Icelandic swimming pools
There is an ancient Icelandic tradition that dates back to the times of the Vikings – bathing outdoors in pools that are heated from the heat coming from the volcanoes in the area. There are a lot of these old pools that still survive and are located in some of the most spectacular and amazing locations in Iceland. Even all the settlements, no matter how tiny they are, have geothermally-heated swimming pools which are accompanied hot tubs installed in them. When you visit Iceland it should definitely be on your to-do list to soak and relax in swimming pools and hot water tubs! If you want to experience a very special part of your Iceland journey, then getting soaked in an Icelandic swimming pool is one of the most dreamlike way to spend a gloomy winter’s day in Iceland or you can just go there after a day of hiking just so that you can relax your muscles. Whether you choose a normal pool or a geothermal one out in the nature, you won´t be disappointed!
Every country around the world has their own unique way of relaxing. In the colder regions of the world, the unique way to relax is to keep warm. In Finland, there are the saunas, in Russia it is vodka and in Iceland it is the naturally heated swimming pools.
The origins of the hot tubs in Iceland
The beginning of the tradition to keep oneself warm and relaxed in Iceland begins with the hot tubs. Hot tubs have a part of the Iceland culture since the Viking came and settled there. The most famous hot tub of Iceland is the Snorri Sturluson’s pool – the Snorralaug – which located in Reykholt. Even though Snorri was thought to have lived in Iceland from 1178 to 1241, his pool is one of four oldest pools in Iceland that is still in use. Out of the 12,000 summer houses that are located in Iceland, nearly 11,000 of them are fitted with a geothermally-heated hot tub. In some parts, nearly half of the houses in the neighborhood have hot tubs outside their homes. Nearly all of the hotels in Reykjavik have a spa which contains hot tubs. So, it will require of a lot of effort on your behalf if you want to miss one of these hotels. An Icelandic swimming pool can be defined as a rectangular-shaped, artificial hole on the ground which is made with concrete. These are then filled with chlorinated water ranging from 25-28°C in temperature and have one to five hot tubs which are filled with 38-45°C warm water. If you want, then you can very well try and find a swimming pool without a hot tub but it is quite assured that it will be difficult.
The experience and facilities of the pools
It is a known fact that if swimming is done regularly and either before or after swimming, a person relaxes in a geothermal hot water tub it is actually quite good for both the body and the soul. There is also another wonderful fact about the swimming pools in Iceland – it plays the role of social centers in Iceland. Every day, people from all over the country show up at these swimming pools, hang up their clothes on the hook of their choice (it might be their daily hook or maybe different every day) and chat in the hot tub with their fellow swimmers who also follow the same routine as they. The people who come with swimming pools very early are known as the doorknobs. They are called so because when the swimming pool staff shows up early in the morning, sleep still in their eyes, they find that these people are already clutching the doorknob of the door that leads to the swimming pool area and are just eager to take a dip. After them, another lot of people known as the ‘nine-o’-clockers’ show up. This group of people is generally anti-social and doesn’t like to engage in conversations while they are taking a dip. They love their routine of taking a daily swim and then soaking themselves in the hot water tubs. During the afternoons and evenings, the conversations and noise start again, but the crowd who are doing so are quite different. This crowd consists of parents who are spending some much needed quality time with their kids of people who are relaxing after work or working out. The most interesting of the lot are the people who are dating because in Iceland, going out for a swim and soak in the hot tubs of Iceland is considered to be second most popular dating activity.
Iceland is dotted with more outdoor pools than the indoor ones because the outdoor pools are quite less expensive than the indoor ones. This is okay because you can also enjoy the fresh air of Icelandic countries while you are taking a dip. During blizzards in Iceland, there is nothing more enjoyable than taking a dip in the warm waters of the swimming pools and hot tubs. One of the most refreshing and goose-bump raising experience is drying off in the outdoor dressing rooms with temperatures of -5°C after taking a dip in the warm water. You don’t have to be worried about the cold because these dressing rooms are fitted with heat lamps that work perfectly, most of the times.
The exposure of the pools
There is one thing that you should remember before you take a dip in the swimming pools of Iceland and that is the exposure that you will face. When you visit the pools, you will find that people of the same sex are stark naked in the swimming pools and are conversing with other naked people. It is customary to take off your clothes, whether they are casual clothes or swimming costumes, because the people of Iceland like to keep their swimming pool clean and smudge free. It is nothing personal and for the people of Iceland – men, women and children – it is as normal as having the morning breakfast.
The working hours of the swimming pools of Iceland can be found in an Icelandic website. Usually, the swimming pools there open around 7AM in the morning and close down some time after dinner is over and there are some exceptions to this rule. If you forget your swim suits, no worries, you can always rent one at the pool.