6 Extraordinary Natural Hot Springs in Spain Off the Tourist Track

 

The Alhama de Granada Thermal Baths are some of the most ancient hot springs in Spain!
Alhama de Granada Thermal Baths. Image Credit: simpologist via Flickr CC

 

Tourists flock to Spain by the millions for the tapas, the sunshine, the beaches and the beer. But thousands of years ago, the enchantment of Spain ran much deeper… 4,000 meters deep, to be exact.

Far beneath the Spanish topsoil stream piping-hot, mineral-rich thermal waters. Those healing, hot waters spring to the surface in hundreds of natural hot springs throughout the country.

These hot springs have attracted tourists for more than 2,000 years, starting with the Celts in the 9th century B.C., followed by the Romans and then the Arabs. Remains of the Roman baths are now buried beneath the impressive arches of the Moorish hammams. Parts of these ancient baths are still standing and the hot springs surrounding them are still as popular as ever.

From steaming pools in the middle of mountains to first-class spas sourced entirely by naturally occurring thermal springs, there are oodles of warm waters to choose from in Spain. The unique minerals found in these waters are said to cure all types of ailments, from rheumatism to gastrointestinal problems.

Awesomely, many of these hot Springs in Spain are conveniently located near many of the foodie villages I’ve been wanting to visit as well! These are the six Spanish hot springs at the top of my must visit list.

Thermal Baths of Ourense

The thermal baths of Outariz in Ourense are some of the best hot springs in Spain!
The Outariz thermal baths in Ourense. Image Credit: freecat via Flickr CC

Along the banks of the Miño River in the far northwestern corner of Spain lies one of the largest and most popular collection of hot springs in Spain. Spewing from the ground at a nearly 150ºF, the thermal waters here are some of the warmest in Spain. Many of the pools here bathing temperatures of over 100ºF.

There are both free public hot springs in Ourense private private spa-like thermal baths. All are located just outside the city along the Miño River.

  • Pozas de Muiño da Veiga: Free, open-air, public pools along the banks of the Miño River. Has 4 pools, two large and two small.
  • Posas de Outariz: Broken into two parts, Pozas de Outariz and Burgas de Canedo which is across a pedestrian bridge. These beautiful hot springs are surrounded by gardens and are free to the public. There is also a private spa with saunas, massages and two thermal circuits.
  • Termas Chavasqueira: Private thermal baths with alternating pools of hot and cold water. For 4 euro you can spend an hour and a half in the thermal baths. There are also free, public pools outside of the spa.

Foodie Find Nearby: Plan your trip to coincide with the bi-monthly Octopus fairs in Ourense. On the 7th and 17th of each month, the fairgrounds fill with steaming cauldrons of of the region speciality: octopus!

Arnedillo in La Rioja

The Arnedillo thermal baths are some of the best hot springs in Spain!
Arnedillo Spa. Image Credit: fotobcn via FlickrCC

In the heart of Spain’s most prestigious wine region are the Arnedillo hot springs. These free pools of medicinal waters are like a steaming river in the middle of rolling, vineyard-covered hills.

There are three pools along the Cidacos River in the small Riojan village of Arnedillo. The warmest offers waters up to 98ºF. These pools are open year round and all night. Sign me up for a wintery dip beneath the stars!

You can also visit the Arnedillo Spa and Hotel, which uses the same waters and offers a full gamete of spa services like massages and saunas.

Foodie Finds Nearby: While in La Rioja, wine tasting is a must. Head to the town of Logroño, the heart of La Rioja’s wine and tapas culture, about an hour’s drive from Arnedillo for bar hopping, wine tasting and tapas crawling. Or go the extra 20 minutes to Haro to visit one of the many storied bodegas clustered in this small town.

Fontcalda Springs in Catalonia

Spain has some amazing hot springs! This gorgeous hot swimming hole, Fontcalda, is in Tarragona.
The swimming hole of all swimming holes! Image Credit: calafellvalo via Flickr CC

While they may not be the hottest thermal baths in Spain, they are arguably the most natural. These 82º F springs are tucked between the Mola and Crestall mountains about halfway between Barcelona and Valencia. The best way to access this all-natural hot spring is by hiking in on one of the various trails throughout the surrounding mountains.

Foodie Finds Nearby: Fontcalda is located in the middle of vermouth country. Traditional bodegas making (arguably) the best vermouths in Spain surround these mountains. Try Casa Mariol, a 30 minute drive north in the village of Batea; the Spanish vermouth juggernaut Miró in Reus, a hour’s drive from Fontcalda; Or head to the big city and pop into one of many great vermouth bars in Barcelona, a 2.5 hour drive from Fontcalda.

Alhama de Granada

The gorgeous village of Alhama de Granada is home to one of the most ancient and awesome hot springs in Spain.
The gorgeous village of Alhama de Granada. Image Credit: carloscastroweb via flickrCC

In the southern region of Andalusia, the evidence of Roman and Moorish rule is hard to miss. But while the most well-known remnants of these ancient cultures (such as the Alhambra palace in Granada) draw the crowds, another, more intimate relic awaits in the small village of Alhama de Granada.

