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 at the moment. From spiky lava fields to black seashores to waterfalls that trickle down from glaciers to tumble over cliffs, fireplace and ice have left their marks on Iceland.
Thanks to the nation’s abundance of geothermal exercise, one other staple you will run into throughout Iceland are a reasonably massive variety of sizzling springs, thermal swimming pools, and spa baths. (In truth, you doubtless will not see advertising materials from Iceland with out seeing pictures of somebody soaking within the Blue Lagoon!)
Going to the native (heated) swimming pool recurrently is regular for Icelandic individuals, and visiting at the very least one thermal tub or pure sizzling spring is regular for any customer to Iceland.
If you are planning a visit to Iceland however aren’t conversant in sizzling spring tradition, I’m right here to assist! I’ve traveled to Iceland 4 separate instances, and have visited an excellent portion of the nation’s organized sizzling springs (and some un-organized ones, too!).
Here are all of the issues it is advisable to learn about Iceland’s sizzling springs:
10 issues to know earlier than visiting sizzling springs in Iceland
1. There’s not only one sort of sizzling spring
When it involves locations the place you’ll be able to calm down in sizzling, geothermally-heated water in Iceland, individuals usually simplify it and simply use the time period “hot springs.” But, in actuality, there are a number of various kinds of locations you’ll be able to go to for a pleasant soak.
- Spa-like thermal baths – These are your Blue Lagoons and Sky Lagoons – sizzling 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 sizzling springs. Because of the companies and amenities provided, these are the costliest sort of sizzling springs to go to in Iceland.
- Natural sizzling springs – These are sizzling swimming pools and tubs that you’re going to discover out within the wild. Many are actually naturally-formed, whereas others might have rudimentary pool shapes – however they’re all naturally fed by geothermally heated water. Some of those could have primary amenities (like possibly a altering room), however others are simply out in nature. Many of those are free, however you could 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 at the moment are simply used for recreation. These swimming swimming pools usually have indoor and out of doors swimming pools (at all times heated, by the best way), together with issues like sizzling tubs, saunas, and generally even water slides. Tourists pays to go to any swimming pool in Iceland.
*My private listing of favourite spa-style sizzling springs in Iceland is on the finish of this publish!
2. Be cautious and thoughtful at pure springs
Iceland’s pure sizzling springs are those you are most probably to see dreamy photographs of on Instagram. Some of the preferred pure sizzling springs in Iceland embody:
- Reykjadalur Thermal River (hike required)
- Hrunalaug (on non-public land)
- Landmannalaugar sizzling 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 will be bathing at your individual threat. Getting there may be robust in some instances, there will not be any amenities, and you may anticipate pure pool bottoms (i.e. generally mud). The water temperature will not (normally) be regulated, both, so make sure to test how sizzling 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 usually are not bathtubs so that you can bathe or shampoo your hair in, and in the event you create any trash or waste when you’re visiting, make sure to pack it out with you whenever you depart.
Be thoughtful of others visiting, too. Just since you “found” a pure sizzling pool does not imply you might be entitled to have all of it to your self.
3. Book forward at organized sizzling springs
If you wish to go to a preferred spot just like the Blue Lagoon or Sky Lagoon and even Myvatn Nature Baths, plan to guide your go to forward of time. (If you are touring throughout the standard summer season months, you will wish to guide your Blue Lagoon entry weeks prematurely if attainable, as time slots do recurrently promote out!)
Most of the spa-style sizzling springs and thermal baths round Iceland do timed entries with the intention to assist management the stream of individuals via the altering rooms and sizzling swimming pools, although exterior of the primary vacationer facilities you’ll be able to usually stroll up and buy tickets, too.
(On my current journey to Iceland the place we visited 7 completely different sizzling springs, we undoubtedly wanted reservations on the Sky Lagoon and Myvatn Nature Baths, however we had 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 guide tickets on-line forward of time for all of the organized sizzling springs.
4. Bring your individual towel
I extremely, extremely advocate touring with your individual towel to Iceland in the event you plan to go to a pair sizzling springs. (A quick-dry towel like this is a good possibility!)
You’ll undoubtedly want one at any pure springs you go to, and it will 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 shortly!
Bring a towel you’ll be able to simply acknowledge, as you will be leaving it both in a cubby or hanging subsequent to a bunch of others when you’re within the sizzling swimming pools.
(And talking of paying further for issues at these spas, I usually 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 prematurely.)
