Thermal baths (aka Thermalbad in German) are spa facilities with heated pools, often with water from underground springs. Although they are designed for relaxing adults, most welcome kids and have special features that make it interesting and fun for the kids, like bubble beds, hot/cold pools, lazy rivers and even waterslides. Little kids will appreciate the warm water and find it amusing when it’s snowing or raining while you are in the outdoor heated pools.
Before I started going to thermal baths, I was worried that it was just for adults and my kids wouldn’t be welcome there. But kids are almost always welcome at thermal baths and some even have specific family and kiddie pools. Thermal baths are primarily designed for relaxing adults, but this should not deter you. While your kids shouldn’t be as rowdy as they would in a regular public pool, they can certainly laugh, play and swim about. I’ve never been hushed or ask to restrain my children at the thermalbads, but I do remind my kids to not scream and not splash other people. It can be a very fun outing for the whole family if you have the right expectations. We usually visit a Thermalbad while traveling. It’s great for a rainy day or at the end of the day to relax and tire out the kids. Most resort towns in Switzerland, Austria and Germany have at least one thermalbad.
Obviously thermal bath features vary, but in general you can expect a few different indoor and outdoor heated pools (typically 32-36C) with a variety of massage jets, bubble beds, and waterfalls. Children are welcome in all pools and steam rooms unless specifically noted; sometimes certain pools are designated for adults only or sometimes the water or air temperature is deemed unsuitably hot for small children. Most Thermal baths have a separate adults-only section for sauna (often nude) and spa treatments, if one parent wants to take a break from the kids for bit (priced separately from the pool entrance fee). Usually there is an attached restaurant, often connected to the pool area, with typical Swiss cafe food: wurst, salad, and noodles.
Thermal baths cost much more than regular pools. But winter is long and sometimes you need something a little special to break up the monotony of gray skies. You should try it at least once.
Roberstenstrasse 31, 4310 Rheinfelden
Our favorite thermal bath is Sole Uno Thermalbad near Basel and we go a couple times a year. The kids love jumping back and forth from the hot pool to the cold pool and timing who can stay in the cold the longest. We all love the rainforest room, with warm rain drizzling down on you. My boys like trying the different scented steam rooms with flavors like coconut/vanilla, lemon/orange, and mint. The adults love the Dead Sea pool with 12% salt content, so you float very easily and relax. Of course, there are lots of massage jets and bubble beds, both inside and out. See my detailed review here.
Dr. Martin Erb-Strasse 11 Bad Zurzach
At Zurzach Thermalbad, there are 4 large pools, most with massage jets, bubbles, and waterfalls. Small sections of two of the pools are indoors, but most is outside, which is fine since all the pools have a temperature from 32-35 degrees. It’s mostly geared to adults with lots of massage jets and spa facilities. But kids are welcome and there are usually lots of kids when we go. Older kids will love the powerful river, which is best enjoyed with a flotation device. For little kids, there is an indoor kiddie pool with sprays and a little slide. Kids can use some of the sauna facilities while some pools are adults only; so check the signs before using each feature. There is a small cafe inside the facilities. Family pass (2 adults, 2 kids), 3 hours: approx. 75CHF, under 7 free
Hans Albrecht-Strasse, 7310 Bad Ragaz
Tamina Therme in Bad Ragaz is nice for après-ski if you skiied at Flumserberg or are coming back from the Davos/Klosters, Flims/Laax or Lenzerheide areas. They have the regular mix of indoor/outdoor heated pools with massage jets. They have a hot/cold pools for your feet. One steam room is included with your pool entrance, entrance to full sauna facilities is extra. Children 3 and up are welcome.
Morschach Swiss Holiday Park
Dorfstrasse 10 Morschach, Switzerland
The Morschach Swiss Holiday Park is a whole entertainment complex, with pools, spa facilities, and a variety of indoor sport activities. This is very close to the parking for the Stoos mountain area, so this is a nice spot to relax after a day of hiking or skiing.
You can go just for the “Erlebnisbad,” which is a big heated pool that goes both indoor and outdoor, with an attached kiddie splash pool. It also has a couple waterslides. I think this pool is good for little kids, under 6, who are happy on small slides. Older kids will get bored. It was very crowded the day we went and I was quite chilly sitting by the kiddie pool monitoring my toddler. There are various price packages. For example, a family pass (2 adults, 2 kids) costs approx. 80CHF, kids under 7 free.
They also offer a “Leisure Pass,” which for 35CHF/pp (under 7 free) includes 3h at the pool and 2h of sport activities, including badminton, squash, bowling, children bowling, rock climbing, billiards, table tennis and mini golf. Equipment rental separate fees. That’s a good deal, especially if your kids are under 7. I have a friend who goes all the time for this leisure pass and loves it.
Zur Therme 2 78467 Konstanz Germany
Bodensee Therme is much cheaper than thermal baths in Switzerland, a 3hr family card costing about the same as a single entrance in Switzerland. We have combined it with an over-the-border shopping trip to Konstanz as a reward to our patient children. It’s smaller than other thermal baths we’ve visited but it has a lots of massage jets and a lazy river and plenty of room to splash around. The main pool has an enormous wall of windows looking out at the Bodensee, letting in lots of light. It also has a large summer outdoor swimming area with waterslides and lake swimming.
Note: since photos are not allowed inside these facilities, I have used photos from the respective websites.