Romania boasts one third of all Europe’s mineral springs, and around 160 spa resorts (băile), many of which were made fashionable by the Habsburgs during the nineteenth century.

Spa holidays are tremendously popular, the theory being that you stay in a resort for about eighteen days, following a prescribed course of treatment, and ideally return regularly over the next few years. However, if you can get cheap accommodation, a spa can also make a good base for a one-off holiday. In any case, it’s worth bearing in mind that even the smallest spas have campsites and restaurants.

The basic treatment naturally involves drinking the waters, which come in an amazing variety: alkaline, chlorinated, carbogaseous, and sodium-, iodine-, magnesium-, sulphate- or iron-bearing. In addition, you can bathe in hot springs or sapropelic muds, breathe in foul fumes at mofettes, or indulge in a new generation of complementary therapies such as ultrasound and aerosol treatment, ultraviolet light baths, acupuncture and electrotherapy.

The spas all have their own areas of specialization: Sovata is the best place for gynaecological problems; Covasna, Vatra Dornei and Buziaş deal with cardiovascular complaints; Călimăneşti-Căciulata, Slănic Moldova, Sângeorz-Băi and Băile Olăneşti with digestion; and others (notably Băile Herculane and Băile Felix) with a range of locomotive and rheumatic ailments. Mountain resorts such as Sinaia, Băile Tuşnad and Moneasa treat nervous complaints with fresh air, which has an ideal balance of ozone and ions.

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