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Nestled in the picturesque Austrian Alps, Bad Gastein is a hidden gem of wellness, offering a revival of holistic healing traditions that date back centuries. Known for its rejuvenating water therapies, thermal baths, and the magical Heilstollen, this spa town is once again attracting visitors from around the world, seeking the timeless benefits of its natural resources.

A History of Healing Waters

The German word “Bad” means “spa,” reflecting Bad Gastein’s rich history as a health resort. This tradition began in the 16th century with the Gastein Hot Springs, known as the Wildbad. By the 18th century, the springs had gained significant attention, particularly from Salzburg Archbishop Hieronymus von Colloredo, who built a classicist palace in Bad Gastein for his summer stays. The town’s reputation as a wellness destination was further enhanced when Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor, sought to improve his health there.

The Grand Hotel del’ Europe, an iconic landmark, stands as a testament to Bad Gastein’s luxurious past. Overlooking the stunning Gastein waterfall, this grand establishment has hosted numerous royals and elite members of society. Today, you can find new hotel concepts ranging from boutique hotels like the colorful Alpine Spa Haus Hirt to five-star luxury accommodations like Hotel Straubinger and the Badeschloss. There is a revival of top hospitality that also includes art and music events all around.

The Revival of Radon Therapy

One of Bad Gastein’s unique wellness offerings is radon therapy, a treatment with a fascinating history. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that originates from the decay of uranium in the Earth’s crust. It is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, making it virtually undetectable without specialized equipment. Despite its radioactive nature, radon in controlled environments and low doses has been found to have therapeutic effects, particularly for chronic pain and inflammatory conditions.

The therapeutic effects of radon are attributed to its mild radiation, which is believed to stimulate the body’s cellular repair mechanisms, enhance the immune system, reduce inflammation, and promote pain relief.

Thermal Baths and Nature Connection

Bad Gastein’s thermal baths are another cornerstone of its wellness offerings. The mineral-rich waters are believed to aid in the treatment of various ailments, from arthritis to respiratory issues. The Felsentherme Spa, built into the natural rock formations, offers a serene environment where visitors can soak in the thermal waters while enjoying breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.

Connecting with nature is an integral part of the wellness experience in Bad Gastein. The town’s stunning alpine scenery provides the perfect backdrop for outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, and mountain biking. The Gastein waterfall, cascading through the heart of the town, adds to the area’s natural beauty and tranquility.

The Magic of the “Heilstollen”

The Heilstollen, or Gasteiner Gallery, is a unique feature of Bad Gastein’s wellness landscape. This tunnel, originally dug for gold mining, has been repurposed to offer a distinctive spa experience. Guests can relax in the warm, humid environment, which is believed to help with conditions such as chronic pain, inflammation, and respiratory problems.

Radon inhalation therapy began after miners in the area noticed improvements in their health while working in the silver mines. Today, the Gasteiner Heilstollen offers visitors the chance to experience this therapy in a controlled environment. Special trains transport spa guests deep into the mountain, where they can lie in the converted mining tunnels and benefit from the therapeutic properties of radon. 

See our special report about the Magic Heilstollen and its healing properties.

A Renaissance of Wellness

Today, Bad Gastein is experiencing a renaissance as a wellness destination. The town’s historic charm, combined with its modern spa facilities, offers a unique blend of tradition and innovation. 

Visitors can indulge in luxurious treatments in various hotel categories, explore the healing properties of the Heilstollen, and immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the Austrian Alps.

Bad Gastein’s revival is a testament to the enduring appeal of its healing waters and therapeutic offerings. As more people seek holistic approaches to wellness, this hidden gem near Salzburg is reclaiming its place as a premier destination for health and relaxation.

Whether you’re drawn by the allure of its historic spas, the rejuvenating properties of its thermal waters, or the serene beauty of its natural surroundings, Bad Gastein promises a wellness experience like no other. 

Embrace the renaissance of this timeless spa town and discover the magic that has captivated visitors for centuries.