You’ve been hiking through the jungle for hours now, and your muscles are aching. You’d give anything for a nice, hot bath. Or maybe the cold winter weather has finally started to get to you, and you want to warm up somehow. Whether it’s soothing sore muscles, helping you relax and rejuvenate, or warming you up on a frosty day, a hot springs trip is just what the doctor ordered.
Hot springs are like nature’s hot tub. They usually occur near volcanoes and steam vents, where the heat of the Earth escapes to warm up the water. Hot springs are found all over the world, and many cultures have deep traditions around bathing in hot springs. One thing’s for sure: Whether it’s in Italy or Japan or anywhere in between, people love taking a dip in these naturally warm waters. In many places, though, hot springs are so popular, you’ll find you need to pay a fee to relax in the rejuvenating water.
Lucky for you, these 20 amazing locations are still free to visit. Many of them will require a trek to get there, in which case your reward for all that hiking is a relaxing bath. You’ll find some of the others along the way to popular tourist destinations, so escape the crowds for a moment and just relax.
20 Italy Has A Hot, Free Alternative To The Spa
If you head to Saturnia, located in Italy’s gorgeous region of Tuscany, you’ll find a pricey spa that will charge you to relax in mineral-rich, 37℃ water.
Or you could head over to the Saturnia hot springs, which has the exact same water running through it. The price here, though, is 100 % free! The clear water cascades over the rock pools while the steam rises into the air around you. The minerals in the water, including sulfur, calcium, and carbon, have turned the rocks white.
Lean back, and look out at the thick woods, olive groves, and rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside as you relax for free.
19 This Hot Spring Is A Popular California Retreat
While most people think of California as a land of beaches and palm trees, head to the north of the state and you’ll find a vastly different landscape. The Californian Sierra has pine forests and rugged mountain landscapes, volcanoes and, yes, more than a few wild hot springs.
Most of the hot springs are within easy reach of nearby towns, meaning you don’t need to trek through the Sierra for days before earning your free soak. Travertine is one of the most popular. Located near Bridgeport, you’ll find both a relaxing and steamy, 37℃ bath and stunning views of the desert around you.
18 Hot Creek Is A Hot Destination
If you love hot springs, you’ll probably love the appropriately named Hot Creek. This hot spring is located in California, USA. Not very far from Travertine, it’s quite a bit larger. Hot Creek originates with Mammoth Creek, in the Mammoth Lakes area, and it’s located within the Inyo National Forest.
Hot Creek is indeed hot! In fact, some parts of the creek are actually a bit too hot. The water is heated by magma and is almost boiling. It mixes with cooler water from farther upstream, which is what keeps it temperate enough for a nice dip. Just be sure to pay attention to warning signs about where the water can scald you.
17 Take A Beautiful Short Hike To This Hot Spring In Canada
Head out to Maquinna Provincial Park to find Hot Springs Cove. Another of British Columbia’s amazing hot springs, it is completely free to visit. There’s no spa fees or other charges associated with taking a dip in these warm waters. You may need to pay a fee to get into the park itself, but that’s a pittance compared to what you’d pay for a spa hot spring retreat.
To reach the spring, you’ll need to hike for about 30 minutes. The trail meanders through some of BC’s scenic forests, so it may take you a bit longer as you stop to grab some snaps of the natural beauty. Once you’ve reached the spring, hop in, kick back, and relax.
16 Skip The Blue Lagoon And Head Here Instead
It’s no secret Iceland has many hot springs. The island is volcanic, and in fact, the country generates much of its energy from geothermal power plants. The Blue Lagoon, a man-made thermal bath, is probably the most famous hot spring destination.
But the Blue Lagoon is pricey. If you’re looking for a more economical alternative, check out one of the country’s many smaller hot springs and pools. A great choice is Reykjaldur, or “Steam Valley.” You’ll need to drive about 45 minutes from Reykjavik, and then hike through the grassland to reach this steamy spring, but it will be worth every penny you saved.
15 This Canadian Hot Spring Is Still Wild And Free
Canada's province of British Columbia has many hot springs. Unfortunately, some of them have been dammed, and others have been turned into commercial enterprises, where you’ll be charged a fee to take of nature’s bounty.
