There's no better place for a spot of midwinter R&R than a geothermal spring- the original spa therapy treatment! Soak away stresses and strains in one of these soothing hot springs.
The Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Located just 40 minutes from the capital Reykjavik, the Blue Lagoon in Grindavik is a popular man-made volcanic lagoon rich in minerals including silica and sulphur, said to help your muscles unwind and leave your skin glowing. In the summer months the complex is open until late evening, meaning you can take a romantic moonlight soak.
Temperatures average 104°F (40°C). Entry costs EUR35 and includes use of the sauna and steam rooms as well as a waterfall massage.
The natural calcium deposits that coat the terraces of Pamukkale make this otherworldly landscape a worthwhile place to visit even before you get into the thermal springs. Damage caused by tourism means that access to the springs is now limited, but it's possible to soak in the smaller pools. For an additional ₺32 it's possible to swim among Roman ruins in the Antique Pool- a very special experience!
Pamukkale is a fair hike from most of the Aegean resorts, for the best experience book an overnight visit.
Conundrum Hot Springs, Colorado, USAImage by Wanderstuck under Creative Commons license.
If you're looking for a luxuriously lazy spa weekend, look elsewhere - Conundrum Hot Springs, reached by an 8-mile hike through the Rockies, is strictly for outdoor adventurers only. Once you arrive, however, you'll be greeted by welcoming hot pools set amongst some of the loveliest mountain scenery in the US.
Accommodation is as luxurious as you can carry - this is camping country. Bring your own gourmet supper and fine wines, and plan to stay at least for a night or two.
Kinosaki, JapanImage by Wikipedia Commons under Creative Commons license.
Taking a soak in a traditional onsen or hot spring is an essential part of a trip to Japan, and there's no better town to sample the experience than Kinosaki. With seven public baths, and private hotels and inns offering access to more, you won't be short of a place to soak in this pretty village. Visitors typically wear a traditional yukata or light kimono and wander from spring to spring- a very pleasant and relaxing way to spend a couple of days while travelling.
Arenal Hot Springs, Costa Rica
Visitors to Costa Rica should definitely make a detour to the Arenal Volcano in the north west of the island, home to a lush forested national park and no fewer than ten hot springs facilities, each with multiple pools varying in temperature from a temperate 76°F to a balmy 105°F (24-40°C). There's a wide range of upscale spa resorts offering swim-up bars, colourful night lighting, waterslides and spa treatments, but it's also possible to join locals and visit the pools near the Tabacon Resort for free.
Volcanic bliss in a beautiful natural setting.
Terme di Saturnia, ItalyImage by Wikipedia Commons under Creative Commons license.
Said to be created by the god Jupiter throwing lightning bolts during an argument with Saturn, the Terme di Saturnia lie in the pretty hills of southern Tuscany and are a popular year-round attraction. Warm waters cascade down through the pools, which are completely free of charge to visit - although you can top up your experience with mineral salts and treatment creams sold in the nearby village!
Have we missed any of your favourite hot springs? Let us know below!
Written by Lise Smith, a former contributor to Lonely Planet's India guidebook - she's seen her fair share of hotel rooms (both grotty and glamorous!). She learned to walk in a hotel corridor in Tunisia, and at the age of three had been on more aeroplanes than buses. Lise writes for a number of local news, technology and arts publications.Top