195km (121 miles) S of Vienna; 64km (40 miles) SE of Graz

The oldest and most important summer spa in South Styria (with a history of water treatments dating from Roman times), Bad Gleichenberg lies southeast of Graz. The countryside here, near Slovenia's border, is relatively flat, a low-altitude setting of rolling hills and vineyards. This is one of the most interesting and least-known parts of Austria to explore.

Untersteienmark, or Lower Styria, where this spa is located, was much larger in the days of the Hapsburgs. Much of its territory was lost to Yugoslavia following the breakup of the empire after World War I.

Bad Gleichenberg sits in a scenic valley opening to the south. In the area's landscaped parks you'll see exotic plants, including the giant sequoia. You can partake of the mineral waters of the Emma, Konstantin, and Johannisbrunnen springs and even take a bottle home with you. The spa has flourished for 160 years, longer than any other spa in Styria. The clientele here tends to be middle-aged or elderly, and there's an emphasis on low-key activities. The calm is punctuated with an entertainment program and special tours in the environs. Hotels ring the spa facilities, which mark the resort's center. Mud baths and long soaks in the thermally heated waters are big here, along with rest and relaxation.