Luckily, there are still a few spots where the springs are wild and absolutely free, like Lussier Hot Springs. You can drive to Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park, or you can hike through the Valley of the Hot Springs on a well-known trail. Once there, hop in and allow the warm waters to soothe away any aches and pains as you survey the stunning pine forests that surround you.
14 Dig Your Own Pond At Hot Water Beach
If you’re on the North Island of New Zealand, you may want to check out the famous Hot Water Beach. Located along the coast, this beach is fun for the whole family.
The water beneath the beach is naturally heated. By clearing the sand, you can help the warm waters bubble to the surface. Dig deep enough and create your own personal hot tub, right here on the beach! And once you’ve done all that digging, you deserve a nice, long soak in some hot water.
Didn’t happen to bring your own spade? No worries. Local cafes in the area have you covered. They’ll rent you a shovel for a small fee. Other than that, this activity is completely free.
13 A Trip To This Spot In Ourense Is Good For Your Health
There are many hot springs located around Ourense, Spain, and the area is particularly well-known for its healing baths. Whether you’re just trying to rest and relax or you’ve got something a little more serious ailing you, a trip to the hot springs might be just what the doctor ordered.
One great spot is located near the Minho River, where the 40℃ water collects in small pools. Known as the Baños do Bispo, the Termas a Chavasqueira is a popular choice for tourists and locals alike. The water is considered helpful for those with acne and rheumatoid arthritis. The best part? It’s completely free.
12 Take Your Pick Of Hot Springs In Rotorua
The area around Lake Rotorua, located on New Zealand’s North Island, has long been known for its geothermal activities. In fact, the bubbling mud puddles and natural hot springs and pools feature in local Maori traditions. You can even see the Pohutu Geyser.
There is a spa in the area, but there also many hot springs, most of which are free to use. The pool known as Wai-O-Tapu, or “The Bridge,” can be found under a bridge just outside of Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Park. Explore the park, take in some of the local traditions, and then settle in for a long, relaxing soak.
11 This Tiny Hot Spring Is A Relief For Footsore Tourists In Reykjavik
Most of Iceland’s hot springs are located outside of Reykjavik, so you may think you need to hop a bus or take a long trek to find one if you’re in the city. Instead, you can visit a tiny pool near Grótta lighthouse and rest your tired feet.
The pool here is very small, which is why it’s more like a “footbath” than anything. Still, if you’ve been trekking around the city all day, it’s a great way to soothe sore feet. You can walk or drive, and you’ll have great views of Mount Esja and the Snæfellsjökull glacier any time of day. The best time to visit is after dark, when the Northern Lights come out to play.
10 Take A Swim In This Chilean Hot Spring
Many hot springs aren’t really ideal for swimming. At Hot Water Beach, for example, you’re going to dig a hole in the sand and lay down. At a location like Hot Creek, you may find the area too rocky and shallow to swim. And of course, there are tiny pools like the Grótta footbath in Iceland.
If you want to go swimming, check out the Termas de Polloquere, located within Lauca National Park. This northern Chilean escape provides soothing turquoise waters. The water’s color is due to the rich mineral content, which is said to aid healing and help with skin conditions. At a temperature of 60℃ and a price of free, we aren’t complaining.
9 Get A Dose Of Ancient History At The Zujar Hot Springs
If you travel to the south of Spain, you’ll find a few hot springs and thermal baths located in and around the stunning mountain scenery of Granada. Perhaps the best known of these is the Zujar hot springs, or the Baños de Zujar, as locals would say.
The baths are located in the village of Zujar in the province of Andalusia. They’ve been known and used since Roman times. In fact, the baths today are the remnants of an ancient Roman spa. You can relax in the soothing waters, knowing you’re following the footsteps of so many generations before you.
8 Watch An Outback Sunset And Have A Soak Here
The Aussie Outback is known for its extreme temperatures, so it only makes sense the water would push the mercury too. At Dalhousie Springs, in the western Simpson Desert, this hot water is known to bubble up in more than 120 different locations.
The main spring features water with a temperature hovering around 40℃, rich with minerals. Due to their desert location, the springs are really oases in a harsh landscape. Hike through some rugged Outback terrain through Witjira National Park, then cap off the day with a relaxing soak. Take in the sun setting over the desert as you prepare to camp.
