Sliding into the tub after a long day is an unrivalled feeling – but there is nothing to match the sensation of soaking in nature's biggest and best bath – the hot spring.

These thermal pools, which are formed when geothermal heat deep beneath the earth's surface meets groundwater to create pools of warm, mineral-rich water, have been revered for its therapeutic properties and all-consuming beauty since ancient times.

Today, hot springs are a popular attraction for those seeking relaxation, rejuvenation and the springs' legendary healing powers.

From Iceland's oasis of steaming fumaroles to Japan's treasured onsen and Tuscany's thermal pools that were used by the Etruscans, here's our pick of eight stunning hot spring destinations you need to add to your bucket list.

8 must-visit hot spring destinations


Yufuin Onsen, Japan

With a mountain of evidence based research on the health benefits of onsen, why book an appointment to the GP when you can book a flight to Japan? Said to improve circulation, sleep, skin conditions and even heal wounds, the practice of bathing in onsen, or hot springs, is rooted in Japanese culture with origins in Shinto spirituality. Thanks to Japan’s long history of tectonic activity with 100 active volcanoes, there are 3,100 hot springs to choose from. A highlight of many onsen resorts is the opportunity to stay in a traditional ryokan. These Japanese-style inns are not just a place to sleep, but an opportunity to experience traditional Japanese hospitality. The rooms are typically tatami-matted with sliding shoji doors, and guests sleep on futon beds. We recommend a visit to the Yufuin Onsen, one of Japan's most popular onsen destinations, surrounded by the picturesque mountains of Kyushu in the south of the country. Many ryokans here offer private hot spring baths for guests to soak in the therapeutic waters with unrivalled views of the twin peaks of Mount Yufu.

Where to stay?

Rooms at Yufuin Onsen Hotel start from £233


Cascate del Mulino, Italy

Do as the pre-romans did and take a dip in some of Tuscany’s breathtaking hot springs, or terme, which have been used by the Etruscans before the Roman empire. Although Tuscany may traditionally attract tourists for its artistic legacy, historic cities and gastronomy, its thermal springs are reason alone to visit. Traditionally enjoyed by the Romans for centuries, these springs were a place to relax, heal, court fellow bathers and even conduct business. So whether you want to unwind, find your next business partner or future spouse, a dip in the Tuscan terme is worth your while. We recommend a soak in the Cascate del Mulino, a set of thermal springs close to Saturnia's spa town, surrounded by rustic Tuscan countryside. Open year-round and free admission, these thermal springs are a popular attraction to Southern Tuscany, alluring bathers to the sulphurous, 37.5 degrees Celsius waters with famous healing qualities. Even better there’s even an onsite hotel resort, Terme di Saturnia, complete with onsite spa, turkish baths and golf course.

Where to stay?

Rooms at Terme di Saturnia hotel start from £446;


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Indonesia is home to several hot springs across its many islands, and with every island having its own personality, it's only expected that the hot springs stick to that tradition. Banjar Hot Springs in Bali is probably the most popular, with four bathing pools, its largest featuring a restaurant, the resort is well-catered for bathers, with souvenir shops and an on-site spa. Although you might be tempted to head straight for Bali, there are plenty of other offerings slightly off the beaten track to discover. The Maribaya Hot Springs sit just 14km out of Bandung, the capital of Indonesia’s West Java province. Surrounded by waterfalls and with six private hot pools to choose from, the resort also offers a day pass which includes a voucher for a meal. The island of Flores in the eastern half of Indonesia is also home to the Mengurada Hot Spring which lies on the slopes of a volcano.

Where to stay?

Rooms at The Lovina Bali Resort start from £116;


Hveravellir, Iceland

It's almost tempting to exclude Iceland from a list of hot springs for fear of pointing out the obvious. But with a network of 45 hot springs and over 200 geothermal swimming pools, there is so much more to Iceland than a teenage school trip to the Blue Lagoon. Many of Iceland's hot springs are boiling fumaroles, bubbling mud pits, or spouting geysers, which we don't recommend bathing in unless you want to singe your nether region. One spring of perfect bathing temperature is the hot pool at the Hveravellir Nature Reserve, an area in the west highlands considered one of Europe's last great wilderness regions. Positioned between the two glaciers of Langjökull and Hofsjökull, this highland oasis is speckled with steaming fumaroles, hot springs, and a natural sky-blue hot pool framed by a landscape of glaciers and lava fields. Unlike most other hot springs, there is accommodation here so you can stay the night to take in the otherworldly beauty of the surrounding wilderness.

