It may be chilly on this little island in the north, but nothing warms the body and soul like a dip in a geothermal hot spring. This is especially true when you’re surrounded by Iceland’s otherworldly landscapes, from lava fields to rhyolite mountains in the highlands.
Hot Water for Days!
Iceland is rich in geothermal water. It heats the country’s homes, powers the country’s grid, fills country’s swimming pools and hot tubs, and means Icelanders can take those endless hot showers without worrying about the hot water tank going empty. But the luxury doesn’t end there! Venturing out into the Icelandic countryside is never complete without a stop at the natural hot springs.
The Hot Spring Lifestyle
Whether it’s the bonus adventure on a great trip around the ring road or the destination on a thrilling hike through the wilderness, a dip in nature’s hot pots is one of the hallmarks of Iceland’s great outdoors. Under the midnight sun or the Northern Lights—whatever you’re doing in Iceland, you can make it ten times better when you add a little geothermally heated water to your life!
Hit the Road
There are plenty of great geothermal swimming halls throughout Reykjavík, but for an authentic Icelandic soak, take to the ring road and discover one of the countryside’s many hot springs where the locals go to relish their geothermal waters. Whether you’re going solo or making it a group effort, there’s no better way to unwind after a day of sightseeing and adventure then relaxing in geothermally heated waters under the open sky while taking in all the beauty Iceland’s wild landscapes have to offer.
Check out our top five spots to lose yourself in Iceland’s geothermal bliss.
1. Fontana Geothermal Baths
Chic Design & Banging Panorama
There’s a lot to like about Fontana—the variety of soaks and steam baths, the chic design, the quaint village of Laugarvatn—but what strikes you immediately are the knockout views. That mirror-surface lake hemmed in by the postcard mountains? It’s not just decoration. Taking a plunge in the cold lake water after your soak is an amazing sensation and one that is unique to the Fontana Geothermal Baths. And since the baths are on the Golden Circle route, it’s a great way to end an epic day of sightseeing.
The locals in Laugarvatn have been enjoying their hot springs for generations. In fact, there has been a steam bath at this spot since 1929. But this isn’t your grandparents’ sauna. In recent times they’ve really stepped up their game with Fontana Geothermal Baths. These baths harness the geothermal water and natural steam baths in the area with Scandi-inspired design and a thoughtful layout to create a chic geothermal spa in one of Iceland’s most striking natural landscapes.
2. The Secret Lagoon
Discover the Locals’ Secret for Geothermal Fun
If Fontana is Scandi-chic then the Secret Lagoon is pure rustic Nordica. We love the swimming-hole vibe and dry stack banks around the hot pool. All the steam rising from the mossy ground and bubbling geothermal features around the lagoon remind you of how alive the Earth is under your feet. You really get to explore the geothermal landscape in sight, sound and smell (rotten eggs never smelled so relaxing!). It’s a delight for all your senses.
The locals in the village of Flúdir (and beyond) also have a real soft spot for the Secret Lagoon, which they lovingly call “gamla laugin” or the old pool. You’ll sense immediately that this is a place steeped in history and local lore if you talk to any of the villagers. From old to young, everyone has a good story about their adventures at the Secret Lagoon. And since it’s so close to the Golden Circle sites, the lagoon also makes for the perfect stop to unwind after a day of sightseeing.
3. The Blue Lagoon
Let the Lagoon Melt All Your Cares Away
A classic for good reason, the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa draws many people not only for its milky blue waters and the fantastic surrounding lava field of Reykjanes. With that wild lunar landscape, taking a dip in the Blue Lagoon is a little like landing on the moon (minus the spacesuit, plus cocktails).
But it’s not just the water and lava that draw record numbers of visitors every year. People are also keen to enjoy the rich atmosphere of serenity and calm that has become synonymous with the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. You’ll find no water slides and pool noodles here. And although it’s wonderful once you’ve made it in the water, it can sometimes be stressful to get an appointment. This is in part due to the Blue Lagoon’s tight admissions policy: there can never be too many people at once.
Your best bet? Take the stress out of the equation when you book a Blue Lagoon geothermal spa trip with Gray Line. No need to worry about transportation, parking, timing and you’re always assured admission. Now that’s the way to start a relaxing soak at the Blue Lagoon! Add a floating massage, a drink at the swim-up bar and a silica mud mask and your day are starting to sound pretty nice!
4. Landmannalaugar Highland Area
Even the Wildest Adventurer Among Us Likes to Soak Away the Day
Take getting away from it all to the next level with an escape to Iceland’s wild highlands. The Landmannalaugar area is renowned for its colorful rhyolite mountains, sweeping landscapes and, of course, its natural geothermal pools. It doesn’t get any wilder than Landmannalaugar. Discover your inner frontiersman and take in the untouched beauty of these landscapes with a soak in a highland thermal pool.
This highland oasis was once a stop for the sheepherders during Iceland’s autumn sheep roundups. The horsemen would stop to rest their bones and soak their tired muscles in the geothermally heated waters before heading back out on the trail. But today the area has become a destination for those hardcore visitors who seek out the beauty of Iceland’s highlands.
5. Mývatn Nature Baths
The Greatest Geothermal Soak in North Iceland
If your travels take you to North Iceland, then you really can’t miss the hot spring nature baths near Lake Myvatn. Although they are often compared to the Blue Lagoon with their milky blue waters, the Nature Baths are a much more intimate affair with fewer visitors and a totally different landscape (gentle foothills instead of lava fields). Although they are certainly different, the nature baths really are an Icelandic soak you won’t want to miss.
To sweeten the pot a bit, the Myvatn nature area surrounding the baths is one of North Iceland’s greatest recreational areas. Lake Myvatn is a huge draw for the area as is the Dimmuborgir lava field, which is steeped in local lore. You’ll also find volcanic formations, craters and striking geothermal features as well. So not only are the nature baths a great soak, but they’re also a great place to unwind after a long day of unforgettable adventures.
Have any of these hot springs made it on your Iceland bucket list? Let us know in the comments which geothermal baths you want to try!