There are dozens of sites you’ll want to see and experience, and the thermal pools in Iceland are probably on your list. But which ones? The Blue Lagoon may be the most famous, but there are many, many more to choose from. You could plan an entire road trip that takes you from hot spring to hot spring, enjoying the sights along the way!
In Iceland, you’ll find natural hot springs that look like little ponds or lakes, some of which have been built up to accommodate travelers and others that are in the middle of nowhere, with no facilities in sight. You’ll also be able to visit naturally heated man-made swimming pools and hot pots. Tell us about your favorites!
Meanwhile, here are 10 of our favorite thermal pools in Iceland.
Mývatn Nature Baths
The Lake Mývatn geothermal region is known for the serene lake, stunning scenery, and numerous nearby must-sees. The Mývatn Nature Baths opened in 2004 and they serve happy guests all year long—even for a few hours on Christmas day! You can rent swimsuits, towels, and robes if you need to, and you can enjoy a drink as you soak. There’s an on-site cafe, so you can take a break for lunch then jump right back into the soothing waters.
The entire Mývatn area could keep you busy for days, so plan accordingly if you’re journeying through this incredible region. You could easily spend several hours at the baths, and you’ll want some time left over for the Dimmuborgir lava field, the Hverarond sulfur springs, and the Krafla Caldera.
The oldest swimming pool in Iceland is worth a visit! It’s been welcoming visitors since 1891 (though more regularly since 2006). You can make a reservation, which is recommended during the busiest times of the year, and the lagoon features new shower and locker room facilities. There’s even a little geysir that erupts every few minutes for your viewing pleasure.
Located just an hour and a half from Reykjavik (in the Golden Circle area near Fludir) the Secret Lagoon is a great spot for checking out the Northern Lights during the winter months. If you only have enough time in Iceland to check out the Golden Circle, this pool is a great option that won’t take you too far out of the way—but offers a more economical alternative to the Blue Lagoon.
Well, you can’t bathe in this one anymore—volcanic activity in the 1970s sent the water temperatures skyrocketing. Still, Grjótagjá is open to visitors (look, don’t touch!) and is worth a stop for its unique beauty. It’s also relevant in pop culture. Indeed, Game of Thrones fans may recognize it from the love scene featuring Ygritte and Jon Snow. This is near Lake Mývatn, so if you’re visiting the thermal pools in the northern part of the country, you can stop by Grjótagjá.
Blink and you’ll miss it: this tiny hot spring will feel like your own private nature getaway. It’s free to jump in—there’s no business or facilities set up around it—but there’s only room for about three people. Landbrotalaug is just a small hole full of blissfully warm water, as nature intended! If you want it all to yourself, visit in the off-season or try early in the morning or late in the evening. It’s a special spot, sure to be a highlight on your thermal pool road trip.
GeoSea Geothermal Sea Baths
Located in Húsavík, GeoSea is one of the newer thermal pools in Iceland, though it is the natural progression of the old tradition of using the geothermal seawater for relaxation and healing. The facilities include a restaurant, and you have the option to rent towels and swimsuits. Reservations are recommended, as they do limit the number of guests they allow at one time.
Húsavík is known as Iceland’s whale-watching hub, so you might already be planning to include this part of the country in your trip! If so, GeoSea is a great addition to your northern Iceland adventure. You’ll find plenty of wonderful restaurants, museums, and hiking opportunities in and around town, as well.
There’s a lot to do in the Heydalur valley, and this guesthouse is the home base for a variety of accommodation types as well as activities like kayaking, horseback riding, hiking, and the thermal springs, which are for the guests of the hotel and restaurant. There is a swimming pool in the greenhouse and hot pots that offer peaceful views of the surrounding landscape.
If you’d like your hot spring experience to be a reward after some physical activity, you’ll love the hike to Reykjadalur. If you start in Hveragerði, the path is clearly marked. It’ll take you about 30-60 minutes, and there’s more of Iceland’s incredible scenery to enjoy along the way. It’s free to hop in, so you’ll want to bring your own swimsuit and towel.
Víti Geothermal Crater Lake
This lake is located in the Askja Caldera. You’ll need a 4×4 vehicle and a short hike to get there, but you’ll be surrounded by some of the raw nature Iceland is known for, and you’ll get to bask in the 77°F (25°C) water. Keep in mind, this is only an option during the summer months! It is inaccessible during the winter. Sometimes, when the water level is too high, you might not be allowed to swim. If the view isn’t enough for you, double check on this before making the trek.
The nature reserve is a destination in itself, perfect for bird watching and staring out to sea. It’s right there in Reykjavik, about an hour’s walk from the center of the city—or a short drive, of course. It’s home to a little hot spring, perfect for soaking your feet after a day wandering around the capital. Really, there’s no need to bring a swimsuit: it’s too small for much more than your feet! Make a day of it and enjoy the museum, walking and biking paths, and maybe some Northern Lights viewing in the winter.
The Blue Lagoon
Ah, the mother of all Icelandic hot springs! You know the deal: it’s a bit overpriced, it’s a bit crowded, but it is the Blue Lagoon, after all. You can easily spend a day there (or more if you book a luxurious hotel stay!). There’s a restaurant there, as well, and you can treat yourself to massages and beauty treatments at the spa.
Still, the main highlight is the lagoon itself. That milky blue water, which stays a steady 98-104°F (37-40°C) calls to people from all over the world, and after some time in the water you’ll feel refreshed and rejuvenated.
There are three types of entrance tickets. The least expensive, called Comfort, includes your entrance to the Blue Lagoon along with the use of a towel, a silica mud mask, and one drink of your choice. For a full luxury experience, you have a variety of options including private changing rooms, multiple spa treatments, and even a private lagoon! Somewhere in the middle, you have the Premium entrance, which includes two face masks, a table reservation, sparkling wine with your dinner, and more. You can really customize your Blue Lagoon experience to fit your interests and budget.
How to Enjoy the Thermal Pools in Iceland
Many of the larger facilities, like the Blue Lagoon, have towels and swimsuits for rent; otherwise, you’ll want to bring your own. Where shower facilities are available, you’ll be expected to shower before entering the pools for sanitary reasons. At the larger, more popular pools, you’ll most likely want a reservation during the busy summer months—otherwise, you might not get in, which can really hijack your travel plans if you make a special trip to a certain pool.
For the smaller pools, you may want to seek them out during the quieter times of day to ensure you get a spot in the warm water! Generally, this includes the early morning and late evening hours, which is no problem during the summer when there’s plenty of daylight.
Some of the small, free pools are maintained by the property owners. If there is an opportunity to leave a donation. Thus, please do, as that money is used to keep the area clean. As some areas have had trouble with vandalism and garbage, be mindful of cleaning up before you leave.
You might choose to visit one of the thermal pools in Iceland as you make your way around the country, or you could try to visit as many as possible and make them the focus of your entire trip! Most people would agree, at least one visit to one of these magical spots is a must during your Iceland road trip. When you’re ready to plan your trip, contact us! We’ll connect you with the best vehicle for your travels.Back