There are few natural offerings as serenely replenishing as a dip in a hot spring on a cold day. Primitively soothing and therapeutic, it’s no wonder that many cultures across the world and through the centuries have taken to them in one form or another. Japan, Iceland, Russia, Mexico, Ethiopia—all these countries and more boast a long history of humans basking in geothermal pools.
Hot springs—simple pools of water, in rock or sand, heated by the natural movements of the earth—remain irresistible, for both pleasure and health, especially when the temperature drops. Here are some of the best springs around the world to dip into.
The Japanese are extremely fond of their onsens, the local term for hot-spring saunas. An onsen tour would be incomplete without a visit to Hokkaido, a mountainous island in the far north, where storied springs are visited by cold macaques in the wintertime—the only monkeys in the world to partake in such pampering. On Hokkaido, check out the fall foliage at Jozankei Hot Springs. Note that swimwear is disallowed in most onsens.