I’m sure you have been told by now, or you have read in quite a few places, that Iceland is the land of ice and fire. Kind of like GoT, but without the song. I suspect the country had it first though, as it seems like it has always been a land of contrasts.
And if you think it’s all about nature, this is pretty impressive. The Earth itself manages to be so diverse in this country, that the landscape is so different from one area to the other. You can see green fields followed by lava fields followed by rocky mountains with majestuous waterfalls and it all ends with cracked cupcake-like areas where you’re expecting Thor’s hammer to appear from below the ground.
But I’m not going to talk about the icy part of this country, as I only saw just a tiny part of it, but about the nice, warm, and soothing hot springs in Iceland, and you’ll also get a cool map to help you plan your relaxing activities. But, as always, let’s first get to the basics.
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About hot springs in Iceland
What is a hot spring?
In short, it’s usually called a hot spring any water that comes from the ground at a temperature that’s higher than the surrounding environment and/or the human body’s temperature. People visit these places for relaxation and potential health benefits they might carry.
How are hot springs in Iceland formed?
Iceland is a country with plenty of volcanic activity, and this is to blame for these awesome springs we get to enjoy. Water is heated below the ground’s surface by Earth’s activity and it reaches the ground at a higher temperature.
When this happens without added pressure, we have hot springs. When this happens with added pressure, we have geysers. You will see both in Iceland, but you will only be able to bathe in (some, not all) hot springs. Some hot springs can be so hot that bathing in them can be dangerous for the human body.
What is the temperature of the hot springs in Iceland?
The pure water that comes from the ground will be steaming hot. They use it in their homes as well and it has to be cooled down before it can be used, instead of how we, the rest of the world, do it, by heating cold water.
Still, most hot springs will mix up with different other water sources until you meet them. You can find swimming pools with the perfect temperature to swim in, or hot baths that are about 97-104°F / 36-40°C, or even hot springs that are too hot to be able to bathe in safely, which is why you need to read the signs before you get in.
Are hot springs in Iceland safe?
They as safe as the user allows them to be. Let me explain. If you’re the sort of person that disregards any notice plates and just dives in a natural pool because this is what John Snow and Ygritte did in that episode, then hot springs are very dangerous.
On the other hand, if you respect all rules, written and unwritten, and also read a bit before each hot spring before you dip your toes in, you’ll be fine. Some hot springs are rich in certain minerals, and you might not be OK with that if you suffer from certain conditions, but you will be notified about this and you’ll decide for yourself if it’s safe for you.
But what about pregnant ladies?
I can only give you one advice regarding this: ask your doctor. Not Google, not the mommy group on Facebook, and not your essential oils “advisor”. Just ask your doctor if this temperature is ok for you, or if you need to take any special precaution.
You need to take into account the fact that there might be naturally created bacteria in the water. If you decide to go, eat before you go and drink plenty of water and/or fruit juices if you feel your vitamin levels are getting low due to the perspiration.
What are the benefits of hot springs?
Apart from relaxing you beyond recognition, you mean? Well, I guess most of it might not exactly be the treatment for any deadly disease, but the health benefits are mostly related to improving your blood circulation, reducing stress levels, and helping with various skin problems. But most of us use them to relax.
Can you drink water from hot springs?
In most cases, yes. Not from the pool where everyone is bathing in, but from the spring itself. This is a question to ask the owner, as they will know if it’s OK to drink or not.
In most cases, you won’t want to drink the hot water though. You are already heated by the pool. You’ll truly feel the need for something refreshing, in which case I recommend fresh, cold water or lemonade. But please remember that tap water is indeed safe to drink in Iceland. Please don’t buy any plastic bottles!
Why do hot springs smell so bad?
You noticed as well huh? The minerals and other components in the water will give it a few properties. The pretty, blue color that you’ll have in your Instagram pictures is there due to the silica in the water. To ensure clear pipes for the drinking water, some hydrogen sulfide is injected into the cold water.
