Planning a trip to Ireland and wondering if you’ll be able to soak in some hot springs? This post has all of the information you’ll need, as well as some suggestions for experiences you can enjoy while in Ireland.
I love to visit hot springs when they’re available. As a kid, I used to go to the hot springs in the Rocky Mountains with my mom, where we’d try out a different resort each year. As an adult, I also visited hot springs in Taos, New Mexico and in Iceland.
When I first moved to Ireland in 2020, I searched for hot springs in the area. I was disappointed to learn that they don’t really exist here, given the geology of the island. In the years since, however, I’ve found some great alternatives to a soak in a hot spring.
Are there hot springs in Ireland?
Although there are some thermal springs in Ireland, they’re not warm enough to be considered hot springs. Usually these springs are only a few degrees warmer than the ambient temperature, just warm enough to keep from freezing.
So, as a practical matter, there are no hot springs in Ireland.
Can you swim in Ireland?
Instead of going for a soak in a hot spring, you’re much more likely to see locals heading into the sea or a lake for a cool dip in the water. Some people in Ireland will swim in the sea year-round, often donning wetsuits, boots, and gloves to protect themselves against the frigid temperatures.
As the weather in Ireland tends to be chilly, saunas have started to become more popular. Today, you can visit an Irish sauna by the sea and spend 30-60 minutes alternating between the cold ocean water and the warm sauna.
Historical spring: Leixlip Spa
The spring that fed an 18th and 19th century health spa was first discovered in 1793. For about 20 years, Leixlip Spa in County Kildare was a very popular spot to go for a warm swim and to cure your ailments.
It fell out of favor in the early 19th century, but you can still visit the ruins today if you’re in the area. In 1972, An Foras Forbartha – later merged into Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency – became interested in the area and renovation projects started a few years later. Today, you can visit the ruins of the old health spa while you’re in County Kildare.
Top sauna and spa experiences in Ireland
Even if you can’t go for a warm soak in a hot spring in Ireland, there are saunas, spas, and baths in the country that you can visit. Most of these offerings are near the coast, perfect for incorporating into an Irish road trip around the country.
Although the spas are typically indoors, I love that the saunas and seaweed baths feel like they have an element of wildness and connection to the outdoors. You can stare out over the Wicklow Mountains from the hot tub at Rainforest Spa, dive into the ocean after a sauna session, or literally soak with seaweed in the seaweed baths.
1. Wild Wellness Collective
The Wild Wellness Collective is a large sauna by the sea, with a window that looks out over the ocean at Garretstown Beach. My favorite way to warm up during the Irish winter is to book a sauna session at the Wild Wellness Collective, which is set just above the beach. I love to spend an hour alternating between the hot sauna and a (sometimes timid) plunge into the ocean.
2. Saltee Sauna
The Saltee Sauna is another mobile sauna by the sea, this one located near the ferry to the Saltee Islands in Wexford. Like Wild Wellness Collective, the Saltee Sauna is close enough to the water that you can dash out for a quick swim in the ocean to cool down. You can visit the Saltee Sauna after a visit to the Saltee Islands, one of the best places to see wild sea birds in Ireland, including puffins.
3. Driftwood Sauna
Only about 25 minutes from Galway is the Driftwood Sauna, another mobile sauna set right by the sea. The facilities at Driftwood Sauna are clean and modern. They also included traditionally Finnish touches, like a leaf whisk that you can use to gently tap and brush the body to increase circulation.
4. Wild Atlantic Seaweed Baths
For a unique experience, you can try a seaweed bath with Wild Atlantic Seaweed Baths. These mobile baths are set up at different locations, typically in the west of Ireland. Hot water is pumped into barrels full of seaweed, and you can soak while you look out over the sea.
The seaweed is said to be great for your skin and hair, while the warm water relaxes tired and sore muscles.
5. Castlemartyr Resort
Castlemartyr Resort is a more traditional spa in County Cork. I first visited Castlemartyr Resort as part of a small yoga retreat, but you’ll probably need to book a spa treatment like a massage or facial in order to access the sauna and other wellness rooms.
