Iceland is know because the Land of Fire and Ice – the ice coming from glaciers, and the hearth from the 130+ volcanoes (a few of them nonetheless energetic!) throughout the small nation.
These volcanoes and glaciers have formed Iceland over the millennia into the otherworldly landscapes it is identified for right this moment. From spiky lava fields to black seashores to waterfalls that trickle down from glaciers to tumble over cliffs, hearth and ice have left their marks on Iceland.
Thanks to the nation’s abundance of geothermal exercise, one other staple you may run into throughout Iceland are a quite giant variety of scorching springs, thermal swimming pools, and spa baths. (In truth, you seemingly will not see advertising materials from Iceland with out seeing photos of somebody soaking within the Blue Lagoon!)
Going to the native (heated) swimming pool often is regular for Icelandic folks, and visiting at the least one thermal tub or pure scorching spring is regular for any customer to Iceland.
If you are planning a visit to Iceland however aren’t accustomed to scorching spring tradition, I’m right here to assist! I’ve traveled to Iceland 4 separate occasions, and have visited a superb portion of the nation’s organized scorching springs (and some un-organized ones, too!).
Here are all of the issues it’s worthwhile to learn about Iceland’s scorching springs:
10 issues to know earlier than visiting scorching springs in Iceland
1. There’s not only one kind of scorching spring
When it involves locations the place you possibly can calm down in scorching, geothermally-heated water in Iceland, folks typically simplify it and simply use the time period “hot springs.” But, in actuality, there are a number of various kinds of locations you possibly can go to for a pleasant soak.
- Spa-like thermal baths – These are your Blue Lagoons and Sky Lagoons – scorching springs/thermal baths with a extra spa-like really feel that provide issues like locker rooms and bathe amenities, steam rooms, swim-up bars, and extra*. These are sometimes man-made, although all of them use naturally heated water, or water from pure scorching springs. Because of the companies and amenities provided, these are the costliest kind of scorching springs to go to in Iceland.
- Natural scorching springs – These are scorching swimming pools and tubs that you’re going to discover out within the wild. Many are actually naturally-formed, whereas others could have rudimentary pool shapes – however they’re all naturally fed by geothermally heated water. Some of those can have fundamental amenities (like perhaps a altering room), however others are simply out in nature. Many of those are free, however you will have to hike to search out them.
- City swimming swimming pools – Lastly, each main metropolis in Iceland has a public swimming pool. These stem from the times when not each family within the nation had a bath, however right this moment are simply used for recreation. These swimming swimming pools typically have indoor and outside swimming pools (all the time heated, by the best way), together with issues like scorching tubs, saunas, and typically even water slides. Tourists will pay to go to any swimming pool in Iceland.
*My private listing of favourite spa-style scorching springs in Iceland is on the finish of this put up!
2. Be cautious and thoughtful at pure springs
Iceland’s pure scorching springs are those you are almost definitely to see dreamy pictures of on Instagram. Some of the most well-liked pure scorching springs in Iceland embody:
- Reykjadalur Thermal River (hike required)
- Hrunalaug (on non-public land)
- Landmannalaugar scorching spring (requires driving on F-roads)
- Fosslaug (close to a waterfall)
- Hellulaug (within the Westfjords)
(There are some others which have extra amenities constructed up round them, too, like Seljavallalaug, Grettislaug, Gudrunarlaug, and the Hoffell Hot Tubs.)
When you are visiting any of those much less built-up spots, although, know that this additionally means you may be bathing at your personal danger. Getting there could be powerful in some circumstances, there is probably not any amenities, and you’ll anticipate pure pool bottoms (i.e. typically mud). The water temperature will not (often) be regulated, both, so you’ll want to verify how scorching the water is earlier than getting in!
And, it in all probability ought to go with out saying however I’ll say it anyway: do not deal with these pure spots as a dumping floor. Hot swimming pools aren’t bathtubs so that you can bathe or shampoo your hair in, and if you happen to create any trash or waste when you’re visiting, you’ll want to pack it out with you once you go away.
Be thoughtful of others visiting, too. Just since you “found” a pure scorching pool does not imply you might be entitled to have all of it to your self.
3. Book forward at organized scorching springs
If you need to go to a preferred spot just like the Blue Lagoon or Sky Lagoon and even Myvatn Nature Baths, plan to e-book your go to forward of time. (If you are touring in the course of the in style summer time months, you may need to e-book your Blue Lagoon entry weeks upfront if doable, as time slots do often promote out!)
Most of the spa-style scorching springs and thermal baths round Iceland do timed entries as a way to assist management the movement of individuals by the altering rooms and scorching swimming pools, although outdoors of the primary vacationer facilities you possibly can typically stroll up and buy tickets, too.
