Geothermally heated spas are a great way to make the most of what nature provides – a chance to relax and also benefit from their supposed therapeutic qualities. From hot springs surrounded by beautiful botanical gardens to a pretty Japanese ‘Onsen‘ village, here are some of the best hot spring resorts around the world:
Thermae Bath Spa, Bath, UK
Do as the Romans did and find yourself bathing in the hot springs of Bath. The Somerset city is renowned for its spas which are fed by 45C natural springs below the city. One of the best choices for UK spa breaks is the new(ish) £45m Thermae Bath Spa where you can bathe in the natural mineral-rich waters, indulge in spa treatments or just enjoy the views from the open-air rooftop pool.
San Kamphaeng Hot Springs, Thailand
The North of Thailand is the best area for hot spring aficionados. Try the San Kamphaeng district (located 36km from Chiang Mai) which is home to the popular hot springs resort set in a 40 acre landscaped parkland. The restorative springs come from a deep source, have a natural heat of over 100 degrees centigrade and are high in sulfur. Here you can camp, dine, bath in the mineral-rich waters and even boil some eggs.
Sycamore Springs, California, USA
For a taste of early America, head for The Sycamore Resort which is a national treasure resting atop hot mineral springs. The site spans more than 100 acres of forest, hills, and meadows – giving you plenty of opportunities to be at one with nature. Also expect gourmet organic cuisine, a private balcony spa and plenty of healing therapies to choose from.
Blue Lagoon, Iceland
No hot spring break list would be complete without a mention of Iceland. Icelanders are evangelical about stewing in thermal springs and The Blue Lagoon is easily the most famous. It’s actually located 47 km from Reykjavik although this hardly puts people off – it’s one of the most visited attractions in Iceland. The 40C waters are rich with minerals and are thought to be healing, although the real reason to visit is the lagoon’s incredible other-worldly beauty.
Negombo, Ischia, Italy
Ischia is a volcanic island just off the coast of Naples. It’s known for its hot springs and there are no shortage of hotels offering thermal bath spa breaks. One of the best is Negombo which is a cosmopolitan resort overlooking the bay. Visit for open-air massages, medical-grade treatments and the chance to bath in hot springs surrounded by gorgeous botanical gardens.
Gellert Baths, Budapest
It’s fair to say the Hungarian capital has made the most of its geographical fault line position. It’s a great choice for cheap spa days as the city has over a hundred hot springs feed spas and baths across the city, all very reasonably priced. One of the most attractive is the Gellert Spa (located in the Gellert Hotel) which is surrounded by Art Nouveau mosaics, sculptures and towering marble columns. It’s also one of the most popular baths in Budapest so make sure you book in early.
Istarske Toplice, Croatia
Natural hot springs can be found throughout the countryside of Croatia. One of the most popular resorts taking advantage of the hot springs is the Istarske Toplice. The spa offers mineral-rich waters as well as mud therapy and plenty of beauty treatment options. Recent tests also discovered it’s one of the purest springs in Croatia with a purity level remaining unchanged since 1858.
Radioactive waters may not sound the most inviting but Ikaria’s abundant supply of radio energized springs are said to be the most healing natural waters in the world. Bathing is taken very seriously on the island and doctors will only approve therapy after a thorough medical examination. Conditions treated here range from chronic rheumatism to endocrine disorders.
Arenal Vista Lodge – Costa Rica
The volcanic region of Costa Rica is awash with hot springs and a good choice for making the most of them is The Arenal Vista Lodge. It’s gorgeously located spa resort hotel which you’ll find perched on a vista adjacent to the active Arenal Volcano. You can make use of the spa baths and other wellness facilities and organic locally sourced food is served where possible.
You’ll find hot spring resorts in every region of Japan but for a combination of an attractive town and outstanding outdoor baths, Kurokawa would be your best bet. It’s a low key resort which resembles a tiny forgotten village but it’s actually considered to be one of the best ‘Onsen’ villages in the country. Highlights include the atmospheric cave baths and picturesque traditional bathing Inns located right next to the fast-flowing river.