It has to be one of the most glorious ways to relax courtesy of Mother Nature: taking a soak in the mineral-rich waters of a thermal pool. Sublime and truly sumptuous, these six stunning hot springs are sure to get you feeling *sigh* completely relaxed.
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The Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa, Iceland
Of course we have to mention (arguably) the world’s most famous hot spring. Known around the world for its milky turquoise waters and rugged volcanic rock surrounds, Iceland’s Blue Lagoon (40 minutes from Reykjavik) really is worth the hype. Here, you’ll be treated to toasty temperatures (around 37.2° to 38.8°), plus fabulous touches like a sauna, steam baths and even in-water massages – pamper session, anyone?
Half the fun of visiting this iconic spot is slathering yourselves in the pool’s silky silica mud (it’s a lot better than it sounds). Helping to cleanse and revitalise the skin, the natural beauty product is also believed to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. That’s our kind of spa treatment!
Grutas de Tolantongo, Mexico
If you’re obsessed with infinity pools, this amazing natural wonder is for you. Cascading into Mexico’s magnificent Mezquital Valley, Grutas de Tolantongo (three hours from Mexico City) seems too incredible to be real.
Filled with warm, naturally mineral-infused water heat by the surrounded volcanic mountains, each pool provides a magical place for relaxing and admiring the views. Want more? There’s also a cave to explore and a hot spring river that’s perfect for taking a dip in – great for mixing relaxation with a little adventure!
Looking like something from a sci-fi film, the Pamukkale thermal pools (five hours from Ankara) are possibly Turkey’s most beloved attraction. And for good reason. A collection of terraced pools descending down a steep ivory valley, this otherworldly spot is also the site of an ancient well-preserved Greek-Roman city. How’s that for a historical tour?
What makes the pools such a striking sight is the contrast between their white limestone formations and Tiffany blue waters. No wonder the Romans loved soaking away their troubles here. The only downside to visiting Pamukkale? Okay, technically you can’t actually swim here anymore but there is a special swimming pool overlooking the thermal pools that – legend has it – was built by Marc Anthony as a gift to Cleopatra. In other words, it’s a must-see for romantics!
Hot Water Beach, New Zealand
For a completely different travel experience, build you own hot spring! Confused? Definitely one for the bucket-list, New Zealand’s aptly named Hot Water Beach (two hours from Auckland) is where couples can dig their own thermal bath. No, that’s not a typo.
Just below the surface, bubbling thermal waters promise a spa experience like no other. Find your own private spot at low tide, get to work with your good ‘ol shovel and simply unwind in your own thermal bath, just steps from the beach’s rolling waves – sensational!
Takaragawa Onsen, Japan
If there’s one destination in the world that’s all about hot springs, it’d have to be Japan. Bathing in an onsen (natural hot spring) is a popular local pastime that goes back thousands of years, so there are plenty to spots to choose from here. Heck, in Japan’s north you can even see monkeys chilling out at the famous Shibu Onsen!
One picture-perfect option that’s hard to go past? Hidden amongst dense forrest, Takaragawa Onsen follows the stream of the tranquil Takaraga River, creating a setting that’s utterly enchanting. Take it all in while unwinding in one of the gorgeous baths on offer and feel immersed in nature.
Peninsula Hot Springs, Australia
Ideal for a romantic getaway or short break, Peninsula Hot Springs in Victoria’s spectacular Mornington Peninsula (90 minutes from Melbourne) promises a blissful experience.
Cherished for its rejuvenating mineral waters, this beautiful spot is like heaven on Earth. Feel your stresses slip away when you take it easy in one of the private or shared thermal pools. And enjoy extras like hydrotherapy pools, Turkish hammams, saunas or barrel baths. Well, you do have to take care of yourself, right?
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Image credits: www.mexicodestinos.com/, Adam Bryce, www.facebook.com/Gunmatakaragawaonsenousenkaku/ and www.peninsulahotsprings.com/