Two Balnearis in Catalunya

I have never done this before and I doubt if I will again, but I went to two balnearis on one day!

BalneariI arranged to meet a friend in Caldes de Montbui as I wanted to visit the new municipal balneari at Plaça de Pau Surell.

She arrived late when I was almost finished so we went on to bathe together at Broquetas which I have written about before but was very happy to visit again.

I won’t do two in one day again.  Later that night I came down with a terrible cold. I think I did a bit too much cleansing!  These places are powerful.

Balnearis of Catalunya

As you may know I am doing a survey of the Catalan Balnearis  which are not well known outside the area. There are people who live here who also don’t know about them or how to go about visiting them.

There is a lot of information on the internet but it is generally very poorly translated into English. Here is an example from the Caldes tourist information:-

The spa tradition of Caldes de Montbui date very old as in Roman times was a spa town founded about hot springs that gush

However it is quite a good way of describing it – hot springs that gush – yes that is the wonderful miracle of these spas or balnearis as they are known here.

I am going to concentrate on the Catalan town of Caldes de Montbui because they have an especially rich history of mineral spas and a fountain where the gushing can be seen and felt – but don’t touch it – the water comes out at 76 degrees centigrade!


Where is Caldes de Montbui?

It is about 30 km from Barcelona and is not on a train line but you can get there by bus or by car. It is one of my favourite Catalan towns and is well worth the effort – not just for the spas, but because I think the medicinal waters have a healing effect on the people who live here and it is very friendly and relaxed.

How many Balnearis are there?

Unless there are some secret ones which I haven’t yet discovered (which wouldn’t surprise me at all as I imagine people have the mineral waters flowing right into their homes) there are four balnearis in Caldes.

Broquetas, Vila de Caldes, Victoria and the ‘new’ one at El Safareig.

I have visited all four and hope you can visit one day to enjoy the fabulous healing and luxurious pleasure of bathing in mineral waters.  Here I will describe just El Safareig and Broquetas. The other two will follow later.

El Safareig

IMG_8309A few years ago I went to an art festival in Caldes called Miau which centred on the places where the mineral waters are available for everyone to enjoy. There are places called Safareig which were traditionally used for washing clothes and many generations of women have spent time there chatting and cleaning, and breathing in the minerals. And there are places to bathe.

One of the exhibitions was in an old dilapidated neglected safareig which was full of rubbish, forgotten, and covered in graffiti. We were invited to write down our dreams on one of the walls.  I wrote mine on the far wall in the photo above!

Here is one of the other safareigs used to this day.

IMG_0084And here is the view from this wonderful new place to go and bathe.

IMG_8313It  has been totally renovated and reopened as a place to take the waters. It is simple, beautiful, and priced so that everyone can come. I heard that the vision to reopen this place came directly out of the art exhibition of Miau. And especially an American woman artist called Charity Blansit. It was called Santa Esperança before and has a wonderful position between the allotments of Caldes and the church.

Follow this link for some more photos and information

There is a long slim pool of water with the jet bubbles at one end.Yes you have to share it with other people but everyone was very quiet and they only allow in a certain number every hour. I felt fine being there by myself.

It overlooks the vegetable gardens zone of Caldes with the mountains in the distance. On a warm day it would be good to sit out here.

IMG_8306The water pours in at a very hot temperature into a bath where they warn you not to bathe – but thankfully as this is not nanny Britain, they do not fence it off in any way. I suppose it must be mixed at this point with cooler water and then it flows into the long pool.

IMG_8310I took only a bathing costume and flip flops. You don’t need a bathing hat. I bought a paper towel which was ok but next time I would take my own.

It cost 5 euros for an hour.

Totally fabulous and if I lived in Caldes I would be there every week.

To reserve a place go to you can go there directly and see if they have space. It is behind the church.


Broquetas Balneari

This is one of the old modernist balnearis that is a pleasure to walk around in your dressing gown,  feeling you are inside a historical setting.

IMG_5115It is right in the centre of Caldes de Montbui, opposite the famous Lion fountain

IMG_5119The Romans loved it here.

IMG_8323I have been there twice before and enjoyed it every time.

It is not that easy to understand the booking system, even speaking and understanding Catalan as I do.

I usually ask for a ticket for a circuit but in this hotel there are so many choices that I think the best way to book is for a bateig. (bat-edge)  Bateig means christening and in this case means you have a bath in a large pool and then two treatments of your choice.

