Caldea is a spa complex in Andorra that leverages the natural hot springs in the area to provide an entertainment destination with hydrotherapy and wellness in mind, and a little bit of fun too.
The origins of Caldea
Caldea opened in 1994, over 25 years ago. The spa complex was the idea of the local government who wanted to use the natural thermal waters emanating from the fault to create something that was very different from the wellness offer at that time.
The water comes out at 70 ºC and is rich in sulphur, sodium, sulphates and calcium properties which are beneficial for the body.
I was a kid when the center started to make waves as a very unique destination. Back then, spas were not what they are today and were mostly of the clinical Swiss-type, expensive and strict, not fun and relaxing.
Caldea was offering something interesting, using natural thermal waters not only for their benefits to the health but also as a means to have a fun time with the family.
The building was intended to look like the Romanesque churches that dot the landscapes of Andorra but ended with something more futuristic.
Caldea’s design and architecture
As soon as you approach Caldea you can immediately recognize it because of its architecture.
Towering above the buildings of Escaldes-Engordany, Caldea is made of several buildings, the tallest one with a pyramid shape is higher than anything else in town, in fact, it is the highest construction in Andorra.
This pyramid shape is an allusion to a bell tower, a nod to the original plan for the building to represent a Romanesque church.
Caldea was designed by French architect Jean-Michel Ruols who is renowned for the use of water as inspiration. Its edges are sharp, like the mountain peaks that it replicates and which Andorra is known for.
The outer walls are like a mirror but made of semi-emitting glass which lets light come through and dance on the water of the pools inside. The glass allows you to see out from within but you cannot see in from outside.
The mirror walls also reflect time and the beautiful mountains around it. Despite the design being forward-looking in a country that is all about heritage, the mirror effect of the walls softens their contrast with the surrounding and while Caldea stands out, it is not a sore sight.
Things to do in Caldea
Caldea is a pretty large complex measuring almost 45,000 sq and with a lot of sections both indoors and outdoors.
Depending on the ticket that you buy you will get access to a particular part of the complex. The entry-level ticket only gives access to the Termoludic, but you can add access to Origins or buy Inuu for adults only or Likids for kids below the age of 8.
Below is a list of all the things you can do in Caldea.
The main area is called Termoludic and includes several lagoons, pools at different heights and temperatures elevated over a larger water area.
This is where the light and music show happens and probably where you will relax the least as there is the highest concentration of people and kids. The focus here is on the fun and not on the relaxation.
Next to the lagoon, there are several spaces to lie on cold or hot stones, steam baths, jacuzzis and other water circuits. They are fun, but it is not the place to come and relax because the noise levels are high and it can get pretty busy at peak times.
This section upstairs gives you access to a series of pools with various objectives and benefits, from a pool filled with grapefruits to a stone path that activates blood flow. Each space is themed with a culture of the world in mind and is meant to be a small journey of discovery.
Outdoor panoramic platform
From the Termoludic you can access an outdoor pool that as of 2019 is being developed into a panoramic platform that will have a glass bottom over the river with a bubble pool and sunken loungers. From here you can even see the stars as Escaldes has low light pollution for a city.
This outdoor space is the most popular at Caldea but is a bit more relaxed as kids don’t spend too much time here. In winter, this is pretty cool as you can be surrounded by snow while dipping into hot thermal waters.
Massages and treatments
Of course, as a fully fledged spa, Caldea also offers treatments of all kinds with a special focus on Indian Ayurveda massages and other Asian techniques from Japan to Thailand.
Massages can be 30min, 60min or 90min long and can concentrate on the full-body, half body, head, neck or even foot. There are also facials, massages for kids or for pregnant women.
For someone who lives in Asia and is used to weekly massages at a very reasonable price, I found Caldea’s prices to be quite expensive. It is however a great way to splurge and who doesn’t love a massage.
Inuu is an extension of the original Caldea built-in 2013 as an adults-only area by the same architect. The main lagoon draws inspiration from Turkey’s Pamukkale with various levels of flowing water.
Caldea is a very popular family destination which means that it can get loud and not as relaxed as one would hope for adults. Inuu solves this with a separate entrance and sections that are reserved for adults and couples only and which sit above the main parts of Caldea.
Last time I visited Caldea, I bought tickets for Inuu. These tickets also give you access to the rest of Caldea but have exclusive adults-only access to some parts. The entrance price to Inuu is twice as much as that of the general entrance ticket so is it worth it?
I would say so if you are not going with kids, who are not allowed.
Inuu has a main space with three pools at different levels and a large outdoor laguna and jacuzzi. The focus here is on relaxation and the bright blue and pink lights coupled with the views definitely do that. In winter, you will run to the water to warm up while chilling surrounded by snow.
