Gently ease yourself into the steaming hot waters, and soak away the stresses of everyday life. Ahhh, bliss.
Whether you’re looking to ease the aches and pains of a hard day on the slopes or simply after a bit of relaxation, a trip to a thermal spring will rejuvenate the senses.
For centuries people have flocked to known thermal hotspots for the reported health benefits of their healing waters.
Hot springs are formed by geothermally heated groundwater that comes from the Earth’s crust. They often have a high mineral content, containing everything from calcium to lithium, and even non-toxic levels of radium.
While there are thousands of hot springs around the world, we’ve picked 10 of our favourites…
Bains De Dorres, France
While the French typically like their thermal spas complete with doctors and clinical cleanliness, you’ll find something much more natural and beautiful at Bains de Dorres.
Situated in the Pyrenees, close to the Spanish border, the baths date back to Roman times and offer visitors the chance to soak away their worries in 37-40°C waters surrounded by stunning views of the valleys below from an altitude of 1458m.
Except for a break from the end of November to the beginning of December, the pools are open daily from 8:45am to 8pm. Tickets cost €4.50.
Here’s your chance for a bit of bathing German style, FKK-Baden (au natural) at the Kaiser-Friedrich-Therme near Stuttgart.
Around 2000 years ago, the area was popular with Romans who came to bathe in the 26 hot springs of the Mattiaci (a local German tribe). The modern day complex was opened as an “orthopedic healing institute” in 1836, and since then guests have come for a spot of recreation and relaxation and for relief from rheumatic and orthopedic diseases.
Decorated in the art nouveau style with lavish ceramics and frescos you’ll find an Irish-Roman bath, Russian steam bath and hot rooms. While bathing suits are only completely forbidden in the sauna, if you want to relax like the locals ditch the coverings and take a dip in your birthday suit.
Entry costs €4.50 an hour in summer, €6 in winter. The bathing area is open from 8am to 10pm Monday to Thursday and on Sundaya; from 6am on Tuesday; and from 8am to midnight on Friday and Saturday. The summer season runs from 1 May to 31 August and the winter season lasts from 1 September to 30 April.
Waikite Valley Thermal Pools, New Zealand
Clean and green New Zealand offers a truly back to basics spa experience at the lush Waikite Valley Thermal Pools surrounded by the fresh country air.
Experience the ‘Living Waters’ of Te Manaroa Spring (the largest source of pure boiling water in New Zealand). The pure spring waters cascade into the main splash pool at comfortable 35-38°C, the soak pool at a steamy 38-40°C, and the luxurious tranquil garden pool.
Waikite Valley is a family-friendly facility and also offers wheelchair access.
The pools are open every day from 10am to 9pm (except Christmas Day). Entry is NZ$15 for adults, NZ$8 for children up to 15-years and NZ$3 for under 5s.
You can also hire a private pool and camp onsite.
Therme Vals, Switzerland
For a soak in style, Therme Vals spa and hotel in Switzerland offers therapeutic bathing in an architecturally designed minimalist setting.
The exact age of the thermal spring remains unknown, but artefacts in the area have been dated back to 1500-1300 BC suggesting the spring was known way back then.
The mineral-rich water emerges at 29.4°C, though the pools range in temperature from 32°C to 42°C.
Designed by award winning architect Peter Zumthor, the spa complex is set into the mountain slope and the baths are meant to look as though they pre-date the hotel.
If that wasn’t enough sensory bliss for you, Swiss composer Fritz Hauser has created a musical score especially for the relaxation room.
The pools are open to visitors every day from 11am-8pm and for hotel guests from 7am. Tickets cost 40 Swiss Francs for adults and 26 Swiss Francs for children aged 5 to 16 years.