However, we arrived rather late for this so we ended up having just the bath in the pool. This cost 31 euros for two people and also includes the option of swimming in the outdoor pool which is also mineral waters.

IMG_8330Here you need bathing costume, flip flops, towel, no hat required but a dressing gown is essential for walking between rooms and you can either bring one or hire one for 6 euros.

St Thomas le Bain
One of my early spa experiences

For me bathing in the mineral waters of Catalunya is a spiritual experience. It is healing, relaxing, softening, centring. I feel connected to the earth and to all the people who have used these magical places over the centuries. All the balnearis are different and bring different energies to the surface. The waters have been on a long journey down to the deep places of our planet, taking on minerals and heat as they flow, and then they surge up in very special places like Caldes, where the waters gush.

To finish I must just way a few words about Caldes.  This is a very friendly place. People seem relaxed and happy. We went for a beer and tapas at a local bar and there was a man playing cello outside the church. Many people stopped to listen and to drop in a few coins. The music was soothing and beautiful.  Every time I have visited there has been something special to enjoy.  My recommendation to everyone – whether you are a visitor or a resident – come to spend some hours in Caldes and even better, take the waters.

If you would like more information about the balnearis then please do contact me here. I am happy to give more detailed advice and suggestions and am planning to write a leaflet about the spas which will tell you all you need to know in order to plan a visit to one.

If you do a search here on the blog for ‘balneari’ you will be able to find lots more information.

Do let me know if you have visited a balneari here in Catalunya. What was it like for you?



Hotel Balneari Broquetas – the modernist spa

Balneari Broquetas
Spring flowers are the best

Spring is coming in fast. The trees in Granollers are in the first stages of their annual blossom-fest – first the almond and then the cherry. White then pink.

The nights are now pleasant. Only a week ago it was still cold up in the bedroom and we needed the electric fire to dry off the humidity. Now I have relegated the hot water bottle to the back of the cupboard.

Dull dry skin – sluggish jaded body

When Spring is in the air it can often make you feel sluggish. You realise your body has been deprived of sunshine and warmth and it feels like you need a cleanse of some kind. Many people change their diet at this time of year or start fasting or take up a new form of exercise.

My skin has been feeling very dry and dull and when my body needs a boost  of course my thoughts turn to the balnearis of Catalunya!

Caldes de Montbui has a source of hot mineral water

I went with a friend a few weeks ago to one of the balnearis in Caldes de Montbui and took lots of photos as it is such an incredibly beautiful and unique place.  More news will follow soon on the other spas in this town – one of which is my current favourite!

balneari broquetas
so much creativity went into making these tiles

Balneari Broquetas

it stands in the town centre near the Lion fountain

The most wonderful aspect of this balneari is that the building is modernist and the baths are full of beautiful details and designs.

Balneari BroquetasWe chose three things to do as part of the basic spa package which lasts for one and a half hours. There is a wide choice but we picked the pool, the hammam and the horizontal jet spray baths.

There was no-one else there at all while we had our session – third time I’ve been lucky like this!    Here is the entrance to spa, you go down these stairs and enter a hot water paradise!

IMG_5107The pool is booked for your personal use so only members of your group will be there. It has all the usual jets and sprays and feels both intimate and big enough to swim around in.

balneari broquetas
our private pool

The hammam is too steamy to take photos but was enjoyable apart from the session being a little too short for us seasoned steam bathers.

Balneari Broquetas
I wonder who the artist was?

Imagine wandering around this lovely place, feeling warmed and cossetted by the beautiful design as well as the healing waters!

Balneari Broquetas
Love this ceiling

Even the changing rooms are lovely. This is the door to the Dones.

IMG_5101The horizontal jet bath was the most exciting thing. You lie down side by side, with your heads on cushions and hold on tight when the water starts because it comes both hot and cold and with such force that my friends bathing costume ballooned out to make her look 9 months pregnant. We were laughing and squealing and trying to stay steady in the very exhilarating water pressure.  When we came out we both felt totally revitalised.

Balneari Broquetas
two people can lie here side by side

There is an outdoor pool in the gardens which we were able to use and as the water in Caldes is very hot it felt comfortable even on this chilly day.

