1. Iceland. The Spa of the Polar Circle
It is the most atypical thermal center in the world: not far from the Polar Circle, a natural lake of tropical temperatures has become the only resort on the island of ice and fire. In the middle of black lava blocks, the waters of the Blue Lagoon -Bláa Lónið, according to the locals- contrast with their milky blue tone. However, most of the year the temperature difference between water and air forms a cloud of vapor so dense that it is not appreciated. It is common for two people not to see each other, facing each other. The springs were born thanks to the unused waters of a geothermal power station and eventually became one of Iceland’s biggest attractions.
2. England. The ancient Roman Baths of Bath
It is one of the oldest built thermal centers in the world. The Romans made the pools and some of the buildings that can still be enjoyed in Bath, in the English Somerset. The original nucleus of the present city was called Aquae Sulis and was founded around 50 BC. The Celtic peoples already knew and enjoyed the warm waters of that site in the Avon valley, while the Romans built a frame of temples and baths and were the forerunners of a fashion that really exploded under Georgian times. The thermal city is also an important cultural center and has numerous theaters. He also recalls Jane Austen, who lived there for a few years and placed in Bath some of her novels, such as Northanger Abbey. Her readers do not miss the Jane Austen Center and the annual festival around her work.
3. Hungary. The waters of Budapest
This city is the European capital of spas. Centuries ago the Magyars channeled hot springs along the banks of the Danube. The thermal baths have therapeutic but also social purposes, as shown by the daily scenes of people who spend hours playing chess in the thermal pools. There are about 130 water fountains operated in total in the city and its surroundings, but the most emblematic are those of the Szechenyi complex, a magnificent Neo-Renaissance building, with outdoor pools where swimmers are surrounded by an Italian theater set; and the Gellert thermal baths, the most luxurious. The hotel of the same name was built in art deco style in 1918. The pool is framed by elegant columns under a glazed roof that has become one of the postcards of Budapest.
4. Japan Takaragawa Onsen
The hot springs abound in the Japanese archipelago, a land of intense volcanic activity. Among all the onsen (that’s what the Japanese call the thermal baths), Takaragawa’s in Gunma, north of Tokyo, is a journey into samurai time. The baths are taken on the Takara River, outdoors and in a natural setting, among large stones. The heat of the water generates fumaroles that give a touch of mystery to that mountainous corner hidden in the middle of a forest. The resort is within a ryokan, a traditional Japanese hostel. The natural pools are so large that in one of them men and women bathe at the same time, something unusual in Japan. Another particularity of Takaragawa’s onsen is that it opens continuously and it is possible to bathe at night and at dawn, a magical moment when nature and the forest awaken.
5. Neuquén Copahue or Domuyo?
Argentina is also a great thermal destination. The popular centers of Entre Ríos and Santiago del Estero can not rival in beauty with the one of Copahue, hidden in the middle of the neuquinos Andes, very near the border with Chile. At almost 2000 meters high, several sources sprout with different temperatures and mineral compositions. The thermal center and outdoor pools capture the waters suitable for treatments. The resort only opens in summer because during the winter is covered by a thick layer of snow. However, it is not the only geothermal place in the north of the province. In the region of Andacollo, the volcano Domuyo – the roof of Patagonia – causes the formation of the only geysers in Argentine territory. Nearby there is Villa Aguas Calientes (in the photo), a rudimentary camping where hot springs are offered in a stream of warm waters that come down from the foot of the volcano. Several jets of different temperatures are intermingled and form jumps ideal for natural massages.