Baby, it’s cold outside! Goose-down puffers aside, few things warm the body like a hot, steamy sanctuary of a sauna bath. And although I am not a dedicated sauna buff, I really enjoy warming myself from the inside out every now and then in the winter.
Here, I’ve rounded up my best-loved hothouses that will spirit you away from the outdoor conditions:
Stubay is a new recreation complex in Fulpmes in Stubai Valley, offering a variety of swimming pools and a health suite with sauna baths. Stubay is readily accessible from Innsbruck, located close to the Telfes/Fulpmes exit of the Stubai Valley Federal Road. The sauna baths at the Stubay are extra-large (dry-heat sauna and panorama sauna), and you can make yourself comfortable on the tiered benches. Moreover, relaxation lounges are spacious as well. The unique panorama sauna is for people who like to sweat with a view. Accessed via the Stubay’s ample outdoor grounds, you can chill (quite literally) in the snow in winter. In the summer, the ample sunbathing lawn makes for that perfect spot for a quick power nap. Out there is where you will find the outdoor heated pool as well. With a herbal sauna, a steam room, Kneipp ablution facilities and a salt grotto, this is a bathing oasis made for whiling away the day. What I like best is the combination of swimming pools and sauna baths. And talking of pools, I mean doing laps at the 25-meter competitive pool with four laps. As the Stubay recreation complex is that ample, it is never really crowded and there’s space to stretch out, to swim and to relax. For Euro 19.50, you’ll get 4-hour access to the swimming pools and sauna baths; after 7:00pm, it’s Euro 16.00. If there is anything to moan about, it’s the lack of a washbasin with mirror in the changing area. I like to do those finishing touches with hair wax or gel and it would be nice to wash my hands afterwards.
There is nothing quite as therapeutic as sweating it out at the Olympia Sports Centre in Seefeld in varying temperatures, from 50 to 100 degrees Celsius (122 – 112 °F). The ample health suite features a rich variety of hothouse, steam room, Kneipp ablution facilities, a Caldarium, a Roman-style hot plunge bath, and ample space for relaxation. My favourite spot is on the upper floor, the panorama sauna, where you sweat in front of floor-to-ceiling windows that provide unobstructed views of the iconic Seefeld Lake Church. And when you’ve released all toxins and stress, finish with some fresh air on the stunning relaxation terrace. I usually add a few minutes of splashing at the outdoor heated panorama pool. Swimming here at night with snowflakes swirling around is so special that you’ll have the images etched into your memory for years to come. Be warned that prices here run a bit high, with a 3-hour evening admission on weekdays from 7:00pm to 10:00pm starting at Euro 17.50 (swimming included). 5-hour admission starts at Euro 20.00 on weekdays and at Euro 22.00 on weekends. There’s complimentary parking at the indoor parking garage (present your parking ticket at the Sports Centre’s window ticket).
As a passionate cross country skier, I love to sweat it all out at the Alpine Bath in Leutasch afterwards. The Health Suite with sauna baths is decorated in rustic Tirolean log-cabin style and is excellent to rehabilitate those tired aching muscles or just to relax in. Temperatures range from 55 to 95 degrees Celsius (131 – 203 °F). There is an outdoor heated pool here as well. The relaxation lounge downstairs can get crowded, especially on the weekends. However, there are more deckchairs available on the first floor. If the sauna master adds to much heat to the kelo sauna, you can cool off in the delightful garden. Prices here are OK, with a 4-hour admission on weekdays starting at Euro 17.00 and at Euro 19.00 on weekends (indoor swimming not included). There’s parking at the outdoor area for a fee – if you present your parking ticket at the sauna world’s window ticket, you’ll get a refund for the amount you paid.
This massive thermal water park in Längenfeld, Ötztal Valley, has a sauna for every occasion. The Aqua Dome features an adults only health and sauna suite, which has four sauna baths, steam rooms, a salt grotto, two outdoor pools (one ample pool filled with mineral rich waters and a smaller one with super-powered jets). There are plunge pools, Kneipp ablution facilities and a variety of relaxation lounges; one of which offers stress-melting waterbeds—there are experiences to alter your senses in all the best ways. The baths and relaxation lounges can get crowded on the weekends and/or during peak season. Unfortunately, Aqua Dome only sells combined tickets, which include admission to both health suite and thermal pools. 3-hour admission on weekdays start at Euro 19.00 during off-peak season (thermal spa included). However, I’d say you need more than three hours to enjoy all that Aqua Dome has to offer. General admission is Euro 25.50/day; add Euro 3.00 on weekends. There’s complimentary parking at the indoor parking garage.
Where to let off steam in and around Tirol’s capital Innsbruck:
What the Sauna Baths at the Axams Recreation Centre lack in size, they make up for in convenience. The tiny and delightful garden is a wonderful add-on, especially in the winter when you can refresh yourself after two or three sessions at the kelo sauna. 4-hour admission starts at Euro 15.00 (swimming included). Evening admission, from 6:30pm to 10:00pm, starts at Euro 10.00. Free parking is available. For a momentary respite from the freezing cold, Innsbruck locals find refuge in the warm and heated Sauna on Salurnerstraße Street, located at the heart of Tirol’s lively capital. General admission is Euro 11.50 only; if you leave by 5:00pm, admission is at Euro 9.20. A historic bathhouse that has been built in Art Nouveau Style in 1928, it’s popular with both locals and tourists alike and boasts various sauna baths, steam rooms, and a cold plunge and frigid dipping pools. Unique and atmospheric, it is a haven of tranquillity on the bustling downtown.
Here are a few sauna experiences I hope I will be able to add to my bucket list this winter:
And here’s a guide to Tirol’s Indoor Swimming Pools.