Balneari Broquetas
cold air, hot water

Perfect place for someone who wants to bathe in private

This was my second visit to Broquetas and I like it very much although I prefer to have more freedom to move around and not have to keep to a fixed schedule. However as my friend pointed out it is a wonderful place for a beginner or a shy bather as you are always in a private space, the staff are friendly and they leave you to enjoy it in a very relaxed way.  My first visit was with my sister and nephew a few years ago. My nephew, then 14, didn’t want to come really but afterwards he said it was the best part of his holiday.

The place itself is a work of art and as always, the waters of Caldes are healing and magical.P1090946We paid 30 euros each for our sessions which included gowns and towels.

IMG_5100 As you leave to return to the real world you can stop and admire the entrance which you didn’t notice when you arrived rushed and nervous from the journey. Now, relaxed, cleansed and ready for Spring,  you have time to look up and admire the flowers.

P1090942Here is the link if you would like to visit this balneari yourself.

IMG_5117Have you ever been to a hot mineral spa?  Let us know which places are your favourites in the comments section below. If you have any questions do get in touch and I will be happy to try and help.

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And let me know in the comments if you enjoyed this post or if there are other things you would like to know more about from The Catalan Way.

Till next time!   Happy Spring!

What exactly is a Balneari?

One of the most exciting things I discovered after moving to Catalunya was that there are lots of places where  hot mineral water springs directly from the earth.  A spa built around this spring source  is called a Balneari.

This natural mineral healing water is sometimes as hot as 74 degrees centigrade and the mineral composition varies from place to place.

alt="Balneari Titus"
The waters are warm and inviting

The Romans made good use of the local mineral waters and I am sure the Arabs did too but I believe that so long as there have been humans living in the area, they would have been enjoying the healing and relaxing properties of the water.

I imagine it goes back to the beginning of civilisation.

Early on I decided to visit as many mineral spas as possible and to write about the experience here on The Catalan Way.  I  have a dream of writing a guide to the Hot Springs of Catalunya which would mean I have to do a tour every year to review each and every one.  Bliss!

I haven’t managed to visit them all yet even once, but slowly and surely I am working my way through a list of about 21.  Some of them are not yet developed and can be found in wild and wonderful places.

Last weekend I went with my friend Cristina to try out Balneari Titus which is halfway between Arenys de Mar and Caldetes on the Mediterranean coast

alt="balneari Titus"

Practicalities first

You can get there by train from Barcelona on the coastal route to Sant Pol. Get off at Caldes d’Estrac and walk to the Balneari. It takes about 20 minutes.

If you drive you can see the entrance easily from the NII. Coming from Barcelona go through Caldes D’Estrac and when you see a little mountain on your left there is a roundabout and the lane to the balneari is sign-posted. There is plenty of free parking.

We booked for a basic circuit of the waters plus a session in the steam room(hammam)

The basic circuit costs 20 euros and we paid 10 euros extra for the hammam.

Things to take with you

Bathing hat, bathing costume, towel, wrap, flip-flops and toiletries, bottle of water.

Some places provide towels and wraps, Some require hats. Some offer free water. These are the sort of things I notice and will include in every balneari review.

What happens in a balneari?


They are all different which is one of the pleasures of trying out new ones.

In general you will be going around a series of pools and special showers with water jets and letting the healing properties of the water do its magic on your body and spirit.

It is important to know, and I wasn’t sure of this at first,  is that although many people visit balnearis because they have been sent by their doctor for treatments, they are also just places to relax and to restore your vital energy through the healing qualities of the water. You bathe your body, the waters cleanse and nourish your soul.

Balneari Titus


Titus is a small balneari close to the sea only about 30 km from Barcelona. There don’t have a large  choice  in terms of pools and showers but it was a pleasant surprise.

In the main room there is a smallish pool, a jacuzzi and a corridor of little water sprays that blast you with cold mineral water as you walk along a path of pebbles.

The steam room was separate and as we walked there we passed several interesting rooms for doing steam inhalations  and massages and individual bathes.  Look at the web site and you will see there are many extras you can try, but we didn’t.

I like to be free when I am in a spa and they do vary in this respect. Sometimes you are at the mercy of a system which guides you from one thing to another.  I like to be shown around at the beginning and then left to my own devices. Titus came out somewhere in the middle here – we were left alone to enjoy the pool and jacuzzi but we were also told when to visit the hammam and how long to stay there.

