Iceland Geothermal Pools - Take Me There Iceland

Iceland Geothermal Pools

Iceland is renowned as the land of ice and fire, but it is also known for having the world’s largest hot springs. Despite its small population, Iceland’s numerous waterfalls and geysers conceal an unimaginable amount of water.

Situated on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where two tectonic plates diverge, Iceland is considered a ‘hot spot’ on Earth with significant volcanic activity. As a result, the country boasts a unique blend of geothermal activity, ice, and fire, creating geothermal pools and hot springs scattered throughout the country. These natural wonders can be enjoyed year-round, regardless of the external weather conditions.

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Some Tips for Visiting the Pools

  1. Advance Booking: This holds true, especially during the summer months when the tourist influx is massive. For popular pools, if you don’t purchase tickets in advance, you simply won’t be able to get in. This applies mainly to the Blue Lagoon and the Secret Lagoon, but not exclusively.

  2. Check Included Amenities: Verify if the ticket you purchased includes a towel. If not, make sure to bring one with you.

  3. Safety First: Adhere to safety instructions, and try not to spend more than an hour and a half in the hot water. Although some pools allow entry for all ages, prolonged exposure to hot water can be dangerous for children (their heat regulation system may not be stable). Ensure that no one stays in hot water for more than 20-30 seconds consecutively.

  4. Food and Drinks: Some pools offer snacks or quick meals in addition to beverages. Prices can be quite high, so if possible, come prepared with your own snacks.

  5. Time Management: If you plan to spend some time at the pool, there’s no need to budget more than one and a half to two hours. Keep in mind that apart from soaking in the hot water, there isn’t much else to do in the facility, at least in most pools.

  6. Local Experience: Locals don’t typically frequent the pools mentioned earlier, but they do visit public swimming pools in towns. This is where everything happens. If you’re interested in mingling with locals, it could be an excellent option.

Take Me There Iceland App seamlessly integrates the best hot springs into various itineraries, allowing you to easily and quickly book tickets based on recommendations for the day and time.

The pools around Reykjavik and the South Coast

South Iceland is a true gem for tourists seeking to experience some of the most breathtaking landscapes that Iceland has to offer. Þingvellir National Park is a masterpiece of nature and the only place on Earth where the tectonic plates of North America and Europe meet above the ground. The site is also known as the historical meeting place of the Alþingi, the ancient Icelandic parliament.

In South Iceland, you’ll find the most active volcano in Iceland, Hekla, also known as the gateway to hell. Just a 20-second flight (or 35-second sail) off the southern coast, you’ll discover the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar), an ideal destination for a day trip or more. Vestmannaeyjar is home to some of the world’s renowned puffin colonies. Only an hour’s drive from the capital Reykjavik, South Iceland offers entry into a captivating world of natural wonders and landscapes that will stay with you for a lifetime.

In the realm of geothermal pools, this part of Iceland has much to offer as well. Two of the most popular pools in the area are not far from Reykjavik—the iconic Blue Lagoon (located just a 10-minute drive from the airport) and the relatively young Sky Lagoon situated on the outskirts of the Icelandic capital. Both pools promise a unique experience, with the Blue Lagoon being an iconic symbol, and the Sky Lagoon offering a more contemporary atmosphere.

Additional pools in the area, less crowded and more affordable, include the Secret Lagoon, known as Iceland’s first public pool, and the Laugarvatn Fontana Baths. Both are located in the famous Golden Circle area not far from Reykjavik.

Another secluded pools worth mentioning is Seljavallalaug, a rectangular pool measuring 25 meters in length and 10 meters in width (which was the largest pool in Iceland until 1936), situated between the towns of Vík and Hella near Skógafoss waterfall.

The pools of the West side of Iceland

Western Iceland is the home to some of the most significant figures in Iceland’s history. Much of the saga literature was written in this region, and the most important Icelandic writer, Snorri Sturluson, was born in Reykholt. The renowned Viking, Erik the Red (Eiriksstadir), who discovered America in the year 1000, lived in the town of Eiriksstadir.

In Western Iceland, you’ll find Glymur, a waterfall that drops from a height of 198 meters, one of the tallest waterfalls in Iceland. You can also visit the impressive Snæfellsjökull National Park, picturesque towns, and unique natural attractions. The short distances between popular destinations allow you to enjoy the area at your own pace throughout the year.

The Western Fjords (Vestfirðir) in this part of the island are a magical world, where each fjord stands above the sea, characterized by its unique charm and small fishing villages dotting the coastline.

In the western region of the island, be sure to visit some of the stunning geothermal pools. One of the newer and most popular ones is Hvammsvík, offering a unique blend of fjord landscapes and tranquil waters with eight small pools right on the shoreline. The warm pools seamlessly integrate with the grandeur and serenity of the ocean, creating the sensation of bathing in a warm sea. An exceptional feature of the place is the option to walk down to the beach, lounge on the black sand, and even take short walks in the vicinity. The pool is not far from the town of Borgarnes, situated near the Whale Fjord.

