Enjoying the many health benefits of bathing in geothermal waters is an Icelandic tradition dating back to the Middle Ages.
Thanks to Iceland’s unique geography and high volcanic activity, natural hot springs and pools are abundant across the country. As a result, you can indulge in this local pastime all year round.
Most Icelanders now opt for one of the many man-made geothermal pools, lagoons, or spas. These still use naturally heated water sources to harness the mineral-rich benefits but channel them into artificial structures so the temperature can be safely regulated – typically 36°–40°C (97°–104°F).
They also provide a range of facilities to make the experience more comfortable and, in some cases, highly luxurious!
In this article, we look at ten of Iceland’s best geothermal bathing pools for you to enjoy during your stay.
Reykjavík and the Reykjanes Peninsula
1. Blue Lagoon
Named one of the 25 Wonders of the World by National Geographic, the Blue Lagoon is undoubtedly one of the most impressive attractions in Iceland.
Set in a magnificent black-lava field, surrounded by a stunning volcanic landscape, this world-famous spa resort is just a 40-minute drive from Reykjavík. This makes it a perfect first or last stop for travellers flying into Keflavík International Airport, wanting to recharge after a long flight, or relax and unwind from an action-filled holiday.
The first bathing facilities were officially opened here in 1987. Since then, the resort has gone from strength to strength, expanding into a luxurious spa facility with a restaurant, café, hotels, and gift shop. Saunas, steam rooms, and massages are also available on site.
2. Sky Lagoon
Combining authentic Icelandic bathing culture, awe-inspiring ocean views, traditional architecture, and modern hospitality, the Sky Lagoon is the latest addition to Iceland’s geothermal spa resorts.
Located at Kárnes Harbour, this ocean-front lagoon is just 15-minutes from Reykjavík by car or 30-minutes by bus.
The spa first opened its doors in April 2021 and offers an infinity pool, lagoon, cold plunge pool, steam room, café, and bars. You can customize your spa experience to include a unique seven-step bathing ritual for a full sensory journey. In addition, the bars and café serve a local seasonal menu, specialty dishes, and drinks, all adding to the authentic experience this spa promotes.
Children under 12 are not permitted.
3. Mývatn Nature Baths
Located in the northeast of Iceland, 105km (65 miles) from the Arctic Circle, the Mývatn Nature Baths opened in June 2002 and are often referred to as the ‘Blue Lagoon of the North.’
This tastefully designed complex, set in a designated nature reserve, offers visitors a completely natural experience with spectacular views, including Lake Mývatn and the volcanic crater of Hverjfall. It also provides frequent opportunities to witness the wonders of the Northern Lights from September to April.
In addition to the main pool, there is a steam room, sauna, hot tub, and plunge pool, along with changing room facilities, a bar, and a café serving light snacks and a variety of drinks. Local, organic skin and hair care products are available for purchase.
The clear waters at Mývatn Nature Baths contain higher levels of sulfur than many other pools, so it’s advisable not to wear jewelry as it may get damaged.
4. Geosea Geothermal Sea Baths
The Geosea Sea Baths opened in August 2018 and were recently named one of Time magazine’s top 100 destinations to experience. They can be found in the small fishing town of Husavik – the whale-watching capital of Europe.
Perched on a cliffside, overlooking breathtaking views of Skjalfandi Bay and Kinnarfjöll Mountain, this location offers a unique experience in bathing. The waters here are geothermally heated seawater, rather than spring water, filled with salt and healing minerals.
As well as several infinity-style pools, Geosea has a steam room, modern changing facilities with showers, a small bar and restaurant, and an outdoor terrace for dining al fresco.
In addition to relaxing and rejuvenating in the mineral-rich seawater, Geosea offers an excellent vantage point for whale watching and opportunities to witness the splendor of the Northern Lights while bathing after dark.
5. Vök Baths
While Iceland is famous for its geothermal activity, it’s actually not that common in the east of the island. One exception can be found at Lake Urridavatn, 5km (3.1 miles) northwest of Egilsstadir town, where the unique Vök Baths are located.
Opened in July 2019, these baths comprise warm pools that float on the surface of the freshwater lake. In addition to the floating infinity pools, there are hot pools on the lakeshore, an indoor pool, a steam bath, a cold-water spray tunnel, changing facilities with private showers, a bar, and a bistro. There are also several points leading into the lake where you can swim or just take a quick dip to cool off.
The crystal clear waters add to the uniqueness of these baths, as it doesn’t contain the same minerals as other bathing facilities. The water in this area is so pure that it’s the only water in Iceland certified as drinkable. So, for an extra treat, you can enjoy a cup of tisane tea at the Vök’s Tea Bar, made from warm spring water and local Icelandic herbs.
6. Secret Lagoon
You can find the Secret Lagoon – known locally as Gamla Laugin – just off the popular Golden Circle, near the village of Flúdir.
The lagoon is located in the oldest swimming pool in Iceland, which dates back to 1891. Unfortunately, the area fell into disrepair for many years but was renovated and reopened in June 2014. While less developed than many of Iceland’s geothermal pools, the Secret Lagoon is a perfect retreat for those looking for a more natural, no-frills experience.
The basic facilities include changing rooms, showers and a small bistro. The surrounding landscape includes rolling meadows filled with wildflowers in the summertime, bubbling hot springs, and a small erupting geyser. The lagoon waters are warm, clear, and rich in sulfur.
The Secret Lagoon offers free entry to children under 14, but they must be accompanied by an adult.
7. Fontana Geothermal Baths
This historical bathing site is next to Lake Laugarvatn, in the center of the Golden Circle route, approximately 78km (48 miles) from Reykjavík.
The beautiful lakeside spa, built in 2011, offers serenity and oneness with nature that some of the more touristy bathing options don’t. It also provides a full suite of modern facilities, three outdoor natural pools (varying in size, depth, and temperature), hot tubs, unique natural steam rooms, a Finnish-style sauna, and a café serving locally sourced lunch and dinner buffets – all with stunning views of the lake and surrounding landscape.
Being lakeside, the Fontana Baths also provide the option to take a refreshing dip in the cooler waters of the lake, which you can access via a black sand beach or the pier.
Visitors can also enjoy a short tour of the geothermal outdoor bakery here, where delicious rye bread is baked in the hot black sand following a traditional recipe.
8. Húsafell Canyon Baths
If you’re looking for a more extreme, authentic bathing experience, head to Húsafell Canyon Baths in the west of Iceland, less than a two-hour drive from Reykjavík.
Originally built in 1965, locals carefully renovated the site and reopened it in 2019. They took great care to build sustainable structures using locally-sourced natural materials and to stay true to the area’s heritage.
Set in a highland nature reserve, well off the beaten track, you will need to take a short hike to the site via the two-tiered Langifoss waterfall. The trail is easy, but there are 64 steps leading down to the baths. Check the local weather in the winter months, as heavy snowfall/ice can make the path/steps unsafe.
Húsafell Baths comprise three geothermal pools and an ice-cold glacial stream. They are beautifully secluded and remote and surrounded by the stunning Icelandic wilderness – including mountains, glaciers, and canyons. A small wooden structure offers basic changing facilities and toilets.
Private tours are available for those wanting a local guide who will share the history of the Húsafell area and guarantee a safe trip.
9. Krauma Baths
Opened in 2017, the Krauma Baths are located in stunning landscapes 5km (3.1 miles) west of Reykholt town – a one-hour drive from Reykjavík.
The pools here are filled with water sourced from the nearby Deildartunguhver – the most powerful hot spring in Europe – and mixed with cold glacial waters from Raudagil Canyon to create the perfect bathing temperature. As you approach the site, the incredible clouds of steam rising from the hot spring can be seen (and smelt!).
Krauma offers five black marble hot pools (of varying temperatures), one cold tub, two saunas, a unique relaxation room, changing facilities, showers, and a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating areas. There’s also a Staldrid food truck just outside, famous for its soups and hot dogs!
The Krossneslaug geothermal pool, constructed in 1954, is in the remote settlement of Krossnes, in the Strandir region of the Westfjords.
The nearest villages – Hólmavík and Drangsnes – are over 100km (62 miles) away so it’s best to combine your visit with a day or two of exploring the Westfjords Peninsula.
The pool and hot tub are naturally heated, which is rare in the Westfjords where there is limited geothermal activity. The site is remote and authentic, offering magnificent views of mountains on one side and the ocean on the other. There are basic changing rooms and showers available. There’s also an abundance of wildlife to look out for as you relax in the healing waters, including whales, seals, and seabirds.
Due to its remote and northerly position, Krossneslaug is only accessible from mid-May to the end of August. Outside these times, the roads can be dangerous and not worth the risk.
Reserve your place
Apart from Húsafell Canyon Baths and Krossneslaug, it is strongly recommended that you reserve tickets for your bathing experience well in advance. Due to limited places, pre-booking is essential to guarantee a place before you arrive and avoid disappointment.
There are so many highlights to choose from when planning your trip to the Land of Fire and Ice, that it can be quite a challenge to narrow down your selection. However, we highly recommend taking advantage of one of the many geothermal pools available – it is a truly unique experience and not to be missed.
All that’s left to do now is book your trip, rent a car and prepare for an adventure of a lifetime!
For more travel tips and inspiration for visiting Iceland, keep reading our blog…Back