Experience Authentic Kneipp in Tirol

“Everything we need to stay healthy is already given to us by nature” said Sebastian Kneipp.

Who was Sebastian Kneipp?

German clergymen Sebastian Kneipp (1821 – 1897) came up with his own health doctrine to strengthens ones own health as much as support individual fitness. It is based on 5 pillars.

Kneipp in Tirol

This holistic concept by the bavarian hydrotherapist, or ‘water doctor’ as he was also called, holds great value until today, almost 150 years later. It promotes a healthy lifestyle in general and taking full responsibility for ones own health and fitness. Today it still represents the holistic wellness approach in contemporary preventative treatment. Kneipp-ing is widely practised in spas and resorts throughout Austria and Germany.

Kneipp-ing means: striding barefoot in about knee-deep cold fresh water. With each step, each foot is entirely emerged from the water.

Kneipp in Tirol

The Tradition of Kneipp-ing

The tradition of Kneipp – in some way or another – is very old. Water – which takes a central role in the Kneipp idea – is fundamental for human health.

Sebastian Kneipp supported the idea of walking barefoot in general. Barefoot walking on different grounds such as sand, pebbles, forest ground etc enhances overall wellbeing, strengthens foot muscles and stimulates the soles of the feet much like foot reflexology.

Water as a fundamental element for human health adds additional benefits for individual wellbeing and fitness, and has been used in alternative ways to the actual Kneipp pools, such as wading in morning dew on grass or walking in soft powder snow.


Water treatments make for an important part of TEM, Traditional European Medicine.

Spa Geek Knowledge: How to Kneipp

Rule No 1: be fit! If you have a cold, or any kidney or bladder infection, the water treading may not be a good idea.

It is best to have warm feet before stepping in the ice cold water. 

The water should come up to just below the knee.

Take about 30 to 40 steps (30 sec to one minute) whilst taking your foot entirely out of the water, it looks like a stork’s walk.

Do not dry your feet and legs, but walk them dry.

You may experience redness to the skin and a comfortable tickling triggered by enhanced blood circulation.

Contemporary Kneipp-ing

Wellness Tourism in Austria is experiencing an increase of Kneipp-ing guests. Next to trends such as yoga, Kneipp water treading is coming back into fashion due to mega trend ‘health’ even amongst younger guests. 

Kneipp in Tirol

hand/arm basin

Kneipp in Tirol

Tirol is know for its riches in clean, clear, fresh water. Kneipp-ing facilities can be found everywhere, and many of them have been renovated or remodelled recently.

One of them is located in the little town of Scheffau, residing on the foot of the Wilder Kaiser mountain range. Scheffau, small and still very original, is the village of 14 springs, which makes for an invigorating nature experience.
Scheffau was actually the first Tyrollean village to incorporate Kneipp into practise by a beautiful round trail through the stunning mountain forests. The forest path introduces to surprising, refreshing and relaxing experiences, such as

  • water treading Kneipp basin
  • hand/arm cooling basin
  • water pouring
  • an open air inhalatory
  • barefoot trail
  • meditation space

Kneipp in Tirol

My Kneipp Experience in Tirol

I began my trail by the church, from where I walked down along the main road for about 10 minutes before turning left into the woods on a narrow trail.

My first station was an impressive bare foot trail with many different sections: sand, wood, rocks, pebbles. A nearby bench from rock and wood made taking on and off shoes easy. 

Kneipp in Tirol


Only a few meters on, I spotted a building: the open air inhalatory. Salt water drips down a wall of fir branches, this way being diffused. Additional pine branches in the wall release their essential oils. Benches invite to sit and relax, whilst the air gently cleanses the respiratory system.

Kneipp in Tirol

salt water inhalatory

Kneipp in Tirol

water dripping from branches

Next step on the forest trail are the vein steps to train the legs.

I continued my hike along a brook with crystal clear water all the way towards the meditation area, where comfortable wooden sun loungers surround a granite rock.

After a while I continued to my last stop: the eagle labyrinth, where you are supposed to drop off something old and pick up something new… 

Kneipp in Tirol

eagle labyrinth

I finished the round and got back to the church in the middle of the little and charming village, where I had parked my car. But my experience was not just over yet. I took my shoes off again and went straight into the ice cold, crystal clear and super fresh mountain water for my very own Kneipp water wading cure. The invigorating water experiences paired with the warming fall sun after a great hike made for a super lovely wellness experience.

Kneipp in Tirol

basin for water striding

Have you tried Kneipp in Tirol? Where and how? Did you enjoy it? Love to hear from your experience!