Iceland Hot Springs and Geothermal Pools – Your Guide

July 15th, 2021

Written by:

Camila Contreras-Langlois

15 min read

Come experience the geothermal power and soothing nature of the Land of Fire and Ice. One of the best ways to enjoy these is by bathing in natural Iceland hot springs or geothermal pools.

To inspire you and help you prepare for your Iceland vacation, this guide compiles the top spas, hot tub locations, public swimming pools, and natural hot springs.

You could plan your travels based on these “hot spots” or add some to your adventurous itinerary. The variety of springs and geothermal pools Iceland offers is ideal for a relaxing getaway or to warm up after a day’s excursion.

Read on for your ultimate guide to hot springs in Iceland.

What are hot springs and how are they formed?

Hot springs are natural pools and rivers of hot water. It’s pretty self-explanatory, really! Thanks to fractures in the earth and bedrock, underground water is heated by magma and seeps to the surface. This happens in volcanic regions where there are cracks in the Earth’s crust.

In some places, the water comes out naturally at comfortable temperatures while others may not be suitable for bathing.

Iceland is ideally located along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge where the movement of the tectonic plates created a deep rift. This is why the Land of Fire and Ice features so many volcanoes, geysers, and hot springs. And this is why Iceland is an ideal spot for you to experience them!

Why visit hot springs?

In general, hot springs are fun to visit for a unique adventure. This is especially true if you come from a region where they don’t occur naturally.

In Iceland specifically, visiting a hot spring is a must! It’s a long-standing tradition and deep-rooted aspect of Icelandic culture, literally and metaphorically. Many Icelanders visit their local pools every day, before or after work.  

Why should you visit a hot spring or heated swimming pool in Iceland?

  • Immerse yourself in nature
  • Warm up after a day of hiking or other adventures
  • Feel like a local
  • Experience the power of geothermal energy

It’s good to note that because of the heat, you can add a dip to your summer or winter itinerary. Imagine being immersed in hot water amid the snowy landscape, Northern Lights overhead. Or how about paddling about at any time of the day while the midnight sun shines above?

10 best Icelandic hot springs and hot pots

With over 130 volcanoes on the island, it’s no wonder Iceland is one of the best places for hot springs. You’ll find a large variety from small stone wells, to rivers, lakes, and springs dotted around the country.

Some offer facilities, such as little huts to change in, and others are simply part of the natural surroundings.

Below we’ve highlighted 10 of the top hot springs to visit during your time in Iceland. You’ll discover where they are located and what makes them memorable. Add them to your itinerary to feel the heat!

1. Landmannalaugar hot spring

This hot spring is only accessible in summer as it is located in the remote central highlands. Travel into this rugged region for colorful peaks, hiking trails, and striking backdrops. 

You’ll find this hot spring near the mountain hut at Landmannalaugar. In fact, Landmannalaugar even translates as the “People’s Pools”. As the highlands is a region of adventurous excursions and long treks, people would stop here to bathe and rest.

Today, you can still seek out the benefits of the People’s Pools after your own day of hiking. You can move about the spring for cooler or warmer spots depending on what you prefer.

From the hut, you could also hike to Strútslaug, one of the most remote pools in Iceland. Relax after your trek, warm up and savor the landscape. You’ll have amazing views of Strútur mountain from here.

2. Reykjadalur hot spring

Another fantastic location to combine hiking and bathing is the Reykjadalur valley. The name actually means “Steam Valley” which gives you a hint as to what awaits you. Take on the short hike here and be rewarded by this magical hot spring at the top.

Instead of a pool of sorts, you’ll find a thermal river with smaller streams. You can simply sit along the riverbed to relish the heat. Whatever the weather, you’ll be charmed by the scenery and warmth of the hot spring.

3. The Secret Lagoon

The Secret Lagoon is a not-so-secret gem of Iceland. Historically speaking, it was one of the very first pools in the country and dates back to the late 1800s. It was especially popular with the locals and since then the secret got out.

Located at the heart of the Golden Circle, you could add a visit here during a day trip or longer itinerary. Hverahólmi is a geothermal area near Flúðir and the geysers here provide the water supply for the lagoon.

Although you have to pay a small fee to visit, the pool is well maintained and has stayed true to its natural start. There are facilities to change and you could even rent a towel or swimsuit if you forgot yours.

