Baths are good for the soul. The therapeutic waters ease the body and the mind, and they have been used for centuries as places of social gathering or healing around the world. Public bathing isn’t quite so popular anymore, but there are still a number of wonderful bathhouses and geothermal hot springs where you can don your bathing suit and enjoy the healing powers of warm mineral waters or traditional massages. Here are 10 of the best in the world.
Takaragawa Onsen, Gunma, JapanJapan is famous for its hot springs, or onsen, and Takaragawa Onsen is one of the most scenic spas in the country. Surrounded by beautiful mountains and trees, folklore says the large-capacity spa with baths located off the Takaraga stream heal the body with their magical waters. There are three mixed baths and one for just women on the site, which has been used since ancient times as a place of relaxation and rest. Plan your trip to Takaragawa Onsen in the autumn to see the fantastic colors of the changing scenery.
Address: 1899 Fujiwara, Minakami, Tone District, Gunma Prefecture 379-1721, Japan
Russia’s oldest public bathhouse, founded in 1808, is the Sanduny Banya. The 19th-century bathhouses were social places where the public could gather and enjoy the sauna together. This particular banya is the most luxurious in the city, and it is made up of several hot steam rooms and extremely cold dunking pools. The banya is decorated in traditional Russian elegance. The eight bathing rooms are each decorated in a unique style, from Russian fairy tales to Roman-style. Don’t miss a chance to rejuvenate your soul in this historic bathhouse.
Address: Neglinnaya St, 14, стр.3-7, Moscow, Russia, 107031
This Asian-inspired spa is located at the center of Villarica National Park in Chile, and it is one of the world’s biggest natural hot springs. Termas Geometricas‘ hot springs are uniquely decorated with a red wooden walkway connecting each of the 20 pools. There are also two cooling waterfalls on-site and a fogón, or outdoor fire pit. The springs are located at the bottom of a canyon over a fast-flowing stream, and the surroundings are vibrant and green — perfect for getting away from it all and relaxing in a bubbling pool of water.
Address: Panguipulli, Los Ríos Region, Chile
In 1934, Budapest was called the Spa City because its numerous spas and popular public bathing culture. Gellért Baths and Spa, which opened in 1919, is one of the most popular baths for visitors. The art-nouveau-style spa houses 13 baths including two effervescent bath sections, three outdoor pools, and eight thermal bath departments, and it is decorated with beautiful mosaics, stained glass windows, and sculptures. The popular bathhouse is part of the famous Hotel Gellért.
Address: Budapest, Kelenhegyi út 4, 1118 Hungary
The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s most popular tourist destinations and one of the 25 wonders of the world. The geothermal hot spring is located in Iceland‘s scenic black lava fields. The water, which ranges from 98-102° Fahrenheit, 37-39° Celsius, is rich in minerals like salts, sulfurs, and silica mud. These minerals, along with algae, give the water its glowing milky blue-green color. The water in the lagoon is studied at an on-site research facility, and it even has its own range of skincare products.
Find plenty of natural hot springs and ponds at Valley View Hot Springs, which is located near the Sangre de Cristo mountain range on a plot of community-owned land. Walk along the wilderness trails to find the remote springs and soaking ponds scattered around. The best ones are located up a short, steep trail, where you can look out over the fantastic view at sunset and then watch the fireflies buzz above your head. The cabins are powered by geothermal energy and have natural spring-fed swimming pools and showers.
Address: 64393 County Road GG, Moffat, CO 81143, United States
This historic bathhouse was built around 1741 by Sultan Mahmut I, and it was the last hamam built by the Ottoman Empire. The bathhouse has a grand feel with huge arched ceilings and ornamental decorations. Cagaloglu Hamam was listed in the book ‘1,000 Places to See Before You Die,’ and notable figures like Florence Nightingale and Edward VIII are believed to have bathed in the spa’s waters. A Turkish bath begins with relaxation in a heated room, like a sauna, and then you move into an even hotter room before shocking your body with a cold water wash. After you’re washed, you can receive a massage and retire to the cooling room to rest.
Address: Alemdar Mh., Cağaloğlu Hamamı Sk. 34, Fatih, Turkey
Leukerbad Therme is the largest thermal spa resort located in the Alps. The site is at an altitude of 1,400 meters above sea level, and it is open all year round. There are ten thermal baths that range from 82-109° Fahrenheit, 28-43° Celsius, and cycle through 3.9 million liters of bubbling water every day. The rejuvenating mineral waters are especially great after an afternoon of enjoying the area’s mountain sports.
Address: Rathausstrasse 32, 3954 Leukerbad, Switzerland
Saturnia’s geothermal springs are said to have been created by the god Jupiter when he threw lighting bolts to the earth. Terme di Saturnia, which is located in the scenic Tuscan countryside above a crater of volcanic origin, was historically used by Roman nobles, but today anyone can enjoy the therapeutic waters. The site includes two waterfalls and a group of pools that stay at around 98° Fahrenheit, or 37.5° Celsius.
Address: Loc. Follonata, 58014 Saturnia, Manciano GR, Italy
Located 14,764 feet above sea level, Yangpachen Hot Springs is the highest-altitude hot spring spa in the world. From the warm water — which has to be cooled from its original 158° Fahrenheit, or 70° Celsius — you can enjoy magnificent views of the Nyainqen Tanggula mountain range. Two pools are located indoors and one outside, where you’ll stay warm even in a snowstorm. The area’s hot springs produce about 30 percent of the electricity used in Lhasa, Tibet‘s capital.
Address: Yangpachen Town, Lhasa, China