7 Bagno Vignoni’s Main Square Is A Hot Spring
This next location takes us back to Italy, where you can also find many ancient baths. Bagno Vignoni is one. It’s likely the hot springs here were well-known even to the Etruscans, the forebears of Rome. The baths were also popular in the Middle Ages, when they were renowned for their curative powers.
In town, you’ll find the main square is actually a hot spring itself. It’s not considered proper to bathe here, though, so take a few steps to the Parco dei Mulini for a free bath. The town was a popular resort for some of the highest-ranking people of the Renaissance, such as the pope himself!
6 Experience A True Japanese Onsen For Free
Japan sits in the Pacific Ring of Fire, and many of its mountains are volcanic. In fact, some of them are still active to this very day! As a result of all this volcanic activity, Japan is also home to almost innumerable hot springs. Bathing in a hot spring, known in Japanese as “onsen,” is a local tradition.
You can visit Kusatsu Onsen, one of Japan’s leading hot springs, for absolutely free. Located in Gunma, near Nagasaki, Kusatsu features several different hot springs, all of which are free. Nearby, you’ll find shopping, inns, hotels, and cafes. It all adds up to a relaxing experience.
5 Visit 2 Springs For The Price Of 1 In Chile
If you want the absolute best deal on free hot springs, travel to Huerquehue National Park in the south of Chile. As you trek through the woods near Pucón, you’ll find not 1, but 2 amazing hot springs located in the park and free for visitors.
Nestled against some of Chile’s most dramatic Cordillera scenery are the Termos Río Blanco and the Termos San Sebástian. Both are found along the Río Blanco. In the background, you can see the enormous Villarrica volcano. The volcanic activity in the area is also what keeps these waters so warm, with temperatures fluctuating between 48 and 70℃.
4 Mataranka Is A Popular Tourist Destination In Australia
About 100 kilometers to the southeast of Katherine, the Mataranka thermal pool has become something of a tourist attraction. Maybe it’s the beautiful, turquoise waters, which are stained by the underlying limestone formation. Or maybe it’s the fact they’re about 34℃—perfect for bathing.
You can also see Bitter Springs and Rainbow Springs here, in addition to exploring the rest of Elsey National Park. After you’ve explored some of the trails, relax in one of the pools beneath palm trees. Being surrounded by the calm blue waters is the perfect way to end a busy day of trekking.
3 Plan A Relaxing Visit To This Beach-Side Town
Welcome back to New Zealand. This time, your destination is the small beach-side town of Kawhia Springs. It’s considered one of New Zealand’s best-kept secrets.
Also known as Te Puia Springs, this great free hot spring is much like Hot Water Beach. Be sure to bring a shovel, as you’ll be digging your own pool in this ocean-side beach. Once you’ve finished this task, you can settle down in the sand and enjoy the hot water.
You should also pay attention to timing. This area is only accessible at low tide, and you’ll want to clear out before the tide rolls back in. Nonetheless, it can be a great way to relax, even just for a little while.
2 This Hot Spring In Italy Is Perfect Any Time Of Year
It’s little wonder the Romans were so famous for their baths. Italy is covered in hot springs, making it easy to bathe whenever you want. Another famous ancient pool is located in Bagni di Petriolo.
Petriolo is located about halfway between the cities of Siena and Grosseto. The waters here maintain their temperature all year round, holding about 42℃. It’s the perfect way to warm up on a winter’s day, or let go after a long day spent exploring the historic area around Siena or the nearby nature reserves. Afterward, enjoy some of Tuscany’s famous cuisine and a gorgeous Tuscan sunset.
1 Aquis Querquennis Is Another Great Option In Spain
As already mentioned, the province of Ourense in northwestern Spain has a wellspring of free hot springs for you to visit. A popular choice among locals and tourists alike is the Aquis Querquennis.
The hot spring itself is located along the shores of a reservoir, and it’s perfect for a soak after a long day of exploring. What exactly is there to explore in this area? In the immediate vicinity, you’ll find the ruins of a Roman-era military camp and, yes, more Roman baths. In nearby Bande, you’ll find other Roman ruins and medieval churches, all waiting to be explored.
Sources: TheGuardian, Backpackerguide, Travelience, Australian Geographic, CultureTrip