Soak Up the Scenery: 18 Breathtaking Hot Springs Offering Relaxation Around the Globe
Soak Up the Scenery: 18 Breathtaking Hot Springs Offering Relaxation Around the Globe - Unwind in Iceland's Otherworldly Blue Lagoon
Iceland is home to one of the most famous and popular hot springs in the world - the Blue Lagoon. Located in a lava field near Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula, this geothermal spa is known for its bright turquoise waters and healing minerals. The warm, mineral-rich water comes from the nearby Svartsengi geothermal plant and is refreshed every two days, keeping the large lagoon consistently balmy and soothing.
The milky blue water, which averages around 100°F, is rich in silica, algae, and minerals. Bathing in the Blue Lagoon is said to help remedy skin conditions like psoriasis as well as relax tired muscles. The combination of warmth and buoyancy makes it an ideal spot to unwind after exploring Iceland's rugged landscapes.
Visiting the Blue Lagoon is an otherworldly experience. Upon arrival, guests enjoy a shower and then enter the misty lagoon through a doorway carved into the black volcanic rock. The turquoise waters provide a stark and stunning contrast to the dark lava surroundings. As you wade into the pool, you'll feel the tension leave your body.
In addition to soaking up the scenery, the Blue Lagoon has extras like massage, a sauna, a steam room, and silica mud masks made fresh daily from the mineral-rich water. There's also an on-site restaurant called LAVA that serves delicious locally-sourced cuisine.
What else is in this post?
- Soak Up the Scenery: 18 Breathtaking Hot Springs Offering Relaxation Around the Globe - Unwind in Iceland's Otherworldly Blue Lagoon
- Soak Up the Scenery: 18 Breathtaking Hot Springs Offering Relaxation Around the Globe - Japan's Sacred Onsens Provide Peaceful Retreats
- Soak Up the Scenery: 18 Breathtaking Hot Springs Offering Relaxation Around the Globe - Costa Rica's Eco-Friendly Springs in the Middle of the Jungle
- Soak Up the Scenery: 18 Breathtaking Hot Springs Offering Relaxation Around the Globe - Relax in America's Geothermal Pools at Yellowstone
- Soak Up the Scenery: 18 Breathtaking Hot Springs Offering Relaxation Around the Globe - Soak in New Zealand's Thermal Springs Alongside Lush Greenery
- Soak Up the Scenery: 18 Breathtaking Hot Springs Offering Relaxation Around the Globe - Rejuvenate Body and Soul in Turkey's Ancient Thermal Baths
- Soak Up the Scenery: 18 Breathtaking Hot Springs Offering Relaxation Around the Globe - Mexico's Aztec-Influenced Temazcal Rituals Offer Spiritual Cleansing
Soak Up the Scenery: 18 Breathtaking Hot Springs Offering Relaxation Around the Globe - Japan's Sacred Onsens Provide Peaceful Retreats
Soaking in the relaxing, geothermally-heated waters of an onsen is an integral part of Japanese culture. These hot springs can be found throughout the country, from bustling cities to remote mountainsides. While commercial onsens offer convenience, Japan's most serene soaking experiences are often found in rural areas tucked within the folds of rolling hills and forests.
Onsens have been treasured in Japan for centuries for their perceived healing properties. The mineral-rich waters are believed to remedy ailments, relax the muscles, and rejuvenate the soul. Beyond the physical benefits, onsens also provide the opportunity for quiet contemplation and connection with nature. For the Japanese people, these hot springs are sacred places.
Nestled in the mountains of northern Honshu, Nyuto Onsen is a collection of traditional hot spring inns known as ryokans. Each inn pipes mineral water directly from the source to its own baths, both indoor and open air. After soaking in the soothing waters, guests gather together in yukatas (lightweight robes) to enjoy elaborate meals featuring local ingredients like wild mountain vegetables. A night here feels like taking a step back in time.
The remote seaside town of Ibusuki on Kyushu island is famous for its unique sand baths. Visitors slip into yukatas and recline in shallow pits filled with naturally heated sand for a deeply relaxing experience. The weight and warmth of the sand is said to help alleviate nerve pain and joint issues. After your sand bath, head to Saraku Onsen just inland to soak in its mineral-rich waters surrounded by forest.
For a luxurious hot spring experience, Yunessun Spa Resort in Hakone combines the traditional with the contemporary. Here you can soak in wine, green tea, or coffee baths for antioxidant benefits before trying the milky-white waters of the Doctor Fish spa tanks, where tiny Garra rufa fish gently exfoliate your skin. Pamper yourself with private open-air baths, massage, and more.