(On my latest journey to Iceland the place we visited 7 completely different scorching springs, we undoubtedly wanted reservations on the Sky Lagoon and Myvatn Nature Baths, however we have been capable of simply present up early and alter the time we visited at a number of different ones, together with Geosea, Forest Lagoon, and Vok Baths.)
You can e-book tickets on-line forward of time for all of the organized scorching springs.
4. Bring your personal towel
I extremely, extremely advocate touring with your personal towel to Iceland if you happen to plan to go to a pair scorching springs. (A quick-dry towel like this is a superb possibility!)
You’ll undoubtedly want one at any pure springs you go to, and it might probably additionally prevent cash on the spa-like baths the place renting a towel can value the equal of wherever from $7-$10 on common. Those rental charges can add up rapidly!
Bring a towel you possibly can simply acknowledge, as you may be leaving it both in a cubby or hanging subsequent to a bunch of others when you’re within the scorching swimming pools.
(And talking of paying further for issues at these spas, I typically do not advocate paying further for issues like robes or non-public altering rooms. Even pre-paying for drinks in all probability will not prevent a lot cash, so I like to recommend simply reserving the doorway time upfront.)
5. Pack multiple swimsuit
Obviously a swimsuit is a should in Iceland. Some locations will help you hire one, however I’m certain I’m not alone after I say… ew.
If you propose to go to a pair completely different scorching springs, I like to recommend bringing multiple swimsuit.
You’ll seemingly bathe after soaking, and whereas a couple of spas and swimming swimming pools have little machines you possibly can put your bathing swimsuit into to spin out extra water, not all of them do. And, because of Iceland’s excessive humidity ranges and lack of scorching climate, you possibly can’t all the time depend on a swimsuit to dry hanging up in a single day! (In my expertise, they often took 2 days!)
I packed 3 swimsuits for a 2-week journey, however in all probability would have been positive with simply 2 that I might rotate.
6. Know about locker room etiquette
Every locker room space at each thermal tub and public swimming pool in Iceland is analogous. They are all the time gender-specific, and often begin with an space the place you are anticipated to take off your sneakers (often there can be shoe racks and a bench).
Then there are lockers the place you possibly can retailer your issues. These are often digital and accessed through both a bracelet you are given once you verify in, or with a code you may create. A number of are nonetheless old skool with keys, however all of them are free to make use of and efficient for securing your issues.
Next would be the bathe space, which may both be particular person stalls, semi-open stalls, or only a huge open bathe space. Things like shampoo, conditioner, and physique wash are all the time offered, and most locations have hair dryers for later, too (within the girls’s locker room, at the least).
You all the time must move by the bathe space first as a way to enter the pool or tub space, and there is often someplace right here to depart your towel so you do not have to return to your locker dripping moist.
7. You must bathe – bare
Speaking of showering, you are anticipated to do it – sans swimsuit – earlier than stepping into any pool or scorching tub in Iceland. There are indicators throughout each locker room, and typically locker room attendants round to remind you, too.
In some circumstances, there could also be one non-public altering room, or a couple of bathe stalls with doorways in every locker room. But usually there’s only one giant open bathe space that everybody is predicted to make use of.
I do know this half is commonly stunning and uncomfortable for some American girls (I get it; bare folks in locker rooms wasn’t regular the place I grew up both), however it’s fairly regular in Europe. It’s very seemingly (the truth is, I’d say it is assured) that there can be girls strolling round within the locker room bare – and the identical is true within the males’s locker room.
Don’t stress about it if there is not any non-public space to bathe. Avert your eyes if you need, bathe rapidly, put in your swimsuit, after which transfer on.
8. Condition your hair
If you are going to the Blue Lagoon or Myvatn Nature Baths, know that each of those spots have water that has numerous silica in it (it is what makes the swimming pools milky blue).
Silica is nice to your pores and skin, however could be actually onerous in your hair. IF you propose to get your hair moist at both of those locations, it is really useful to clean it beforehand and go away some conditioner in it once you go into the swimming pools. Otherwise it is going to really feel actually dry and brittle for days.
(It’s after all doable to go to these scorching springs and never get your hair moist in any respect, although, so do not stress about it if you happen to do not plan to completely submerge.)
9. Enjoy the swim-up bars sparsely
Almost the entire organized thermal baths in Iceland have swim-up bars, or someplace to buy drinks to get pleasure from within the scorching swimming pools. Most of those will provide beer and wine alongside non-alcoholic drinks, and some locations could embody a drink or two together with your entrance payment.
