Recreational Holidays in EuropeRuss Bily
Eastern and Central Europe are rich in resources for the development of the recreational sector and tourism. The most important prerequisites for this are the mountain resorts of the Alps, Tatras, and Bieszczady Mountains, as well as the remarkable coasts of the Baltic Sea.
Lake landscapes of Poland, Austria, and Germany, as well as health resorts with healing hot waters in the Czech Republic and Hungary, will make your recreational holidays unforgettable.
The countries of Eastern Europe are the focus of unique thermal springs. In some countries, there are several resorts that are not inferior to each other in medicinal properties.
In this article, I’m going to show you the most popular places for your best recreational holidays in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Austria, and Germany.
The Czech Republic with Its World-Famous Karlovy Vary
Undoubtedly, the recreation of the Czech Republic is hugely diverse. Country rich historical and cultural heritage, and a variety of landscapes, and a developed hotel and entertainment infrastructure. So what comes first when you mention tourism in the Czech Republic? Naturally, balneology.
What is the attraction of a spa treatment in the Czech Republic? First and foremost, this is the presence of highly qualified specialists and methods of treatment, which practically have no analogs not only in Europe but all over the world. Among other things, in the Czech Republic, there are a vast number of sources of mineral waters, both hot and cold. An essential part of medical practice with natural materials is the use of salts from local mountain lakes.
Karlovy Vary, Marianske Lazne, Františkovy Lázně, Jáchymov spa, Teplice, Lugachovice, Darkov are the most popular spa destinations in the world. Currently, in the Czech Republic, there are more than 30 resorts that have the status of a “health resort.” The primary natural factors for treatment, which are used in the resorts of the Czech Republic, are mineral waters, gas, and mud.
The famous resort of the Czech Republic, the center of tourism, located in the picturesque valley of the Vltava River is Karlovy Vary or Carlsbad. Annually about 90 thousand people from many countries visit this resort. There are numerous recreational centers in and near Karlovy Vary, with all sorts of different activities and services. Hotels and resorts in the area offer a wide range of sports and activities, including saunas and pools, bowling, billiards, climbing, and much more.
In Karlovy Vary, there are excellent golf courses, tennis clubs, bowling alleys and opportunities for shooting and paintballing, hiking and climbing, skiing and snowboarding, horse racing and other equestrian activities, canoeing and rafting, road and mountain biking, inline skating and many other adrenaline sports.
The thermal pool is a real tourist attraction. The temperature of the water in the pool is never more than 30 degrees Celsius, and the length of lanes is 50 meters. The spa treatments in Karlovy Vary use water rising from 12 thermal springs. The individual springs differ from each other in their temperature and amount of gaseous CO2. The composition of the water of the individual springs or their curative power has not changed throughout the 650 years of treating. On the contrary, thanks to modern balneology, the therapeutic effects of the springs are emphasized by the optimization of their use and completing the treatment with other supportive procedures.
Karlovy Vary is famous for its spa complexes, many of which began serving visitors at the beginning of the 20th century. Lazne is considered the oldest health center of the resort. The center offers a lot of services and treatments for a pleasant and comfortable stay. Here you’ll find a variety of massage and beauty halls, a salt cave, mineral water pools and whirlpool, gym and areas for gymnastics, and even special pools and recreation areas for children. Besides relaxing, in Karlovy Vary, you’ll find a lot of bars and nightclubs for every taste.
Here are other examples of the different types of a recreational center in the region: the Sportcentrum Imperial, the Hotel Thermal, the Elizabeth Spa Swimming Pool, the Elizabeth Spa, also known as Alžbětiny lázně, the Rolava. They offer a variety of interesting activities such as beach volleyball, giant chess/checkers/ludo, pedal boats, inline skating, a climbing wall, and many other.
To read more about Karlovy Vary, please see my article “One Day trip from Prague to Karlovy Vary.”
Related: Day trip to Karlovy Vary
Thermal Waters in Hungary
The main resorts of Hungary include more than 150 mineral springs throughout Hungary with covering the most popular in Budapest and Eger, the area of Lake Balaton, and hot Lake Heviz.
Famous balneological resorts are located in Budapest, Bükfürdő, Balatonföldvár, Balatonfüred, Heviz, Debrecen, Hajdúszoboszló, and Sárvár.
