Going about the mammoth task of listing some of the best hot springs in the world first requires a special set of criteria. Some of these thermal springs are spectacular spots (and spectacularly popular) because of their uniqueness. Others may have million-dollar views. There are primitive pools and others are resorts equipped with all the amenities for ultimate relaxation.
From high-budget to no-budget, this is just a sampling of the amazing natural hot springs to fit your needs and tastes. Whether you’re dreaming of visiting a world-class resort to get that perfect photo for Instagram or going off the grid with hopes of seeing more animals than humans, there’s something here for you to consider.
Here are among the world’s top thermal springs, in no particular order:
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Mornington Peninsula Hot Springs – Australia
Located in Fingal, Victoria, Mornington Peninsula Hot Springs is just an hour and a half from Melbourne, an easy day trip from one of the most exciting cities in Australia. 70 global-inspired bathing experiences await the ritual-curious like a Moroccan hammam, hilltop, and lakeside pools, an underground sauna, and a Zen Chi machine.
Aside from thermal pools, Mornington offers a wellness dome with activities like yoga and tea ceremonies, a wide range of spa treatments, hanging pod chairs, and a tea tree relaxation lounge. Relaxation domes and cabanas are also available for just you and your friends.
Additionally, there’s a three-acre kitchen garden where food-centered workshops take place. Produce is grown here for the multiple dining options on the property.
If you’d rather make a weekend of it, glamping lets you sink into sleep listening to the night sounds of nature from the comfort of a tent akin to a ritzy hotel room. Programming like outdoor movies and concerts keeps everyone entertained, and if you need more, there are wineries, coastal walks, and golf options in the area.
Read about Australia’s other top hot springs.
Therme Vals – Switzerland
Therme Vals should be at the top of the itinerary for anyone looking for high-end soaks, Michelin-starred dining, and top-notch spa services. The area is a haven for snow sports lovers, and the baths make an excellent place to meet up after a day of skiing on the nearby slopes.
One unique draw of the place is the minimalist, modern feel complete with 60,000 slabs of Vals quartzite that form the sleek lines of the thermal baths. Several pools both inside and out hold mineral water that ranges from 86℉ to 108℉ (30-42℃).
Walls of windows are strewn throughout the property from the relaxation rooms to the iconic trio of hotels: 7132 Hotel, 7132 Glenner, and the House of Architects. They take full advantage of the mountainous landscape they sit in. Staff will even put together luxurious experiences like aperitifs on a glacier after being helicoptered in or a horse-drawn sleigh through the powder-like snow followed by a massage.
Grutas Tolantongo – Mexico
Grutas Tolantongo is not your average hot spring; 26+ man-made, thermal infinity pools are perched dramatically 4300 feet above sea level on the side of a mountain overlooking the Mezquital Canyon in Hidalgo, Mexico. The steamy water ranges from 97-100℉ (36-38℃).
You can also relax in a thermal cave, but if you’re not up for a soak, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy: trekking, ziplining, or sliding down waterslides into one of the regular swimming pools on the property.
It’s a wonderful place to spend a few days, and hotel rooms and dining options are available for overnight guests. Those looking for more adventure can pitch a tent alongside the tiered hot springs river in the forested valley below and enjoy the hot water first thing in the morning, just steps from their sleeping bag.
Deception Island – Antarctica
Not many have had the pleasure of bathing in the hot springs of Deception Island in Antarctica. Amidst the population of chinstrap penguins and below the rare black sandy beach is a hot spring just waiting for passersby to dig a hole. It may be near freezing on land, but in the hole, you can mix the boiling hot water from below with that of the ocean for the perfect soaking temp.
In a landscape of blue and white, water and ice, the dark sand is a stark contrast. Ruins of an abandoned Norwegian-Chilean whaling station–and other former scientific bases–are scattered around this active volcano, long ago left behind.
Needless to say, visitors will need to heavily prepare for a trip like this and find passage on an icebreaker ship. There are multiple options for cruises from the southern tip of Argentina and minimal amenities when you get on the ground.
Lake Hévíz – Hungary
Head to Hungary to Lake Hévíz to see the largest thermal lake in the world that you can actually swim in. It covers 12 acres and ranges from seven to 125 feet deep (2-38m). The lake is fed by two sources in a unique underwater cave, one at 63℉ (17.2℃) and another at 106℉ (41.3℃).