4. Seljavallalaug pool

If you’re researching hot springs in Iceland, you’re likely to have seen photos of Seljavallalaug. It is an iconic swimming pool (one of the original pools of Iceland) that contrasts with the breathtaking natural scenery surrounding it.

It is located on the south coast near the misty Skógafoss waterfall. There is a nearby parking lot and you’ll have a short walk to take to reach the pool. There are facilities but they are very basic changing rooms.

Seljavallalaug geothermal swimming pool in Iceland

5. Grettislaug

You’ll find Grettislaug in North Iceland in the Skagafjörður region.

Meaning “Grettir’s Pool”, Grettislaug was named after an Icelandic saga character. Grettir was the strongest man in Iceland according to folk tales. Near Grettislaug you could visit another pool, Jarlslaug (“Earl’s Pool”). They are both maintained and have changing facilities.

From Grettislaug, you’ll be able to admire the views of the sea and maybe even catch a glimpse of the nearby Drangey Island, famous for its bird colonies.

6. Landbrotalaug

Landbrotalaug is located on the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Snæfellsnes is only a 2-hour drive from Reykjavík. It is close enough to visit during a short trip but will take you into the wild Icelandic landscape of lava fields, mountains, and windswept sea cliffs.

At Landbrotalaug, you’ll find 2 hot springs, a main shallow one and a smaller hot pot.

The smaller one can be found if you follow the rocks through a small river. It is one of the smallest springs in Iceland and although you’ll be able to immerse yourself fully, there’s only space for maybe 2 people.

There are no facilities at Landbrotalaug.

7. Guðrúnarlaug 

Dive again into Icelandic sagas by visiting Guðrúnarlaug. It was named after an Icelandic woman, Guðrún Ósvífursdóttir, who was famed for her beauty. This charming circular pool lined with rocks is set in the countryside near Dalabyggð, between the Snæfellsnes peninsula and the Westfjords.

You’ll find a moment of tranquility here as you enjoy the thermal waters. The pool was reconstructed in 2009 after a landslide blocked access to the hot spring. There is a small changing room nearby.

8. Hellulaug

Now we jump to the Westfjords for another remote hot spring. Located along one of the southern fjords near Flókalundur, you’ll appreciate an oceanfront view from Hellulaug.

Not many people know about this one, so you may find you have it to yourself. It is located right by the road, although not easily visible. The water can be warmer than you expect, but if you need to cool down, there’s always the sea nearby.

There are no facilities here, so you’ll want to come prepared.

The Birkimelur hot pool is located near Hellulaug so you could always do a 2 in 1 by visiting both. It also overlooks the fjord and the sea in the distance. At Birkimelur there are some changing and shower facilities, a pool, and a stone hot pot. 

9. Krossneslaug

Krossneslaug is another hot spring located in the stunning Westfjords. This will be your reward for going off the beaten path in Iceland. If you pass by the village of Krossnes, you could stop for a dip in its local pool.

The setting of Krossneslaug is awe-inspiring, with mountains rising sharply from one side and waves crashing into the other. There are some facilities available here to shower and change.

10. Drangsnes Hot Pots

The hot tubs of Drangsnes aren’t exactly as natural looking as the rest of this list, but they are well worth the visit. Travel to this small fishing village in the Westfjords to discover the best of their geothermal activity. In fact, you’ll find multiple heated pools in the surroundings.

Nestled along the coastline, the hot tubs are free to access, day and night. From here, you’ll benefit from incomparable views of the sea. There are bathrooms and changing facilities located across the road.

Bonus: Reykjavík city swimming pools

You don’t have to go far to revel in the geothermal heat in Iceland. Even if you’re just in town for a Nordic city break, you could visit one of the capital’s many swimming pools. For a small fee, bathe and relax like the locals at any time of the year.

One of the best pools to visit, especially if you have children, is Laugardalur. There are hot tubs, a water slide, and paddling pools.

You may also be surprised to hear there is a geothermal beach in Reykjavík, Nauthólsvík. In the summer months, you can dive in the Atlantic if you feel brave enough. But part of the beach is also warmed up by geothermal energy.

Enjoy the golden sand and a dip on a sunny day. It’s ideal to bring kids during a family trip. There are also hot tubs available for a warmer soak.