You can start your recreational holiday in Hungary from the city of Eger, located 120 km from Budapest, famous not only for its sights and thermal waters but also as a center of one of Hungary’s most famous wine regions.
Eger provides myriads of possibilities if you like being active and health-conscious. The Thermal bath of Eger was opened in 1932. One of the most beautiful park baths of Hungary is waiting for visitors who want to rejuvenate, to do sports or just to have fun in a lovely green area. The bath has two kinds of healing waters: radon curative water and sulfurous thermal water, which is unique throughout the world. The bath is a real paradise for kids. A pool castle, huge slides, and beautiful water lilies turn spa time into an unforgettable experience.
Nature lovers will enjoy the crystal clear air of Bükk Mountains. This is Hungary’s highest wine-growing area, and the view is appropriately breathtaking. Southwards you can see the infinite horizon of the Great Plains. The largest mountain in Hungary, the Kékestető peaks to the west, and to the north you can see Bükk Hegy.
About 25 kilometers away from Eger is Szilvásvárad. It contains Szalajka Valley which offers many different activities. Adults can test their courage on one of the many exciting courses at the adventure park, or just stroll along the beautiful veiled waterfall.
Budapest itself is famous for its thermal waters. There are almost 70 springs, located either in ancient palaces or among unscrupulous landscapes. The most popular bathhouses are Gellert and Széchenyi.
Szechenyi Baths, built in 1913, is the most visited and much-praised attraction in Budapest: relaxing, fun, affordable and, at night, romantic. In addition to the marvelous medicinal natural hot spring waters in the 18 pools, there are ten saunas/steam cabins, several massage therapies, facial treatments, and more.
Szechenyi Spa Baths are in the most significant green park of Budapest, in the City Park, close to a bunch of Budapest attractions. The Neo-baroque palace was specifically built for hosting Szechenyi Baths as Hungary has been the country of baths, and Budapest the City of Baths for many centuries. Starting with the Roman settlers who built the first spa baths, through the 16th century Turkish occupiers who created many of the famous and revived Turkish baths in Budapest, to the 19-20th-century natural medical trends that promote aqua therapies and their profoundly beneficial effects.
Gellert Bath was opened in 1918 offering therapeutic water treatments using the same deep underground springs the Knights of St. John used in the 12th century, and later on the Turks to feel the invigorating powers of the mineral-rich waters.
Gellert Spa Bath is the real gem of the thermal baths where you can easily spend a day, explore the numerous pools, get luxury treatments without having to feel crowded by other tourists. Spa and elegance await you in the Art Nouveau building of the almost hundred-year-old Gellert Bath. Gellert Spa is famous for its lovely warm spring water pools, its architecture, its landscape, and also for its spa treatments.
In my article “Best Things to Do in Budapest in 3 Days”, I gave some information on where to go in the capital of Hungary. So if you are interested in Budapest, please visit my blog for the detailed information.
Bükfürdő is the most dynamically developing resort in Hungary. It receives thousands of guests every day. More than half of the guests come from Austria, which is only 25 km away. It is equipped with the largest golf course in Hungary and all over Central Europe.
The resort town of Bükfürdő is located on the site where the ridge of the Alps meets and the Lesser Hungarian lowland. The city received world fame thanks to its healing water. Every year about one million guests come here, mostly from abroad. In 1957 hot thermal water with valuable mineral substances was discovered at more than a kilometer depth. In 1962, a swimming pool was opened here. Three years later, this water received the official status of healing mineral water.
The Bük medicinal water is extracted from a depth of 1,282 meters, and its surface temperature is 55 C. Here the largest water reserves in Central Europe are drained. Water belongs to the group of calcium-magnesium-hydrocarbonate waters, with a significant content of fluorine, iodine, and iron. Due to the high content of carbon dioxide, water helps to straighten the spine and gives a charge of vivacity to the whole body. Water is also suitable for the treatment of certain diseases of the musculoskeletal system.
Lake Balaton is one of Hungary’s most precious treasures and most frequented resorts. This 50-mile long lake with silky green-yellow water in the middle of Transdanubia is the most significant lake in Central Europe. The water and the sleek mud of the lake are excellent remedies for nervous complaints, anemia, and nervous fatigue. People call it the “Hungarian Sea.”