So yes, you will have to get used to the smell of eggs Icelandic water will throw at you. When you turn on your tap, just let the water running for 10 seconds and the smell will go away. And don’t worry, there won’t be any taste either.
In the pools, you just have to focus on other things. As they have a bigger contact surface with the air, you won’t feel the smell as bad as you’d think.
How long should you soak in hot springs?
Oh, there’s a time limit? Who would have known? In most hot springs you won’t be able to stay that long anyway. They’re too hot for you to handle for more than half an hour, one hour tops. You can combine hot waters with cold ones, to keep your blood flowing, and to be able to enjoy the experience more.
But in some pools, the people at the reception will tell you to not soak in for more than a specific amount of time. Due to the chemical composition of the water, some hot springs are not recommended for more than 10-20 minutes, so pay attention to this if you want to have a nice vacation.
Etiquette rules when going to hot spring in Iceland
What do you wear to hot springs in Iceland?
A swimsuit is the best option. And you can try to use one you don’t care that much about, as colors can fade due to the chemical composition of certain hot springs. You can also wear water shoes if you want, as some hot springs have small rocks or volcanic ash on the bottom of the pool.
Should you shower before entering a hot spring?
Wherever possible, yes. And please shower completely naked, without your swimsuit on. You have to insist on your intimate areas, armpits, and feet the most, as these areas are the ones where bacteria tend to throw parties. Also, use the soaps provided by the place, as these have a chemical composition that will not interact badly with the water.
Should you shower after hot springs?
You should, and you’ll want to. You won’t feel comfortable putting on your clothes if you don’t shower, as the silica or some other substances might still be on your skin. The water sometimes smells bad as well, and you’ll want to shower that smell right off.
Are hot springs good for your hair?
Not really, no. You should keep your hair up in any case, for hygienic reasons mostly. But silica-based hot springs (like the Blue Lagoon) will also damage your hair, drying it up and making it very hard to handle after. Avoid this, especially if you have curly hair that’s prone to dryness.
Can I wear my jewelry in the hot spring?
You can, but you’re not advised to. Due to the silica in the water, silver, white gold, platinum, and copper jewelry can be tarnished due to the water composition. In other cases, the water can leave residue on the jewelry that might be very hard to remove.
Should I wear my glasses in the hot spring?
You can, but I don’t advise you to. You’ll have to be very careful to not get any water on your lenses, as they might damage them or any treatment you might have (like polarized lenses or blue filters). You can wear contacts if you’re careful not to get any water in your eyes and follow proper procedures for it.
Do I need to bring my towel?
In more modern places, like the Myvatn Nature Baths, you can rent a towel or bathrobe and slippers if you want to. In the more secluded places, you might be lucky if you have a small hut where you can change clothes without the wind blowing you-know-where.
So just in case you see an irresistible hot tub on the side of the road, keep your pool bag filled with everything you need. You’ll also spare some cash, as renting a bathrobe will set you back around 1,000 ISK. Now, wouldn’t you rather spend that money on a delicious fruit juice from the pool bar instead?
What rules should one follow when enjoying an Icelandic hot spring?
In no particular order, you should follow the following rules:
- Respect other visitors
They’re here to relax just as much as you are. Keep your voice to a minimum level, respect other people’s personal space, and don’t jump in the pools, no matter how cool you think you are. Believe me, you’re not.
- Don’t use any glass in the pools
Imagine having a glass bottle in the pool and breaking it by mistake. How easy would it be to clean up the pool and avoid that people get injured? Close to zero. So, DO NOT bring any glass objects in or near the pools.
- Remove your shoes
Right after you get past the reception area, remove your shoes. Don’t wear them in the changing areas, as you shouldn’t litter the floor. Most people walk here barefoot or use pool slippers.
- Dry off completely
You will be wet right after exiting the pool or the shower, of course, but keep it to these places. The changing areas should be kept as dry as possible.
- Don’t litter!
It doesn’t matter if you’re in an organized place or a remote pool on a field somewhere, you should never litter the places you visit. And not only when visiting hot springs in Iceland.
