Our travels are all about unforgettable experiences, and of course, a dash of the peculiar and wonderful. And what better example than the planet’s own natural hot springs, where Earth’s heat bubbles up therapeutic waters?
From the valleys of Tuscany to Iceland’s untouched wilderness, these geothermal wonders dot our world, offering travelers an amazing opportunity for a wellness soak.
Let’s have a look at 12 hot springs havens that you should visit for a wellness retreat—and a bit of adventure!
1. Tuscany, Italy
Welcome to Tuscany! This region is loved for its picturesque landscapes, charming villages, and of course, natural hot springs. Here are a few hot spring highlights in Tuscany that you’ll want to add to your bucket list:
- Bagno Vignoni: Travel to a small, charming village in the Val d’Orcia region for some of the best thermal baths that you can find anywhere in the world. The showstopper? A large thermal pool, the Piazza delle Sorgenti, set in the middle of the village’s main square.
- Saturnia: Here’s another gem—Saturnia, a tiny town known for its therapeutic waters and the eye-catching Cascate del Mulino, or natural hot spring waterfalls. Kick back in the relaxing, sulfur-rich waters, reaping their health benefits, all while taking in the striking waterfalls.
- Montecatini Terme: This is a spa town where thermal baths and wellness centers are plenty. From thermal baths to diverse spa treatments, you can take it all in while enjoying the town’s tranquil aura.
That’s not all. Tuscany’s map is dotted with numerous hot springs, all welcoming wellness seekers. These thermal waters are often rich in minerals like sulfur, calcium, and magnesium, believed to boost your skin, relaxation, and overall well-being.
Related: Vacationing with Friends in a Tuscan Villa
2. Arenal Region, Costa Rica
Time to swap Italy’s scenic beauty for Costa Rica’s tropical charm—a hotspot for wellness tourism. The Arenal region, with its Arenal Volcano, rainforests, and hot springs, sets the stage for wellness. Here are a couple of spots you’ll want to check out:
- Tabacon Hot Springs: Close to the Arenal Volcano, you’ll find Tabacon—a hot springs resort with a collection of natural thermal pools among vibrant tropical gardens and rainforest. Imagine unwinding in these geothermal heated pools and soaking up the mineral-rich waters, reputed for their healing benefits.
- The Springs Resort & Spa: Another standout in the Arenal region, the Springs Resort & Spa offers a mix of thermal pools of varying temperatures for a rejuvenating soak. And don’t miss out on their spa treatments set against the stunning backdrop of the Arenal Volcano and surrounding rainforest.
And these two resorts aren’t just about thermal pools—they go above and beyond. From saunas and steam rooms to chill-out zones, they offer a holistic wellness journey. You can even try wellness activities like yoga, meditation, and nature hikes.
The blend of volcanic activity, thick rainforests, and geothermal gifts in the Arenal region create a soothing yet energizing atmosphere—perfect for winding down, relaxing, and reconnecting with nature.
Related: 5 Best Spa Resort Trips Worldwide
3. Budapest, Hungary
Our next hot spring adventure leads us to Budapest, Hungary. Known as the City of Spas, Budapest is a treasure trove of thermal baths. It’s where the healing power of thermal waters meets stunning architecture for a truly unforgettable experience. Let’s take a closer look at Budapest’s famous thermal baths:
- Széchenyi Thermal Bath: As one of Budapest’s largest and most iconic thermal baths, Széchenyi’s grand Neo-Baroque building and numerous indoor and outdoor pools are truly a sight to behold. The naturally-sourced thermal waters here are full of minerals like calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. With pools of different temperatures—hot, warm, and cold—there’s a pool for everyone. As a bonus, the bathhouse also features facilities like saunas, steam rooms, and wellness treatments.
- Gellért Baths: Based within the Gellért Hotel, these baths are known for their stunning Art Nouveau architecture. There’s a pool for everyone—thermal baths, swimming pools, and even wave pools. The thermal waters here come from the mineral-rich springs of Gellért Hill, so you can relax in the baths, appreciate the beautiful interior, and even enjoy extra spa services like massages and beauty treatments.
- Rudas Baths: This historic Turkish bathhouse has been around since the 16th century. Rudas Baths is unique for its octagonal pool topped by a stunning dome, and the naturally heated thermal waters here are renowned for their healing properties. You can also enjoy a rooftop pool with panoramic city views. The ambiance here is tranquil and traditional, giving you a taste of Budapest’s rich cultural heritage.
These Budapest thermal baths are about more than just hot spring bathing—you’ll find additional wellness services such as massages, aromatherapy, and beauty treatments. Plus, many bathhouses feature saunas, steam rooms, and relaxation areas for a complete unwinding experience.