The resort’s wellness center includes a steam room, electric sauna, a warm pool, a sauna, and a cold shower. When you’re finished, there’s a relaxation room with daybeds, blankets, and infused water for you to rest until the end of your session.
5 fabulous hot springs in Europe
Although you can’t find hot springs in Ireland, other countries in Europe have springs that you can visit. Here are five of the most popular hot springs in Europe, including my favorite hot springs in the world, the Reykjadalur Valley in Iceland.
1. Reykjadalur Valley, Iceland
The Reykjadalur Valley in Iceland is home to a river that’s fed by small geysers, creating a large hot spring. I visited this area in 2015 and fell in love – at the time you could camp along the river and soak for as long as you wanted. The area is a bit more built up now, but it’s definitely still worth a visit.
You’ll need to hike into the Reykjadalur Valley. The trail is moderately difficult and takes about 45 minutes to an hour each way. I once attempted this hike in the winter, when it was iced over and dark during the daylight hours, and I would strongly recommend against it. This experience is best suited to the summer months!
2. Blue Lagoon, Iceland
The Blue Lagoon in Iceland is undoubtedly one of the most famous hot springs in the world. The aquamarine water in the Blue Lagoon is 37-40 Celsius (98-104 Fahrenheit), and people come from far and wide to bathe in it.
Unlike the springs in Reykjadalur Valley, the Blue Lagoon isn’t a natural phenomenon. Instead, it was created using the runoff from a nearby geothermal power plant. It still has all of the mineral-rich water you’d expected in a geothermal pool, but it was pumped into a man-made pool.
3. Cascate del Mulino-Hot Spring, Italy
The Cascate del Mulino Hot Springs in Saturnia are a beautiful escape in the Italian countryside. These springs are free to visit, and you’ll find lots of other bathers enjoying the warm water throughout the day. The water is about 37.5°C (99.5°F) and collects in a series of small, cascading pools, perfect for accommodating a large number of visitors.
4. Caldas de Outariz, Spain
The Caladas de Outariz in Spain is another fabulous hot spring, this one inspired by the hot springs in Japan. The spring is separated into large pools, where you can sit and relax in the warm water. There are even pools set along the river, for a more wild and natural-feeling experience.
5. Travertines of Pamukkale, Turkey
The Travertines of Pamukkale in Turkey are a natural phenomenon, sometimes called the “Cotton Castle” or “White Velvet Rocks.” The springs get their distinctive white rock appearance from a carbonite mineral that is deposited by the spring. You can’t swim in these springs, but they’re a beautiful place to visit and worth a visit if you’re in Turkey.
FAQs: Are there hot springs in Ireland?
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about hot springs in Ireland.
Are there natural springs in Ireland?
Yes, there are natural springs in Ireland, but they’re not considered warm enough to be hot springs. One natural spring that was briefly made into a wellness spa was located in County Kildare. You can visit the ruins of Leixlip Spa if you’re interested in learning more about the area.
What is the most famous hot spring in the world?
The Blue Lagoon in Iceland is arguably the most famous hot spring in the world. It is a manmade hot spring near the capital city of Reykjavik.
What country is known for hot springs?
A number of countries are known for their hot springs. Among them are Iceland, the United States, Canada, Turkey, and Japan.
Conclusion: Are there hot springs in Ireland?
Unfortunately, there are no hot springs in Ireland like the ones you’ll find in Iceland, France, or the United States. Instead, most of the water in Ireland is rather cold, be it seawater or freshwater lakes and streams. That doesn’t stop the locals, however, who love to swim (go for a “sea dip”) when they get the chance.
If the idea of swimming in the chilly Irish Sea doesn’t appeal to you, you might consider going for a sauna by the sea. Once you’re warmed by the sauna, the frigid temperatures of the ocean become much more bearable. There are also day spas throughout the country if you’d prefer to swim in a hot tub or other indoor pool.
There are some wonderful hot springs in other parts of Europe that are well worth a visit. Iceland is arguably the most popular destination for travelers seeking a soak in a hot spring, and you can easily plan a European trip to both Iceland and Ireland, if traveling from the United States.