Continuing westward, you can also visit one of the most unique pools on the island, Húsafell Hot Springs. The pools are located at the base of a canyon, surrounded by basalt rocks and hidden from sight. Dating back to the 10th century, the location was known to early settlers, and the proprietors of the Húsafell Hotel thoughtfully designed the pools to minimize environmental impact, creating small basalt pools, three in number, fed by a wooden tub and a small path leading to the pools. Nature surrounds you from every angle, 360 degrees. A warm spring feeds the pools and the entire area. It’s noteworthy that great attention has been paid to sustainability, ensuring that all materials, including the tub in the changing room, are sourced from the environment, made from horsehide.

The pools in the Western Fjords are notably smaller compared to those in other parts of the island, offering a more intimate and less touristy experience, befitting the wild attractions of this pristine area. Among them, you’ll discover Birkimelur Pool, a complex consisting of two adjacent geothermal pools in the southern part of the Western Fjords. The water temperature is a pleasant 38 degrees Celsius, perfect for bathing. One pool is rectangular, made of concrete, while the other is a more natural round jacuzzi constructed from stones closer to the seashore.

The concrete pool was initially built by a local youth association in 1948 and was recently restored. The wooden fence surrounding it was removed to unveil the breathtaking panorama visible from the pool. On a clear day, you can gaze upon half of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and witness the glistening white peak of Snæfellsjökull Glacier from the other side of the bay.

Another enchanting pool in the Western Fjords is Hellulaug, with a depth of 60 centimeters and a water temperature of 38 degrees Celsius, providing an exceptionally pleasant bathing experience. The pool has a diameter of approximately 4-5 meters, accommodating around five bathers. While traveling on Route 60, you won’t be able to spot the pool from the road, but there’s a small parking lot next to the road leading to Hellulaug. The site does not offer facilities or changing rooms, but there is a wall where you can change clothes behind. Alternatively, visitors can arrive wearing swimwear. Admission is free. The pool is located near the camping site of Hotel Flókalundur.

If time allows, also consider visiting Krossneslaug and Reykjaneslaug (not to be confused with the Reykjanes Peninsula). These are two charming and wild pools in the fjords.

Warming Up in pools in the North of the Island

The Kingdom of North Iceland is characterized by fertile valleys and long fjords. Like all of Iceland, many charming towns hug the coast, while agriculture flourishes in the fertile valleys. The high mountains from the central Icelandic highlands reach their northern terminus, descending into the sea with steep slopes.

The northern region of Iceland is moderately populated, and the tourism industry is thriving in the area. Visitors can enjoy whale watching, snow skiing, fishing, horseback riding, and, of course, a visit to the northern capital, Akureyri. Akureyri serves as the hub for services, entertainment, and industry in North Iceland and is an excellent starting point for exploring the enchanting landscapes of this wonderful region.

Within this region are several popular geothermal pools in Iceland, with the most famous and oldest being the Mývatn Nature Baths, affectionately called the “Blue Lagoon of the North.” Established in 2004 near Lake Mývatn, it draws its warm waters from the nearby Bjarnarflag geothermal power plant. The temperature of the water starts at 130 degrees Celsius, flowing into a large pool with cascades, then continuing to smaller pools, where the temperature decreases to a relaxing 36-40 degrees Celsius. 

Another northern gem is the GeoSea Baths, located in the picturesque town of Húsavík. Situated against the backdrop of the bay and snow-capped mountains, this pool provides breathtaking views of the famous whale-watching boats departing from the town. It is undoubtedly one of the highly recommended pools in Iceland.

In the capital of the North, Akureyri, a recent addition is the Forest Lagoon geothermal pool. Surrounded by Vaðlaskógur forest, the facility offers both warm and cold pools, a sauna, and a bistro. The Forest Lagoon is a wonderful retreat to unwind and relax.

Not far from the small town of Varmahlíð, you’ll find the charming Fosslaug geothermal pool, meaning “Waterfall Pool.” True to its name, the unique location of the pool is adjacent to the magnificent Reykjafoss waterfall.

The Pools of The East

Due to its distance from the capital, East Iceland has long been the domain of more dedicated travelers, making it more or less the farthest place from Reykjavik that you can reach. If you have a particular fondness for mountainous and glacial landscapes, exploring this secluded region will be a rewarding experience. The area is characterized by a series of natural wonders, including famous waterfalls, mountains, vast barren expanses, and fjords. Here, you’ll discover that the mountains are steeper, the fjords deeper, and, in some places, the efforts of reforestation have resulted in a greener landscape.

Some of the most charming places in this region include the stunning Stuðlagil Canyon, with its beautiful walking trail, the Borgarfjörður Eystri area with its charming puffin colonies, and the picturesque town of Seyðisfjörður, overlooking one of the most beautiful fjords on the island.

