Relaxing in Iceland’s geothermal baths is something every visitor should experience. Abundant geothermal energy means you’ll find these places all over the country. Some of its hot springs and spas are the epitome of luxury while others are more rustic. With choice comes indecision – how do you choose between them? If you aren’t going to be around long enough to try them all, then our handy guide will help you work out which of Iceland’s geothermal baths to include on your itinerary.
Blue Lagoon (Reykjanes)
Since the Blue Lagoon opened more than three decades ago, it’s been a firm favourite with tourists. Its clever marriage of rugged lava and silica-rich water in the most delicate shade of pastel blue anchors it to its surroundings. It’s so stylish you’ll barely notice the power plant behind it, whose waste water is what heats the lagoon. This extraordinary place is a must, not just for its luxurious facilities but also because of its location. Situated between Reykjavik and Keflavik Airport, most travellers will pass by as they arrive and depart, making this an ideal first or last activity. Reserve well in advance as this place gets booked up at peak times.
Sky Lagoon (Reykjavik)
The Blue Lagoon’s main competitor is Sky Lagoon, which launched just outside the city centre in 2021. If you have the time, you’ll want to tick off both of these. On a rushed trip, make sure you squeeze in at least one of them. This is a sophisticated place, featuring an infinity edge lagoon that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. Its nod to the Icelandic landscape is a traditional Klömbruhleðsla, or turf wall. Book in for a seven-step programme that relaxes and reenergises. They call it the Sky Ritual, and you’ll move between hot and cold areas of the spa to achieve the best effect.
Vök Baths (East Iceland)
One of the less well-known of Iceland’s geothermal baths, Vök Baths is worth seeking out if you’re over in the east of the country. It comprises two floating lagoons that extend out onto Lake Urriðavatn. Part of the lake never froze in winter, making it a place where locals would once have washed their clothes. These days, the warm water is put to better use as a spa. Luxuriate in the fresh air and enjoy the lake views and natural setting. When you get a little hot, simply slide over the side and cool off in the lake for a while.
GeoSea (North Iceland)
You know the saying: location, location, location. It’s worth driving north to the charming port of Húsavík for two reasons: this is Iceland’s whale watching capital and it’s also home to GeoSea. This deluxe geothermal lagoon perches on a headland on the edge of town. Its infinity pool gives you an uninterrupted view of Skjálfandi Bay, so you might tick off both experiences in one hit as whales can occasionally seen from land. GeoSea is exquisite at dusk, when the setting sun is reflected in the water below and also the pool itself. If you’re fortunate enough to be blessed with clear skies during your visit, grab the chance to watch. In winter, hang around; you might just get to see the Northern Lights too.
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Laugarvatn Fontana (Golden Circle)
Laugarvatn Fontana is an easy add-on to the Golden Circle, ideal if you want to relax at the end of a day’s sightseeing. Overlooking Laugarvatn, a large natural lake, facilities are comfortable but not as deluxe as you’ll find at the Blue Lagoon or Sky Lagoon. It’s possible to alternate between the warm water of the spa pool and the rather chillier water of the lake. Nevertheless, the most compelling reason to come here isn’t the water at all. The sandy lakeshore is smoking with geothermal heat. Staff members bake rye bread here in pots they bury underground. Steaming hot, they serve it spread thick with butter and topped locally smoked trout. Trust us, you’ll definitely want to try some!
Secret Lagoon (South Iceland)
Long before the Blue Lagoon opened, Icelanders came to this geothermal pool to bathe. Known to locals as Gamla Laugin, Secret Lagoon is the oldest such place in the country. It is situated in Hverahólmi, a geothermal area near Flúðir. Originally opened in 1891, it had been ignored from the 1940s. It was restored in 2014 and reopened to visitors as one of the most authentic spas in Iceland. The water contains plenty of sulphur and maintains a temperature of between 38 and 40°C all year.
Mývatn Nature Baths (East Iceland)
Located in north east Iceland, Mývatn Nature Baths is another long-established example of Iceland’s geothermal baths. It consists of two pools which overlook a natural lake. Compared to Blue Lagoon and Sky Lagoon it has a rustic vibe. In summer, the midges that give the lake its name plague the area’s hikers. Although, you’ll be relieved to learn that they won’t trouble you while you’re in the hot pools themselves. Nevertheless, surrounded by nature, this is a restful place and the view over the surrounding countryside is a reason to come in itself.
What else should you know about Iceland’s geothermal baths?
There are plenty more basic geothermal pools and hot springs scattered around the country. Some are small enough to hold only two or three people, while others are much less intimate. There’s a geothermal river to hunt out, and even a geothermal beach. For something completely different, you could head to the north of the country to take a dip in the Beer Spa. Regardless of which place you choose, if there are formal changing facilities you’ll be expected to bathe nude before getting in the pool. Seek out those offering private cubicles if modesty is likely to be an issue for any member of your group. The best spas have lockers and even luggage storage to keep your belongings safe. Mundana’s experts are on hand to walk you through what to expect should you need advice, and we can also make bookings on your behalf.