Balatonfüred is the town is the oldest resort of the Lake Balaton and is still one of the most beautiful settlements of the “Hungarian Sea.” In addition to the great beaches, beautiful villas, and the Tagore Promenade, lively nightlife also makes it a perfect holiday resort.
Located near to the Lake Balaton, Csopak has already earned countless awards or the best and most popular vacation destinations in the lake, among other things, because of its development and order. It is an ideal destination if you are waiting for rest providing quiet and perfect relaxation.
Siofok is another popular resort and the most prominent town of the Lake Balaton as well as a real paradise of the young and the music festivals in summer.
Lake Heviz, which is the largest curative, hot-water lake, is a popular destination throughout the year, however, is not only among the older. The charming small town atmosphere, the proximity of Lake Balaton and wellness services attract many people.
Lake Tisza is a real tourist paradise in summer, thanks to the sandy shore and the shallow water. Abadszalok is the most popular holiday resorts of the Lake Tisza, which attracts the lovers of waters sports every year.
Lake Szelidi is the real gem of Bacs-Kiskun County, which is near to Kalocsa and is the fifth largest lake in our country with its 5km-length and approximately eighty acres of water surface. It is an ideal place to visit all year-round, but it is quite worth to visit in summer to cool yourself in the heat.
Rest in Poland
Poland is currently quite famous in Europe because of active recreation. For this type of holiday, there are many exciting ways of spending time. Tourists can rest here almost all the year round. If you visit Poland, you’ll find something special for yourself.
Pomerania is a beautiful region on the southern shore of the Baltic Sea in Central Europe. It is located in north-western Poland with its 300 miles of Baltic coastline, the Pomeranian Lake District and the “Swiss-like” Kaszubian District is among the most attractive tourist regions in the country. Its territory covers both the West Pomeranian Voivodship, with its capital Szczecin and the Pomeranian Voivodship having the capital of Gdansk.
Having arrived on Baltic Sea for example in Gdansk or Sopot, tourists can try scuba diving and enjoy the underwater scenery and the remains of sunken ships. It is possible to rent a catamaran or go for a trip on the motor ship.
Discover the Polish Baltic coast with beautiful lagoons, picturesque lakes, high cliffs, walking dunes and wide beaches covered with powdered, almost white sand. If you’re fond of cycling, you can also uncover the beauty of this region in northern Poland by cycling the Baltic Sea Cycle Route. You чан take a bath in the Baltic Sea or a coastal lake. You could start in Świnoujście, a city located on 44 islands, near the German border. Take your time to explore its fortifications, the best preserved Prussian coastal artillery fortifications in Europe. Further eastwards you will cycle through the Wolin National Park, along with seaside lakes and on very narrow pieces of land between Lake and sea.
Another option for active recreation in Poland is surfing in the Gulf of Putzk near the Helsk Peninsula. The unique location enjoys extraordinary popularity both among the sports amateurs and the fans of sunbathing.
Polish lakes are well equipped for the water sports. Many beaches, various types of recreation, as well as rental of water equipment, will please any tourist. Also, you can go fishing or water skiing in Avgustov.
Another popular type of holiday is kayaking. There are rivers of varying difficulty both for the professionals and amateurs. The most popular place in Poland for kayaking is the river Krutynya. Along the hundred kilometers of the river’s coasts, there are also many lakes. Everywhere, there are hotels, cafes and rental equipment houses. The kayaking on the other rivers with its unique natural scenery is also popular.
The most popular type of holiday in Poland is, most likely, hiking. The magnificent mountain ranges of Tatras and Bieszczady Mountains are the most popular tourist routes.
For the fans of speleology, Poland has a large number of caves, mostly not far from Krakow and the Tatras Mountains. The most popular places are the Bear Cave near Klodzko and the Heaven cave near Kilche.
However, the most extreme kind of recreation in Poland is the courses of piloting the aircraft and gliders. They are taught in the centers of gliding in Leszno, on the mountain of Fire, New-Targ, Jelenia Gora and Lisi-Conty. To be accepted to the courses, you only need to have a good health and a positive assessment of the medic. Hang gliding you can learn in the Krkonoše Mountains, Beskid-Żywiecki town, the Tatras Mountains and the Bieszczady Mountains.