In the summer of 2019, the Vök Geothermal Pools opened in Lake Urriðavatn, northwest of Egilsstaðir, the central town in East Iceland. Egilsstaðir is a crucial stop in the captivating region of the Eastern Fjords, and now, the newly established geothermal site provides a wonderful opportunity for a relaxing soak in warm waters surrounded by breathtaking scenery. The water in the Vök pool comes from warm springs flowing deep beneath the lake. Years ago, during the long Arctic winters, local residents noticed that the ice covering the lake always melted at the same spot, revealing a natural hot spring, which now serves as the foundation for the Vök pool.

Hoffell Geothermal Jacuzzi Pools, not far from the town of Höfn, provide another enchanting experience. These pools, situated on a farmstead, offer a serene and well-maintained environment with on-site changing facilities.

Bus Tours with Pools Included

Even those who choose to travel the island without a car, but rather with the assistance of daily bus tours, can definitely incorporate visits to Iceland’s hot springs into their itinerary. It’s possible to combine them with a day bus tour of the Golden Circle, almost every hot spring in the area.

You can combine the tour with a visit to the Blue Lagoon or the Sky Lagoon, and similarly, there are day tours to the Golden Circle that include visits to the Fontana or Krauma pools. You can also opt for tours that focus on activities, such as the suggested tour below, which combines tractor rides on the black beach near Vik in the first part and a visit to the stunning Blue Lagoon in the second part!

Direct Transportation To The Most Popular Pools

Easily reach some of Iceland’s favorite pools with bus tours that offer pickups from Keflavík Airport (great for the Blue Lagoon) or your Reykjavik hotel. The Blue Lagoon, Sky Lagoon, and Hvammsvik in the Whale Fjord are included in this service. These tours not only cover bus transportation but also include admission to the pools. If you prefer, you can choose to book only the bus ride without the pool entry. Explore Iceland’s geothermal wonders hassle-free

Swimming Pools in Iceland

Iceland’s swimming pools are more than mere recreational spaces; they serve as vital community hubs. Each town, no matter how small, boasts its own public pool. Locals frequently gather at these pools, making them social epicenters where people of all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life converge.

Icelanders take their love for swimming to another level by embracing the practice year-round. Even in the dead of winter, it’s not uncommon to see locals braving the frosty air to enjoy the warmth of the pools. The juxtaposition of cold air and warm water adds a layer of magic to the experience.

The cultural significance of swimming extends beyond leisure. Swimming is a mandatory part of the Icelandic school curriculum, emphasizing water safety and instilling a love for aquatic activities from a young age. This approach contributes to Iceland’s impressively low drowning rates and promotes a healthy, active lifestyle.

Here are some very common questions about swimming pools on the island

  1. Are swimming pools open year-round in Iceland? Yes, most swimming pools in Iceland are open year-round. Icelanders embrace the tradition of swimming regardless of the weather, enjoying the contrast of warm waters against the cool Icelandic air.
  2. What amenities do Icelandic swimming pools offer?
    In addition to swimming lanes, Icelandic pools typically feature hot pots (hot tubs) and steam baths. These serve as social spaces for relaxation and are integral to the Icelandic pool experience.
  3. Can I enjoy the Northern Lights from a swimming pool?
    Yes, some pools in Iceland, especially those in rural areas with minimal light pollution, offer a chance to witness the mesmerizing Northern Lights while soaking in warm waters. Check with local pools for the best viewing opportunities.
  4. How is the cleanliness of Icelandic swimming pools maintained?
    Iceland places a high emphasis on cleanliness in swimming pools. Before entering the pool, visitors are required to shower without swimwear to maintain water purity. This practice ensures a hygienic and enjoyable experience for all.
  5. Is it true that swimming is part of the school curriculum in Iceland?
    Yes, swimming is a mandatory part of the Icelandic school curriculum. Children are taught swimming skills, water safety, and the importance of aquatic activities from an early age.
  6. Can tourists use Icelandic swimming pools?
    Absolutely! Icelandic swimming pools are open to tourists. Visitors are encouraged to experience this integral aspect of Icelandic culture. Please observe local pool etiquette, including showering before entering the pool.
  7. What should I bring to an Icelandic swimming pool?
    Bring a swimsuit, towel, and flip-flops. Many pools have on-site rentals if needed. Don’t forget toiletries for the mandatory pre-swim shower.
  8. Are there swimming pool age restrictions?
    Children are welcome in Icelandic pools, and families often frequent these facilities. Some pools may have specific hours dedicated to adults, so it’s advisable to check with individual pools for any age-related restrictions.
  9. Are there changing facilities and lockers available?
    Yes, Icelandic swimming pools are equipped with changing rooms and lockers. Be prepared to remove your shoes upon entering the changing area. Lockers typically operate with coins or electronic cards.

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