So you’re planning a trip to Galicia in northern Spain, and wondering if the thermal pools are worth visiting?
Well, let us put you out of your misery – the pools definitely are worth visiting! Galicia is in fact the best thermal pool destination in Spain. These piping hot springs dotted around the city of Ourense are such a relaxing treat. The location of these pools isn’t particularly appealing for a quick holiday, but they are a great place to stop and unwind on a road trip.
Below are the many reasons why it’s worth visiting the thermal pools in Galicia.
What Are Thermal Pools?
A thermal pool or hot spring comes from water which is naturally heated below the earth’s surface. Essentially, it is made up of rainwater which has permeated deeply through the ground, heating up in the process. On the water’s journey, it absorbs many vitamins and minerals by dissolving limestone rocks. As the water gets even deeper below the earth’s surface, it comes into contact with hot volcanic layers which heat the water even more. Eventually, due to underground pressure, the water rises from the earth’s crust to the surface in the form of a hot spring. This hot water is then used to fill pools to relax in.
Although it is all very sciencey – all you need to know is that the water you can soak in is both lovely and warm as well as filled with minerals which are good for you. This natural phenomenon makes for a great spa day. Who doesn’t love a natural jacuzzi in a stunning Galician town?
Benefits Of Hot Springs
There are many benefits to soaking in this mineral-rich warm water – It is said to be good for treating many different ailments. The main benefit is for skin conditions such as eczema and acne, the healing waters are rich in sodium, silicate and fluoride which are excellent skin treatments. The alkaline water soothes the skin immediately, leaving it feeling soft to the touch.
Where Are The Thermal Pools?
Galicia is home to over 300 thermal pools which is pretty astounding for such a small area. In Ourense alone, there are over 70 thermal springs. These pools have a flow of more than 3,000,000 litres per day. Below is a breakdown of the main pools in Ourense. There are many other hot springs dotted over the region, you may see brown signposts when you are driving with pictures of fountains on them. These signs point you in the direction of local pools – many of which are free.
Piscina Termal De As Burgas
Unbelievably, this thermal pool is located right in the centre of the historic town of Ourense. Parts of this thermal pool date back to the 18th century. This unique pool is free to enter all year round. The water is rich in minerals that are really good for your skin. The water in this large pool is surprisingly clean and hot. The naturally hot water (68°C) pours into the pool to keep it at a comfortable 38°C – the perfect bathing temperature. The opening hours for this pool are 9 – 1.30 and 16.00 – 20.00.
Muíño da Veiga
Located on the banks of the Minho River you will find these thermal pools. There are 5 pools in total all at different temperatures. The hottest of the pools (72 °C) was honestly too hot for us. These are the hottest of the thermal pools in Galacia, as well as the rest of Spain. When we left the pools our skin was bright red from the heat! These pools are really charming as they are at an old restored wooden mill. There is a car park a couple of minutes walk away from these thermal pools.
Outariz Thermal Station
These beautiful pools are perhaps the most relaxing in Ourense. Nestled among well-kept shrubbery are a series of pools at different temperatures. These pools are not free, unlike the others in this list. However, the €5.50 entrance fee is very reasonable and definitely worth it. As well as 11 outdoor pools, there are 3 indoor pools for maximum relaxation. As well as dipping into the healing pools, there are other spa treatments on offer here. Should you wish to rehydrate, there is a bar onsite.
Top Tips For Visiting The Galicia Thermal Pools
BRING FLIP FLOPS
In most of the pools, it is mandatory to wear flip-flops or sandals as you walk between the different pools. Most of the time there is an attendant working at the pools to enforce this rule. If you visit the small, unmanned pools in Galicia further from the centre of Ourense, this is not such an issue.
Due to the presence of sulphur in the thermal water, there is a bit of an eggy whiff when you’re sitting in the pools. We found that hotter pools smelt more strongly. There is nothing you can do to alleviate the smell but just prepare for it! The smell is very bearable, unlike other thermal pools we have visited such as Cascate Del Mulino in Italy.
At the three thermal pools listed above, there are warm showers on site. Be sure to shower before and after you enter the pools. Although the water is great for your skin, if you don’t wash it off of your swimwear, you notice that the smell will linger!
On the whole, I think it’s pretty easy to say that yes, the thermal pools in Galacia are definitely worth visiting! There are so many different baths to choose from all of which have their own unique charms. To get the full Thermal Bath experience in Galacia, look no further than the town of Ourense. They have a little train which takes you around the three termal baths listed above. Soaking in the hot pools is so relaxing, especially when the weather is a little bit coleder. We visited in early November and it was amazing seeing the steam rising from the pools making them ever so inviting!
If you want to delv a little deeper into the make-up of the different thermal pools, the official Ourense tourism website has lots of information. Don’t hesitate to ask, if you have any questions.