Soak Up the Scenery: 18 Breathtaking Hot Springs Offering Relaxation Around the Globe - Costa Rica's Eco-Friendly Springs in the Middle of the Jungle
As eco-tourism has exploded in popularity, Costa Rica has emerged as a prime destination for travelers seeking to commune with nature while treading lightly on the planet. The country's wealth of natural hot springs offer the perfect opportunity to soak up the scenery without leaving a large carbon footprint. Tucked within lush jungles, these soothing geothermal pools provide the ideal setting to experience Costa Rica's biodiversity up close.
One of the most renowned hot spring retreats in Costa Rica is Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort. Situated at the base of the Arenal Volcano in the northern plains region, this resort leverages heat from the volcano's geothermal activity to fuel its extensive network of naturally fed pools and waterfalls. Lounging amidst tropical foliage in these warm mineral waters feels akin to bathing in the jungle.
What makes Tabacón stand out is its dedication to eco-friendly practices. Nearly all of the resort's energy needs are met through renewable sources like geothermal and solar. Wastewater is recycled for irrigation and filtered back into the nearby river. Plus, a large portion of the property is reserved for conservation, protecting vital habitat for native wildlife. Guests can stroll shaded paths to observe sloths, monkeys, and hundreds of species of exotic birds.
Further south near San Isidro de El General, Prosser Finca is an intimate eco-lodge granting access to its own secluded hot springs high in the mountains. Here visitors soak in pools naturally heated by the nearby Chirripó volcano while surrounded by nothing but lush forest. This is an exclusiveexperience, as the springs can only be used by lodge guests in order to limit environmental impact.
Soak Up the Scenery: 18 Breathtaking Hot Springs Offering Relaxation Around the Globe - Relax in America's Geothermal Pools at Yellowstone
In the heart of Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park holds the distinction of being America's first national park. But it also contains around half of the world's geysers and hot springs. For those seeking to relax and rejuvenate amidst nature, soaking in these geothermal features simply can’t be beat.
As you explore Yellowstone’s backcountry, wisps of steam rising in the distance signal an impending encounter with one of the park’s hot springs. Each pool has its own unique characteristics - some appear deep blue, others brilliant orange, and some are so hot they constantly bubble and churn. The stunning colors come from heat-loving microorganisms that thrive in the extreme temperatures. Soaking in these mineral-rich waters is said to have therapeutic benefits from alleviating sore muscles to treating skin conditions.
Of course, safety is paramount when enjoying Yellowstone’s hot springs. Many pools have temperatures exceeding the human threshold for bathing, sometimes reaching upward of 200°F. Visitors are urged to exercise extreme caution, avoid getting too close to the water's edge, and absolutely refrain from touching the delicate bacterial mats that give the pools their vibrant colors.
For a safe and sanctioned soak, head just north of Old Faithful to the Boiling River. Here, a spot called the “swimming hole” mixes cool river water with hot spring runoff to create a natural thermal bath maintained at a comfortable 104°F. Soakers relax on partially submerged ledges, letting the warm water soothe away their aches as steam from the springs rises into the crisp Wyoming air. It’s an unforgettable experience.
Alternatively, just south of mammoth-sized Grand Prismatic Spring lies Queen’s Laundry Bath. Fed by overflow from the brilliant Grand Prismatic, this historic pool was dubbed Queen’s Laundry in the late 1800s when an early visitor claimed it would be fitting for royalty to bathe there. While no longer suitable for soaking due to high temperatures, it remains a stunning spot to see steam billowing up from vivid blue waters.
Soak Up the Scenery: 18 Breathtaking Hot Springs Offering Relaxation Around the Globe - Soak in New Zealand's Thermal Springs Alongside Lush Greenery
Blanketing both the North and South Islands, New Zealand is dotted with hundreds of geothermal hot springs amidst its iconic rolling green hills. After exploring the country’s epic landscapes, there may be no better way to unwind than by soaking in these heated pools and enjoying the natural scenery.
A favorite hot spring retreat is Hamurana Springs in the Bay of Plenty region along the North Island’s eastern shores. These crystal clear mineral waters maintain a comfortable temperature between 97-100°F year-round and are said to have healing properties that rejuvenate the skin. Surrounded by palm trees, you’ll feel immersed in a tropical oasis. As you soak and gaze up at the verdant hills rising behind the pool, you’ll understand why this is called the ‘Hawaii of the South Pacific.’
On the South Island, travelers rave about Maruia Springs, located within Lewis Pass Scenic Reserve. Maruia boasts private hot spring fed tubs tucked under the forest canopy, allowing you to bubble away in your own personal corner of paradise. nothing but the sound of birdsong and the gurgle of the springs’ source stream. As you soak your cares away, you’ll feel at one with nature.
