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Epic Hot Springs and Open-Air Baths for Your Soul

Epic Hot Springs and Open-Air Baths for Your Soul

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Getaway Staff
Updated: Nov 26, 2021

Pools, hot tubs, showers, and bathtubs are a thriving industry because humans have a deeply ingrained love for all things water. We drink it, we consume its creatures, and we love a good ol' swim. We also love washing as a ritual to start our mornings on a fresh note, to dissolve our problems when the day is done, and to cleanse and protect us from pathogens.

The world's best hot springs and open-air baths do all this and more. They reconnect us with nature, the cultures of yore, and the people around us. And hydrotherapy can be healing and intensely comforting.

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01Soak up the history in Pamukkale

Pamukkale at Sunset David C Tomlinson / Getty Images

You'd be hardpressed not to find Pamukkale on a Turkish tourism brochure. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, these hot spring terraces are a stone's throw away from the ruins of Hierapolis, a former Roman spa city. The travertine cliffs that form Denizli's famous tiered pools are white, which is why the warm waters here can look so icy blue on a sunny day.

Six hours south of Istanbul, Pamukkale is well worth a visit. Stay the night in the region to avert the day-tripping crowds, and you'll get more time in proximity to the ancient past.

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02Don't lose your nerve at Devil's Pool

Devil's Pool, Livingstone Island, Victoria Falls, Zambia - the only place you can swim at the lip of the falls and look over into the 110 metre drop Cultura RM Exclusive/David Fettes / Getty Images

When it's not the rainy season in Zambia, you can live life on the edge and take a dip in Devil's Pool. Overlooking Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall in the world, this spectacular spot on Livingstone Island takes the concept of an infinity pool to a whole new level. If you're brave enough, you can crane your neck to get an eyeful of the 100m plunge to the bottom.

October and November are the best months to visit.

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03Erase and unwind at Kurokawa Onsen

Kurokawa Onsen takafumi99 / Getty Images

There are thousands of Japanese hot springs or onsen. Visiting one of the country's onsen ryokan is sure to melt away life's stresses, at least for a day or two.

Kurokawa Onsen is a picturesque hot spring town in central Kyushu offering mixed or women-only bathing in cave and riverside baths. You can purchase a pass that allows you to visit three different baths in one day.

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04Relish the forest ambiance at Termas Geométricas

Termas Geometricas, Chile marktucan / Getty Images

In the snowy region of Pucon, Chile, you will find a charming Japanese-inspired hot spring spa with waters that stay warm and toasty throughout the year. Well, the waters in the natural pool, at least. This lake district attraction's waterfalls can plummet to 43 degrees Fahrenheit.

Termas Geométricas is situated in verdant Villarrica National Park a few hours south of Santiago. It's sure to be a highlight of any trip to this South American nation.

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05Contemplate the universe on Uunartoq Island

Uunartoq Island, Greenland Jhony / Getty Images

In a frosty corner of the globe, there's a South Greenland island called Uunartoq that no human soul calls home. Uunartoq's remote hot spring offers year-round bathing overlooking mountaintops and moving icebergs. Cruise ships make frequent trips to Qaqortoq, where you'll find boats to deliver you to your destination. If you like the idea of luxuriating in an almost otherworldly environment, this is the bath for you.

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06Spend a few days in Hévíz

Lake Heviz thermal bath in Hungary, Europe

Hévíz presents a truly unique prospect; the chance to sink into the world's largest thermal lake. Embrace halcyon days in this gorgeous Hungarian town. You'll get used to dunking your body into healing mineral-rich water for half an hour and sleeping like a baby. Imagine water lilies, lots of them. And throw in winter-time water vapor that can soothe your throat and vocal cords when inhaled.

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07Float contentedly at Blue Lagoon

The sun was rising at the blue lagoon and it was a delight to swim in the warm baths with the outside temperature around zero degrees created a slight mist in the air as the cold air made contact to the warm water. elkaphotos / Getty Images

No list of hot springs and open-air baths is complete without a mention of Iceland's Blue Lagoon. This steamy tourist magnet is worth the hype. Just half an hour from Reykjavík, Blue Lagoon is an artificial pool filled with recycled mineral-rich water from a geothermal power plant. Evening swims amidst black lava rocks and under star-studded skies will leave both your spirit and skin feeling great.

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08Do as the patricians did at Terme di Saturnia

Photo taken in Terme Di Saturnia, Italy Stijn Dijkstra / EyeEm / Getty Images

Southern Tuscany casts a spell on many who venture there with its vine-covered hills, idyllic countryside, and rugged hills. Terme di Saturnia is one more reason to visit this Italian region. Once a jaunt for the Roman elite, the thermal resort now boasts a large golf course. The volcanic hot spring's waters can supposedly cure many a malady, but you'll have to deal with the accompanying whiffs of sulfur.

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09Swim languidly in Mataranka

Australian woman diving in Bitter Springs near Mataranka in the Northern Territory, Australia. chameleonseye / Getty Images

Venture into Australia's Northern Territory, and you'll find jewel after jewel. One of these is the sacred Uluru. Mataranka's hot mineral springs are another treasure, albeit a less known one among foreigners. Sparkling waters fringed by palm trees entice visitors to linger in the spring's delicious warmth.

The attraction can get pretty busy, but a short trek to swim in refreshing Stevie's Hole more than makes up for the change of plans.

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10Keep an ear out for the divine at Ik-Kil

Lovely cenote with transparent water and hanging roots JoseIgnacioSoto / Getty Images

Mexico's cenotes are the stuff Instagram dreams are made of. Cenote Ik-Kil, in particular, looks as good in real life as it does in pictures. It has a lush color palette, and palpable energy derived, in part, from the hanging vines and sheets of water falling from the open ringed roof. The waters here were considered sacred by the ancient Mayans, and the ruins of Chichén Itzá are also in this nook of the Yucatán peninsula. Did anyone say bucket-list double-whammy?

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