You cannot visit Iceland without going for at least one geothermal swim! However, if you’re in Iceland for limited time you might not be able to try a whole lot of different places. Check out this list of geothermal adventures to find the place(s) that match your preferences best. In brief: They are all fantastic, just different!
The Blue Lagoon
Obviously The Blue Lagoon must be mentioned on this list as it is by far the most famous geothermal experience in Iceland.
The Blue Lagoon is an artificial lagoon and probably the most expensive geothermal experience in the country. That is also why not many Icelanders go – they simply find it way too expensive. However, do remember that included in your entry fee you get a free silica facial mask and drink of your choice. Apart from the lagoon there is also a sauna and a steam room.
Fun fact: One things that is unique about The Blue Lagoon is that the water is seawater.
A definite advantage of The Blue Lagoon is that it is extremely easy to get to, which is probably also why it is extremely popular. You can just book your trip from Reykjavík and a bus will pick you up from your hotel and take you there (approx. 45 minute drive). You can also arrange for a visit on your way to or from the airport or even if you have a long layover in Keflavík Airport.
Also, if you want those pretty pictures of the milky, blue water you should definitely go to The Blue Lagoon.
Considering whether The Blue Lagoon is worth the money? Check out this article.
Ready to go swimming and need to know what to bring? Check this article out.
Want the full guide about how to get the most out of your experience? Read more here.
Myvatn Nature Baths
Accessibility: Easy to Medium
Some call this place “The Blue Lagoon of the North” and it can for sure be compared. However, it is way smaller, cheaper and doesn’t include a free drink or facial mask.
Compared to The Blue Lagoon, Myvatn Nature Baths has a more local vibe and is a lot less fancy when it comes to the dressing rooms and general surroundings. Apart from the lagoon there is also a sauna at Myvatn Nature Baths.
Some people say that Myvatn is less touristy than The Blue Lagoon. In my opinion this is not entirely true, but I suppose it depends a lot on when you go during the seasons. Tour busses from the cruise ships in Akureyri take tourists directly there. In numbers there might be fewer tourists, but it seems just the same as The Blue Lagoon since the places is a lot smaller.
Accessibility is easy if you go to Myvatn as part of a tour, where you stop at the Nature Baths for 1-1,5 hour. If you want more time or just want to go on you own you can drive or take the bus from Akureyri and then walk approx. 45 minutes – or hitch hike.
In brief: Easy to get there if you take a tour or have a car, not as easy if you go by public bus.
Landmannalaugar Base Camp
Touristyness: Low to medium
Landmannalaugar is a hiking area in the Southern highlands that I highly recommend.
At the base camp there is a natural hot spring with a small area where you can go for a terrific hot dip after a long day of hiking the magnificient landscapes of the area. You can a bus from Reykjavík to Landmannalaugar (approx. a 4 hour drive) then hike around the area and enjoy the hot spring for approx. 6 hours and then take the bus back to the city in the beginning of the evening.
Getting to Landmannalaugar takes a little while, but it is fairly easy as you just have to buy a ticket for the bus and it takes you straight to Landmannalaugar base camp.
Depending on when you choose to take you dip into the hot spring it can be filled with more og less other tourists. It tends to be popular in the afternoon, when people come back to the base camp after hiking all day.
Víti at Askja
The Askja caldera is a great adventure up North – however, getting there is a long and bumpy ride (approx. 5 hours from Akureyri).
You can take a tour bus from Akureyri and it takes you to to the Askja caldera. From here you hike through the caldera in beautiful surroundings. The hike is very easy, flat and short and at the end of your trip you get to the volcanic crater Víti, where you can go for a geothermal swim. The path down to Víti is very step, so be aware that it is a bit of a climb to get down and up again.
Be aware that the water in Víti crater is only approx. 25 degrees celsius. However, this experience wins by its uniqueness and “close-to-natureness”. There are no dressing rooms or other facilities. Therefore this geothermal experience are not suitable for the shy. You just put on your bathing suit, dive in and float around in the milky water. Once you are done you just dry off and change back into your clothes right next to the water.
