Among the attractions marking the countryside outside Rome are a copious number of thermal baths and hot springs. Some are well-known thermal pools enclosed in spas with resorts, others consist of sets of pools with basic facilities, and there are also hot springs near Rome immersed in nature.
The presence of thermal baths near Rome dates back to the pre-Roman age. Some historians attribute to the abundance of curative waters the fact that civilization flourished in central Italy. If you don’t know much about the geology of the region, which once was an extended system of volcanoes and lava flows, you will be surprised at the number of thermal centers you could visit in Rome’s surroundings, through to the border with Tuscany and Campania, and even beyond.
Italy is definitely a thermal destination for hot spring lovers, but you need to research a bit to find out the thermal baths which would best suit your travel plans. In this post, I’ll introduce my favorite ones.
A guide to thermal baths and hot springs near Rome, Italy
The locals are really fond of the gift from Mother Earth that has cured their bodies and minds for thousands of years. Thermal waters from this region have been used to treat respiratory, digestive, circulatory, bone, and skin diseases. In the largest thermal centers of Viterbo and Tivoli, treatments are offered at discounted prices for citizens as part of the state-run health care.
The temperature of the water varies from location to location and from pool to pool in the same thermal center. Regardless of how many hours you spend in the pools, you will feel relaxed, energized, and happier throughout the following day. These are truly precious waters, and you will enjoy having a bath even with the lowest temperatures. (It never really gets extremely cold in this part of central Italy anyway.)
How to reap the full benefits from a bath at the hot springs near Rome
Here are some tips for enjoying thermal baths and hot springs in Italy
- Listen to your body: keep your towel and slippers nearby the pool so that you can get out quickly if you feel sick. Ideally, you should have a break every 15-20 minutes from the hottest pools.
- If you feel like fainting, exit the water, lie down, and raise your legs.
- Avoid bathing under the direct sun if the day is warm! Choose to have an evening/night bath instead, as some of the places I’ve listed allow night entry.
- Bring one or two bottles of water at room temperature with you to the pools.
- If you visit during late July, August, or September, be careful, because then is not the best season to take a thermal bath.
- This is your chance to find out the real reason why Italians are “hot”: it’s because of these priceless natural hot springs that influence our mood and life.
The big open-air pool at Terme dei Papi, Viterbo
1. Thermal baths in Viterbo
Viterbo lies 80 km north of Rome’s center in between the two volcanic lakes Bracciano and Bolsena. The hot springs surrounding the city attract local visitors from all the other parts of Italy and are the cherry-on-top of a destination popular for a picturesque medieval walled town and good affordable eats. Viterbo is the queen of the biggest city in the Tuscia region, and, if you make it there, you just can’t miss a bath in one or more of its thermal centers.
The natural hot springs of Viterbo flow out at 58 degrees from the Bullicame Spring, a 12 km long fracture in the ground, and were already used by the Etruscan people, who preceded the Romans in the area. Dante talked about this water in the Divine Comedy, while Michelangelo sketched about the thermal pools.
TIP: During the hot season, the temperature of the water is really unbearable, and you would better visit the Saturnia hot springs and natural pools, where the water is colder.
Let’s see what are the best thermal pools in the area of Viterbo.
Terme Dei Papi thermal baths
In this spa, you can use thermal water to cure many common ailments. Start bathing at the 2000 mt wide monumental thermal pool, (basic ticket €18 the entire day). Bring your own towel and slippers if you don’t want to buy them at the center. The spa also offers beauty treatments and packages and has a thermal grotto, hotel, coffee bar, and restaurant.
How to get to Terme Dei Papi in Viterbo by public transport from Rome
- 1. You can take the Shuttle Bus that leaves from Viale George Washington near Metro Flaminio Station at 9 AM and returns to Rome from the thermal center at 4 PM each day, the two-way ticket is €8, you get it from the bus driver at departure.
- 2. Take a train to Viterbo from Trastevere, Ostiense or Valle Aurelia station and get off at Viterbo Porta Fiorentina. In front of the train station, in Piazzale Gramsci, you’ll find the Francigena Bus No. 2 that stops at Terme dei Papi.
Il Bagnaccio Thermal Pools & Nature
This hot spring near Rome is managed by a small local organization and offers competitive prices, actually the lowest I’ve found when exploring the thermal baths near Rome. For €6, you get an entry ticket to pools valid for the day. There are five pools with different temperatures. The biggest two are perfect autumn to spring since they’re very hot.
The pools are emptied and cleaned every day, but the facilities are spartan. You’ll feel amazing here if you love nature and adventure, as the place is silent and relaxed, surrounded by nature. You can only get here by car and there’s a free parking area.