In winter, Poland pleases the fans of the sport with the ski resorts in Zakopane, Krkonoše and Bieszczady Mountains. You can learn all kinds of skiing, including ski jumping, and possibly watch one of the stages of the Ski Jumping World Cup.
Related: Travel from Prague to Wroclaw
The Austrian Alps and Lakes
Austria ranks high among European tourist countries. It has a year-round tourist season: in winter, tourists come to the famous skiing resorts and attend outstanding musical events in Vienna; in summer, visitors are attracted by the scenery, sports, and cultural festivals, notably in Vienna and Salzburg.
Many lakes and thermal hot water and water parks attract Austrians and tourists. The Alps attract mountain and rock climbing enthusiast from around the world. Austrian lakes and rivers offer swimming, sailing, lake and river cruises, kayaking, and rafting.
Anywhere in Vorarlberg, Tyrol, southern Salzburg, Carinthia, south Upper Austria, south Lower Austria and northern Styria, you’ll find skiing facilities and a well-developed winter tourism infrastructure. Alongside with downhill skiing, other winter sports are popular: Nordic, or cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and tobogganing are practiced all over the Alps. Skiing is not only part of international tourism but also an essential element of Austrian culture.
Beginners will be happy in Lech in Vorarlberg, in Tyrol east of Innsbruck and most areas of Salzburg as well as Styria and Carinthia. Intermediate skiers often go to Ischgl, Kitzbühel, and Söll. Salzburg offers access to Saalbach-Hinterglemm and St. Johann. Advanced skiers should go to the South of Salzburg around Badgastein or to the Arlberg region. The skiing capital of Austria is St. Anton, popular among advanced skiers. St. Christoph, Zürs, and Lech are also famous for challenging slopes.
There are many lakes in Austria, and they are popular both with travelers and residents. Whether you want to soak in some waterfront views or make a splash under the shadow of the Alps, Austrian lakes are the perfect opportunity.
Lake Plansee, found in the Tyrol region of Austria, is a large body of water connected to another lake, called the Heiterwang, via a canal. That makes the Plansee a popular spot for boating since the lakes are both accessible via several rivers. The lake is an unparalleled spot for outdoor enthusiasts, and miles of paved pathways are ideal for jogging, cycling, and inline skating. Surrounded by the Lechtal Alps, you can also go scuba diving or fishing for trout and perch. There are also passenger ferries available that cross the lake.
In the Carinthia region of Austria is the Millstatter See, whose steep shoreline makes it look just like a fjord. Helping to create the incredible terrain are the Nock Mountains and the Drava Valley, and the Hochgosch area to the south is wooded, creating even more lush greenery and visual interest. The mountains protect the lake from cold winter winds, which means that the water temperature is suitable for swimming during the summer. Don’t miss the village of Millstatt next to the lake, which is home to an amazingly preserved 11th-century abbey.
Gruner See or the Green Lake is also fantastic. The water is comprised of melted snow from the Karst Mountains, so even in the summers, the temperature is freezing. However, the Gruner See is a remarkable sight, and it is also possible to go scuba diving on the lake with a local guide.
Weissensee or White Lake is a beautiful glacial lake and an incredibly popular destination for all types of activities, and a ban on private motor boats means it retains its peaceful atmosphere and abundance of wildlife. In the summer, visitors can ride on passenger boats across the lake, canoe on its surface, fish for trout and perch and hike around the shores. In the winters, a spot next to the Weissensee becomes a prime skiing area, and there are even speed-skating competitions on parts of the lake.
The Faaker See is a remarkable place in Austria because of its cleanest, most drinkable water. As you might imagine, that means the water quality is incredible, and there is plenty of visibility throughout the lake. There are several beaches on the Faaker See. The lake is also a hub for events, including the annual European Bike Week, which is the largest rally of motorcycles.
The largest lake in the Austrian district of Tyrol is Achensee, which also goes by the name Fjord of the Alps. The lake itself is stunning, thanks in part to the location right at the base of a mountain. Top ways to enjoy the scenery include sailing and windsurfing on the lake, which is popular thanks to windy conditions, as well as hiking nearby at the Bärenkopf Mountain for panoramic views of the lake.
