water cave)
  • Campania: Ischia - Nitrodi (hot showers, but expensive!)
  • Campania: Ischia - Sant'Angelo (fumarole on the beach)
  • Campania: Ischia - Sorgeto (beach hot spring)
  • Lazio: Castelforte - Suio (pools)
  • Lazio: Viterbo - Il Bagnaccio (free, slightly enhanced)
  • Lazio: Viterbo - Bullicame (free and wild)
  • Lombardy: Bormio - La Pozza (small, wild riverside soak)
  • Piemonte: Craveggia (ruins, but with a soak)
  • Sicily: Aeoli, Vulcano - Fanghi di Vulcano (small fee, open air geothermal hot spring with hot spring off-shore)
  • Sicily: Aeoli, Lipari - San Calogero (free, very small pool)
  • Sicily: Pantelleria - Bagno Asciutto (free, sauna cave)
  • Sicily: Pantelleria - Gadir (beachside thermal pool)    
  • Sicily: Pantelleria - Venere lake (free mildly warm large lake with lots of thermal mud!) 
  • Sicily: Terme di Segesta (open air sulphur stream)
  • Toscana: Bagni di Lucca (enhanced /r uins?)
  • Toscana: Bagni di San Filippo (free use of hot stream)
  • Toscana: Bagni di Petriolo 
  • Toscana: San Casciano (concrete pool)
  • Toscana: Saturnia (fee-paying, natural) 
  • Toscana: Vignoni (lake, enhanced, but no usage?; but some free usage possible)

Saturnia. Source

  • Debar - Banjiste (possible still undeveloped with a few sources)
  • Smokvica (free shower at pipe head)
  • Stip, Novo Stelo - Ldzi (low flow hot spring, drinking only?)
  • Strumica, Bansko - Parilo (hot pipe, no bathing, byo?)
  • Azores: Graciosa-Termas do Carapacho (geothermal seaside pool)
  • Azores: São Miguel-Caldeira Velha (natural pool)
  • Azores: São Miguel-Caldeiras da Ribeira Grande (small open air pool)
  • Azores: São Miguel-Furnas (free and natural)
  • Azores: São Miguel-Poça da Dona Beija (free concrete pool)
  • Azores: São Miguel-Ponta Ferraria (small hot pool bay in Atlantic)
  • Azores: São Miguel-Termas da Ferraria (free and natural)
  • Azores: São Miguel-Terra Nostra (natural pool)
  • Azores: Flores-Agua Quente (remote and wild)
'Caldeira veiha - Natural warm water (30 C degrees). AZores'

  • Caras: Baile Herculane (small open air pool, possibly free?)
  • Jošanice Banja (a few less developed and freely available springs)
  • Knjaževačka (warm water stream, freely available)
  • Lukovska Banja (a few free concrete outdoor tubs with muddy thermal water)
  • Sokobanja (ancient hamam)
  • Zdrelo (pipehead shower; not very natural) 
  • Sklené Teplice (cave bath seems natural ...)
  • Cantabria: La Hermida (free, natural, riverside pool)
  • Castellon: Montanejos (free, riverside pool, 25C)
  • Granada: Alhama de Granada (free, spa overflow)
  • Granada: Alicun (free, spa overflow) 
  • Granada: Santa Fe (free, wild)
  • Malaga: Casares, La Hedionda (free, ancient)
  • Murcia: Saladillo / Mazzaron (free, wild) 
  • Ourense: Bande (free, wild)
  • Ourense: Chavasqueira (free, enhanced)
  • Ourense: Pozas do Muiño das Veigas (free, enhanced)
  • Ourense: Ribadavia (free, natural)
  • Ourense: Tinteiro (free footbaths)
  • Ourense: Torneiros (enhanced) 
  • Rioja: Arnedillo (free, natural, riverside)
  • Teruel: Ariño (22C, free, enhanced)
  • Valancia: Ontiyent (not even warm, but very natural)
  • Zaragosa: Alhama de Zaragoss (hot lake?)
  • Zaragosa: Tiermas, Yesa (free, wild, dependent on lake levels, great mud)
 Santa Fe: wild and free, but so natural as you wish ... Source

  • Crimea: Arabat (open air, little enhanced, fee payment required)
If you know any others feel free to contact me!

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Euro soaks visited