If there’s one thing that all Icelanders love, it’s spending time in their marvelous hot pots and geothermally heated swimming pools. Long before bars and coffee shops were invented, this is where people met each day to share their news and see their friends and family.
It started with the early Viking settlers who discovered that they had limitless hot water flowing in the rivers and rock pools, ideal for bathing, washing their clothes, and keeping warm in the winter.
The warm waters are fueled by Iceland’s fierce volcanic activity, with the country sitting on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and a “hot spot” of magma rising from the Earth’s molten core.
Icelandic bathing culture was born centuries ago and is now perfected in glorious geothermal spas that offer heavenly hot water experiences for all to enjoy.
As well as that, Iceland is the home of the “original” Geyser. This fantastic natural marvel is named after an Icelandic word!
You can’t come to Iceland without splashing around in one of its stunning spas, hot pots, or swimming pools – here’s everything you need to know!
You’ll discover these fantastic water features dotted all over the country, where you can lie back and relax after a day of exploring and enjoy a chat with the locals.
As you tour the country, you’ll find more classy spas like these, including Forest Lagoon and Mývatn Nature Baths in North Iceland or Vök Baths in East Iceland.
But there are countless more opportunities to immerse yourself in warm waters, with proven health benefits for blood pressure, circulation, and skin conditions.
Every little village or town has its own public swimming pool – there are more than a hundred to choose from, and they’re much cheaper than the spas!
And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can dip in one of Iceland’s natural “hot rivers” and hot pots, like Reykjadalur or the Secret Lagoon in South Iceland.
Wherever you are in Iceland, you won’t be far from one of these fantastic places!
Modern geothermal spas can be found all around Iceland, offering comfortable changing facilities, on-site restaurants, swim-up bars, and everything you’ll need for an unforgettable experience. Here’s a selection of some of the best!
The Blue Lagoon is Iceland’s most well-known geothermal spa, about halfway between the airport and the city. One of National Geographic’s “25 Wonders of the World”, visitors flock here to enjoy a serene and soothing spa experience in its milky-blue waters, slapping on silica mud for exfoliation and sipping drinks at the swim-up bars.
One of Iceland’s most modern geothermal spas, Sky Lagoon offers fantastic ocean views from a 250-foot-long infinity pool in a rocky cove with a turf-roofed visitor center. And you can experience authentic Icelandic bathing traditions by taking the Seven Step Ritual here!
Located close to Akureyri, Forest Lagoon is one of the newest spa experiences in Iceland. With marvelous views over Iceland’s second city and its longest fjord and nestling amongst the trees, Forest Lagoon is a magnificent addition to Iceland’s glorious collection of geothermal spas.
Far from the capital city in East Iceland, you can take a dip in the floating infinity pools at Vök Baths. There are three fabulous pools to try, set in Lake Urriðavatn and surrounded by majestic mountains. No chemicals are used, so this is a perfectly natural experience! And if you’re feeling brave, you can jump into the lake for a cold dip before returning to the warmth of the infinity pools.
Situated in the hills overlooking Lake Mývatn in North Iceland, Mývatn Nature Baths enjoys magnificent panoramic views of the surrounding area, which makes it a top-rated spa experience. Its mineral-rich waters are guaranteed to soothe any aches and pains from a day of traveling too!
The Icelandic word “Geysir” means “to gush,” and it’s the name given to the “original” geyser at the Haukadalur Geothermal Area in the Golden Circle.
First recorded centuries ago, Geysir used to send superheated water and steam vapor shooting high into the sky, but it has fallen silent in recent years.
Don’t worry – nearby Strokkur has taken over the role, erupting with enormous power every few minutes. It’s a fabulous sight, and you’ll be able to see the spectacle up close too!
Iceland’s traditional bathing pools can be traced back to the 13th century when the warrior chieftain Snorri Sturluson built his stone-walled pool at Reykholt in West Iceland.
Since then, tiny pools and little lagoons have been built all over Iceland, enabling the locals to make the most of the natural warmth that bubbles up from deep below.
One of the most famous is the Secret Lagoon near the Golden Circle in South Iceland, which dates back to the 19th century.
That’s near the famous “Hot River” at Reykjadalur, which can be reached with a short hike from Hveragerði - a free hot spring experience!
