I have always been drawn to natural hot springs – after all who wouldn’t build up this image of sitting in lovely hot water while overlooking some beautiful mountains after seeing photos like this? That is what many hot springs look like when you browse Instagram...
The funny thing is that I have never actually been to any hot springs. Hungary has tons of thermal water, but pretty much all of the water sources had a bath complex built on top of them by this point, so the number of freely available ones is close to zero. And somehow in all my travels, I have never visited any. However, that was about to change when Aisling sent me an article with a collection of hot springs in Andalusia! It was time to go exploring!
I chose the hot springs closest to Granada, which are about 15 km away from the city, literally in the middle of nowhere. They are called Termas de Santa Fe, or Santa Fe Hot Springs. You can get there by car (if you are not afraid of off-roading) or bike. You could probably take a bus to Santa Fe or Granada Airport and walk another 5-6 km from there as well.
I was in the mood for a nice bike trip, so I hopped on my bike and rode through odd little villages and messy dirt roads. I am always astonished by how random routes Google Maps suggests when you search for bike routes. But I did bump into some very interesting things. I found a half-finished highway project, which was really unexpected. On the way back, I even biked a couple of kilometers on it, just to see what it is like!
The Hot Springs
After biking through some olive groves on an increasingly rough dirt road, I started seeing camper vans scattered throughout the trees. I knew I was in the right place!
At the top of a small hill, hidden among the olive groves, there is a series of pools, which then turn into a stream of hot thermal water. There are two bigger pools and some smaller ones as the stream runs down the hill. After the bike ride it felt amazing to hop into the hot water and just float around for a while! I could definitely get used to this more often…
It is a very well-known spot, so it is quite crowded, even though I was there on a weekday morning. This also meant that I didn’t really take photos of the pools themselves, since some people there prefer not to put on the bathing suits!
The hot springs were surrounded by camper vans, 4x4s, motorbikes and people staying in tents. Clearly, most people who come here don’t just stay for a few hours like I did. Instead there is this nomadic hippie-village vibe. Some enterprising “villagers” even opened a little bar next to one of the pools in the back of a Westfalia Ford Transit camper.
I saw a lot of rigs that I quite liked, especially the nice blue-and-white Volkswagen LT and a really stealthy-looking Renault Master! This kind of lifestyle has appealed to me for a long time and I could totally see myself traveling around in a converted van, exploring Spain, wandering around, stopping at places I enjoy (like this hot spring) for a couple of days and just moving on when I get bored. All I need is a remote job and a huge mobile data package! Well, that and a campervan… And money… Okay, I’ll admit, I still need to work on this plan!
While these weren’t your typical, romanticized, oh-so-instagrammable hot springs, instead being busy, slightly muddy little puddles, they are most definitely worth the visit. First of all, it is a fun bike ride to get here, then the water is amazing and the whole vibe of the place is really cool. I just felt like I looked way too civilized… next time I’ll come in my hippie pants and a patched-up shirt!