By Amanda Little
Natural pools and geothermal springs are a haven after a long day of traveling. Find the some of the best places to take a dip on your trip abroad below!
Brave the cold of Iceland to take a dip in the legendary healing waters of the Blue Lagoon. Easily one of Iceland’s most photographed sites, the geothermal lagoon is set in black lava fields, and the waters are opaque with sulphur, mineral salts, and incredible silica-heavy mud. The lagoon even boasts its own beauty line drawn from the mud and water because of all its health benefits. The lagoon is about 45 minutes from Reykjavik, the capital, and alongside its lovely healing properties, it also features a restaurant and swim-up bar.
Pack your bathing suit and sense of adventure before setting out for Denizli, Turkey in search of your zen. Resting below the Hieropolis ruins, the strikingly white, tiered hot springs form a beautiful place to relax with lovely views of the whole city of Denizil. These 17 pools are saturated with calcium, giving the limestone its signature, pristine white look and lending itself to their name, which literally translates to “cotton castle.” People have been traveling to this spot to bathe in the warm, milky, yet mineral-rich waters, for years.
Said to have been created by the Roman god Jupiter, the geothermal springs in the Tuscan countryside were once the spot for Roman nobles to bathe. Today, any commoner is allowed entrance to the the lovely 99 degree Farenheit pools and two waterfalls. Like most geothermal pools, the water is high in sulfur, however these springs are free to enter throughout the year. Regular bathers claim the waters help everything from skin ailments to your digestive and circulatory system.
Known for bath houses and hot springs in general, Japan offers many options when it comes to relaxing in hot water, but Takaragawa is one of the most scenic hot springs you can visit. Once monopolized by samurais and shoguns, the waters fed into the four outdoor baths of Takaragawa are said to be magical. While it may certainly seem otherworldly, bathing among mountains and trees with the gentle sounds of a babbling brook nearby, the waters are much better suited to helping arthritis and circulation, instead of the cuts and bruises they were rumored to heal.
Enter the restored resort that was once an 1800s ghost town in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains to gain entrance to the five different pools that make up the Dunton Hot Springs. Ranging from 85 to 106 degrees Farenheit, Dunton’s springs are bright red due to the iron, manganese, lithium, and calcium-bicarbonate in the water. They were used to soothe the aching bones of miners 100 years ago, but now they serve as a 5-star resort masquerading as an old miner’s village set among rugged terrain.
Venture out to the hot flats of the Atacama Desert in Chile, navigating through potentially explosive geysers, until you find a little padid at the foot of a canyon. Its there you’ll find serenity in the Termas de Puritama. The Atacama people were said to have used the hot springs as a cure for arthritis, fatigue, rheumatism, and more. With eight pools to choose from and wooden footpaths connecting them, the Termas de Puritama are an oasis among the dry expanse of desert. With hiking as a popular activity in the area, a trip to the springs might be just what your body needs.
Head south, more south...no even more south until you hit Antarctica to find the next hot spring in our list. On Deception Island, hopefully named for its unusually hot temperature and not its fickle nature, you’ll find the caldera of an active volcano heating the waters of melting glaciers. Surrounded by the abandoned shell of the forgotten whaling station and mischievous penguins, these hot springs provide an unusual if hard-to-reach moment of peace.
Take a dip in the beautifully carved hot springs that were said to be a gift to Cleopatra. The Banjar Hot Springs in Bali add even more beauty and mystery to the already popular relaxation spot, and feature eight stone naga with water spouting from their open mouths into a rectangular pool. The stone snake creatures found in the Hindu and Buddhist mythology look on as humans bathe in the heated water, hidden from civilization by jungle.
Arenal Volcano was one of the top 10 most active volcanoes in the world for years, but has been slowly calming down. This allows more travelers to relax in the hot springs heated by the underground geothermal river. Made up of 11 different baths and varying widely in temperature, any visitor can find a pool in their Goldilocks zone while enjoying the spectacular biodiversity found in Costa Rica.
Take a step back to biblical times when visiting the magical hot springs of Ma’In in Jordan, where it was rumored that King Herod bathed. Composed of three waterfalls and with temperatures maxing out at a blistering 145 degrees, Ma’In makes for an marvelous respite from the troubles of the world. The fresh water laden with minerals feeds into the Dead Sea, and also offers a bounty of skin health benefits.
Walk the rust-colored ring that surrounds the Champagne Pool in New Zealand to choose the perfect spot to go for a dip. The steaming water isn’t just hot, it’s bubbly, which is how the Champagne Pool earned its name. Swim through turquoise waters that soften your skin as tiny carbonation bubbles swarm around every stroke.
An incredibly popular tourist site in England, the Roman Baths don't just draw hot water, they also draw in over a million visitors a year. The unique thermal springs running throughout the bath house and the remarkably well-preserved architecture makes up one of the most prevalent religious spas of the ancient world that we can still visit and bathe in today.
Swim among locals soaking on doctor’s orders, Hungarians swapping stories and gossip, and stunning mosaic tiles in the breathtaking Gellert Baths. Set right above a network of thermal springs by the Danube River, the baths here are an essential geographic feature to Budapest. Centuries old architecture mingles with Art Nouveau and Art Deco within the warm air and vaulted ceilings of the bath house.
Mineral-heavy water tumbled from dragon’s mouths and down a layered fountain laden with glazed ceramic tiles. Head outside for a change of pace, where a cold-water swimming pool complete with a wave machine challenges those looking for more of an engaged experience. Nothing beats visiting Gellert Baths early in the morning, when you can soak in peace in a hot tub and watch the sunrise.