Warm Up Your Winter with these Hot Spring Holidays
Bubbly, steamy, and oh-so-soothing, hot springs across the globe have long lured both natives and tourists alike with tales of their therapeutic healing qualities and captivating scientific processes. A relaxing way to spend a day during any vacation, plunging into these pools provides an extremely authentic and enjoyable way to meet locals and other travelers while experiencing a treasured part of the daily life in many countries around the world. In fact, a number of cultures view communal bathing in a revered, often spiritual light, paving the way for countries to write laws and regulations about proper mineral content, water temperature, and time spent soaking – as well as sparking the never-ending debate amongst travelers of what constitutes the best spring.
Take a look at some of our favorite destinations renowned for their thermal pools, and learn about others that you may not have been privy to, providing incredible atmospheres for soothing soaks – all to inspire your next getaway from the winter cold and into the eternal warmth of a hot spring!
– Iceland –
A country that instantly conjures images of silty turquoise basins and prehistoric lava fields, Iceland’s unique geothermal terrain makes it the ideal hot spring hub and home to some of the most famous pools in the world. The increasingly popular Nordic destination annually attracts millions of visitors in search of relaxation and wellness, and its renowned Blue Lagoon has inspired breathtaking luxury resorts like the contemporary Retreat at Blue Lagoon and volcanic sanctuary of Silica Hotel. For those seeking more authentic, less-touristy hot spring experiences, there are countless day trips to be had through the gorgeous landscapes of Thingvellir National Park or Lake Myvatn where visitors can access equally stunning thermal baths and make intimate connections with nature.
– Switzerland –
With their strong cultural emphasis on wellbeing, health, and luxury, Switzerland has been on the forefront of restorative hot spring therapy for centuries - and their “mineralbad” of today is reflective of the modern resort culture one can expect from the lavish region beneath the Alps. Updated with similar contemporary stylings of the many spas and ski resorts throughout the area, guests planning a plunge into a Swiss hot spring will become immersed in complete luxury and relaxation in a pristine setting. Travelers love basking in one of the 7 world-class treatment rooms at the chic 7132 Hotel or venturing outside Bern into the breathtaking mountainside pools of Leukerbad – both providing the unparalleled experience of a prehistoric pool soak amidst top-of-the-line 21st-Century amenities.
– Hungary –
Some of the oldest communal bathing traditions in the entire world can be traced to the eastern European nation of Hungary, which boasts incredible thermal hot springs with healing qualities that have been sought after since the reign of the Ottoman Empire in the 13th century. Their prized Gellért Bath complex remains a regional staple, housed inside its iconic Art Noveau structure in the heart of Budapest. The intricate water system within the flamboyantly decorated walls pump life into saunas, plunge pools, an open-air swimming pool, and two thermal baths. Nearby, the beautiful 100-year-old Szechenyi Medicinal Bath hosts Budapest’s largest bath complex, with their popular outdoor adventure pools comprising one of 18 geothermal baths powered by two separate mineral wells.
– Japan –
Japan has long revered their mineral hot springs or 'onsen' as sacred places for relaxation and rejuvenation, making them popular in both cities and rural villages across the land. Despite there being plentiful onsen-centered ryokans in other towns like Hakone and Takayama, fewer places dedicate themselves to the practice more than Kinosaki, a quaint resort village built upon hot spring culture just over two and a half hours from Kyoto. The self-proclaimed 'best onsen town in Japan' has been devoted to onsen bathing for more than 1,000 years and has 7 prized bath houses all easily accessible by a pleasant stroll across town. In fact, visitors walk the streets from ryokan to ryokan in their own yukata robes, further enhancing the laidback atmosphere of this cozy locale.
– South Korea –
Best known for its delectable cuisine, technological prowess, and trendy pop culture influence, South Korea’s vibrancy not only shines through its colorful culture, but its vast natural beauty. Off the southern coast of the Korean peninsula lies the exotic Jeju Island, a basalt rock land shaped by millennia of volcanic activity and home to wonders like the Sanbangsan Carbonate Springs. The immaculate complex underneath the towering Sanbangsan Mountain has a variety of rocky outdoor pools, indoor soaking spas, treatment rooms, and tasty local snacks, making for a perfect final stop for relaxation after a full day of exploring the many beaches and trails on the island.
– Thailand –
Beyond the bustling Bangkok nightlife or tranquil beaches of Phuket and the southern islands, travelers to Thailand are drawn to the serene city of Chiang Mai for its abundance of ornate highland temples and lush natural landscapes. The hilly region in the north holds several therapeutic natural hot springs within a few hours’ drive or motorbike ride of the city center — where travelers can witness not only locals and tourists enjoying a soak, but baskets of eggs beneath the water’s surface for a boil in the bath! The popular Baan Pong Nam Ron and San Kamphaeng hot springs are two of the area’s most visited springs for cooking and relaxation – each one providing its own unique atmosphere, amenities, and eggs!
– Ecuador –
The tropical wonderland of Ecuador has quickly grown into one of South America’s most popular destinations – and for good reason! Its stunning beaches and islands, lush mountain landscapes, and warm, lively culture encapsulate everything travelers love about the exotic continent. Just outside of the iconic Amazon Rainforest, overlooking the intimate town of Banos – a region renowned for its endless flow of hot spring waters – the Luna Volcan Adventure Spa further captures the essence of Ecuador, with its incredibly decorated accommodations, spa, and 5 pools warmed by the towering Volcan Tungurahua nearby. A truly relaxing and authentic experience, travelers fully surround themselves in the beauty of nature with hot thermal soaks overlooking some of the country’s greenest panoramas.
– Chile –
Bookended by the dramatic Andes Mountain range to the east and almost 4000 miles of vast coastline to the west, Chile’s incredibly biodiverse terrain offers countless natural spectacles, including the Termas Geometricas hot springs outside of the quaint village of Pucón. Tucked away in a misty ravine that feeds into Calafquén Lake, this sprawling complex has 16 geometrically shaped thermal pools in addition to four full swimming pools - all seamlessly connected by a winding network of wooden footbridges. The impressive architecture and design of the vast preserve highlights both the natural and manmade beauty of the Villarrica region, from the dramatic stone cliffsides to the wooden shelters that pop up along the pathways.
– Costa Rica –
It’s no surprise that one of Latin America’s most beautiful and exotic locales boasts hundreds of entrancing volcanic springs, and the mineral baths in Costa Rica’s magnificent tropical rainforests are truly like no other. Secluded in the thick trees of Volcán Arenal National Park, the jungle oasis of Tabacon Hot Springs draws travelers from far and wide for its steamy mineral pools and 5-star luxury resort - and has become a staple for tranquility and relaxation amongst the unparalleled scenery of the treasured region. An authentic Costa Rican experience would not be complete without a plunge into Tabacon, or any of the other fantastic springs outside San Jose or in the north of this lush country.
Ready to warm up on a wellness getaway? Check out our collection of e-Brochures for more inspiration, and connect with your Travel Advisor to make your dreams a reality!