5. Pack multiple swimsuit
Obviously a swimsuit is a should in Iceland. Some locations will mean you can lease one, however I’m certain I’m not alone once I say… ew.
If you propose to go to a pair completely different sizzling springs, I like to recommend bringing multiple swimsuit.
You’ll doubtless bathe after soaking, and whereas a couple of spas and swimming swimming pools have little machines you’ll be able to 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 sizzling climate, you’ll be able to’t at all times rely on a swimsuit to dry hanging up in a single day! (In my expertise, they normally took 2 days!)
I packed 3 swimsuits for a 2-week journey, however in all probability would have been fantastic 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 at all times gender-specific, and normally begin with an space the place you are anticipated to take off your sneakers (normally there can be shoe racks and a bench).
Then there are lockers the place you’ll be able to retailer your issues. These are normally digital and accessed by way of both a bracelet you are given whenever you test in, or with a code you will create. Just a few are nonetheless old style 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 might both be particular person stalls, semi-open stalls, or only a large open bathe space. Things like shampoo, conditioner, and physique wash are at all times supplied, and most locations have hair dryers for later, too (within the girls’s locker room, at the very least).
You at all times need to cross via the bathe space first with the intention to enter the pool or tub space, and there is normally someplace right here to go away your towel so you do not have to return to your locker dripping moist.
7. You need to bathe – bare
Speaking of showering, you are anticipated to do it – sans swimsuit – earlier than stepping into any pool or sizzling tub in Iceland. There are indicators throughout each locker room, and generally locker room attendants round to remind you, too.
In some instances, there could also be one non-public altering room, or a couple of bathe stalls with doorways in every locker room. But normally there’s only one massive open bathe space that everybody is anticipated to make use of.
I do know this half is commonly stunning and uncomfortable for some American girls (I get it; bare individuals in locker rooms wasn’t regular the place I grew up both), nevertheless it’s fairly regular in Europe. It’s very doubtless (in reality, 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 in order for you, bathe shortly, 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 sweet in your pores and skin, however may be actually arduous 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 depart some conditioner in it whenever you go into the swimming pools. Otherwise it’ll really feel actually dry and brittle for days.
(It’s in fact attainable to go to these sizzling springs and never get your hair moist in any respect, although, so do not stress about it in the event you do not plan to totally 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 sizzling swimming pools. Most of those will provide beer and wine alongside non-alcoholic drinks, and some locations might embody a drink or two along with your entrance price.
Just bear in mind that in case you are planning to drive after visiting a sizzling spring, you will wish 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 fantastic for driving over that restrict is a minimal of 100,000 ISK ($700 USD) and will embody jail time.
Soaking in sizzling tubs can dehydrate you shortly as it’s, so if you will be driving you must stick to at least one drink at most and loads of water, or simply order one thing non-alcoholic (I really like the native Collab collagen sodas, in addition to the non-alcoholic glowing TÖST drinks that almost all spa bars serve).
10. Not all sizzling springs are proper for teenagers
While many sizzling springs and thermal baths in Iceland enable children (some even present little ones with flotation units to make use of), they don’t seem to be at all times essentially the most kid-friendly setting. Not solely are some simply not arrange for little ones to be splashing round, however in lots of instances they’re nonetheless fairly costly.
(For instance, if an grownup entry to a sizzling spring is the equal of $35-$40 USD, a child’s entry price would possibly nonetheless be round $15-20.)
If you are touring round Iceland with children and wish to get pleasure from heated swimming pools and sizzling tubs as a household, this is my greatest tip: go to metropolis swimming swimming pools as an alternative! It can be far more reasonably priced (suppose $7-8 for an grownup, and possibly $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 very 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 sizzling springs (ranked by me)
And now, listed here are my favourite Iceland sizzling springs*, ranked! (I have never 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 robust to decide on a favourite sizzling spring in Iceland, but when I’m compelled to place one on the high of my listing, I feel it must be Hvammsvik, a brand new thermal spa (opened in July 2022) situated simply 45 minutes north of Reykjavik.
This spot feels essentially the most pure of the bunch, with sizzling swimming pools constructed proper right into a pure seaside; a few them really disappear into the ocean completely at excessive tide. The swimming pools listed here are crammed with a mix of pure (sizzling) 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’ll be able to take out into the fjord on calm days. There’s additionally a really good restaurant connected, 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 sizzling 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 here are at various temperatures, with the most well liked ones being those within the lake.