There are also a series of saunas, hammam, ice-cold baths, chromatic showers and a salt room all of which are designed to improve health and wellbeing by relaxing the muscles or improving your breathing.
With your entry to Inuu you also get a bathrobe and slippers and there is water infused with lemon or mint you can help yourself to by the entrance.
If you are looking for something extra special you can also book a private jacuzzi with champagne and snacks.
The little ones have their own separate area called Likids dedicated to kids between the ages of 3 and 8 who would have a harder time in the main areas because they are too deep for them (and are not allowed at Inuu).
Adults are not allowed here so you can leave the kids in the hands of a caretaker and then go enjoy Caldea on your own, which is quite cool.
Restaurants in Caldea
There are two restaurants in Caldea, both open to the general public, offering Thai-Japanese or Mediterranean cuisine. You should book a spot ahead of time if you are planning to couple it with your visit to make sure that it is available.
Tips for organizing your visit to Caldea
When you check in to Caldea you will be given a locker, slippers, bathrobe and a key with a strap to carry with you. There are separate male and female changing rooms so if you are coming with a partner just get changed and meet inside.
If you are driving to Caldea, there is a large public parking lot (payable by the hour) by the complex but note that in peak season and at peak hours, the parking can be full.
Make a pit stop at Caldea when exploring the continent on an epic road trip across Europe.
When to visit Caldea
Caldea is very popular. Around 400,000 people visit every year and you can be sure that the peak skiing season sees a major influx, in particular in the evenings after skiing, so book your tickets ahead of time and plan your visit well.
The complex is open all year round except for Christmas day, from 10am to 10pm in summer and from 10am to midnight in winter, on Saturdays all year round and in August, the peak summer month.
Inuu opens for a shorter time from 11am to 7pm during the low season (summer weekdays) and Likids is open only during the weekends all year round from 10,30am to 9pm.
Bear in mind that the sun sets around 5pm in winter, and it will get behind the mountains before that, so if you want to see outside or enjoy the sunshine, come during the day.
If you can, I would suggest visiting Caldea in the off peak season, typically spring and autumn are less popular than summer and winter. Winter is the most popular season because nothing says vacation more than skiing followed by a thermal spa.
In winter, mornings and late evenings see fewer visitors than afternoons and tickets are cheaper. Mornings have vistas over the surrounding mountains and therefore have a brighter vibe. Late evenings see fewer kids and are more adult-friendly, they also feel more romantic.
Because everything is early in Andorra in winter (people have dinner early and to go to bed early so they can be back on the slopes the next day) it gets quieter later in the day. You have the added bonus of the evening light and music shows in the main Termoludic area.
How long to spend at Caldea
Tickets are for 2h, 3h or even longer for the morning sessions, you can even book day passes to Inuu. I spent about 2 hours in Caldea and I think this is sufficient time, however, allow for half an hour to get ready and shower after.
You can then enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants or book one of the treatments and make it a half-day excursion. If you stay longer in the water parts, you will be a real prune and, if like me you are used to very warm temperatures, you may even start to feel cold because the water is not super hot, rather warm.
General ticket prices start at 30 euro for the morning sessions and go up to 37 euro for the afternoon. Evening prices are in the middle. Kids go in for 27 euro.
Inuu access costs twice as much, at around 60 euro and above per adult but gives you access for four hours and you can even buy tickets with whole day entry for just 10 euro more.
Caldea also offers packages with daily entrance for several days in a row, family packages for adults + kids and combo packages with hotel nights at a selected number of hotels. I was staying at Roc Blanc Hotel which is about a 5-10min walk from Caldea.
What to bring to Caldea
For Caldea, you should bring a bathrobe or towel or you can rent them there for 4-5 euro. You cannot bring your own flip flops inside for hygienic reasons and will have to go barefoot, or can rent booties. And obviously, bring your swimming suit.
If you buy tickets for Inuu, you will get everything you need for your visit including slippers, towels, bathrobes and shower items so just bring items of personal nature like face moisturizer, eye cream, tonic and other cosmetics.
If you visit in the winter, I highly recommend that you dry your hair before leaving Caldea to avoid catching a cold. There are hairdryers available. And remember to put on all your clothes before leaving the building but maybe not until you are near the exit. It is really hot inside and you will start sweating profusely.
Last but not least, you can take your mobile phone with you inside, but there is no place to keep it safe. So you have two options. If you are in Inuu you have a bathrobe with pockets where you can hide your phone. Alternatively, buy a waterproof bag for your phone like these ones.
And don’t forget to check out my complete guide to Andorra for some great insight into things you can do in the area.
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