- Use the sauna properly
When using a sauna or relaxation room, disinfect your sunbed and lie down entirely on your towel. Leave your slippers at the door, as the high temperature might make them release dangerous aerosols if they’re made from plastic (and they usually are, if they’re mostly for pools).
- Keep the water clean
Remove all make-up before entering the water, put your hair up and please do not spit or blow your nose in the water! What kind of a monster does that anyway? Yuck!
Top hot springs in Iceland
Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go to all of the hot springs that we wanted to. It would have been hard to, as there are so many of them, and sometimes they’re so remote, it takes you a while to get there.
But I will present you with three types of natural hot springs: the ones we went to, the ones other fellow bloggers went to, and some that I found highly recommended, but couldn’t find the time to go to. You’ll find all of these also in the map below. Just save the map locally on your phone and use it as you need.
Best Icelandic hot springs near Reykjavik
This is not a hot spring, but a hot spring thermal river. I decided to start with this as it’s the coolest thing that I have ever seen. You have to hike for about one hour and a half per way through a beautiful landscape until you reach a hot river that flows between the mountains.
Here, you can change clothes in the man-made areas, but don’t expect real changing rooms or showers, or any kind of “luxury”. In the end, it’s just a river flowing through the mountains. It’s a cool feeling to lay in a hot river in this beautiful scenery, and you can even choose the temperature by going up or down the stream.
This place is one of the oldest hot springs in Iceland. It used to be just a hut in the middle of nowhere, and you can still see the building there nowadays. The admission fee is 2.800 ISK (about 20$) and children younger than 14 accompanied by an adult don’t pay any fees.
The lagoon is pretty basic, a simple hot pool surrounded by green fields, but it’s very cozy and intimate. It doesn’t get very crowded and you can relax in this quiet place. The floor of the pool has small rocks on it, just so you know. They’re very smooth due to the water, but if you have sensitive feet, bring your water shoes with you.
The Blue Lagoon is the most popular geothermal spa in Iceland. Located on the way between the Keflavík Airport and Reykjavík town, it’s either a great welcome to the country or a goodbye.
Images of Blue Lagoon’s milky blue water with steamrolling on top are notoriously famous, and not just from travel brochures. Silica causes the milky look, but it’s not the only ingredient the warm water is naturally enriched with. Apart from silica, it’s rich in mineral salts and algae, all of which have a beneficial effect on the skin and may improve various skin conditions including psoriasis.
Needless to say, the Blue Lagoon is not a natural hot spring. The geothermal seawater that fills the large pools is drawn from the underground for the use of a local geothermal power plant. The water is essentially a runoff, which they’ve used generously in forming the Blue Lagoon Spa once the benefits of the geothermal seawater on people’s skin became known in the late ’80s.
Tickets have to be booked in advance on Blue Lagoon’s website. You can choose from different packages, with the most basic one currently (2020) offered for $43 – it includes the entry, a mud mask, a towel, and a drink.
If you don’t have a rented car available, Blue Lagoon also offers a coach transport from Reykjavík downtown. A roundtrip ticket costs $50.
Veronika Primm, Travel Geekery
This beautiful ensemble is one of my biggest regrets, as I would have loved to visit it while in Iceland. The spa has plenty of hot pools and tubs, steam rooms of various types and you can even take a bath in the nearby lake if you feel you should lower your temperature in an instant.
One of the most unique things you can do here is to eat and prepare bread using a very old recipe and the heat from the ground. I think it can be an awesome experience you can have while on your Golden Circle tour. You can find more information, including prices on this page.
Hrunalaug (Hruni) hot springs
You can find amazing, secluded hot springs all over Iceland, but one of the most charming definitely has to be the Hrunalaug Hot Spring. You’ll need a car to get to this hot spring as it’s located via a mountain drive down a dirt track road around 1 hour and 30 minutes from Reykjavík. However since it’s located near many of the great famous Golden Circle sights, a visit here is perfect to combine with a day sightseeing the Golden Circle tourist area.
