Good news for anyone who is not quite comfortable in their birthday costume: unlike the traditions of bathing in hot springs in Finland and Japan, in Iceland modesty is always expensive. If the extrovert in you feels like it’s an imposition, then know that the nation’s high level of volcanic activity and the mix of modern and traditional facilities should provide adequate compensation. While the Blue Lagoon has become globally recognized as a hot spring hotspot, elsewhere in the country you’ll find everything from baths with high-tech bars located in soothing waters to remote lagoons accessible after a hike. So stay hydrated, don’t delay too long, and don’t forget your swimsuit.
1. Mývatn Nature Baths
The northern and eastern regions of Iceland do not have the same level of volcanic activity as the west, which makes Mývatn a rarity. Located about 80 kilometers east of Akureyri, the area is best known for its eponymous lake (home to legions of birds and large squadrons of summer midges), which was created by an eruption ago over 2,000 years. Today, the facilities take advantage of this natural setting. Expect sleek Scandinavian design, huge open pools, and gigantic skies – when you can see it through the steam.
2. Celestial Lagoon
The new Sky Lagoon has a lot of competition around Reykjavík, but surely there is no place offering a more refined experience. Completed in the spring of 2021, it offers a seven-step cleansing treatment, as well as incredible views from its elevated position at the end of a peninsula. Expect sailboats and eiders to float in the cold Atlantic as you relax. One of its most popular features is a swim-up bar, from which guests can order beer or champagne – you’re limited to a maximum of three drinks, as the combination of hot water and cold air is already likely to make you a little dizzy.
3. Hellulaug swimming pool
The little-visited Westfjords region is more famous for its Tolkienesque landscapes and sumptuous waterfalls than for swimming, but in the southern part of this remarkable region there are various options maintained by the community. You’re in the wrong place if you’ve come looking for state-of-the-art or even fairly basic facilities – here is much more traditional. This often means a fairly rudimentary setup, but with stunning views of the rugged landscape and low footfall in these areas, there is rarely someone else to share the water with.
Arguably the prettiest and certainly the most colorful hotspot in central Iceland, the Hveravellir geothermal pools are located in the heart of a nature reserve of the same name. The pools look like volcanic welts on the skin of an alien planet and while many are chilled and designed for swimming, others are so hot they can be used for cooking. So far in the wilderness, Hveravellir is also a great place to view the Northern Lights in the fall.
Built in 1923, long before Iceland took advantage of its 21stA tourist boom of the last century, the Seljavallalaug swimming pool is possibly the oldest in Iceland. It takes 20 minutes of trekking to get there from the parking lot (a short detour via the South Iceland Ring Road) and is maintained by local volunteers, which also makes it one of the most enjoyable swimming experiences. floods in the country. Nonetheless, over the past decade it has again grown in interest, thanks to its volatile neighbor, the mighty ash-eater Eyjafjallajökull. To help you avoid trying to pronounce the nearby volcano while asking for directions, the website has contact details.
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