Where to stay?

Rooms at Hotel Geysir start from £126;

Pamukkale Thermal Pools, Turkey

Pamukkale Thermal Pools, Turkey

Get ready to turn up the heat because Turkey’s Anatolia region, the peninsula that’s boarded by the Black and Mediterranean seas, has over 1,500 thermal springs. One of particular beauty is the Pamukkale, which decorates the hills of the Pamukkale Natural Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site in southwest Turkey. Pamukkale, which translates to cotton castle in Turkish, comprises 17-tiered pools of piercing turquoise waters which fringe the ruins of the ancient Greco-Roman and Byzantine city of Hierapolis. Made from milky-white travertine, they appear almost ice-covered, but there will be no chilly extremities in these springs, with water temperatures averaging 34 degrees Celsius. The hot springs have attracted bathers for centuries for its legendary healing, including the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra.

Where to stay?

Rooms at Richmond Pamukkale start from £114;

New Zealand

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Home to the largest hot spring in the world, New Zealand’s geothermal activity has created a number of hot springs up and down its islands. Waimangu Cauldron, (more commonly known as frying pan lake), holds the Guinness world record with a surface area of over nine acres, lying just a 20-minute drive outside of the city of Rotorua in New Zealand’s North Island. Although there are plenty of springs to discover up and down the country, Rotorua is steeped in rich Māori culture and offers a number of springs to explore in and around the city. Located just a 30-minute drive out of the city is Kerosene Creek, a geothermally heated stream, where little hot pools sit beside an impressive 2-metre waterfall. With no entry fee to pay, visiting out of season or during the week is advised. Many of the springs in and around Rotorua are completely free to visit, and luckily, due to its temperatures, are still accessible during the winter months. However, if you’re looking for an experience to remember, we recommend checking out the Polynesian Spa, featuring views over Lake Rotorua, 28 hot mineral pools and geothermal mud therapies.

Where to stay?

Rooms at Pullman Rotorua start from £130;


Glenwood Springs, Colorado

After shredding the slopes and, subsequently, your joints, there's no better way to soothe those alpine aches than a dunk in one of Colorado's many hot springs. As one of the world's most famous hot spring destinations, Colorado has a geothermal motherlode to choose from, including the world's biggest, smaller private ones, spas, child-friendly pools and even nudist dips. To make the most out of the hot spring network, we recommend seeking out one of the many hot spring driving routes, such as the Historic Hot Springs Loop, connecting the Centennial State's most beautiful and balmy bathing spots. Be sure to pick out a route that stops off at Glenwood Springs, a 140-year-old resort that houses the world's biggest geothermal swimming pool. We also recommend heading to The Springs Resort and Strawberry Park Hot Springs. The former, located in Pagosa Springs, dives into wellness with clay-infused water treatments, sound baths and soaking guides. The latter is a picturesque resort tucked above the mountain town of Steamboat in northern Colorado, with optional clothing bathing after sundown. When the sun drops, so do the trunks.

Where to stay

Rates for Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge start from £235;


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BBC's latest edition of Race Across the World sees dads and daughters, best friends, troubled brothers and a husband and wife duo race across the breadth of Canada to encounter national parks, vast prairies, isolated highways and stunning hot springs. The Canadian thermal pools you need to visit include Hot Springs Cove on Vancouver Island, where the water temperatures, which reach a whopping 47°C, are cooled by the Pacific Ocean. We also recommend a trip to Miette Hot Springs in Jasper National Park, the hottest springs in the Rockies, which re-opened in May this year. Another must-see is Banff Upper Hot Springs, located in Canada's oldest national park. Head in the wintertime and witness snow-capped mountains surrounding the pools.

Where to stay?

Rooms at The Rimrock Resort Hotel start from £192;