Hot Springs of Austria:
Thermal Sources & Medical Spas

Swimming in curing water: The hot springs and medical spas of Austria

As I have described in detail in my article on the Thermen of Austria, spa tourism has become a very big deal all over Austria in the 1990ies. Today, the "Thermen" - as the big spas with pools, sauna and beauty farms are called - are in a process of consolidation and the time is right for bargain hunting. With this in mind, it is worth leaving the famous spa resorts like Gainberg, Bad Schallerbach, Bad Kleinkirchheim, Blumau or Loipersdorf aside and look for small towns with hot sources.

Austria is geologically diverse and blessed with a large number of hot springs, not all of which are exploited by the spa tourism mafia. In fact, there are many springs that are only locally known and might be used for centuries without becoming the base for international tourism. They are often in set-back towns known in Austria as "Kurort" or maybe for their local brand of mineral water. They might lack the sauna landscape, the adventure pools and the fitness centres - but they are often great places nonetheless.

In this article, I will highlight some of the rather neglected "Heilquellen" or "healing springs". Springs are classified based on the mineral content of their water - "Heilwasser" is a degree higher than ordinary mineral water and often tastes pretty foul, like iron or salty. Nonetheless, many of the Heilquellen are famed for their healing capacities and medical powers. The list goes from West to East, as always on

List of Medical Spas & Hot Springs in Austria

Starting in Reuthe, Vorarlberg, you find a spring rich in iron. Ironically so, since iron ore was mostly mined in Styria. This useless piece of information was placed here only for the bad joke of using "ironically". Going East, you find a spring in Seefeld, which is mostly known as skiing and hiking town. More mineral water can be consumed in Mehrn near Brixlegg.

Both springs are rich in calcium-magnesium-sulphate-hydrogen-carbonate. Good to know this is a mineral rather than a preservative. Bad Häring is also situated in Tyrol and even earned itself the "Bad", which is good, since it indicates official spa town status. Moving on to Salzburg, you find a variety of springs that are rich in sodium, chlorides, and sulphates. The most famous ones are around Hallein and in the Gasteinertal, where you also find several "proper" spas - meaning, "Thermen".

Burgwies and the city of Salzburg are also home to Heilquellen. In Upper Austria, spa towns become even more prominent features - Weinberg, Bad Hall, Bad Ischl, Bad Goisern and other "Bad" places invite spa patients, elderly people and those keen on water with disgusting flavours of such as sulphur (rotten egg), chloride (brine) or iron (blood). It′s all for the good of health. Bad Zell even has radioactive water that is prescribed against all sorts of health problems.

Southern & Eastern Spas & Springs

Southwards, Styria is waiting for you, the ultimate "hot spring province": Famous for its spa towns ever since the 19th century, resorts such as Bad Aussee, Einöd, Bad Gams, Bad Gleichenberg, Bad Radkersburg, Waltersdorf or Loipersdorf do not only cover several famous "Thermen" spas, but also have "serious" Heilquellen water. Carinthia is similarly blessed with curing waters, with springs in places like St. Lorenzen, Trebesing, Eisenkappel, Weißenbach or Bad St. Leonhard im Lavanttal.

Lower Austria is pretty lame in terms of Heilquellen - noteworthy are Bad Schönau, Salzerbad and Baden near Vienna. Vienna itself has only the spa of Oberlaa to offer, which was covered in the Thermen article. The Burgenland, on the other hand, has several Heilquellen. Bad Sauerbrunn, for example, a great stop-over destination on the way to the Seewinkel - with water rich in iron.

It tastes absolutely disgusting, I have tried it every time I went to the Burgenland for birdwatching and the experience worsened over the years. It is said to be especially good for ladies, though. Piringsdorf, Pamhagen and Bad Tatzmannsdorf - the latter with a famous Therme spa - are alternatives in Austria′s wild east.

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Further Reading

The National Tourism Office on Hot Springs

WikiTravel on Hot Springs worldwide, including Austria

Hot Spring Spas of Austria on Austrosearch