The author relaxes at popular hot spring “Il Bagnaccio”
2 A thermal center near Lake Bracciano
In case you would love better to pair your relaxing detour from Rome with a visit to a Medieval castle and a stroll along the shores of a crystal-clear lake, well… you’re lucky! The Terme di Stigliano Thermal Park can be reached with a 20 minutes drive from Lake Bracciano, one of the most beautiful lakes near Rome.
Thermal pools are open from mid-March to November. The park features 600 sm of open-air pools in a hilly, secluded position, surrounded by meadows. Beach umbrella and bed are included in the ticket. A nature trail starts near the pools and gets to a bamboo wood where massages and small events can be arranged.
A classy hotel and restaurant can do for you if you want to spend the night. This place is perfect to relax with the whole family. You need to wear a swim cap in order to use the thermal pools.
As for other thermal baths in Lazio, I wouldn’t recommend visiting in plain summer, unless you spray yourself against the horseflies, which even if only a few, still are very annoying during July and August.
Entrance fee to the thermal park: €18 for the entire day; €12 to spend the afternoon only (past 2 PM)
3 Tivoli thermal baths – Acque Albule
Ancient Romans were fond of Tivoli town for three main reasons: the presence of travertine marble quarries, useful (even nowadays) for their monuments, the exceptional views from the historical center, and the hot springs. The Acque Albule or Terme di Roma is one of the most renowned thermal spas in Italy. It offers all kinds of beauty treatments and also a resort hotel with a direct entrance to the thermal park. A huge park with palms, beach beds, and tables surrounds the pools. There are specific pools for kids.
The water from this thermal bath isn’t as hot as the one in Viterbo (around 23 degrees), making it perfect for the warm seasons. In my opinion, thermal baths in Viterbo are preferable to this one during the winter
Getting to the hot spring in Tivoli from Rome by public transport
- Via F.S. Trenitalia trains from Roma Tiburtina to Bagni di Tivoli. Trains are twice an hour, a ticket costs €2.10, and the train station is 150 m from the pools.
- Bus Cotral from Metro Station Ponte Mammolo is every 15 mins and stops in front of the entrance to the thermal center.
Thermal baths Ficoncella near Civitavecchia cruise port
Almost nothing’s left of the ancient town that rose in the proximity of this hot spring north-west of Rome, which the contemporary inhabitants call Ficoncella, but the rejuvenating water’s still there. Since the pools here are smaller compared to other locations, the entry ticket costs only €1.50, plus €1.50 every two hours for parking your car. That’s quite cheap, considering the fact that somebody is cleaning and checking the temperature and composition of the water every day.
the thermal pools are open every day from 8am to 8pm and until 2am during summer. This is not the place for you if you don’t like to share a small pool with others. Using a car is the only comfortable way to get there if you don’t want to walk here from the Civitavecchia Train Station, which is 6 km away.
Thermal pools in Viterbo | Thermal baths near Rome Italy
Saturnia hot springs
You might be wondering, at this point, what has been of the Saturnia thermal pools in Tuscany, which you have certainly heard about, as they’re one of Italy’s natural wonders. Well, even if Saturnia is incredibly famous among travelers to Italy, its pools aren’t the top choice for the locals, for many wise reasons I’ve discussed in the dedicated post about Saturnia.
The water is colder here than in other places, making it perfect for the summer.
For a scenic hot spring near Rome instead, I recommend the ones in Bagni San Filippo, locally know as Balena Bianca (White Whale).
Bagni San Filippo | Hot springs and thermal baths
Bagni San Filippo is a village in southern Tuscany, between Mount Amiata and Val D’Orcia. The place has been known since ancient times for the presence of hot springs, which over time have eroded a limestone wall giving life to a fairytale landscape, one of Italy’s natural landmarks. The thermal waterfalls and pools are located in the middle of a forest that you can reach on foot from the village, with a walk of 5 minutes.
The environment is wild, so it is best to bring with you a towel to lay on the ground where you can put your things while bathing. Rock shoes are helpful.
This place is not suitable for little kids, as they could easily slip and injure themselves. Not far away is the thermal center and spa “Terme San Filippo”, equipped with a hotel, a restaurant, and a big pool where you can bathe with all the comforts.
Best time to visit Bagni San Filippo
These springs are quite busy all year round, so to have a little more privacy, visit them during the week and preferably from December to March.
If you love Italy and thermal baths to the same extent, I invite you to try the thermal city of Abano Terme just outside Padua as well!
Let me know in the comments which one of these thermal baths near Rome you’re going to try and why, and of course, if I have skipped some crucial information.