Myvatn Nature Baths, Iceland
Opened on 30 June 2004, Myvatn Naturebaths, Iceland are the perfect destination year round. Laze in the temperate waters on a long summer’s day when the sun never sets or under a delicate sprinkling of snow in the dark of winter when you may catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
Located in the heart of north-east Iceland, a mere 105km south of the Arctic Circle, Lake Mývatn was shaped through the years by repeated volcanic eruptions and seismic activity. At an altitude of 277m, the landscape around the lake is a panorama of lava, crater and cave formations, mountains, and sweeping wetlands
When it arrives at the basin, the thermal water has a temperature 130°C before it is cooled to a blissful 36– 40°C. It contains a large amount of minerals and due to its chemical composition, bacteria and vegetation cannot survive in the lagoon making it chloride and disinfectant free.
The spa is open year round and depending on the season adult tickets cost between 2800 and 3200 Icelandic Krona, children (12-15 years) 1000 Icelandic Krona and 2000 Icelandic Krona for concessions. Summer hours are 9am – midnight and winter hours are 12pm – 10pm.
Takaragawa Onsen, Japan
One of the best onsen (hot pools) in the country is also one of the most scenic. The beautiful riverside setting of Takaragawa Onsen combined with its healing waters has secured it a place on our Top 10.
Two hours from Tokyo, the onsen has four large outdoor baths (three mixed and one women-only), two indoor areas and several baths. The water has a reputation for helping nervous disorders, bad circulation, skin irritation, sore muscles and joints, aches, bruises, and fatigue.
Takaragawa Onsen is beautiful whatever the season, but it’s during the autumn when the leaves turn a golden red that the views are truly spectacular.
The Onsen is open year round from 9am to 4pm. Day visit tickets cost about 1500 Yen.
Strawberry Springs, Colorado, USA
Just outside of Steamboat Springs nestled alongside Hot Springs Creek in the beautiful Colorado forest you’ll find the stone pools of Strawberry Park Hot Springs.
These spectacular mineral springs will warm you to a wonderful 40°C and if you’re here in winter, when the famous Champagne Powder snow settles, you’ll never want to leave.
The pools are perfect for relaxing after a long day of skiing, boarding or hiking, or simply to warm your bones.
Strawberry Park is open year round 10am-10:30pm Sunday to Thursday and 10am-midnight Friday and Saturday. Entry is US$10 for adults, US$7 for teens and US$5 for children.
The Romans knew all about wellness benefits of Hévíz when the waters were not just used for bathing, but a range of every day activities including treating animal skins.
Hungary’s largest thermal lake gives its name to the spa town of Heviz and thanks to a hot spring almost 40m below ground the temperature of the lake never dips below 23°C, even in the middle of the chilly Hungarian winter, while the spa’s nine indoor pools range in temperature from 32-37C°
To relax like a local, it’s traditional to hire a rubber ring and soak for a few hours, before taking a rest on one of the spa loungers.
The spa opens daily from 9am to 5:30pm and a daily ticket costs 3800 Hungarian forint
Peninsula Hot Springs, Victoria, Australia
You might not think there’d be a need for hot pools in the land of endless sunshine, but there’s nothing like soaking away your troubles and staring up at a starry night sky or gazing out over the bush on a winter’s day.
Peninsula Hot Springs is a peaceful sanctuary just 90mins from the hustle and bustle of Melbourne. The thermal mineral water temperature varies from pool to pool ranging from 36°C to 43°C though cooler pools are available in the summer and for younger family members.
The first natural hot springs and day spa centre in Victoria, Peninsula Hot Springs has over 20 bathing experiences on offer with areas suitable for visitors of all ages including a Hilltop pool with 360° views, reflexology walk, Turkish steam room, sauna, cave pool and a family area
The Bath House is open from 7:30am til 10pm daily and prices start from AU$30 for adults and AU$15 for children.
Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia, Canada
Radium Hot Springs pool, located in Kootenay National Park, is Canada’s largest hot springs pool. Its soothing waters and breath-taking setting in the Rocky Mountains make it the perfect place to relax and recharge.
The mineral water at Radium is odourless and clear and rich in silica, magnesium, sulfate, fluoride, calcium and bicarbonate, making this a great hot spring for a relaxing soak.
In winter, the pools are open 12pm to 9pm Sunday to Thursday and 12pm to 10pm Friday and Saturday. Summer hours are 9am-11pm daily. Entry is CA$6.30 for adults and CA$5.40 for children and seniors.