And “Game of Thrones” fans may want to visit Grjótagjá up in North Iceland, where Jon Snow and Ygritte enjoyed a dip together!
Icelanders may visit their geothermal spas for special occasions, but you’re much more likely to “meet the locals” at the public swimming pools in each community around the country.
No matter how small a village might be, you can be sure there’ll be a hot pot or a public swimming pool (sundlaug) there.
In addition, you’ll often be treated to an astonishing view, like at Hofsós, for less than 25% of the cost of the Blue Lagoon!
Public swimming pools will have shorter opening hours, so checking on these before planning your visit is wise.
Most of the natural “hot rivers” and hot pots in secluded spots around the country are free to enter and accessible at all times. Still, some are on private land, and there may be restrictions at certain times of the year.
Bring a bathing suit, a towel, and toiletries. Those with long hair might consider a bathing cap and/or conditioner when visiting the Blue Lagoon to protect your tresses from drying out.
You can also rent anything you might need from the geothermal spas.
Don’t use soap, shampoo, or conditioner in the natural hot rivers and hot pots – that will adversely affect the local environment after you leave.
Icelanders will expect you to shower thoroughly (while naked) before entering their pools, hot pots, and spas.
This is the local custom, and it should be respected. Most places offer cubicles to change in if you are shy!
Icelanders have a deep emotional connection with their geothermal hot springs and swimming pools – here’s your chance to dive in and feel a part of the culture!
Dive into the milky blue water at Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa, and enjoy the relaxation with the beauty of this magical place.
Head on the classic Golden Circle tour and end this amazing trip with a soak in warm milky blue water at the Blue Lagoon Iceland.
Explore Iceland‘s most popular landmarks on the Golden Circle Tour and enjoy a relaxing visit to the natural Icelandic steam baths at Laugarvatn Fontana Spa.
An adventure-packed day is discovering the legendary sights of the Golden Circle followed by a soak in the spring-fed Secret Lagoon under the open sky.
Combining the Golden Circle and Sky Lagoon, this breathtaking tour takes you on a wondrous journey through Iceland’s staggeringly raw beauty. It ends with the ultimate Icelandic indulgence: a luxurious soak in Sky Lagoon, a geothermal spa where the ocean meets the sky. Go on a journey that brings you the experiences of walking among geologic marvels, witnessing an erupting hot spring, discovering a magnificent waterfall, and unwinding in an outdoor geothermal spa.
Take advantage of our best Blue Lagoon Private Tour and regenerate your body and mind in blue milky waters of the Blue Lagoon.
Iceland's hot springs are a testament to the country's geological wonders. These natural pools, heated by the Earth's geothermal energy, offer a unique way to relax and unwind while surrounded by stunning landscapes. In this guide, we will delve into the magic of hot springs in Iceland, exploring their origins, benefits, and the most popular locations to visit.
Hot springs are natural bodies of water that are heated by geothermal energy from the Earth's interior. In Iceland, these hot springs are a result of the country's volcanic activity and the presence of numerous geothermal areas. The water in these springs is rich in minerals and often has therapeutic properties, making them popular destinations for relaxation and wellness.
Iceland is situated on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a tectonic boundary where the Eurasian and North American plates meet. This unique geological position makes Iceland a hotspot for geothermal activity. The country harnesses this energy to generate electricity and provide hot water for heating and bathing. The abundance of geothermal energy also creates the ideal conditions for hot springs to form.
Hot springs are not only a delightful way to unwind and enjoy the beauty of nature but also offer numerous health benefits. The mineral-rich waters of these springs have been known to alleviate various skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. The warmth of the water improves blood circulation, relaxes muscles, and eases tension. Additionally, the unique combination of minerals in hot springs can help detoxify the body and promote overall well-being.
When it comes to hot springs in Iceland, the Blue Lagoon is undoubtedly the crown jewel. Located conveniently between Keflavik International Airport and Reykjavik, the capital city, the Blue Lagoon is easily accessible for both arriving and departing visitors. Situated amidst captivating jet-black lava fields, the Blue Lagoon offers a surreal and otherworldly experience.