Just bear in mind that if you’re planning to drive after visiting a scorching spring, you may need to go straightforward on the in-pool drinks. Iceland’s drunk driving guidelines are very strict – the authorized restrict is simply 0.02%, and the positive for driving over that restrict is a minimal of 100,000 ISK ($700 USD) and will embody jail time.
Soaking in scorching tubs can dehydrate you rapidly as it’s, so if you may be driving it is best to stick to 1 drink at most and loads of water, or simply order one thing non-alcoholic (I like the native Collab collagen sodas, in addition to the non-alcoholic glowing TÖST drinks that the majority spa bars serve).
10. Not all scorching springs are proper for teenagers
While many scorching springs and thermal baths in Iceland enable children (some even present little ones with flotation units to make use of), they are not all the time essentially the most kid-friendly atmosphere. Not solely are some simply not arrange for little ones to be splashing round, however in lots of circumstances they’re nonetheless fairly costly.
(For instance, if an grownup entry to a scorching spring is the equal of $35-$40 USD, a child’s entry payment may nonetheless be round $15-20.)
If you are touring round Iceland with children and need to get pleasure from heated swimming pools and scorching tubs as a household, here is my greatest tip: go to metropolis swimming swimming pools as a substitute! It can be way more inexpensive (suppose $7-8 for an grownup, and perhaps $2-3 for teenagers), AND many have issues like water slides and pool toys and are simply higher arrange for teenagers to splash round.
Almost each metropolis in Iceland has at the least one public swimming pool – there are half a dozen within the higher Reykjavik space alone! (Just search for the phrase “Sundlaug” on metropolis indicators.)
The greatest Iceland scorching springs (ranked by me)
And now, listed below are my favourite Iceland scorching springs*, ranked! (I have not visited all of them, however I’ve been to fairly a couple of!)
*Note: These are all organized, spa-style thermal baths that you do not have to hike to.
It’s powerful to decide on a favourite scorching spring in Iceland, but when I’m pressured to place one on the prime of my listing, I believe it must be Hvammsvik, a brand new thermal spa (opened in July 2022) positioned simply 45 minutes north of Reykjavik.
This spot feels essentially the most pure of the bunch, with scorching swimming pools constructed proper right into a pure seashore; a few them truly disappear into the ocean completely at excessive tide. The swimming pools listed below are crammed with a combination of pure (scorching) spring water and sea water, and the fjord views are stunning and serene.
There are 8 completely different swimming pools of various temperatures, a steam room, a swim-up bar, and even some paddleboards you possibly can take out into the fjord on calm days. There’s additionally a really good restaurant hooked up, and particular little touches like bespoke bathe merchandise with a novel, ocean-y scent within the altering rooms.
2. Vök Baths
Perhaps tied with Hvammsvik are the Vok Baths in Egilsstaðir. This thermal spa is the biggest one in East Iceland, and is exclusive in that two of its scorching swimming pools are arrange infinity-style inside Lake Urriðavatn. Cold plunges within the lake are inspired!
This spot has a really relaxed vibe, with an on-site restaurant (the bao buns are scrumptious!), a tisane tea bar, a steam room, and a big locker room/bathe space with all non-public showers. The swimming pools listed below are at various temperatures, with the most popular ones being those within the lake.
I visited this spot within the night, and it was the right place to unwind. My favourite discovery right here? The undeniable fact that the swim-up bar gives slushies! (Technically I believe they’re for the children, however nobody says adults cannot get them organized too!)
You can pre-book your entry right here.
3. Geosea Geothermal Sea Baths
I believe the Geosea baths in Husavik get my vote for “best view” relating to Iceland scorching springs. These infinity-style baths sit up on a hill overlooking Skjálfandi Bay and snow-capped mountains; if you happen to’re fortunate, you can technically even spot whales when you soak, as they reside year-round within the bay beneath.
Geosea has three related mineral-rich saltwater swimming pools of various temperatures. I’ve one good friend who stated not one of the swimming pools right here have been scorching sufficient for her, however I personally thought these have been nice! The largest of the three swimming pools was the right temperature to take a seat in for greater than an hour with out getting overheated.
There’s additionally a swim-up bar right here, together with saunas to get pleasure from.
You can pre-book tickets for Geosea, although that is one spot the place you possibly can often simply get walk-up tickets, too (for now, at the least).
4. Blue Lagoon
As touristy as it’s, Iceland’s most well-known scorching spring nonetheless makes it into the highest half of my listing right here. Why? Because it is in style for a superb purpose! The Blue Lagoon is exclusive, and fairly darn good to go to upon arrival into Iceland after an in a single day flight. I’ve truly been to the Blue Lagoon on three separate journeys!