When entering this hot spring there is no official payment area, but there is a donation box in which you’re expected to donate for your use of the hot spring area. There is a very small hut in which you can get changed with some privacy. Once you arrive you’ll feel like you’re completely alone.
The hot springs are quite small and split into two areas, but they’ve been transformed into a “barn style” feel which looks like small baths to relax in whilst surrounded by fields and nature. It’s an amazing place to visit in all seasons of the year, and the temperature is extremely pleasant.
I suggest you visit early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid having other people there with you. Because these hot springs are quite small, they can’t hold a lot of people, so if it’s busy when you arrive, I suggest you return at another time.
Hrunalaug holds a lot of charm as it’s not a large, well established tourist attraction, but that’s why it’s also great to visit. Bring a book with you and relax in the hot springs in the peaceful, quiet surroundings, and when you leave, don’t forget to bring any rubbish and belongings with you.
Cazzy, Dream Big, Travel Far
Top hot springs in Reykjavik
An essential element of its culture, Iceland has over 170 pools and bathing spots, but the best swimming pool can be found in Reykjavíkur. Sundhöllin, which means swimming palace in English, is one of the oldest pools in Iceland.
With the abundance of geothermal activity in Reykjavík, Sundhöllin’s pools are filled with water from hot springs giving it a spa-like quality. Equipped with an indoor and outdoor pool, three hot tubs, two saunas, and a children’s pool, Sundhöllin is probably one of the biggest swimming complexes in the country.
What makes it even more special is that it is designed by one of Iceland’s famous architects, Guðjón Samúelsson. A minimalist Art Deco masterpiece, the unique ambiance of The Swimming Palace is a treat to the senses. From the sundeck of the outdoor pool, you will be able to gaze at one of his greatest masterpieces, the Hallgrímskirkja, one of Iceland’s iconic landmarks.
Open from Mondays to Fridays, from 6:30 AM to 10 PM and Saturdays and Sundays from 8 AM to 10 PM, Sundhöllin is within walkable distance from any part of the city. The entrance for children over 5 is 160 ISK (2$) and 1030 ISK (8$) for adults, however, if you can enter the establishment for free with a Reykjavík City Card.
Karolina, Karolina Patryk
Reading about this place reminded me of Japan. It was the first place where I saw people just stopping from whatever they were doing and just taking a break and relaxing their feet in warm, soothing water. You can do the same here, but this time with a view of the waves breaking nearby. Pretty private as well!
This complex in Reykjavik has everything you may want and then some more. You not only get the chance to enjoy the year-round heating pools, but they also have a botanical garden and even a small zoo. The main pool is huge and there are plenty of amenities for young children. You can find more information about this place here.
Nautholsvik Geothermal Beach
This free hot tub may show you how the locals do it! What would you think if you’d see people getting out of the hot tub and getting into the almost freezing ocean waters? Would you follow their example?
Best hot springs in South-East Iceland
Seljavallalaug Hot Springs
This is one of the best hot springs in Iceland, but it is important to know what you are getting into! First, this isn’t a hot spring in the way that it is super hot. It is more of a warm swimming pool. A local Icelandic man created the Seljavallalaug pool in the middle of nowhere to teach locals how to swim.
Now it is one of the coolest tourist attractions and one of the best stops on the Ring Road In Iceland! To get to Seljavallalaug hot springs, you must hike for about 30 minutes back into a mountain until you come across the pool. It is a large swimming pool, and very dark and murky.
The water is warm, not hot, so don’t expect to get warmed up too much when you are swimming. It is a pretty chilly experience especially if it is cold in Iceland! But the views can’t be beaten and are truly incredible!
Make sure to pack up all your trash when you are done visiting Seljavallalaug hot springs as a lot of people sadly ruin the area with litter!
Victoria J. Yore, Iceland Trippers
Strutslaug geothermal pool
This place makes you work for it! Located deep in the highlands, making you drive and hike for about 4 to 5 hours, you can be sure to be almost alone in here. If you have plenty of time to spend in Iceland, try to visit a more remote hot spring. You’ll love having the place all to yourself.