Related: 15 Stunning River Cruises Around the World—Danube, Nile & More
4. Beppu, Japan
We’re now jetting over to Beppu, based on the island of Kyushu in Japan. Known for its high geothermal activity, Beppu offers a diverse range of bathing experiences. Let’s learn more about what Beppu has to offer:
- Onsen Resorts: Beppu is dotted with numerous onsen resorts, each providing a unique bathing experience. These resorts feature traditional onsen baths filled with mineral-rich hot spring water believed to have healing properties. Plus, many of Beppu’s onsen resorts offer unique bathing experiences such as mud baths, sand baths, and steam baths.
- Beppu’s Eight Hot Springs: Known as the Beppu Hatto, these eight distinct hot springs areas each have their own unique characteristics, like the white mineral-rich waters of Shiraike Jigoku or the red-tinged waters of Kamado Jigoku. Taking a tour of these different hot springs will show you the range of geothermal wonders Beppu has to offer.
5. Baños, Ecuador
Heading south, we reach Baños, tucked away in the Andean highlands of Ecuador. This charming town combines the healing powers of thermal baths with beautiful scenery and thrilling outdoor adventures. Here’s what Baños has in store for wellness travelers:
- Natural Hot Springs: Baños is famous for its natural hot springs, powered by the area’s geothermal activity. One of the most well-known hot springs is the Piscinas de la Virgen (Pools of the Virgin). Here, you can relax in warm, mineral-rich waters known for their healing properties.
- Wellness and Spa Services: Beyond hot springs, Baños also offers an array of wellness and spa services. Pamper yourself with massages, facials, and other treatments to enhance relaxation and well-being. Many local accommodations and spa facilities offer these services, allowing visitors to fully indulge in their wellness journey.
Baños is also home to several stunning waterfalls, including the Pailón del Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron) and Manto de la Novia (Bride’s Veil). These scenic wonders offer fantastic views and opportunities for walks or hikes. The combination of soothing hot springs and mesmerizing waterfalls creates a serene and invigorating atmosphere.
6. Kusatsu, Japan
Next up, let’s head to the tranquil mountain town of Kusatsu, located in Gunma Prefecture, Japan. This quaint spot is renowned for its traditional Japanese onsen experience. Here’s why Kusatsu should be on your wellness travel list:
- Yubatake: Yubatake is a field of bubbling hot spring water—this natural hot water flows into the town’s public baths and ryokans (traditional Japanese inns), infusing them with Kusatsu’s revered healing waters. Day or night, the sight of Yubatake, with its steam clouds and wooden structures, is quite the spectacle.
- Classic Onsen Experience: In Kusatsu, you can dive deep into traditional Japanese onsen culture. The town is dotted with numerous public baths and ryokans where you can soak in mineral-rich waters believed to have health benefits. From indoor and outdoor baths to foot baths, there’s a variety of experiences to choose from.
Kusatsu’s charm is amplified by its beautiful surroundings. Based in the green mountains of Gunma Prefecture, the area offers plenty of opportunities for leisurely strolls, hiking, and exploration. The combination of nature’s tranquility and the healing properties of the hot springs creates a holistic wellness experience.
7. Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Let’s now journey to the ethereal Blue Lagoon in Iceland. Known for its geothermal spa set in a dramatic lava field, the Blue Lagoon offers an unforgettable wellness adventure. Here’s what you can look forward to:
- Geothermal Spa: Tucked away in a lava field on the Reykjanes Peninsula, the Blue Lagoon’s waters are heated naturally by the earth’s geothermal activity. Bathing in these mineral-rich waters is a unique experience, believed to nourish and rejuvenate the body and skin.
- Bathing Experience: The Blue Lagoon offers a serene and unique bathing experience. Soaking in its warm, mineral-laden waters leaves you feeling relaxed and your skin feeling soft.
- Silica Mud Masks: One of the highlights of the Blue Lagoon is its silica mud. Known for its purifying and exfoliating properties, visitors can enjoy a self-applied mask, believed to cleanse and revitalize the skin.
- Spa and Wellness Activities: Besides bathing, you can find a range of wellness services around the Blue Lagoon. Think massages, facials, body wraps, and more—all leveraging the lagoon’s natural resources and local Icelandic elements.
The Blue Lagoon is not just about relaxation—it’s a holistic wellness experience. With its mix of geothermal wonders, mineral-rich waters, luxurious spa treatment options, and tranquil surroundings, it’s a must-visit spot on your wellness journey.
8. Hakone, Japan
Our next stop is Hakone, Japan—a destination loved for its onsen, traditional Japanese hospitality, and striking natural beauty. Here’s why Hakone deserves a place on your wellness tour:
- Hot Springs: Hakone is famous for its hot springs, each rich in healing minerals. There are numerous onsen resorts and public bathhouses for you to soak in these therapeutic waters. Many ryokans in Hakone even offer private hot spring baths for an intimate and relaxing experience.
- Traditional Ryokan Experience: Staying at a ryokan in Hakone isn’t just about lodging—it’s about immersing yourself in the traditional Japanese lifestyle. Ryokans offer comfortable rooms, exquisite Japanese cuisine, and access to private onsens.
