Among the off the beaten path attractions marking the countryside outside Rome are a copious number of thermal baths and hot springs. Some are well-known and have developed into spas and resorts, while others consist of sets of pools with basic facilities and are usually dear to the locals. All of the thermal baths near Rome have been used since 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 hot springs near Rome, big and small.
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 at the hot springs, 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…)
How to reap the full benefits from a bath at the hot springs near Rome
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 20-30 minutes from the hottest pools. If you feel like fainting, 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. If you visit during late July, August, or September, be careful, because then is not the best season to take a thermal bath. Now it’s 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
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 quaint towns near Rome in the Tuscia Region, and, if you make it there, you just can’t miss a bath in its thermal pools. During the hot season, the temperature of the water is really unbearable, and you will prefer Saturnia, where the water is colder.
Terme dei Papi
The natural hot springs of Viterbo flow out at 58 degrees from a 12 km long fracture in the ground and were already used by the Etruscan people, who preceded the Romans in the area. The tradition that regards the thermal pools as a gift from the Earth to humans has been preserved by the present owners: thermal treatments are available at a popular price and address all kinds of common ailments. If this is your first time at the thermal baths, you could start with the basic pool entrance (€12 half-day, €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 hotel, coffee bar, and restaurant.
How to get to Terme dei Papi in Viterbo by public transport from Rome
There are two options:
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, 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.
Thermal pools Il Bagnaccio
This is another hot spring managed by locals and with popular prices, actually the lowest I’ve found when exploring the thermal baths near Rome. For €6, you get an entry ticket to the hot spring complex 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 place is run by an association of citizens, so you’ll feel safe, and you can be sure that the pools are emptied and cleaned every day, but the facilities are spartan. You’ll feel amazing here if you love nature and adventure. You can only get here by car and there’s a free parking area.
The author relaxes at popular hot spring “Il Bagnaccio”
Hot springs near Lake Bracciano and Odescalchi Castle
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 and the Odescalchi Castle. You might choose to spend the morning exploring Bracciano town and castle and then go and have a recharging hot bath at the thermal park, having one of the best and off-the-beaten-track day trips from Rome. The Stigliano Thermal Park is open mid-March to November (this year 2020 opens on March 20th). The park features 600 sm of of open-air pools in a dominant, secluded position on the hills, surrounded by meadows but with the comfort of beach umbrellas ad beds. If you take a walk on the trail that starts near the pools, you reach the natural bamboo wood where mystical massages and small events can be arranged. The classy hotel and restaurant can do for you if you want to spend the night as well. This place is perfect to have fun with family. Consider that 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 to visit in plain summer, unless you spray yourself against the horseflies, which even if only a few, still are very annoying when you’re there just to relax.
Entrance fee to the thermal park: €18 for the entire day; €12 to spend the afternoon only (past 2 PM)
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 facilities 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, if you want a relaxing and unique getaway from Rome, and also cheaper. The baths in Tivoli are probably better for a family with kids and parents that don’t want too much hassle.
Getting to the hot spring in Tivoli from Rome by public transport is easy. There are two ways of doing that:
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
And the Etruscans didn’t let this one slip by either! Almost nothing’s left of the city that rose in the proximity of the hot spring, 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, using the adjacent parking place. This is quite cheap, considering the fact that somebody is cleaning and checking the temperature and composition of the water every day.
It’s open every day 8am to 8pm and until 2am during summer. This is not the place for you if you don’t like to have your bath surrounded by the locals. Using a car is the only comfortable way to get there if you don’t want to hike from the Civitavecchia Train Station, which is 6 km away. The visit to the Terme della Ficoncella is an interesting stop to add to your itinerary in Civitavecchia from the cruise terminal or on your stay at the Aquafelix Waterpark. You will experience a very ancient, natural, local therapy.
Terme Il Bagnaccio at sunset | Thermal baths near Rome Italy
You might be wandering, at this point, what has been of the Saturnia thermal pools in Tuscany, which you can certainly reach from Rome on a day trip. Well, even if Saturnia is incredibly famous among travelers to Italy, isn’t the top choice for the local, for many wise reasons I’ve discussed in the dedicated post about Saturnia.
All in all, as a habitué of hot springs, I recommend the ones near the city of Viterbo, even if they are slightly farther than others described in this article.
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.