Soak your tired traveller’s body in our pick of therapeutic pools, hot springs and spas around the world that guarantee to rejuvenate your mind, body and soul.
Szechenyi Bath, Budapest Budapest has a rich spa culture thanks to Ottoman bathing customs brought over by the Turks who once ruled here for over 150 years. Here, you can visit the Art Nouveau Gellért baths with their indoor and outdoor pools. But the best place to experience the unique bath culture is undoubtedly the Széchenyi Bath .This stunning ochre building looks like a Baroque palace with enormous chandeliers and sculptures of Venus and Neptune. There are three grand outdoor pools where locals recharge, socialize, frolic and even play chess on floating chess boards! There are also indoor thermal pools, massage centres and a restaurant where you can pop by for a bite after.
Cagaloglu Hamam, Istanbul, Turkey A gift by Sultan Mehmet I to the city in 1741, this stunning high-domed building is located near Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. Together with its marble fountains and gardens, theCagaloglu Hamam is a stunning piece of architecture. Enjoy a sybaritic massage or choose a scrub, vigorous body massage and bath ending with a sip of their famed apple tea. Famous people like Franz Liszt, Florence Nightingale and Kaiser Wilhelm have bathed under the Cagaloglu Hamam’swhite marble dome.
Blue Lagoon, Iceland A gargantuan milky-white steaming geo- thermal spa in the middle of dark lava fields, the Blue Lagoon in Iceland—whose water bubbles away at 43⁰C—is a 40-minute drive from Reykjavik. Its water is rich is sulphur and silica and it has its own beach, mud and even lava caves where you can spend some time. The blue green algae of the water soften your skin and the silica mud exfoliates and cleanses. There are changing rooms, showers, an indoor pool and even a restaurant overlooking the lagoon.
Dogo Onsen, Japan As a volcanically active country, Japan has thousands of hot springs or onsens, scattered around the country. Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama City, Shikoku is the oldest hot spring in Japan with a three thousand year old history. Legend has it that it healed a deity’s illness. Dogo Onsen is an impressive three-storey wooden building. The onsen offers myriad experiences ranging from no-frills entry into the Kami no yu (Water of the gods) to the privacy of Tama no yu where you can get away from the unwashed masses! Enjoy a soak in the bath followed by some time in a relaxation room, sipping on green tea.
Dead Sea The lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea—with its dense concentration of salts— firmly belongs on this list. Its water contains more than 35 minerals that are good for your skin and its world-renowned mud has even been part of the beauty regime of famous historical figures like Queen Cleopatra and King Herod. Its high saline density makes swimming here practically impossible. So instead, float around for a bit before slapping on some therapeutic mud to feel rejuvenated and young.
Beer Spa, Chodovar, Czech Republic Czechs drink more beer per capita than any other country so it is appropriate that they have a beer spa. The small town of Chodovar is home to the beer spa where you can have a massage followed by a soak in a warm beer bath. This spa has been inspired by ancient Egyptian beer traditions. The mixture of mineral water and dark lager is warmed to 33⁰C and herbs, hops and yeast are added to it. A soak in the beer bath is believed to improve complexion and soothe aching joints and muscles
Hot Water Beach, North Island, New Zealand Located 175km from Auckland, this unique beach surrounded by limestone cliffs has underground fissures and hot springs. Hire a bucket and shovel from a nearby store and walk to the beach and dig. The result: mineral water bubbles up for a refreshing soak. The only condition is that the digging has to be done at low tide. The contrast between the hot water of the pit and the cold seawater is great.
Friedrichsbad, Baden Baden, Germany Baden Baden, a small town in Germany has 200,000 gallons of hot curative waters that surge daily from 12 thermal springs. Pamper yourself in the historic bath called Friedrichsbad. It dates back to 1869 and has an elaborate three-hour and seventeen-stage bathing ritual starting off with a scrub, followed by soaking in pools of differing temperatures in domed rooms and finally having a cream massage and spending time in a ‘relaxation and reading’ room. There is only one dress code here: you have to be in the buff or what the Germans call a ‘non-textile’ bath.
Pammukale, Turkey Pammukale, meaning’ cotton candy’ has a surreal landscape created by calcite laden waters. This complex of hot springs and thermal pools in terraced basins and petrified waterfalls was once the ancient city of Hierapolis. Today you can bathe in seventeen hot springs cascading over terraces, with temperatures from lukewarm to boiling hot. The curative waters are supposed to cure skin diseases, eye problems and circulatory ailments.
Huife Hot Springs, Chile Like many countries along the Pacific Ring of Fire, Chile has numerous hot springs scattered around the country. The Huife hot springs in the Lake District of Chile—40 minutes from Pucon—is surrounded by 300 hectares of native rain forest. These thermal baths have the hotel Termas Huife with cabins and suites where you can soak in thermal pools at 36⁰C and 37⁰C with whirlpools, massages and mud therapy. The sylvan surroundings with bamboo and palms along the narrow valley of the Liucura River add to the experience. The curative waters of the Huife Hot Springs are touted to alleviate muscle and bone problems and skin ailments.
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