Family Spa Holidays Are A European Tradition - My Family Travels

Did you know that family spa holidays are an annual tradition in many of Europe’s top destinations? Enjoy one in three easy steps. First, choose a wellness oriented hotel for your family spa holiday. Next, pack an ETIAS visa waiver to easily travel between European countries. Lastly, relax. We guarantee you’ll return home with cultural riches, incredible experiences and healthy habits to last a lifetime.

Headland Hotel overlooks Fistral Beach in Cornwall, U.K.
The Headland overlooks Fistral Beach, one of the U.K.’s top surfing spots, from the north Cornwall coast. Photo c. Headland Hotel

Here are five trending destinations for 2023 boasting some of Europe’s latest events, top attractions and wellness spa accommodations where you can eat well, feel fit and truly relax and refresh as a family.

Austria’s Music Scene Attracts Sound Bathing Families

Carriages tour Vienna's Old Town
Take a carriage ride in Vienna’s Old Town and visit the Beethoven sites. Photo c. Wien Tourismus/Peter Rigaud

Visiting Austria? Most families know Salzburg, home to the famous von Trapp family of “The Sound of Music” fame. Make your visit a family spa holiday on a guided bus tour of the major filming locations. For the sensory-attuned, sing along with video clips from the film and meet other fans.

Ludwig van Beethoven is the musical star in Vienna. Download the city’s IVIE app for an audio tour of major sites including the Beethoven Museum, his home and memorial. Get it at the Vienna Tourist office site and hear “Beethoven’s voice” on a walking tour of Vienna’s Old Town. Then, have a Sacher torte!

Did you know that Austria is the fifth largest destination in the world for wellness travel? Stay fit in the Austrian Alps at AQUA DOME Tirol Therme, a modern resort with outdoor salt, sulphur and massage pools in the picturesque Ötztal mountains. There’s a toddler spa for ages 3 and up, a supervised kids’ play room and a two-story indoor thermal spa to introduce the benefits of hydrotherapy to teens.

Germany Family Spa Holiday

Paragliding over Baden-Baden and the surrounding Black Forest
Paragliding over Baden-Baden and the surrounding Black Forest is a popular sport for family adventurers and spectators. Photo. c. Ron Bozman/RKR Media.

Austria borders southern Germany, where the Black Forest or Schwarzwald is on the eastern border with Switzerland. The heavily wooded terrain is great for hiking and lake-bathing in summer. Skiing, cross-country and snowboarding predominate in winter.

Wellness in nature pervades the traditional mountain towns. It’s not unusual to go Kräuterwanderung or hiking for herbs on guided walks in places like Baiersbronn, whose small and casual farm-to-table restaurants boast a cumulative eight Michelin stars for their gastronomy.

Don’t miss the favorite family attraction, the Margen Clock Museum. It’s located in the very grand St. Margen Monastery in Margen, where the cuckoo clock was invented in 1660. Pay special attention to the ornately carved and painted “export” clocks that were commissioned by royalty around the world. Kids will love the constant chiming and chirping of displays.

For the ultimate in physical wellness, head to the charmingly posh town of Baden-Baden. In addition to world-famous and quite expensive spas like Brenner’s Park-Hotel, there are two public thermal baths, Caracalla Therme and the historic Friedrichsbad. Both are affordable and offer several pools, saunas and expert massages. The family-friendly Caracalla has children’s play pools, but Friedrichsbad is nude only, so make sure you’re all comfortable with that.

On the Move in Switzerland

Bernina Express sightseeing train runs past scenic Lake Poschiavo in Switzerland.
The famous Bernina Express sightseeing train runs past scenic Lago di Poschiavo in Switzerland. Photo c. Swiss Transport Systems

Practice several languages and dine on three cuisines in Switzerland. The country’s many cantons or regions are heavily influenced by neighboring France, Germany and Italy,.

Wherever you decide to go, be sure to buy a Swiss Pass, good for trains, buses, funiculars — even antique cog railways — to get around. The Swiss Travel System Swiss Family Card allows all kids ages 6-16 to ride on any transport free of charge when accompanied by an adult passholder; if not, kids still get 50% off their tickets and everyone under 6 rides free.

We love the Engadine region where roaming cows stray from dairy farms and goat bells jingle on hiking trails. It’s known for fancy towns like St. Moritz but there are also tiny villages like Pontresina, which boasts the very grand Grand Hotel Kronenhof, a wellness escape for more than 165 years. Hit a hiking trail each day. Count on kids going about a mile for every year of their age. Local families use the great public transportation to return to their starting point.

Italy is Ideal for Wellness on Family Spa Holidays

Children's yoga class at Adler Spa Thermae in Italy.
Outdoor yoga is just one of the programs offered by Adler Spa Thermae so that adults and children have their own ways to relax. Photo c. Adler Resorts

Head south to neighboring Italy. It’s easy to cross borders with the proper paperwork, so your first stop can be the family-owned Lefay Resort and Spa on the shores of Lake Garda. Wellness conscious families prefer it as a base when hiking in Alto Garda Park, mountain biking or horseback riding. Allow time to spend a thrilling day at Gardaland Park, with its thundering roller coasters, aquarium and Legoland themed water park.  

Tuscany is the region for food foraging tours, hikes and bike rides. The historic city of Lucca has a wide bike path atop its 40-feet-tall city walls. Instagram great views of the family from the ramparts. Along the kid-friendly route are a café, gelato kiosk and water fountains.

Recover at the naturally fed thermal mud baths and pools of Adler Spa Resort Thermae, about two hours away. Parents will love that this wellness getaway has its own vineyard. Take advantage of supervised yoga for ages 4 and older at the AKI Kids Club. Relaxation time for adults and kids is guaranteed.

U.K. Spa Holidays in the Countryside

Hike the British countryside at its best for a family spa holiday at Dartmoor National Park, U.K.

For a totally different vibe, head to the English countryside. On Britain’s south coast, tranquil Cornwall is bathed in the Gulf Stream’s mild microclimate year-round. At Dartmoor National Park, hike among ponies, sheep and unusual wildlife. This year the park turns 70 and celebrates with special events.

There is free camping for the well supplied. To get one last dose of family wellness, visit The Headland, a Victorian-era hotel and cottage complex. The Headland, long a haunt of celebrities and royalty, is on Cornwall’s north coast at Newquay. The Aqua Club opens in May with five swimming pools including a family pool, plus an oceanview terrace and restaurant.

Did we mention that it’s a great base for those who want to try surfing too, as the famous Fistral Beach is nearby.

Here’s to healthier family travels on your family spa holiday!

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