There are few naturally occurring phenomena that are as relaxing and rejuvenating as a hot spring. These geothermal features are a bit like nature's own hot tubs, often offering a soothing soaking in some surprisingly remote and beautiful locations. The U.S. has more than its fair share of amazing hot springs to be sure, but there are plenty to be found in other parts of the world too. Here are our picks for 20 of the best ones to visit.
Takaragawa Onsen (Japan)
Visitors to Japan's Takaragawa Onsen hot spring come for the promise of healing waters, but stay for the majestic views. Located in a tranquil forest setting and surrounding by mountains, it is difficult to not feel one with nature while enjoying therapeutic waters. In a country that is well known for having more than its fair share of hot springs to enjoy, this is one of the top destinations for sure. To get the full experience, be sure to book a stay in the nearby hotel and really soak up the culture.
Challis Hot Springs (Idaho)
Natural spring water bubbles up from the ground and seeps through gravel and river-rock bottoms to reach the two Challis Hot Springs pools located in Idaho. The temperature of the outside pool is regulated to be comfortable for swimming, while the temperature of the inside therapy pool is left entirely up to Mother Nature. Visitors can stay at the small bed and breakfast as well, which is comfortable and quaint. For a more rustic experience, camp on the banks of the Salmon River within walking distance of the springs.
Perhaps the most famous hot spring in the entire world, the Blue Lagoon in Iceland is as soothing as it is picturesque. The water temperature hovers between 98 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit at all times, making it an inviting place to take a dip. The mineral-rich waters are also good for the skin, while the warm vapors clear all manner of toxins from the body. If you're planning on visiting Iceland, a drop by this site is definitely a must—it's as good for the soul as it is the body.
It is an easy, flat hike to the Boiling River in Yellowstone’s northwest corner, making this destination one that is easy to reach. The National Park Service allows soakers (clothed only) to enjoy the Boiling River during daylight hours. Every year, people use rocks to create pools along the river’s edge, where hot water from thermal features mixes with the cold water of the passing Gardner River, creating makeshift hot tubs as a result.
While in the area, you can also visit the Mammoth Hot Springs, for your viewing pleasure, as soaking is not allowed. If you’re not heading north in Yellowstone, check out the Firehole River in the south instead. While the Firehole does offer warm water and some rock-jumping opportunities, it is not as hot and soothing as the Boiling River and accessing it can be more dangerous if the waters are moving fast.
Believe it or not, you can soak in hot springs in Yellowstone all year long, including the winter. There is no better way to beat the cold temperatures, and many consider it more relaxing at that time of year.
The 23 pools of The Springs form a terrace on the east bank of the San Juan River in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Guests can tube downriver starting right at the hot springs, or watch kayakers and rafters lazily bob by. If you need a break from the hot pools, which range from 83 to 114 degrees Fahrenheit, you can simply take a dip in the resort’s icy river waters nearby. Besides being named the Guinness World Record’s "World’s Deepest Geothermal Hot Spring," The Springs offer plenty of unique features, such as a pool that can only be reached by taking a partially-submerged boardwalk across a pond populated by goldfish and lily pads.
The hot springs located in Pamukkale in Turkey not only offer 17 tiered pools of warm water for visitors to wade in, but they're also located just below the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Hieropolis. With its pure white formations and steaming water, Pamukkale looks almost otherworldly, while also offering excellent views of nearby Denizli. With a constant water temperature of about 94 degrees, the hot springs can delight visitors, while serving up both history and culture at the same time.
Chena Hot Springs Resort (Alaska)
Chena Hot Springs Resort offers a 106-degree Fahrenheit rock lake for visitors' soaking pleasure. Travel to this Alaska hot springs destination between August and April, and there is a chance you'll even see the Aurora Borealis while enjoying a dip in the soothing waters.
After a day in the springs, which are about 60 miles north of Fairbanks, step outside to witness this natural wonder, or enjoy it from one of several indoor viewing areas. Take time to tour the Aurora Ice Museum at Chena Hot Springs Resort, which is complete with colorful ice chandeliers and a two-story snowball fort.
Olympic Hot Springs (Washington)
Take the gentle 2.5-mile hike to the Olympic Hot Springs in Olympic National Park, for a completely natural experience. The journey starts at the Boulder Creek Trailhead and follows the creek to several hot springs pools. At one time this area was developed into a resort, which closed when the lease expired. Now, only the trail and springs remain. The National Park Service warns visitors that they bathe at their own risk at the hot springs, where the water quality is not monitored and nudity is common.
Hot Springs National Park (Arkansas)
If you want to visit hot springs in an urban setting, Hot Springs National Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas, is the place for you. There are two ways to soak in these waters. You can take a traditional bath at the Buckstaff Baths, where you will soak by yourself in a tub, or you can enjoy the waters in a communal setting at the Quapaw Baths. Once you've dried off, tour the historic Fordyce Bathhouse, learn more about the history of the park and hot springs, and take a hike or a drive around the area.