The Blue Lagoon is a feast for the senses, with its steaming turquoise waters enveloped by the stark black lava landscape. The water, a mixture of seawater and freshwater, is heated by geothermal energy and maintained at a comfortable 38°C (100°F). Visitors can immerse themselves in the warm, mineral-rich waters, which are renowned for their healing properties and silky texture.
Apart from its mesmerizing beauty, the Blue Lagoon is known for its therapeutic benefits. The silica mud found on the lagoon's floor is renowned for its exfoliating properties, leaving the skin feeling rejuvenated and refreshed. The mineral-rich waters can also help soothe skin conditions such as psoriasis and promote overall skin health. Additionally, the Blue Lagoon's tranquil atmosphere and stunning surroundings provide a serene environment for relaxation and rejuvenation.
While the Blue Lagoon may be the most famous, Iceland is home to several other remarkable geothermal pools and lagoons, each offering its own unique experience. Here are a few notable ones to explore:
Tucked away in the small village of Flúðir, the Secret Lagoon offers a more intimate and authentic hot spring experience. Surrounded by geothermal steam rising from bubbling hot springs, this natural pool retains a traditional Icelandic aesthetic. Visitors can soak in the warm waters while admiring the nearby erupting geysers and the enchanting beauty of the surrounding landscape.
Located in northern Iceland, the Myvatn Nature Baths provide a tranquil and secluded retreat. The milky-blue waters of these geothermal pools are enriched with minerals, creating a soothing and invigorating bathing experience. While soaking in the warm waters, visitors can marvel at the panoramic views of Lake Myvatn and the surrounding volcanic landscapes.
Nestled on the shores of Lake Laugarvatn, Laugarvatn Fontana offers a unique combination of hot springs and the possibility of witnessing the mesmerizing Northern Lights. Visitors can unwind in the natural hot pools, relax in the steam baths, and even participate in traditional Icelandic bread baking in the hot sands. The location away from city lights also makes it an ideal spot for Northern Lights viewing during the winter months.
For those who prefer a more adventurous experience, the Reykjadalur hot springs offer a scenic hiking trail leading to natural hot springs. Located near the town of Hveragerði, this geothermal wonderland is surrounded by lush green hills and bubbling hot springs. Visitors can enjoy a rewarding hike through stunning landscapes before soaking in the warm waters and taking in the breathtaking views.
To ensure a pleasant and enjoyable experience at the hot springs in Iceland, it's essential to keep a few tips in mind:
When visiting hot springs, remember to bring your bathing suit, towels, toiletries, and a camera or smartphone to capture the beautiful moments. Most hot springs provide locker facilities, but it's always a good idea to bring a waterproof bag to protect your belongings.
Iceland's hot springs can be enjoyed throughout the year, each season offering a unique experience. In winter, soaking in the warm waters while surrounded by snow and ice creates a magical atmosphere. Meanwhile, the endless summer nights under the Midnight Sun provide an extraordinary bathing experience. Consider the weather, your preferences, and the availability of other activities when deciding the best time to visit.
Respect the rules and etiquette of each hot spring to ensure a pleasant experience for yourself and others. It's important to shower without a bathing suit before entering the pools to maintain cleanliness. Additionally, be cautious of slippery surfaces and follow any safety guidelines provided. Lastly, be mindful of the environment and leave no trace behind.
One of Iceland's most sought-after natural wonders is the dazzling display of the Northern Lights. These ethereal lights dance across the night sky, creating a breathtaking spectacle. To increase your chances of witnessing this natural phenomenon, plan your visit during the winter months, when the nights are longer and darker.
For a truly unforgettable experience, consider combining a visit to the hot springs with a Northern Lights tour. Several tour operators offer packages that allow you to soak in the warm waters of a hot spring while awaiting the appearance of the Northern Lights. This combination of natural wonders provides an extraordinary and magical adventure.
The hot springs in Iceland offer a unique and enchanting experience for visitors. Whether you choose to indulge in the iconic Blue Lagoon, explore hidden gems like the Secret Lagoon and Myvatn Nature Baths, or embark on a hiking adventure to Reykjadalur, each hot spring promises relaxation, rejuvenation, and a deep connection with Iceland's awe-inspiring natural beauty. So pack your bathing suit, immerse yourself in the warm waters, and let the magic of Iceland's hot springs captivate you.