I visited this spot within the night, and it was the proper place to unwind. My favourite discovery right here? The indisputable fact that the swim-up bar presents slushies! (Technically I feel they’re for the youngsters, however nobody says adults cannot organize them too!)
You can pre-book your entry right here.
3. Geosea Geothermal Sea Baths
I feel the Geosea baths in Husavik get my vote for “best view” on the subject of Iceland sizzling springs. These infinity-style baths sit up on a hill overlooking Skjálfandi Bay and snow-capped mountains; in the event you’re fortunate, you can technically even spot whales when you soak, as they dwell year-round within the bay beneath.
Geosea has three related mineral-rich saltwater swimming pools of various temperatures. I’ve one pal who mentioned not one of the swimming pools right here had been sizzling sufficient for her, however I personally thought these had been nice! The largest of the three swimming pools was the proper 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’ll be able to normally simply get walk-up tickets, too (for now, at the very least).
4. Blue Lagoon
As touristy as it’s, Iceland’s most well-known sizzling spring nonetheless makes it into the highest half of my listing right here. Why? Because it is standard for an excellent motive! 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 really 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 ceaselessly promote out, generally weeks prematurely), it is massive sufficient to normally 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 attainable 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 referred to 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 provides off main Scandinavian vibes with its infinity swimming pools surrounded by pine bushes.
The Forest Lagoon has two swim-up bars, a sauna with an enormous 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 motive this spot would not rank larger for me is that bushes block what might be an unimaginable 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 bother deciding the place to put the Sky Lagoon on this listing. It might have in all probability landed wherever between 5 and seven, as I feel the expertise there can fluctuate quite a bit.
The better part in regards to the Sky Lagoon is that it is situated in Kópavogur, simply exterior of downtown Reykjavik. Meaning it is simple to get to, even in the event you’re not renting a automobile in Iceland.
The Sky Lagoon is a more moderen sizzling 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 (in fact), a sauna with presumably the biggest single pane window in Iceland, and a novel 7-step ritual that features cold and warm 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 isn’t an enormous place, so I do really feel prefer it might really feel fairly busy at different instances of the day. (You undoubtedly wish to guide this one forward.)
Next up is Krauma, a geothermal spa made up of assorted sizzling tubs which might be fed by Deildartunguhver, essentially the most highly effective sizzling spring in all of Europe. The 6 swimming pools all fluctuate in temperature, with 5 sizzling ones and one chilly plunge pool. There’s additionally a steam room and an infrared sauna, together with a novel leisure room that is heated by a woodburner.
Krauma additionally has an on-site restaurant and low 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 once we visited. I virtually felt as if I needs to be whispering once I was there.
Why would not Krauma rank larger for me? Other than the quiet vibe, it is also type of out of the best way. Unless you had been seeing different issues on this space, I’m unsure it is a spot I’d purposely detour to.
8. Myvatn Nature Baths
The solely sizzling spring on this listing that I in all probability would not exit of my technique to go to once more are the Myvatn Nature Baths – AKA the Blue Lagoon of the North. These baths are much 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 throughout the excessive season once I visited this spot. Several time slots all through the day had been bought out, and the entire place felt crowded, from the small locker rooms to the swimming pools themselves.
There are two massive swimming pools right here, however one was actually solely lukewarm, that means most individuals had been packed into the warmer pool. There’s a swim-up bar, too, however there is not any wrist band system (or at the very least there wasn’t once I visited), that means that in the event you did not pre-pay for drinks, you wanted to convey a bank card into the pool with you – and who needs to try this?
I’ve heard different individuals say they liked the Myvatn Baths after they visited in winter, so possibly the expertise would have been extra fulfilling in one other season. But for me, personally, this was my least favourite thermal spa! (If you wish to test it out for your self, although, you’ll be able to pre-book tickets right here.)
Other Iceland thermal spas
While 8 sizzling springs/spas is quite a bit, there are such a lot of extra throughout Iceland! Some different organized thermal baths that I have never but visited embody:
- Secret Lagoon
- Laugarvatn Fontana
Plus all of the pure ones that I have never been to! (The just one I’ve been to is the Landmannalaugar sizzling spring within the Highlands.)
Hopefully this can assist you propose your individual sizzling spring-centric journey round Iceland although, and to organize you for what to anticipate whenever you go to any of them!
Have you visited any sizzling springs in Iceland?