The city of Bath in England is named after the Roman Baths there, but spas around the world are named after the town of Spa in Belgium. Spa is a stunning town in the French part of Belgium (Wallonia) in the province of Liege. It is so famous that it has lent its name for mineral baths with supposed curative properties the world over.

This is a stunning region of Belgium worth visiting just for the landscapes. It is also just out of the major French Belgium gothic-like city of Liege and would be a great day trip for anyone staying there. Belgium is a small country in Europe, but one that boasts plenty to see and do and Spa is one of its hidden gems largely unknown to the outside world.

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The Historic Popularity of Spa

The Romans were well known for their love of baths. They built great bathhouses wherever they went and this region of Belgium was known to the Romans as well.

  • Name: From Latin Aquae Spadanae

The golden age of Spa was in the 18th century. Back then, it was a favorite of the Royalty of Europe - Tsar Peter the first even stayed there in 1717. The Tsar loved it so much that he brought back many wooden objects made in the region as well as the project to open a thermal center in Imperial Russia.

  • First: Spa Hosted The World's First Beauty Pageant in 1888

It was here that the world's first beauty pageant, the Concours de Beauté, was held in Spa on 19 September 1888.

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The Stunning Setting of Spa In The Ardennes

Spa is located in the stunning mountainous range of the Ardennes in Belgium (the Ardennes gained notoriety with the Germans going through them to break through French lines in World War Two). It is located 22 miles southeast of the stunning city of Liege and is not far from the German border. The region is one of the undulating hills and deep valleys of the Ardennes in the French-speaking province of Wallonia.

  • Population: Around 10,000

Today Spa is one of Belgium's most popular tourist destinations and is predictably famous for its natural mineral springs. And yet despite its history and stunning setting (as well as old European architecture), it doesn't seem to draw all that many visitors from overseas. Instead many of the visitors are locals.

In 2021 the town was designated a World Heritage Site as one of the "Great Spa Towns of Europe" - Bath in England is another on the list. While it is often compared with Bath of England, it lacks Bath’s Georgian grandeur but on the other hand, it is also far less crowded.

  • Designated: One of The "Great Spa Towns of Europe"
  • Crowds: Spa Is Much Less Crowds Than Other Spa Towns of Europe

Spa is also famous for having one of the world’s most popular mineral waters and it's been bottled here for 400 years.

  • Water: Spa's Water Has Been Bottled For 400 Years

One of the great activities in Spa (apart from soaking in the many spas), is hiking through the many trails of the Ardennes, the hills, forests, and even peat bogs.

  • Tip: The Neighboring Town of Theux Is Worth A Visit For Its Architecture and Medieval Château de Franchimont

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 Les Thermes de Spa - A Spa In Spa

"The connection with the surrounding natural beauty is what makes the spa so special: the complex’s huge bay windows look out on to the Wallonian countryside – even the sauna has a large window overlooking the valley."

The Guardian

One of the top spas in Spa is Les Thermes de Spa. It is a modern complex of pools that source its thermal waters from the local Clementine spring whose water is naturally heated to 33C. The complex boasts an outdoor section that's surrounded by nature perched on a hill overlooking the town. It is complete with jets of water, Jacuzzis, sauna and steam rooms, relaxation rooms scented with alpine herbs, and sunloungers bathed in the warming glow of infrared light.

  • Cost: Adult €21 ($23), child €16 ($17)
  • Views: The Complex Boasts Stunning Views of The Town of Spa
  • Indoor and Outdoor Options: They Have Both Indoor and Outdoor Pools
  • Indoor Pools: Are Sheltered Under An Immense Glass Dome That Offers Magnificent Views of The Area and Nature

There are plenty of other spas to check out, one can find out more information about visiting Spa on Wallonia's official tourism website.

Les Thermes de Spa also offers Trappist beers - these are special beers produced at Trappist monasteries that boast a very unique history.

Next: Bruges Is Belgium's Most Beautiful City, And This Is How To See Its Best Features In One Day