Yangpachen Hot Springs (Tibet)
Nestled in the high peaks of the Himalayas, the Yangpachen Hot Springs in Tibet features incredibly hot water that must be cooled down before visitors can wade into them. At a scorching 158 degrees Fahrenheit, the natural hot springs are just too warm, so the temperature is reduced to more acceptable levels. Once you're in the one of the three pools, and enjoying the impressive view, you probably won't be in any hurry to get back out. Located at 14,764-feet, and ringed by snow-covered peaks, the views are simply spectacular.
The Omni Homestead Resort (Virginia)
The western states aren't the only places you can enjoy a good hot springs in the U.S., as there are some destinations in the east that offer access as well. After a round of golf at the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia, you can take a dip in natural hot springs that flow onto the property from the Allegheny Mountains. Take your pick: Soak in the the two-acre outdoor Allegheny Springs or in the indoor Jefferson Pools, where Thomas Jefferson purportedly visited back in 1818.
Terme di Saturnia (Italy)
As if the wonderful food, wine, and culture in Italy wasn't already enough, the country is also home to one of the best hot springs in the world in the form of Terme di Saturnia. Located in the south of Tuscany, these hot springs reach temperatures of up to 99 degrees Fahrenheit, making them warm and inviting no matter the temperature of the air. They were a favorite amongst Romans more than 2,000 years ago, and remain popular with locals and visitors alike today. It doesn't hurt that they also happen to be free of charge.
Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa (New Mexico)
Discovered by Spaniards in the 1500s, the waters of Ojo Caliente, New Mexico, are now divided into multiple pools around the property. Soak in one of the communal pools, and reserve a private outdoor bath for yourself or for a group of friends. Guests who stay onsite have additional access to the Kiva pool too, expanding their options further.
Leave time to dip into the mud pool as well. They'll allow you to release toxins from your pores by covering yourself in a special blend of clay and letting it dry. Then, rinse off, and get back in the hot springs again.
Uunartoq Island (Greenland)
Geothermal features can be found all over Greenland, but not all of them offer great places for visitors to soak in hot springs. This isn't the case on Uunartoq Island, where many of the pools offer temperatures that range from 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit. The long winters of Greenland become much more bearable thanks to these natural hot tubs, which are incredibly enchanting when surrounded by fresh powder and with snow falling from the sky.
Hot Springs Resort and Spa (North Carolina)
Located in the mountains of North Carolina, the 100-acre Hot Springs Resort and Spa features multiple Jacuzzi-style tubs along the banks of Spring Creek and the French Broad River. Hot mineral waters are pumped into the pools, and they are drained and cleaned after each use. This hot springs is right along the Appalachian Trail, so you can really earn your soak by taking a long hike first.
Chico Hot Springs Resort (Montana)
Located an hour outside Boseman, Montana, Chico Hot Springs Resort offers a host of great accommodations for visitors ranging from standard hotel rooms all the way up to romantic cottages. The resort also has an amazing restaurant too, but the real draw is the hot springs of course. The resort has two different pools on site, with the larger of them averaging 96 degrees F and the smaller one reaching 103 degrees F. Admission to both pools is included with your stay.
Reykjadalur Valley (Iceland)
The Blue Lagoon isn't the only place in Iceland where travelers can enjoy a dip in a lovely hot springs. Reykjadalur Valley (aka the Steam Valley) is another spectacular place to enjoy these natural wonders. The heated river itself is only part of the charm, as the idyllic landscape that surrounds it will leave you feeling like you've stepped back in time to a place that is far from the hustle and bustle of modern life. There are so many "hot spots" to choose from, chances are you won't have have to share with another person. Just take the plunge and enjoy everything that this place has to offer.
Khir Ganga (India)
Visitors have to work a bit to reach the soothing waters of Khir Ganga in India. It is a three- to four-hour hike just to reach the meadow where the hot springs are located, but it is definitely worth the effort. Once there, travelers can soak their aching muscles in a manmade pool while taking in spectacular views of the Himalayan Mountains that surround this amazing place. Khir Ganga has been revered by locals for centuries for its healing powers and even now it continues to lure those looking for relief from a variety of aches and pains.
Termas de Puritama (Chile)
The Atacama Desert in northern Chile may be the driest place on the planet, but it is still home to some wonderful hot springs. The Termas de Puritama have reportedly been used by the indigenous people for centuries to help soothe all manner of aches and ailments. With eight pools to soak in, the hot springs are a surprising find in this vast desert region. Even more so since they sit at 11,400 feet above sea level and offer a constant temperature of 91 degrees Fahrenheit. If there is an oasis to be found in the Atacama, this just might be it.
Deception Island (Southern Ocean)
Located in the deep in the Southern Ocean, Deception Island might be the most remote hot springs on the planet. Beneath the island sits an active volcano that creates plenty of geothermal activity, including heating up pools of water, which offer some respite from the cold temperatures. Visitors can soak in these waters, while taking in views of large glaciers and icebergs nearby.