8 best geothermal spas in Iceland

In addition to natural hot springs and geothermally heated swimming pools, there’s a host of spas dotted around Iceland. They harvest the energy that Iceland has in bucketloads and provide locals and visitors with a soothing and often luxurious experience.

Icelanders have taken advantage of geothermal activity and hot springs for a very long time, but spas are a more recent addition to Iceland’s cultural lifestyle and world-class amenities.

During your trip to Iceland, treat yourself to a spa day at one of these:

1. Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is Iceland’s most famous geothermal pool and spa. This is thanks to its fantastic facilities, but also its accessibility. Located on the Reykjanes peninsula, it is within easy reach of Keflavík International Airport and the capital city, Reykjavík.

Thanks to this, a visit to the Blue Lagoon has become a must as a starting point or on the last day of a trip to Iceland.

If you’ve yet to visit, imagine a milky blue lagoon set amid stark lava fields. The complex is a set of hot pools of mineral-rich waters, with saunas, steam rooms as well as hotels, restaurants, and spa facilities.  

On the basic comfort package, you’ll get a silica mud mask, use of a towel, and a drink at the in-water bar.  

To get the timeslot you want to fit your itinerary, you should book as early as possible. Then once you’re in, there is no time limit until closing. We recommend at least 2 hours to enjoy all the benefits of the Blue Lagoon.

Blue Lagoon sunrise, Iceland

2. Laugarvatn Fontana

Along with the Secret Lagoon, as you visit the Golden Circle you could also seek out the thermal waters at the Laugarvatn Fontana baths.

Nestled along the banks of Lake Laugarvatn, Fontana is home to 3 hot pools of different sizes and temperatures so you can choose what’s right for you. There are also steam baths, a sauna, and a hot tub. They all display dazzling views of the natural surroundings.

Laugarvatn Fontana also has a pier to take a dip in the lake if you feel adventurous enough. Other facilities include changing rooms, a café, and a geothermal bakery where bread is cooked underground.

3. Mývatn Nature Baths 

Located in North Iceland, the Mývatn Nature Baths are set at the heart of the Lake Mývatn area, a region rich in geothermal features. During your visit, you’ll be able to relish in soothing waters and soak in the beautiful surroundings.

This large complex centers on a turquoise pool reminiscent of the Blue Lagoon. The water is rich in minerals and totally natural, although the lagoon is man-made.

Some steam baths were built directly on top of geothermal hot spots. The facilities are excellent with a large café on-site and changing rooms with lockers and complimentary Icelandic soaps.

If you’re touring the Ring Road, this is a great stop to add to your itinerary. The baths are open all year round, but you should book in advance of your visit. Once you’re in, you can stay as long as you want. We recommend scheduling at least 1-2 hours.

4. Krauma Spa

Come experience the most powerful hot spring in Europe, Deildartunguhver, at Krauma. Glacial water is mixed in with this steaming hot water to create the ideal bathing temperatures.

Visit and you’ll enjoy a restful soak in the dramatic landscape of West Iceland. There are 6 baths available, one of which is cold. You could also take some time in the relaxation room or calming saunas.

5. Húsafell Canyon Baths

A bit further inland, the Húsafell Canyon Baths perched in its idyllic highland setting. Not as much a spa as the others mentioned in this list, this is a luxurious hot spring. To reach it you’ll have to take a short and easy hike through the impressive volcanic canyon.

The baths and new walkways were constructed with sustainability and unobstructive design in mind. You can expect a striking location and an authentic bathing experience. 

As for the pools, you’ll be able to choose from 3, all varying in temperatures. Regardless of which you pick, each one offers remarkable views of the surroundings.

Husafell Giljabod pink clouds, Iceland

6. Vök Baths

The Vök Baths are located in stunning East Iceland, a short drive from Egilsstaðir, the largest settlement of the region. Continue along the Ring Road and you’ll reach this unusual complex on the bank of Lake Urriðavatn.

One of the best and most inventive features of Vök are the floating geothermal pools, the only ones in the country!

Harnessing the geothermal energy of the area, the baths offer a tranquil getaway within its untouched surroundings. They were even designed to imitate the natural scenery of the lake and countryside.

As well as the floating pools, there are on-shore hot pools, an outdoor pool bar, a steam bath, and a cold tunnel with a mist shower. You’ll be able to go between the pools across wooden walkways for a rustic feel.