Tip: If you want you can grab some mud off the bottom of the lake and put on your face – it’s rich in minerals.
Accessibility: Easy to medium
Reykjadalur hot spring river is located fairly close to Reykjavík and is a very popular place to go for a more authentic and close-to-nature, geothermal dip.
The place is easily accessible as it is not that far from Reykjavík and there are tours from the city all the time. However, to get to the hot spring river you have to go on a small hike – the bus doesn’t just take you right to the river as it can get you all the way up to the valley.
The hike is approx. 45 minutes depending on your physical shape. The hike is up hill and a little steep sometimes, but doesn’t involve climbing per se. It’s a nice trip with some lovely scenery.
Nauthólvík in Reykjavík
Nauthólsvík is the local beach in Reykjavík.
Here you can go for a cold dip in the ocean water or soak at the hot pot overlooking the sea. Nauthólsvík is a wonderful local experience!
I recommend not carrying valuables with you as there are no lockers in the changing rooms and it is a pitty to be busy looking out for your things while you are in the pot hot.
When visiting Reykjavík you have the most amazing geothermal experiences really close to you. Reykjavík has great swimmingpools with lovely geothermal hot pots and swimmingpools, which allow you to go for an indoor or outdoor, relaxing soak at any time.
Laugardalslaug is the biggest one and great for swimming as it has a 50 meter pool. It also has several hot pots with 38, 40 and 42 degree water, a water slide and a big pool for the kids to play. There is also a steam room and it is right next to the biggest World Class gym in Reykjavík, so it is the perfect choice if you want to combine you swim with a workout.
Sundhöllin is the swimmingpool closest to downtown and has recently been renovated. It’s a small place, but really nice and has both a 25 meter swimmingpool indoor and outdoor and hot pot areas. The steam room is also very nice.
Vesturbæjarlaug is one of the swimmingpools favored by the locals. It is located in the Vesturbæjar area of Reykjavík and is an old school, outdoor swimmingpool. The hot pots are really nice and the steam room is quite big. The swimmingpool is 25 meters.
Seltjarnarneslaug is the swimmingpool placed furthest out on the peninsula that Reykjavík is located on. The swimmingpool is adjacent to a World Class gym, so it is easy to combine with a workout. This gym has the best view overlooking the ocean. The swimmingpool is small and old school. The pool is outdoor and is 25 meters long. There are also several hot pots and a steam room.
Kvíka at Grótta
Kvíka is a footbath located by Grótta way out at the tip of the peninsula that Reykjavík is located on. It is actually quite big. Kvíka is not always filled with water though so don’t count on it too much as your choice of geothermal experience.
It can be recommended going to Grótta to watch a beautiful sunset and then stopping by Kvíka on the way to see if you can dip your toes.
Touristyness: Low to medium
Geosea is a fairly new geothermal spa located in Húsavík in Northern Iceland. The place is small, modern and has an amazing view of the fjord, which can be enjoyed to the fullest from the place’s infinity pools.
Húsavík is Iceland’s capital of whale watching and Geosea is the perfect place to get warm after spotting whales as it is just 15 minutes walk from the docks. Be aware that Geosea might not be the perfect choice on a windy day as there is little cover for the wind by the pools.
As Geosea is fairly new it has not caught the eye of floods of tourists yet. However, the place is an optional stop on the Diamond Circle tour. Thus, tourist busses do occasionally visit the place. Depending on when you visit, you might have the place almost to yourself or have to share it with a flock of tourists.
Krauma is often a part of the Silver Circle day trip and is a lovely little geothermal facility in the lowest West part of Iceland. The place is right next to Deildartunguhver, which is Iceland’s most powerful hot spring. This is absolutely boiling and far too hot for you to bathe in though so stick to dipping your toes at Krauma instead.
Krauma is a fairly small place, but it has everything that you need: Various hot pots, a cold pot, a steam room, a sauna and a relaxation room. All in all Krauma is a good place to get warm and end a long day of sightseeing with some relaxation.
There are many tourists though.
Where to find these places?
Cover photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash.