Must-Visit Geothermal Baths Around the World
Relax and unwind in these natural wonders.
The Romans were onto something. Hydrotherapy, soaking in mineral-rich water for medicinal benefit, has been around for thousands of years. Bathing in hot water can reduce stress, ease muscle aches and help you get better, deeper sleep. Steam gives you a clearer complexion by opening pores and releasing toxins built up in skin. You could get these benefits at a city spa but minerals found in natural hot springs, such as calcium and sodium bicarbonate, can increase blood circulation and oxygen flow. To experience these healing properties first hand, check out our must-visit natural pools.
Tuscany’s Terme di Saturnia pools are the result of alkaline, mineral water gushing —at the perfect temperature of 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit from a volcanic crater. Today, the Terme di Saturnia Spa & Golf Resort sits directly on top of the geothermal activity with water feeding right into the property. The resort features four pools with natural bubbles for a hydromassage as well as tons of sulphurous steam to open pores.
Today, the town of Bath is known as the home of iconic author Jane Austen. But long before she came on the scene, Bath, England was a spa town for the ancient Romans. You can still visit the historic Temple of Minerva right in the center of town and learn how the Romans harnessed the power of volcanic steam to heat pools and even floors. Though you can’t bathe in the water today, you can taste the legendary stuff that the Romans believed had magical properties. Fair warning: It’s pretty sulfurous. No offense to Minerva, but it tastes like hot, rotten eggs.
A visit to beautiful Banff wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Banff Upper Hot Springs, the only mineral pools inside Banff National Park. After an action-packed day on the slopes, there’s nothing like a long soak in the hot, steamy thermal pools. Plus the view of the mountains with snow-capped alpine trees is incredibly serene.
Turkey has more than one thousand therapeutic geothermals but the country’s crown jewel is the waters of Pumakkale in the ancient Roman town of Hierapolis. Meaning "castle of clouds," these white mineral terraces of thermal water will leave you speechless. It’s hard to process that these natural structures aren’t manmade and were, in fact, carved by water.
Japan has tons of onsen, or volcanic hot water springs, but no town compares to Beppu City. Beppu has the most hot springs and the largest geyser in the country. The hot Beppu Hatto, or the Hells of Beppu, feature natural mineral pools with names like Sea Hell and Tornado Hell. And don’t be put off by Blood Pond Hell. It gets its color from melted red clay. While the hell springs aren’t for bathing, there are several resorts in town, such as the Takegawara Spa, that feature natural mineral baths.
Hot Springs National Park protects 47 hot springs in and around Hot Springs, Arkansas. The springs emerge from a fault on the side of Hot Springs Mountain, right in the city’s downtown district. To experience the same spa day people have enjoyed since 1912, visit Buckstaff Bathhouse on the historic Bathhouse Row for a thermal mineral soak. After, head to the park’s visitor center at the historic Lamar Bathhouse to taste the healing waters.
Hot Water Beach
Tourists dig pools and relax in the hot water on Hot Water Beach a beach on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, North Island, New Zealand. Its name comes from underground hot springs which filter up through the sand between the high and low water tidal reaches. The beach is a popular destination both for locals and tourists visiting New Zealand. Photo Tim Clayton (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
A lot of famous geothermals are found in the mountains where you have to hike to get there but New Zealand’s Hot Water Beach is just that. Heated mineral water conveniently located right on the coast with incredible views of the Pacific Ocean. At low tide, you can dig your own personal thermal pool from the sand and experience the natural heated mineral water from below.
The Blue Lagoon is synonymous with Iceland, at least on Instagram. But beyond the pretty blue water and mask selfies, there are tons of therapeutic benefits to this major tourist attraction. The mineral water, which ranges from a warm 98-104 degrees F, contains large amounts of silica and algae which soften the skin. The lagoon’s mud bar features silica masks that soften the skin even more. However, the minerals can dry out your hair, so, apply plenty of conditioner before and after spa time.