We were incredibly lucky as there was no-one else using the balneari at all. We had the pool totally to ourselves.   When we were taken to the hammam I was disappointed that we were only given 10 minutes to relax there.   The steam room itself was clean and pleasant with a shower inside.

We were also told when to use the jacuzzi and the staff member put it on for us. I have no idea how long we were in there, it felt like half an hour but must have been less. This was almost the best part of the whole visit. The water didn’t smell of chlorine as some jacuzzis do. It was comfortable and the sprays were neither too strong nor too weak. We both entered a dream world and started singing mantras and dancing under the water. I am not a jacuzzi fan normally but this one was lovely.

Then we were able to return to the main pool and spend time there doing water massage and floating and relaxing.   Someone popped their head in to tell us our time was up but it didn’t feel pushy or intrusive.  We had been there just over one and a half hours in total.

The water at Titus is high in sodium chlorides and bicarbonates. I only judge water by how it makes me feel and what effect it has on my skin.  On both counts I would say this water is excellent. I felt relaxed but not drained, my skin and hair were soft and still are three days later.  The previous week I had been in bed with a bad cold and the spa helped me make a full recovery.


To sum up


-Compared to other balnearis Titus is expensive. 30 euros was a lot for a small installation which doesn’t provide towels or wraps or anything free to drink. The time in the Hamman was far too short and 10 euros was too much to pay for this extra.

-There is only one shower for women to use at the end.  As we were alone this wasn’t a big problem but if there had been even just two more people it would have been annoying.

-There was no free water available although there was a vending machine. It is important to drink when in a balneari so I thought this was a bit mean.


-The staff were quiet, helpful and friendly. I hadn’t taken a wrap as I assumed they would provide one but when I asked they gave me a dressing gown for no extra charge.

-They are open all year round apart from the first two weeks of January

-The water has a soft gentle cleansing quality and the temperature is perfect. It emerges from the nearby hill at 39 degrees centigrade.

-The pool room is small but well designed and there is a window with a sea view.  When the outdoor pool is open you can walk there from this room through the garden.

-The jacuzzi was fabulous.

Would I go again?

Yes I probably would if I wanted somewhere close to home and if I thought it would be quiet again. The price is a bit high for what is offered so I won’t rush back  but I would be happy to visit again one day.

If you want to read about a past visit to one of my favourite balnearis go here

I am hoping to visit at least two more balnearis in the next month and will let you know what they are like and how they compare to Titus. If you don’t want to miss my reviews of the hot spring spas then do join my email list on the top right of this page to get the posts as soon as I write them!  







Caldes de Montbui – Part Two

The third performance was within an ancient water pool – another safareig but this time more private. We had to walk along an old passageway with a high stone wall on one side. Then there was a gate in the wall, leading into a small low ceilinged room with a large pool of water.

The audience were invited to chose from different ‘menus’ to provide the dancer with a emotional theme, some music, and  a type of movement. There would be two dances – one by a crazy woman and the other by a woman in a suit.
I wrote down my choices – I wanted the crazy woman to dance fear, with continuous movements accompanied by a waltz.  The pieces of paper were put in a hat and a young girl picked one  – it was mine!  Such a great feeling to be chosen, almost as if it was a gift specially for me

Watching her dance was incredible. It reminded me of a recurrent dream I have of a madwoman, with wild hair and desperate eyes. Some of my dreams take place in an underground water cave and this performance was like a presentation of a part of my inner world.
At the end she threw herself back into the water, her arms now thankfully free and moving, and she emerged smiling and very wet!

Two Dream Homes

It was such a beautiful day that we went straight to the coast and decided to leave balnearis for another day!  We did stop off in Caldes de Malavella and found out that one of the huge hotel spas didn’t really cater for day trippers while the other – Hotel Vichy Catalan – offers lots of different packages for a reasonable price.
But….leave the dogs in the van while we relaxed in mineral bathes?  Not possible.
So we went to a beach called St Pol near Sant Feliu de Guixols, had a slow walk around the coast path and then a long and even slower lunch in El Racó de St Pol.
There are some lovely seaside houses on this part of the coast – places to dream about and imagine how it would be to go down for early morning swims in the green blue sea.

Blue had been given the homoeopathic remedy Thuja in the morning and was bouncing up and down the steps along the way. I’ve not seen her so happy and lively and pain free for years.