7. GeoSea

Located in North Iceland, GeoSea sits along the Skjálfandi bay near Húsavík. Pair your whale-watching cruise with a visit to the spa for a fantastic day in Iceland’s nature.  

Perched by the western-facing sea cliff, GeoSea overlooks the bay, mountain, and nearby Arctic Circle, offering a grand viewpoint. What makes this spa special isn’t just its spectacular setting though, but the fact that the water here is geothermally heated seawater instead of spring water.

During your visit enjoy some time in the infinity pool and grab a drink from the in-water bar. There’s also an outdoor terrace and a restaurant on-site.

8. Sky Lagoon

Last but not least is Iceland’s newest spa, the Sky Lagoon, opening in spring 2021. It is located just south of Reykjavík, at Kársnes harbor in Kópavogur. Built inside the rock and right by the sea, expect an organic atmosphere.

Soak in Iceland’s amazing coastal scenery from the infinity pool. With your entry, you’ll also have access to the 7-step “Ritual”, which takes place inside a turfhouse inspired by old Icelandic building traditions.

Just like at the Blue Lagoon, there is an in-water bar, as well as a café and snack bar inside the complex. It’s good to note that admission to the Sky Lagoon starts from 12 years old.

Top geothermal attractions to visit

These are top geothermal attractions that aren’t quite for swimming but that you could admire during your visit. Here you’ll witness the power of the Land of Fire and Ice.    

Add the following to your itinerary:

  • Active Strokkur and dormant Geysir, Golden Circle
  • Kerið Crater, Golden Circle
  • Friðheimar farm, Golden Circle
  • The geothermal area of Krýsuvík, Reykjanes peninsula
  • Deildartunguhver near Reykholt, West Iceland
  • Solfataras of Námaskarð, North Iceland
  • Grjótagjá near Lake Mývatn, North Iceland
Geothermal area in Iceland

Hot spring etiquette

One of the top things to keep in mind when visiting a hot spring is to clean yourself beforehand. This is especially true if there are facilities available. You should shower without your bathing suit prior to bathing.

It’s also good to remember that hot springs aren’t meant for active swimming, so don’t plan to do your daily laps during your visit.

Finally, what’s most important when visiting the countryside is to be respectful of the environment. Park safely, don’t leave traces (garbage) behind, be kind and respect the locals and volunteers.

How much does it cost to visit hot springs in Iceland?

Many natural hot springs are free of charge, but some may have a small fee or even donation to upkeep the facilities. Spas cost more of course and you should check the ones you want to visit for up-to-date prices and information.

Looking to budget your trip to Iceland? Check out this useful budgeting guide to Iceland to discover how to travel without breaking the bank.

Best time to go to Iceland to visit hot springs

The beauty of hot springs is that they are warm all year long. It means you can visit them at any time of the year, summer and winter alike.

You’ll want to keep in mind that some natural hot springs aren’t accessible during the winter season. This is especially true of the springs and rivers in the central highlands and Westfjords.

That said, many spas and swimming pools, especially those in cities and along the Ring Road, will be open year-round. If you’re visiting Iceland to bathe in these glorious geothermally heated waters, here are our suggestions:

Visit in winter to enjoy a warming soak after a day of adventure on glaciers or in ice caves. You could feel the thrill of being immersed in hot water while it’s snowing around you. And if you’re lucky, maybe the Northern Lights will make an appearance in the sky above.

Another bonus of visiting in winter is that there are usually fewer visitors and you’re likely to have more of the springs and pools to yourself.

Or visit in summer to go off the beaten path, enjoy a hiking adventure and relax your muscles in the thermal rivers afterward. In May, June, and July you could bask in the midnight sun and visit the pools and springs as late as you want.

Booking your Icelandic vacation

You now know there are hot springs and hot pools located all around Iceland. This means you could come explore Iceland whenever and whichever way suits you best. And you could fit one (or more!) of these in your itinerary.

Look up road trips, city breaks, camping adventures, and private tours to find your ideal vacation plans. These are easy to book and tailor to your preferences, with car, accommodation, and optional activity choices.

When you book with Iceland Tours, you can expect quality service, tried-and-tested routes designed by locals, and trusted suppliers.

When you’re ready to plan your hot spring getaway, get in touch with our travel consultants or browse our Iceland vacation packages

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Written by:

Camila Contreras-Langlois