This may come as a shock, but Iceland is cold. A long soak in a steamy natural hot spring is the perfect way to end (or start) your frigid Icelandic day. You’ve probably heard of Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon, but it would be a serious GOT style “SHAME” if you didn’t hit up some of Iceland’s less touristed hot springs.
This country is literally steaming from the inside out with geothermal activity. You’ll often see hot steam coming out of the mountains or ground from miles away. You also smell the sulfur in the air and the water in your hotel shower may smell like rotten eggs. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it and it’s perfectly safe. Also, you can fart in public and blame it on nature 😉
Here’s your guide to getting yourself in hot water while in Iceland:
Although some of these are hidden or private pools, the beauty of this list is that they’re all searchable on Google Maps. Yey for Google Maps!
- Grama Laugin “The Secret Lagoon”
Where: About 1 hour east of Reykjavik, this is the perfect spot to stop after your day of exploring Gullfoss (waterfall) and the Geysir. It’s definitely not a “secret” but it’s well off the beaten track and not heavily touristed.
Why We Loved it: This was our FAVORITE hot spring of the trip. While it’s partially man-made, it feels very authentic and you feel one with your surroundings. The floor is rocky and the walls holding you in are mossy little hills.
Also, its HOT! This might seem redundant, but unfortunately a lot of the hot springs aren’t as hot as you’d like them to be when the air outside is a cool 30 degrees fahrenheit. Grama Laugin is very hot, and almost too hot in some spots.
Oh and it was our favorite because they sell cheap champagne!! (Cheap for Iceland, so $45).
Cost / Amenities: $30 per person. Locker room and showers are included in your entry fee. Towels cost extra. Beer, wine, champagne and snacks for sale.
- The Blue Lagoon:
Where: A few minutes from Keflavik airport, or about 45 minutes from downtown Reykjavik. The closeness to the airport makes it a great spot to stop right when you arrive in Iceland or right before you leave, there is onsite luggage storage. A taxi from downtown Reykjavik will cost you about $100 ONE WAY. There is also an option to include transport with your ticket price. See bluelagoon.com for more information on transport.
Why We Loved It: Its HUGE!! And it’s just as shocking to see in real life as you expect. It’s definitely a tourist destination, but it’s grande size allows you to feel alone in certain areas. There is a large bar and cute girls with swim caps that bring you silica mud to slather on your face. See if you can find the hidden grotto (shown below). There are steam rooms and big lounge chairs for relaxing indoors. The blue lagoon is not overrated, its definitely worth the trip.
Cost /Amenities: $50 per person includes lockers, showers, and a silica mud mask. There are a few package deals you can opt for, we suggest the next step up. For $65 you also get a towel, 1 free alcoholic beverage and an algae mask. The free drink alone makes this worthwhile as a glass of champagne is $15, but the algae mask is incredible and I feel 10 years younger.
- Myvatn Nature Baths
Where: They call it the blue lagoon of the north. A little more than an hour east Akureyri, and far far less touristed than Reykjavik’s Blue Lagoon. We came here at then end of our hikes and sights in the north and spent a few long hours.
Why We Loved It: It’s really quiet beautiful to see the bright blue water contrasted against the lava fields. There are two natural steam rooms that are nothing more than little huts situated over steam streaming out of the earth. The lagoon itself is only a little hotter than “warm” but there is a cement soaking tub that is much hotter on site. On the downside, this didn’t feel as clean as the other springs we visited. And an angry Icelander yelled at some girls for talking about their travels too loudly claiming, “this is to be a place of relaxation and serenity”.
Cost /Amenities: $40 per person. Includes locker room and shower access. Towels cost extra. Cafeteria on site, but food and drink are not allowed in the spring.
Where: Between Vik and Reykjavik in a picturesque canyon behind a farm. There’s a cute hand-drawn map below and the hike is only about a mile from the parking area.
Why We Loved It: For starters, you get to hike to this pool and that just makes everything more magical. It’s an abandoned cement pool backed by waterfalls and canyon views. While it’s very secluded, Instagram and blogs like these have made it a popular spot and it can get packed. It was nice and peaceful while we were there, but it wasn’t the hottest of the hot springs, but hey, we did it for the photos right 😉
Cost /Amenities: Free! Small shared changing area.
- Sundlaug Akureyri Swimming Pool:
Where: Right in the middle of the city of Akureyri.
Why We Loved It: This isn’t really a hot spring, it’s a public swimming pool, but its SO neat! There are a few different warm lap pools and a really large hot soaking pool. There were no tourists. Whats more?… Are you ready? There are WATERSLIDES!!!
We might have furthered the “stupid American” stereotype by being the only adults on the slides (worth it). And we might have raced a few little Icelanders down the slides (and WON, obviously).
Cost /Amenities: $20 per person includes locker room and shower use.
Where: We didn’t venture to this one as time didn’t permit, but following the hashtags and comments on IG photos led us to the name listed above, which is searchable on Google Maps. It’s located in the western fjords and is privately owned by a farmer. According to IG posts you can ask the farmer who owns the pool if you can swim in it and he’ll happily share his pool with you.
Why We Loved It: The idea of asking an Icelandic farmer to use his hot spring just makes us laugh deep in our traveling bellies. Icelanders are so kind and generous and they believe the land belongs to everyone. Please find this place and meet this farmer for us!
Cost /Amenities: Only costs a smile.
Where: Located in the western fjords. This public swimming pool is searchable on Google Maps.
Why We Loved It: The sad story is that we didn’t make it to this one either. Complete fail, right?! We drove from Reykjavik through the western fjords on our way to Akureyri and on our way we took a REALLY crazy F road for about 15 miles that took us up some crazy cliffs and up and over a glacier and and and it was too late for us to make it here. Sad face.
It’s blue, its ocean front, the photos are amazing. This gives us a reason to come back 🙂
Cost /Amenities: $10 or free if the lifeguard isn’t on duty.
Etiquette: It’s important to note that there is a bit of a “process” to getting in a hot spring. The Icelanders are very serious about protecting the integrity of their hot springs, and the rules on entering a pool or hot spring must be followed to keep the pools clean. You’ll see signs or be instructed to do the following:
- Shoes are not allowed in locker rooms and shoe racks will be provided before entering into a locker room. Bringing a pair of flip flops for going in and out of locker rooms is recommended. (See what else you should bring on your Iceland trip here)
- Shower with soap, without your swim suit BEFORE entering the water
- Swimsuits go back on.
- Towel off
- Enter hot spring
We hope you make it to a few (or all) of these hot spots. If you have any we missed or recommendations, comment below 🙂0