Switzerland’s best kept wellness secret is Leukerbad, a small town of less than 2,000 people that just so happens to be the largest thermal spa resort in the country. Best known for its natural thermal springs, the restorative effects of Leukerbad’s waters were discovered in ancient Roman times, and have been enjoyed by locals and visitors ever since. This gorgeous spa town is the perfect retreat for travelers looking to rejuvenate in a picturesque setting, and I was lucky enough to visit on my latest trip to Switzerland.
The small Swiss village is located in the Valais canton, extending 4,000 feet with even higher mountains protruding into the skyline. While the spa town is dotted with saunas, Roman-Irish baths and massage treatment centers, Leukerbad’s main draw for both locals and tourists alike is the town’s therapeutic thermal springs, native to the region. More than 1 million gallons (that’s about 4 million liters) of bubbling, healing water gush down from the mountains into the numerous thermal springs in and around the village every day, easily making Leukerbad one of the most relaxing places in the world.
I arrived in Leukerbad at the tail-end of ski season, when the weather was warming up and the tourists were clearing out. After zig-zagging up a winding road into the charming spa town, I checked into Le Bristol, one of many resorts in the area that provide easy access to the thermal baths as well as additional spa and culinary experiences to make your stay incredible. Nearby popular lodging accommodations include the Gemmi hotel and the Thermal Hotels & Walliser Alpentherme, the latter of which is home to the Leukerbad Therme, the biggest thermal alpine spa in all of Europe.
While the thermal springs are by far the most popular attraction in Leukerbad, the surrounding mountains and woods are packed with tons of outdoor trails, lakes, and wildlife to explore as well. Visitors can take a cable car up to the Gemmi Pass for a half- or full-day of outdoor activities in the Swiss mountains. There was still snow on the ground when I arrived in Leukerbad, so I embarked on an exhilarating snowshoeing hike with Simply Hiking during my visit. I trekked up and around the mountain as skiers, sledders, and snow-angel makers enjoyed the wintry afternoon. In the warmer spring and summer months, the Gemmi Pass is the perfect place for hiking, fishing, or taking a dip in the Daubensee Lake.
After a day of outdoor adventures, it was time for me to head back down to the village to relax my muscles and unwind with the main event — the thermal bath. I swapped my snow pants for a swimsuit, grabbed a robe and slippers and made my way to the thermal pool connected to The Bristol hotel. Snow-capped mountains in the distance offered up the perfect backdrop as I waded into the thermal spring; the crystal-clear waters warmed me from the inside out. I slowly walked further and further into the water until I found a quiet corner to sink into and relax. No need for face masks or body scrubs here, once I was settled in, I let the mineral-rich waters do the rest, and melted into total bliss.
There are additional spa services all around Leukerbad, from saunas to cold baths to indoor pools, but I was perfectly content in my spot in the Switzerland sun, letting the thermal waters work their magic. Thermal baths have been around for centuries — helping to purify the skin through its antioxidant properties. I left Leukerbad feeling detoxed, hydrated, and grateful to have discovered this magical retreat, and know that it is well worth the visit for travelers who want a unique wellness experience in a one-of-a-kind location. As the saying goes, nature is healing, and Leukerbad shows off nature’s true powers at its best.