Lake Hallstatt, or the Hallstatter See, is the most popular of many lakes in the region of Salzkammergut. The lake is surrounded by mountains, creating a picturesque oasis. On the banks of the Hallstatter See is the famous town of Hallstatt, which boasts traditional Austrian architecture and fascinating attractions. The Hallstatter See is best seen from a hike in the mountains, but those who want a unique perspective can also take scuba diving lessons with a guide from Hallstatt.
In my article “How to Get from Prague to Salzburg and Spend a Good Time on the Way,” I wrote more about Hallstatt, Austria’s most beautiful lake town.
Sport and Recreation in Germany
Hiking and skiing are also popular kinds of recreational holidays. Hikers like the marked trails in the Black Forest, the Harz Mountains, and the Bavarian Alps. The Alps are probably the most famous hiking area. As cycling is a favored recreation, many West Germany cities boast super-smooth cycling trails.
During winter, skiing is the most popular activity around Aachen, the German city, situated directly on the border with Belgium and the Netherlands. One can either choose to ski downhill and cross-country during the winter season. The Black Forest, a vertically challenged Mountain, is well- known for skiing and is a magnet for those who like hiking during the warmer months.
Aachen is also famous for its hottest running water in Northern Europe, containing 18 minerals. The town of Aachen is located in North Rhine-Westphalia, about 70km west of Cologne offers a long history of cure methods with healing thermal springs. It is often called the «Spa of the Kings». Bathing in these thermal waters, and also drinking cures, was a standard remedy for skin, joint and gastrointestinal disorders. The Carolus Thermen in Aachen offers thermal treatments, sauna, and a gourmet restaurant.
Baden-Baden is also a famous and luxury spa town, located in the northern foothills of the Black Forest, perfect for relaxation. The picturesque valleys and curative springs of Baden-Baden are an ideal place for healing, as the very name of the city translates as “bathing” and it is not by chance that the European nobility visits it for centuries.
In my article, The Must-see Cities in Germany, find more information about Baden-Baden and other interesting cities in Germany.
Germany also has terrific lakes, coastlines and the most beautiful rivers of Europe. Here you’ll find a lot of river cruise options, escapes by the lakes and lovely places on the coast. Here you can swim, enjoy kayaks trips, rowboat and yacht cruises. Germany’s rivers and lakes are great for boating, with cruises operating around Berlin, the huge lakes in southern Germany and the Baltic Sea.
Der Große Müggelsee is an excellent lake in Berlin, which is located in the South-East in a neighborhood called Köpenick. It’s not only a very famous lake in Berlin but also the biggest one.
Stralsund is a jewel in the northern German region thanks to the unique waterfront location. Stralsund´s UNESCO-recognised Old Town is effectively on its island, surrounded by beautiful lakes and the sea. You can easily spend a day wandering here. Norderney is another lovely place, as long and sandy beaches, open spaces, and sea air make it both a nature lovers paradise and a perfect retreat for those escaping stresses of the world.
The Baldeneysee is an approximately 7.8 km long lake in Essen. It is surrounded by forests and known far beyond the Ruhrgebiet as a water sports paradise and recreation area. A lake is a good place for visitors from near and far in the summer but also in winter. You can relax in the «Seaside Beach Baldeney», the 250 meters long and 35-meter wide beach dream with Caribbean sand.
The resorts of Hungary is a high-class vacation, healing of many ailments with a simultaneous acquaintance with local attractions. The Polish Baltic coast is an excellent option for a comfortable and inexpensive holiday by the sea. Austrian and Bavarian Alps offered excellent service and developed infrastructure for ski centers. A large number of ski routes and a developed system of ski chair lifts create beautiful conditions for both beginners and more experienced athletes. The Austrian and German Lakes are a natural playground for nature and outdoor enthusiasts, enjoying nature, hiking, cycling, walking the trails, swimming, boating, and of course skiing. Balneological resorts in the Czech Republic, especially in Karlovy Vary, are the best in Europe.
If you are looking forward to having the best recreational holidays in Eastern and Central Europe, our service with the local English-speaking driver-guide can drive you to the destination in every season of the year and with a great comfort.