For stunning views, head to the geothermal valley of Wai-O-Tapu near Rotorua. The water here literally bubbles up with natural color as bright as painted pottery glazes in hues of neon green, vibrant orange and deep blue. Whereas many hot springs around the world are fairly mundane in appearance, the “Artist’s Palette” springs at Wai-O-Tapu look otherworldly. Nearby, you can relax in the thermal swimming pool aptly named Champagne Pool. The name says it all – soaking here truly feels like a celebration.
Soak Up the Scenery: 18 Breathtaking Hot Springs Offering Relaxation Around the Globe - Rejuvenate Body and Soul in Turkey's Ancient Thermal Baths
Dotting the Anatolian landscape, Turkey harbors an astounding abundance of thermal springs thanks to its placement atop several geological fault lines. For centuries, bathing in these mineral-rich waters has been integral to Turkish culture. While many commercialized spas can be found in major cities like Istanbul and Ankara, visiting one of Turkey’s ancient bathhouses offers a glimpse into the past along with some serious relaxation.
Dating back to the 6th Century BC, Hierapolis in southwestern Turkey was once a thriving spa city of the ancient world. Today, Pamukkale’s gleaming white calcite terraces and mineral-rich blue pools are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Strolling barefoot along the cascades, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped thousands of years back in time. Visitors describe the experience as “magical,” saying it feels like “walking on clouds.” For the ultimate unwinding, laze and soak amid the ethereal travertines, letting the warm, calcium-rich waters work their relaxation magic.
On the opposite end of the country within Eastern Anatolia lies Ani Ruins, an abandoned medieval city possessing an ancient bathhouse and remnants of a once-elaborate underground plumbing system. While you can no longer soak in the baths here, wandering the atmospheric ruins transports you to the days when this vibrant Silk Road city was a cosmopolitan melting pot. Pair a visit to Ani with a dip in the modern Yildizkaya thermal pools just 25 km away for the full experience.
While Turkey’s ancient bathhouses provide a window to the past, they also offer an escape from modern life. The ritual of cleansing oneself physically and spiritually in mineral-rich waters spans centuries, and some believe today’s fast-paced lifestyle makes this practice more essential than ever. For a holistic reset, spend a day at Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamamı in Istanbul, a meticulously restored 500+ year old Turkish bath. Visitors rave about the total sense of relaxation and rejuvenation they feel after a few hours of soaking, scrubbing, stretching and napping here. The hamam experience purportedly “dissolves stress” and makes you feel “born again”.
Soak Up the Scenery: 18 Breathtaking Hot Springs Offering Relaxation Around the Globe - Mexico's Aztec-Influenced Temazcal Rituals Offer Spiritual Cleansing
In Mexico, ancient Aztec tradition lives on through the practice of temazcal rituals. These pre-Hispanic ceremonial steam baths provide spiritual cleansing and physical healing through the use of heat, herbs, and prayer. In our rushed modern world, temazcal offers a profoundly relaxing and restorative experience for both body and mind.
The word temazcal comes from the Aztec language Nahuatl and means “house of heat.” Originating centuries ago, temazcals were considered sacred ceremonial spaces where Aztec priests would prepare people for special rites or festivities. Families would also use temazcals to heal the sick, purify women after childbirth, and ceremonially welcome infants into the community. These traditions remain in practice today.
A temazcal ritual takes place inside a low, dome-shaped mud structure reminiscent of a womb. Invited guests enter the darkness and sit on benches along the perimeter as red-hot volcanic stones are brought inside. An attendant called a temazcalero begins pouring water over the stones to produce clouds of fragrant herbal steam. Sage, eucalyptus, rosemary, thyme and copal resin are common aromatics used to promote relaxation.
As the temazcal heats up, the temazcalero leads the group in guided meditation, prayer and cleansing rituals. Guests spend the next hour or more focused inward as their pores open and toxins release. All the while, the temazcalero maintains the flow of medicinal steam and keeps energy levels high with inspirational chanting, movement and storytelling. After working up a deep sweat, participants emerge feeling revitalized in body, mind and spirit.
For travelers seeking deeper connections with indigenous culture, few experiences compare with an authentic temazcal led by a practicing Aztec shaman. Visiting places like Tepoztlán, Ek Balam and Izamal offer opportunities to participate in these sacred rituals, some of which take place by ancient ruins. Temazcal Huasteca Potosina, for example, conducts ceremonies in the mystical El Huastec region of San Luis Potosí amid waterfalls believed to hold magical powers.
At respected retreat centers like Mayan Sanctuary on the Riviera Maya, temazcal is just one facet of a comprehensive contemplative program based on ancient Mesoamerican healing traditions. Combining temazcal with other cleansing rituals like the Yucatan cenote water ceremony produces deep states of relaxation, mental clarity and spiritual awakening. Guests here describe feeling “lighter” and “more aligned with purpose” after just a single session.