The village of Alhama de Granada, located halfway between Granada and Malaga, is home to one of the best-preserved and oldest thermal baths in Spain. The name itself comes from the Arabic word for baths: “al-hammam.” Here you can see parts of the original 15th century Arab baths, which were built over their Roman predecessors.

Try out the healing waters at the Hotel and Spa of Alhama de Granada (open from April through November) or opt for the free version: various pools of the thermal water outside the hotel grounds.

Foodie Find Nearby: About an hour’s drive from Alhama is the town of Granada, arguably the best city in Spain for tapas. Granada sets the bar for free tapas in Spain, serving up fantastic and filling plates of free food with each drink. The more drinks you order, the better the tapas get!

Have you ever been to the hot springs in Spain? Which would you recommend?

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Want to take your travel itinerary to the next level? Head to one of these breathtaking natural hot springs in Spain. Not only are they absolutely beautiful—the stuff dreams are made of!—but many people don't even know they exist yet. Check out this guide for the full list of these must see places. #Spain #travel

Comments

  1. I love the termas in Ourense! My favorite by far have to be the Termas de Outariz, a privately-run set of hot springs far upstream from the city center; I love the dozen or so tiny pools they offer that have varying temperatures of water as well as water features, fountains, saunas, and pavilions. Plus you can’t beat the tranquil riverside setting. The municipal bus company runs a tourist train out there every hour or so from Praza Maior—look for bus route 19 http://www.urbanosdeourense.es/php/index.php?pag=lineas/informacion-detallada&nn=24&linea=45

  2. Hi, These sound wonderful! I am wondering, I googled Fontcalda and it says it is permanently closed, but this post is recent. Do you know if it’s still open?

    Thanks! Your site is wonderful!

      1. Hi! I don’t want any of your other readers to be misled by my comment. I’m back home in the States and just googled it again and it no longer says “permanently closed” – so no ideal why i got that search result when googling in Spain, but the Google reviews now show some comments as recent as two weeks ago. So I bet it is indeed open!

    1. Hi there. Can confirm it is open. We were there this summer. Great place to swim. Really beautiful. The thermal waters are in a small shallow pool but the river, which runs through a gorge next to it is a lovely place to swim. Access is either by a narrow and winding road or walking/cycling via an old railway line called a Via Verde.

  3. The photo at the top of this article is of baths inside the Alhama de Granada hotel. Sadly they are for show only, you cannot go in them. The hotel is rather odd, we named it Zombie Hotel as it was full of sullen looking Spanish people. There was a great outdoor pool with thermal water in it but I don’t think it’s open all year. Just outside the hotel grounds is the river with lovely little hot pools next to it which is mentioned in the article. They are free and lovely.

  4. All of these look lovely! I literally am sitting here freezing in my Madrid apartment revamping a post about hot springs in the U.S. and thought – I need to look for some hot springs here in Spain. Do you know any hot springs near Madrid? My cold feet could definitely use some warming up!! =D

  5. Hi Travelling th Malaga in May and am very interested in checking these hot springs out. Need some more info do you need to wear some form of footwear or are the bottom of the pools clean? Do they have an facilities to shower after?

    First time in Spain really looking forward to it and would welcome suggestions. Will be in the area for a week.

    1. Depends on each one– some are more like spas and have rules, others are more natural. I’d recommend looking each one up before making plans to find out and also know their opening hours.

  6. Early Spring 2017 I travelled to Fortuna just outside Murcia and there are some beautiful spas there. Not free, but camping in my van was 12 Euro per night including as much time in the spas as you wanted, the architecture in the village would be worth paying for on its own.

  7. I’m travelling down from France in October in motor home to souther Spain And want to visit as many thermal waters as possible on route.
    The above info is great as I think they all have some healing powers ,I tend to fell better after such visits
    If any other folk have more info on thermal water would love to hear
    Smc

  8. I will be visiting Spain in January and February. Has anyone been during those months to any of the hot springs to know if they are open and if they are warm enough to enjoy in winter?
    Thanks,
    Anita

    1. The pools alongside the river at Alhama de Granada outside the hotel grounds are freely open to visit all year round and the winter is probably the best time to enjoy them.

      There are also several free natural pools near Santa Fe, but quite difficult to find in the middle of olive groves accessible by tracks. The area surrounding the Santa Fe pools can get muddy in the winter so take crocs. Don’t be put off by any old camper vans and hippy types you see: these pools are wonderful specially as the sun goes down with views across to the snow capped Sierra Nevada.

  9. There is a hot spring in Tiermas, Aragon, just beneath the Pyrenees. It is under a reservoir, Embalse de Yesa, and is accessible only after September when the water level is low.

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