Landmannalaugar hot spring
If you intend to do some intensive hiking while in Iceland, you’ll probably choose this area as well. The views are beautiful and you get the chance to enjoy some pretty cool hot springs as well. You can also spend the night in a hut nearby, but make your reservations early if you want to be sure to get it.
Hot springs in eastern Iceland
Hoffell Hot Tubs
Stopping along the Ring Road for a soak in the Hoffell Hot Tubs should be included in your Iceland itinerary! Soaking in the hot pools and admiring the view of the Icelandic countryside is a great way to relax after a day spent exploring.
The Hoffell Hot Tubs are located about 20 minutes outside of the town of Hofn, right by Hoffell Guesthouse. This hole-in-the-wall spot is generally uncrowded, so you’ll be able to find solitude while soaking and enjoying the views!
It costs about $10, with a towel provided. You can pay by either cash or card at the little trailer located at the entrance sign. There are bathrooms with showers and lockers, so you can change into your swimsuit and leave your belongings in there while you soak.
Hoffell Hot Tubs consists of 5 different hot pools, each nestled against an interesting rock structure. Each pool can comfortably hold about 5-6 people. The pools each range in temperature, so if no one else is there you could start at the hottest one and then move to a slightly colder temperature as you start to get too hot.
Pro tip – bring a little cooler and enjoy some drinks while you soak!
Lauren, Ready, Set PTO
Vök Baths are one of the best geothermally heated spas in Eastern Iceland. It is an ideal option for visitors to East Iceland who want to relax in naturally warm and mineral-rich waters.
Vök Baths are located on Lake Urriðavatn, just 5 km northwest of Egilsstaðir, the largest city in the east of Iceland. Furthermore, it is only 500 meters from the Route 1 road that encircles Iceland, so it’s an accessible place.
The spa only opened in the summer of 2019, and the facilities were designed by the same architect who dealt with the famous Blue Lagoon Spa in the southwest of Iceland. So, it’s a new and almost unknown place surrounded by unique nature. Vök Baths use naturally heated water to create a luxurious spa with amazing views of the rest of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
The water in Vök is unique and so clean you can drink it. It is also the only natural hot drinking water in Iceland. Furthermore, the sulfurous odor usually accompanies geothermally heated water, but this is significantly reduced in Vök Baths. Moreover, from the warm water in the pool, you can swim into a cooler lake.
You can buy a drink at the bar at the swimming pool and relax. There is also a café and restaurant in the luxurious spa, selling delicious snacks made mainly from local organic products. There are lockers in the changing rooms. Towels, bathrobes, and hairdryers are available. The showers are equipped with high-quality bath gels, shampoos, and conditioners. The place is worth the money.
The price point is not as high as you might think. A standard adult single ticket is 5.000 ISK (36$), while children younger than 5 are free to join their parents. Children older than 5 pay only 1.800 ISK (13$), and students, senior citizens, and disabled persons pay 2.900 ISK (21$).
Walk-in visitors are welcome. But to ensure guaranteed entrance, there is highly recommend making a reservation on their website. This is also recommended as sometimes there are discount codes and promotions available only on their website.
Agnes, The Van Escape
Djúpavogskörin Geothermal tub
This hot tub is literally in the middle of nowhere! It’s easier to add the GPS coordinates (64.653549, -14.341914) to find it, as you can drive right past it without seeing the place. You only have to pay a small parking fee for your car (GPS coordinates: 64.653803, -14.341653) and start relaxing.
You’ll need a good 4X4 to get here as it’s a bumpy ride, but the views are worth it. You’ll be alone here, so you’ll have the full place to yourself so buckle up, it’ll be a long and worthy drive.
Best thermal baths in Northern Iceland
Myvatn Nature Baths
This so-called “the Blue Lagoon of the North” is something to die for! We were waiting for this visit since we arrived in Iceland and it didn’t disappoint us. The water was as milky as we expected it to be, the lagoon was beautifully crafted and the water was so hot it could melt your muscle pain away.