The Blue Lagoon is a sprawling facility with milky-blue pool water that is wealthy in minerals like silica. While the Blue Lagoon is certainly touristy (and tickets do incessantly promote out, typically weeks upfront), it is giant sufficient to often not really feel over-crowded.
There are ample altering rooms and completely different sections of the massive blue pool; even when it is busy, it is doable to search out slightly nook for your self. There’s a swim-up bar, a mud/silica masks bar, a sauna and steam room, and the choice for issues like in-water massages.
5. Forest Lagoon
Skógarböð Geothermal Spa – colloquially generally known as the Forest Lagoon – is a brand new addition in North Iceland, having opened in Akureyri in early 2022. Set up on a small forested hill, the Forest Lagoon offers off main Scandinavian vibes with its infinity swimming pools surrounded by pine bushes.
The Forest Lagoon has two swim-up bars, a sauna with a large window, a chilly plunge pool, and an on-site bistro. There are two swimming pools right here to get pleasure from, with loads of in-water seating across the fringe of the pool and even an in-pool water fountain.
The solely purpose this spot does not rank greater for me is that bushes block what could possibly be an unbelievable view out over a fjord, however do not do something to dam out noise from a the freeway main into Akureyri.
6. Sky Lagoon
I had hassle deciding the place to position the Sky Lagoon on this listing. It might have in all probability landed wherever between 5 and seven, as I believe the expertise there can range so much.
The better part in regards to the Sky Lagoon is that it is positioned in Kópavogur, simply outdoors of downtown Reykjavik. Meaning it is easy to get to, even if you happen to’re not renting a automobile in Iceland.
The Sky Lagoon is a more moderen scorching spring, having opened in 2021. It’s constructed to resemble a pure infinity pool overlooking the North Atlantic Ocean. There’s a swim-up bar (after all), a sauna with presumably the biggest single pane window in Iceland, and a novel 7-step ritual that features cold and hot steps and a physique scrub.
I visited the Sky Lagoon later within the night (round sundown time in August), so it was pretty quiet and stress-free. But it is not an enormous place, so I do really feel prefer it might really feel fairly busy at different occasions of the day. (You undoubtedly need to e-book this one forward.)
Next up is Krauma, a geothermal spa made up of varied scorching tubs which might be fed by Deildartunguhver, essentially the most highly effective scorching spring in all of Europe. The 6 swimming pools all range in temperature, with 5 scorching ones and one chilly plunge pool. There’s additionally a steam room and an infrared sauna, together with a novel rest room that is heated by a woodburner.
Krauma additionally has an on-site restaurant and occasional bar that is superb, serving up Icelandic dishes.
And whereas these baths are family-friendly, this spot had a quiet, relaxed high quality to it after we visited. I nearly felt as if I ought to be whispering after I was there.
Why does not Krauma rank greater for me? Other than the quiet vibe, it is also sort of out of the best way. Unless you have been seeing different issues on this space, I’m undecided it is a spot I might purposely detour to.
8. Myvatn Nature Baths
The solely scorching spring on this listing that I in all probability would not exit of my option to go to once more are the Myvatn Nature Baths – AKA the Blue Lagoon of the North. These baths are just like the Blue Lagoon in that the swimming pools are crammed with milky blue water. But I didn’t discover the expertise right here to be as fulfilling because the Blue Lagoon.
First, I used to be touring in Iceland in the course of the excessive season after I visited this spot. Several time slots all through the day have been bought out, and the entire place felt crowded, from the small locker rooms to the swimming pools themselves.
There are two giant swimming pools right here, however one was actually solely lukewarm, that means most individuals have been packed into the warmer pool. There’s a swim-up bar, too, however there is not any wrist band system (or at the least there wasn’t after I visited), that means that if you happen to did not pre-pay for drinks, you wanted to deliver a bank card into the pool with you – and who needs to try this?
I’ve heard different folks say they liked the Myvatn Baths once they visited in winter, so perhaps the expertise would have been extra fulfilling in one other season. But for me, personally, this was my least favourite thermal spa! (If you need to test it out for your self, although, you possibly can pre-book tickets right here.)
Other Iceland thermal spas
While 8 scorching springs/spas is so much, there are such a lot of extra throughout Iceland! Some different organized thermal baths that I have not but visited embody:
- Secret Lagoon
- Laugarvatn Fontana
Plus all of the pure ones that I have not been to! (The just one I’ve been to is the Landmannalaugar scorching spring within the Highlands.)
Hopefully this might help you propose your personal scorching spring-centric journey round Iceland although, and to arrange you for what to anticipate once you go to any of them!
Have you visited any scorching springs in Iceland?