Icelandic Geothermal 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. When you visit Iceland it should definitely be on your to-do list to soak and relax in swimming pools and hot water tubs.

Origins of Hot Tubs in Iceland

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 beginning of the tradition to keep oneself warm and relaxed in Iceland begins with the hot tubs. Hot tubs have been a part of the Icelandic culture since the Vikings came and settled here. 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.
Did you know: Out of the 12,000 summer houses that are located in Iceland, nearly 11,000 of them are fitted with a geothermal heated hot tub. In some parts, nearly half of the houses in the neighborhood have hot tubs outside their homes. And to top this off, every neighborhood has it’s own pool with at least one hot tub.

The Secret Lagoon

The Secret Lagoon in Fluðir is one of Iceland’s oldest swimming pools and is equipped with it’s own geothermal area and a bubbling geysir, giving this pool it’s heat. Enjoy a nice soak while sipping beverages from the cafe in this rocky floored lagoon.

Tours that include the Secret Lagoon:

Reykjadalur

Reykjadalur, a hot spring river, is located close to Reykjavik. You can self-drive there (about 45 minutes) or take a tour. Be ready for a short hike in to the mountains to reach this “steam valley”

Tours that include Reykjadalur:

Seljavallalaug

This natural pool is located on the side of a mountain in South Iceland. Built in 1923, this pool is a delight for the adventurous. After a 10-15 minute hike through the mountains and over a river, you come to a 25 meter long pool with a pipeline of warm water streaming from the mountain above. This water is only maintained once a year, so don’t be too turned off by it’s natural color. There is also a small changing area, but it is without electricity.

Landmannalaugar

This hot spring is located within a popular hiking area, which is both beautiful and multi-colored. Get here by 4X4 jeep in the summer and enjoy a wonderful hike in the area then relax and soak in the naturally warm waters. You can drive here yourself, but it may be easier to take a tour here.

Tours that include Landmannalaugar:

The Blue Lagoon

Tours that include the Blue Lagoon:

Honerable Mention

  • Laugafellslaug, located on private land and can only be accessed with 4X4 super jeep
  • Myvatn Nature Bath, located in the north
  • Grjotagja, located near a camp ground, but only accessible by foot
  • Laugarvatn Fontana, which is only 50 minutes outside of Reykjavik and contains steam rooms, hot springs, a beach and lake
  • Grettislaug, located in the north in Skagarfjordur
  • Laugafellslaug, located in the north
  • Kvika footbath, located near Grotta lighthouse in Seltjarnes

Don’t Forget: Pool Etiquette

  • If the pool/lagoon is located on private property, please do not wander around without asking permission
  • If there is a fee, pay it
  • If there are showers and a locker room you must bath naked before and after the pool