- November 21, 2021
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Soak among mountains, jungles, and icebergs at the best hot springs in the world.
There's nothing better than taking a dip in a relaxing hot spring after a long travel day. Hot springs, the result of geothermally heated water emerging from the Earth's crust, offer relaxation and health perks like stress relief and skin detox. Even better, many of the planet's best hot springs are found in dazzling destinations that may already top your travel list. From Iceland to Italy and Turkey to Tibet, here are 12 of the best hot springs in the world.
Related: More nature travel ideas
More than a dozen thermal springs decorate the hills of Pamukkale Natural Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in southwest Turkey. Striking turquoise water, made even more vibrant by the stark-white limestone terraces that hold it, allured royal soakers throughout history, including Egyptian Queen Cleopatra. Visitors still seek tranquility and healing in these therapeutic waters, which are believed to aid everything from cardiovascular disease to blood pressure issues. The water here remains around 97 degrees Fahrenheit.
Like all of New Zealand's nature, the country's hot springs don't disappoint — starting with the paradise of Kerosene Creek in Rotorua. This heated creak, warmed to around 85 degrees Fahrenheit by a natural subterranean spring, puts swimmers in the thick of the North Island's wilderness, from the lush jungle backdrops to a waterfall gently cascading into the creek. It's free to swim in Kerosene Creek, but getting here requires knowing where to go — and finding the right gravel road — something the New Zealand tourism board has directions to help with.
Superlatives abound across the historic Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort, home to the world's only sulfur-free hot springs with healing mineral waters that run from 86 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. These springs, deemed sacred by Indigenous communities of northern New Mexico, brim with Southwestern charm: think a backdrop of shrub-speckled cliffs and subtle decorative touches that play off of the sandstone surrounds. In addition to the hot springs, Ojo Caliente features a popular Mud Pool where bathers can slather themselves in full-body healing, brown clay mud masks.
Related: 10 of the Best Hot Springs in the United States
There's driving to a geothermal pool, then there's paddling 20 mountain-flanked miles to a secluded hot spring — and the latter is what Kraus Hot Springs in Canada's far-flung Northwest Territories has to offer. This secret oasis is accessible via the Nahanni River, a multi-week paddle trail that weaves along dramatic canyons and thundering waterfalls, with a stop at these sulfuric hot springs. Natural launch sites make it possible to stop, soak, and unwind. And licensed raft and canoe guides ensure visitors explore this wild river safely.
When it comes to aurora hunting, Chena Hot Springs offers one of the coziest seats in Alaska. The serene getaway just outside Fairbanks is the state's most accessible and developed interior hot spring resort. It's the perfect blend of Alaskan beauty, with steamy water and ice-laden winter scenery, including the resort's own year-round Aurora Ice Museum and the onsite Ice Bar (ice-carved martini glasses very much included). The northern lights dance above Chena Hot Springs' 106-degrees-Fahrenheit water from late August through April.
Hot springs abound across Greenland, but the only springs warm enough to bathe in lie on Uunartoq, an uninhabited island off the territory's southern shores. Nestled among mountain peaks with views of drifting icebergs and breaching whales, Uunartoq itself is the definition of Arctic beauty. The hot springs stay toasty year round, at 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Given their isolated locale, a private boat tour is the best way to snag that coveted soak.
Few hot springs boast the tropical serenity of northern Bali's Banjar Hot Springs, a palm-fringed oasis with steamy 100-degree-Fahrenheit water and traditional Balinese décor. The turquoise Banjar springs have two levels for swimming, with eight intricate dragon spouts, one family pool, and one central pool for all guests. The water's sulfuric content promises a restful, therapeutic experience — with lush gardens, towering palm trees, and charming bird chirps further transporting visitors to their state of Zen.
Cascate del Mulino is Tuscany's Instagram-famous hot springs waterfall, although it's often confused for the luxe Terme di Saturnia hotel and hot springs next door. While Terme di Saturnia is a restful stop, there's no beating the baby-blue water at Cascate de Mulino, where entrance is free and open 24 hours daily. Here, a thermal stream of water seeps through the natural limestone pools to create a sublime experience, with temperatures staying around 99 degrees Fahrenheit.
Colorado's Pagosa Springs is more than your average hot spring getaway. Hot water in this stretch of southwest Colorado is fed from the Mother Spring aquifer, certified as the world's deepest aquifer by Guinness World Records. And The Springs Resort & Spa, which has the most geothermal hot spring pools in the state, is the best way to soak up this world-renowned water source. Try one of 25 thermal pools with varying temperatures; the pools are open to the public, with mineral-rich waters that promote healthy skin and help heal sore muscles.
Tibet's first-known geothermal destination, Yangpachen Hot Springs, rests on the southern slope of the Nyenchen Tangula Mountains outside Lhasa. The mountain-fringed scenery here is made even more stunning by the haze of steam emanating from the springs' naturally heated waters. While some water across the geothermal field surpasses 150 degrees Fahrenheit, the Holy Medical Spring Resort offers indoor and outdoor — and safe for the public — pools at a staggering 13,700 feet above sea level.
The forested Takaragawa Onsen hot springs flow between the snow-capped peaks of Joshin'etsukogen and Oze National Parks, just north of Gunma, offering a relaxing getaway with dramatic mountain scenery. These four open-air baths beside the Takara River flow in harmony with nature. The idyllic bathhouse and a forest setting that changes colors with the seasons make visitors feel like they've plunged into paradise. The onsite facilities include a 42-room hotel and a restaurant, with food crafted using fresh ingredients from the nearby mountains.
No "best hot springs in the world" list is complete without the beloved Blue Lagoon, Iceland's shimmering teal gem. The lagoon, just 20 minutes from Keflavik Airport, is the perfect Icelandic welcome. Its mineral-rich geothermal seawater is a relaxing way to recover from jet lag — or reflect on those Iceland memories before catching a plane back home. Blue Lagoon's toasty waters, around 99 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit, flow along moss-fuzzed rocks with distant mountain views that are emblematic of Iceland's beauty. Visit for the water, stay for the onsite spa, and don't miss the swim-up mud mask bars for a full therapeutic immersion.