Thick forest lines the edges of the water making it seem far from the small town it lies in, but there are plenty of hotels and restaurants in the area. This is a wonderful place for you, all your friends, and all of your friends’ friends to enjoy some geothermal water surrounded by nature without going off the grid.
Typically, swimming temperatures range from 72℉ (22℃) in the winter to 100℉ (38℃) in warmer months. Those wishing to do more than just swim can visit the Festetics Bath House, the large structure that sits in the center of the lake.
They offer the following services inside the building to improve your health: Finnish and infrared saunas, steam baths, a salt therapy room, whole-body cryotherapy, hot tubs, immersion pools, and spa treatments.
Blue Lagoon – Iceland
Located in Grindavík, not from Reykjavik, The Blue Lagoon is a landmark nearly every visitor to Iceland will hear about. And while there are quieter, more secluded hot springs out there, there are plenty of reasons this hot spot captures the public’s attention, luxury being one of them.
A huge lagoon with sky-blue water in an otherworldly volcanic landscape helps visitors de-stress before they even step into the water. Rooms in the on-site hotels—Silica Hotel and The Retreat—have floor-to-ceiling windows to fully capture the spectacular views around them. The three restaurants and a single cafe on the property, one of which is Michelin-recommended, do the same.
Imagine swimming in a massive natural pool with steam billowing around you from the 100℉ (38℃) mineral water. You can take advantage of added experiences like float therapy, in-water massage, a mask bar, and a sauna and steam room.
The “Retreat Luxury Spa” package allows you access to the spa’s lesser-used part of the lagoon and subterranean spaces as well as a skincare ritual with their specially-made products for pure bliss.
Read about Iceland’s other top thermal springs.
Ma’in Hot Springs Resort & Spa – Jordan
Ma’in Hot Springs Resort and Spa is a lush sanctuary 866 feet (264m) below sea level surrounded by the dramatic mountains around Madaba, Jordan. Six thermal waterfalls cascade down rock formations into pools on the property under clear blue skies for most of the year.
Four of the falls are open to day-passers while the other two are reserved for guests staying in the resort. Temperatures range from 86℉ to 113℉ (30-45℃).
Soak under the falls, pick a swimming pool, or grab a spot at the Roman bath. The last of these is separated into sides for men and women with the indoor hot springs creating a steam room environment with thermal pools to enjoy. The spa also offers a hammam experience along with the usual menu of luxuries.
Stick around for longer, and you can spend the night in one of the warm, locally-inspired rooms with space for a solo trip or a family stay. They offer multiple restaurants with international cuisine, a wine cellar, and two bars, one of which is next to the pool and offers over 40 kinds of ice cream.
Termas Geométricas – Chile
Dropped into the dense jungle of Villarrica National Park, Termas Geométricas sources thermal water from more than 60 springs along 500 meters of an inaccessible ravine. 18 stone pools are seamlessly built into the natural world. In fact, everything is made from stone and wood, and some of the minimalist buildings even have living roofs.
Experience lush plant life, along with almost guarantees of wildlife sightings, and when it snows or rains, the mist from the water (91-113℉/33-45℃) amidst the trees is as eerie as it is beautiful. Navigate between the pools in the ravine on a raised wooden pathway that is romantically, and unobtrusively, lit after sundown to maintain a feeling of isolation.
It feels like a natural spring but with the unobtrusive conveniences of changing rooms, lockers, and bathrooms. While there are no on-site accommodations, there is a restaurant with a variety of typical cafe food–soups, salads, and sandwiches–and with the welcome addition of pizza. All options come with rave reviews.
Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools – New Zealand
New Zealand is world-renowned for its mesmerizing natural beauty, and just 90 minutes from Christchurch, in an alpine village, Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools deliver. 22 outdoor thermal pools that range in temperature from 82-108℉ (28-42℃) offer something for everyone in your family.
There are sulfur pools, natural rock pools with gentle rapids in hidden coves, some with jets and falling water, and a freshwater lap pool for relaxing or grabbing some exercise. Meanwhile, families can enjoy the AquaPlay area with beach access designed for kids eight and under with slides and activity areas.
Everyone seeking an adrenaline rush will also want to take a turn on the four waterslides and the country’s largest aquatic thrill ride, which stands 44 feet (13.5m) tall.
Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools won the World Luxury Spa Awards in 2020 and 2021 for their outstanding resort, complete with a wide array of pools, beautiful native landscaping, luxurious spa treatments, and a tasty tea kiosk and grill. Those staying in the area for at least a few days should check out other local adventures like hiking, mountain biking, horse trekking, bungee jumping, jet boating, and skiing.
Szechenyi Spa Baths – Hungary
In the middle of Budapest, Szechenyi is a Baroque and Renaissance Revival icon. This massive facility was built early in the 20th century and serves both locals and foreigners alike with pools that range from 64-104℉ (18-40℃). Multiple types of saunas run performances by sauna masters throughout the day, as well.
Renaissance-style marble statues dot the outdoor pools, and the indoor options and spa areas are equally as grand. One unique experience in the latter is the beer spa tubs filled with thermal water and hops, malt, and yeast and with unlimited beer on tap within reach of 97℉ (36℃). They also offer more medically-targeted treatments and water therapies.
Near the spa, a hammock-equipped relaxation area more closely resembles a greenhouse, transparent from walls to ceiling. On Saturday nights, the outdoor pools are transformed into a giant bath party. Entertainment and drinks are served in the water as lasers and lights amp up the club feel in a space used to de-stress during the week.
Castle Hot Springs – Arizona, USA
Castle Hot Springs, located in the Bradshaw Mountains of the Sonoran Desert by Morristown, Arizona, is the height of luxury. This resort took one of Travel and Leisure’s World’s Best Awards 2021 and 2022 for good reason. Those looking for an adults-only, high-end, all-inclusive desert oasis will fall in love.
Farm-to-table meals prepared by onsite chefs and agronomists are included in your stay. The resort has a three-acre farm that produces over 150 different crops each year. Adventure experiences like farm tours, paddleboard yoga, wine tasting, axe throwing, hiking trails, e-bike tours, archery, lawn games, mixology, horseback riding, and many more are also included.
Three common area pools (86-106℉/30-41℃), surrounded by palms and waterfalls, flow into each other, the top one being the warmest and closest to the source of the spring. At the end of the day, guests can enjoy the fiery desert sunsets from cabins or bungalows with private outdoor mineral baths and fireplaces. There are even telescopes for staring at the stars.
Kheer Ganga Hot Springs – India
About 9,700 feet (2,956m) up in the mountains of the northern state of Himachal Pradesh, Kheer Ganga Hot Springs is the little concrete thermal pool on top of the world. To get there, you must take an easy to moderate 7.5-mile (12km) hike through the banks of the Parvati River Valley before heading up.
You can do it in a day, but after a four- to five-hour walk to get to the pool, it’s worth spending the night before the return trip.
The pool itself is just off of the Kheer Ganga trek near the waterfall of the same name. Men and women have separate sides, and there is a clothesline for keeping your things from getting wet. Mountainous views will create a lasting imprint on your memory whether snow-capped or spring-like.
Dhabas, the Indian equivalent of a truck stop with really good local food, can be found along the route, and tents are set up for visitors to spend the night but are very basic. Bring your own gear if you want to ensure a spot in something more in line with your level of camping.
Kraus Hot Springs – Nahanni National Park, NT, Canada
This last one may be far from being the best hot spring in the world, but it is far away from people. If you really want to get away from it all, Kraus Hot Springs in Canada’s Northwest Territories will do the trick.
Only the motivated will paddle 18.6 miles (30km) down the Nahanni River necessary to reach this secluded hot pot, so you won’t be running into much traffic. It’s one of the most difficult springs to get to in Nahanni National Park.
The route is filled with cascading waterfalls and dramatic canyons; it’s well worth the effort you’ll need to put in. The pool is right off the river, and there are plenty of places to tie up your boats. Kick back and spend some time taking in the 360-degree views of pure Canadian wilderness from the toasty, sulfurous water.
Wild camping is not only allowed but encouraged on a trip as long as this. Be aware that spring visits and overnights are banned from August through September due to the high numbers of black–and grizzly–bears that spend time in the area then.
Read about Canada’s other top hot springs.
Grab your swimsuit and head out to one of the best hot springs in the world. They’re certainly not the only ones that offer amazing experiences, but they’re a great place to start. Go on an adventure to one of these places, and you’ll come home revived and rested.