The place is very organized and you have access to showers, locker rooms, and a cafe. The smallest entrance fee is 5.500 ISK (about 40$) and it will increase to 5.700 ISK starting in 2021. You should book your visit here in advance, as you may have the surprise of being denied entry if you just get there.
Geosea – geothermal sea baths
This place is truly unique because there’s a special combination of seawater and thermal water. Their properties are unlike any other and the views are spectacular. Tickets cost 3.375 ISK (about 25$) for an adult and you can book your visit here.
Living next to Germany, you would have thought that this will surprise me less, but this interesting beer spa was a novelty to me as well. We didn’t get to it as it was a bit out of our route, but I wanted to go here.
The price is a bit on the luxury side (85$ for a singles bath and 136$ for a couples bath), but I think it’s something special you only do once, so you might as well do it right. Book your tickets here.
Hot springs in west Iceland
Reykjafjarðarlaug Hot Pool and Swimming Pool
In the far northwest of Iceland is Reykjafjarðarlaug Hot Pool and spring. Road 63 north from Dynjandi waterfall towards Önundarfjordur hugs the coastline and follows the large Arnarfjörður where Reykjafjarðarlaug Hot Pool is found on the shoreline of the fjord. This remote region is 360km from Reykjavik and takes approximately 5 hours to drive although, in reality, this is the minimum given the surrounding landscape.
The pool and hot spring are easy to find on the rough track road as it swings around the head of the fjord. This location makes the hot pool special as the views along the fjord are stunning.
There is a large parking area that is quiet even in the middle of the summer. A small wooden building with two communal changing rooms and a toilet provide shelter for changing as this spot can be quite exposed. The large swimming pool is adjacent to the building and whilst not boiling it is certainly warm enough for a swim in the summer months.
From the parking area, a small stream runs up the valley away from the fjord, and next to some small stepping-stones are the “sitting pots”. These are shallow natural pools that are warmed by the natural spring that has its source close-by. They have a rocky base with high grassy banks and are protected from the wind. Big enough to seat 6 people comfortably they are worth the stop in the Westfjords.
Suzanne, Meandering Wild
Guðrúnarlaug hot spring
If you want to feel like you found the hobbit world, visit this small, romantic hot spring and you won’t be disappointed. Surrounded by green scenery and with a view of a cute little Scandinavian hut, this place is only big enough for two, so you feel you have the place for yourself.
Landbrotalaug hot spring
This cozy, little hot spring is as personal as it gets. It can only fit two people and it’s so remote, most people cannot even find it. This comes with the disadvantage of having to change clothes in your car, but hey, you have a private spa for free, so stop complaining and enjoy this awesome hidden spot.
Krauma geothermal baths
This beautiful and quiet geothermal bath has water that reaches the ground at such a high temperature that they need to cool it with water from a former glacier. The place features 5 pools, a relaxation room, and two steambaths. You can find more information on their site.
Drangsnes Hot Pots
These hot pots are so beautiful you’ll fall in love. Not only they are still the place where the locals go, even after they had a new and shiny pool in the village, but your views of the fjords will leave you breathless!
Heydalur geothermal hot pot
Located on the grounds of nice accommodation in the Westfjords, this hot spring has been known from the 12th century. It is reserved only for the guests of the hotel and restaurant, so plan your visit accordingly if you want to enjoy this beautiful place.
Krossneslaug geothermal pool
This is one of the few geothermally heated pools in the Westfjords, so you can enjoy “the real deal”, even if you’re far from the place where the core volcanic activity is happening. Only accessible in the Summer, as the icy roads can be dangerous otherwise, you can come here and have the chance of spotting some whales while enjoying your infinity pool views.
So, these are the best hot springs in Iceland and a useful map for your upcoming trip. I’m sure there are plenty of other hot springs that I have missed (and not only in the post). So if you have any good options in mind, drop a comment below and I’ll add it. I’d love to make this resource better over time!