For centuries, naturally hearted mineral-rich waters have risen through the earth’s crust, gathering into pools or channelled into man-made spas in almost every nation of the globe.
Infused with elements such as iron, sulphur, magnesium and potassium, the world’s most spectacular hot springs offer therapeutic and medicinal properties relied on by ancient civilisations – as well as spiritual, religious, and natural environmental connections. And, as a bonus, these natural wonders are incredibly photogenic.
From Turkey’s Instagram-worthy cascades to soaking in the Sierras mineral-rich filtered waters, we’re bubbling with excitement to show you some of the world’s best hot springs.
Pamukkale Thermal Pools, Turkey
Once a bustling Greco-Roman city now characterised by its blinding white travertine limestone terraces formed of sedimentary rock, Pamukkale is one of Turkey’s most beautiful and restorative hot springs.
What at first sight seems to be a glacial white landscape, Pamukkale’s 17 tiered pools are exceptionally high in calcium carbonate thermal water and perfectly reflect the cerulean Aegean sky. A stark comparison to the rest of the surrounding lush Denizli area, delight in various forms of hydrotherapy used in tandem with religious rituals in water temperatures that are consistently 35 degrees Celsius.
Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Grindavik’s otherworldly Blue Lagoon, a 50-minute drive from Reykjavik, is an ethereal icy blue heaven, where billowing steam emerges from the milky blue waters enclosed by black snow-capped rocks. Named one of 25 wonders of the world by National Geographic, the Blue Lagoon’s seawater temperatures range between 37 and 40 degrees Celsius, making the mineral-rich spa perfect for skin rejuvenation, while the warm vapours are ideal for toxin removal. This is not just a must-visit destination, it’s a bucket-list experience.
Travertine Hot Springs, California
Outside the rural town of Bridgeport, California, a dirt path leads to one of the most visited mineral hot springs in the United States of America. A staple for cross-country travellers, weary adventures and international wanderers, the Travertine Hot Springs are a free, relatively easy to reach natural wonder formed by trickled geothermal water over travertine rock and algae. Here, the mineral groundwater feeds each spring in varying degrees of heat, ensuring year-round attendance. You may have to share your experience with others, but the expansive jagged spires of Sawtooth Ridge and Sierra Nevada panoramas are worth the crowds.
Banjar Hot Springs, Bali
Known for its sun, surf, sand and serenity, Bali is also home to geothermal masterpiece the Banjar Hot Springs. Tucked away in the island’s far northern reaches, near the famed Brahma Vihara Arama Buddhist monastery, the hot springs complex of Banjar is a destination unto itself – with three pools, a private hot tub area, a spa and an onsite restaurant. Here, natural sulphur-infused water pours from the mouths of eight stone carved naga (mythical dragon-like creatures), filling pool upon pool with milky aqua water, or ‘holy water’ as the locals call it. Insider tip: standing underneath one of these currents provides sensational shoulder massage.
Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs (New Mexico), United States of America
Discovered by Spaniards in the 1500s and deemed sacred by the Native Americans of Northern New Mexico, Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa is one of the United States of America’s oldest health resorts and the only hot spring in the world with four different sulphur-free, healing mineral waters. Secluded within rugged desert cliffs and a cottonwood-lined eclectic bosque, Ojo’s legendary waters have been soothing body, mind and spirit naturally for almost 3,000 years. Guests can also stay onsite, offering additional access to private outdoor springs.
Terme di Saturnia, Italy
For a truly Tuscan experience, seek out Terme di Saturnia’s cascading, turquoise blue pools —one of Italy’s best natural wonders. Once believed to be a gift from the gods, then the exact point where Jupiter’s thunderbolt fell in a battle against Saturn (thus the pools – or scars – left were portals to hell), these thermal springs have been luring locals for more than 3,000 years. Rich in mineral deposits known for their healing effects, a powerful sulphurous volcanic spring – replenished every four hours – keeps water flowing across all levels as well as ensuring a constant temperature of 37 degrees Celsius throughout. The best part? It’s free!
Mornington Hot Springs, Australia
The family-run Peninsula Hot Springs has been warming visitors to this popular tourist destination, just one hour from Melbourne, since 2005. Once vast sand-dunes and verdant bushland, this 42-acre site features more than 20 different wellness experiences, including thermal mineral pools, an underground sauna, private outdoor baths, a cold plunge pool, a Turkish steam bath and cave pools. Future ideas include accommodation and an onsite restaurant.
Kusatsu Onsen, Japan
Nestled within what is widely considered to be one of Japan’s most traditional onsen towns, Kusatsu Onsen’s powerful healing waters are renowned worldwide. It is believed, a soak in these sulfuric springs would have the potency to cure any ailment, bar a broken heart, so much so personal physician to the Japanese Imperial Family and co-founder of modern western medicine in Japan, Erwin Bälz, even recognised Kusatsu’s health capabilities in the late 1800s. Rejuvenating powers aside, Kusatsu also boasts the largest flowing water volume of all hot springs in the country. Every minute more than 32,000 litres of undiluted water pours from Mt. Shirane, an active volcano.