Hakone’s natural beauty is awe-inspiring, from the calming waters of Lake Ashi (Ashinoko) to the towering Mount Fuji. Whether you’re sailing on Lake Ashi, visiting the mystical Hakone Shrine, or trekking the Hakone Circuit, you’ll be surrounded by breathtaking views. It’s the perfect way to reconnect with nature while indulging in wellness activities.
9. Rotorua, New Zealand
Let’s hop on over to Rotorua, an intriguing wellness haven on New Zealand’s North Island, known for its unique geothermal wonders. Here’s why Rotorua deserves your attention:
- Geothermal Wonders: Rotorua is a natural playground that bubbles, steams, and fizzes with mud pools, hot springs, and geysers. At spots like Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland and Whakarewarewa Thermal Village, you can marvel at erupting geysers and explore geothermal parks that showcase the Earth’s awesome power.
- Hot Pools: Rotorua is loaded with hot pools, giving you plenty of choices to take a dip in mineral-rich waters. Places like Polynesian Spa and Hell’s Gate offer a variety of bathing experiences, from private pools to communal thermal experiences. Take a soak, let the mineral-infused waters do their magic, and walk out feeling refreshed.
- Spa Treatments: Many of Rotorua’s spas harness the region’s geothermal resources for treatments. Try out therapies that use local geothermal mud, mineral-rich waters, and volcanic ash. Go ahead and pamper yourself with a mud wrap, a geothermal mud facial, or a thermal stone massage.
With Rotorua’s geothermal wonders, healing hot springs, and tranquil surroundings, it’s the perfect spot for a wellness holiday, offering a unique blend of relaxation and adventure.
10. Pamukkale, Turkey
Next, we’re jetting off to Pamukkale in southwestern Turkey. Known for its stunning natural beauty and healing thermal waters, Pamukkale is a wellness traveler’s dream. Here’s why you should consider Pamukkale for your wellness vacation:
- Travertine Terraces: Picture this—cascading thermal waters depositing calcium carbonate (bright white mineral) over thousands of years to form radiant, snowy terraces. That’s what you’ll find at Pamukkale, a place so beautiful it’s often called the Cotton Castle.
- Thermal Waters: Pamukkale’s thermal waters are rich with minerals like calcium and magnesium, believed to have healing properties. Here, you can walk barefoot across terraces or soak in warm pools, creating a calming and rejuvenating experience.
- Cleopatra’s Pool: Surrounded by ancient Roman ruins, you can relax in the mineral-rich waters, soaking up a sense of history along with wellness—rumor has it that Marc Anthony had the pools here built as a gift for Cleopatra.
With its extraordinary beauty, mineral-rich thermal waters, and a touch of history, Pamukkale is a truly unique wellness destination.
Related: A Journey Through Turkey’s Cappadocia: Fairy Chimneys, Underground Cities & More
11. Banff, Alberta, Canada
Moving on, we’re going to Banff in Canada, where you can enjoy nature’s spa against a backdrop of stunning mountain scenery. Here’s why Banff is worth your time:
- Banff National Park: The hot springs you’ll find here are tucked away in Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site that’s a perfect mix of geothermal marvel and wilderness. It’s the perfect setting for your wellness escape.
- Banff Upper Hot Springs: This hot spring, rich with minerals and naturally heated, is the star attraction. You can relax in the outdoor pool, open all year round, while taking in panoramic views of the Alpine landscape.
The warm waters at Banff Upper Hot Springs are believed to soothe your body, ease muscle tension, and improve circulation. Paired with the serenity of the Canadian Rockies, it’s an incredibly tranquil experience. Pair your visit to Banff with activities like hiking, wildlife watching, and scenic drives in the National Park!
12. Calistoga, California, USA
Finally, we’re off to Calistoga in California’s Napa Valley. Known for its hot springs, wine culture, and health-centric offerings, here’s why you should consider Calistoga for your next wellness retreat:
- Hot Springs: Calistoga is known for its geothermal waters and hot springs. Take a dip in the warm, mineral-rich thermal waters, and you’ll understand why these springs have a reputation for healing and relaxation.
- Spa Treatments: Calistoga offers a range of spa and wellness treatments, leveraging the local geothermal waters and natural resources. Be sure to try out the mud baths, where you can soak in warm volcanic ash and mineral-enriched mud.
The natural beauty surrounding Calistoga, including vineyards, rolling hills, and quaint countryside, makes it an ideal location for a serene wellness getaway.
Ready to Travel?
So there you have it—some of the world’s top wellness destinations where you can indulge in natural therapies, soak in mineral-rich waters, and immerse yourself in breathtaking landscapes. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or a rejuvenating adventure, these destinations have something to offer everyone. Time to pack your bags for a wellness journey you won’t forget!
Featured image by Robson Hatsukami Morgan on Unsplash