1 of 3
2 of 3
3 of 3
1. CALDES D’ESTRAC
This pretty beach town lies 50 minutes north of Barcelona on the Maresme coast and was a fashionable spa town for the Barcelona bourgeoisie between the late 19th century and early 20th century. Evidence of its wealthy visitors and residents can be seen today in the elegant Modernista villas in the centre of the town and on the Pg. dels Anglesos promenade. Also known as Caldetes, Caldes d’Estrac is now a popular summer resort for its immaculate beaches within easy reach of Barcelona by train. The town’s thermal waters, which emerge from the source at 39 degrees, were first enjoyed by the Romans, who named the town Aquae Calidae and established the first baths in what is now the old part of town. The thermal baths that can be enjoyed today, the Balneari Caldetes, were built in the 19th century on the same site as the Roman baths and are the only publicly-owned thermal baths in Spain. Prices are reasonable—for €30 you can enjoy the pool, the thermal baths and the salt cave.
Besides the Balneari Caldetes, the beachfront Hotel Colón also has a 2000-square-metre thalassotherapy centre and spa, which uses both sea water and thermal water.
2. SANTA COLOMA
The town of Santa Coloma is built over an abundance of natural springs, which were discovered in around 1700 by farmers harvesting cáñamo (hemp) in the area. The Termes Orion spa was constructed 160 years later, using the 42-degree hot spring water for its ailing guests, most of whom came from Barcelona. The spa fell into disrepair during the Civil War, but was revamped and reopened in 1978. Elegant and classical, it stands peacefully in plentiful gardens with immaculate lawns. Although Termes Orion’s focus has historically been on thermal spring water treatments, the new demand for stress release has prompted many new relaxation treatments. For €55, you can enjoy a day at the spa, including lunch, the thermal pool and a massage.
Less than a kilometre from Termes Orion is Magma Spa. This new spa has a family focus, so you can take the kids along without worrying about disturbing anyone. There are multiple indoor and outdoor pools, fountains, jets and a designated pool for small children. Both spas use the same thermal spring source, but Magma’s pools are treated, while Orion’s pool is not.
3. CALDES DE MALAVELLA
Located in La Selva, the small town of Caldes de Malavella is home to Vichy Catalan, the mineral water you either love or hate. The town has been known for its healing waters since Roman times and the spring here emerges at 60 degrees, enabling the water to absorb the chemical elements found in the subsoil. The Vichy Catalan group created a hotel-spa in a lovely 19th-century Modernista building, where you can soak up the elegant surroundings whilst immersing your body in pools that are a delicious 36-38 degrees. There’s an impressive range of services on offer—specific treatment programmes can last from two to seven days. The stars of the show are, of course, those using the Vichy Catalan water, such as the pressure and massage showers.
Also built at the end of the 19th century is the Balneari Prats, a thermal centre set in an impressive neoclassical-style building. The spa has a wide range of treatments from mud therapy to bamboo massages and thermal baths with seaweed. The spa is also a hotel with comfortable, modern rooms, and they offer various weekend pampering packages to nurture body and soul.
4. LA GARRIGA
Just 25 minutes from Barcelona by car or train, La Garriga has been famous for centuries for the properties of its thermal waters, traditionally used to treat medical conditions. The water is said to be high in silica and organic matter, giving it a distinctive, smooth sensation. La Garriga itself boasts some impressive architecture, and if you walk along the street that hugs the railway line, you can admire the Modernista mansions built by Barcelona’s wealthy elite over 100 years ago, who came in droves to take the waters. You can imagine yourself part of this elite by taking a trip to the beautiful Hotel Gran Balneario Blancafort, which opened in 1840. Its lovely manicured gardens and peaceful setting make it ideal for a relaxing, battery-recharging weekend. A one-night stay, including access to the thermal centre and breakfast, costs from €125 per couple.
5. CALDES DE MONTBUI
Built around its thermal waters, Caldes de Montbui lies 30 kilometres from Barcelona in the Vallés region. It was Catalunya’s first thermal town and is home to the best preserved Roman baths in the peninsula. The spring waters emerge at over 74 degrees, placing them among the hottest in Europe. Visitors can stroll around the old town and see the hot spring sources.
The Balneario Broquetas dates from 1770, although it is now housed in an elegant Modernista building. They offer a number of different day packages, priced from €33. If you want to pamper yourself and make a weekend of it, stay in one of their recently refurbished rooms.