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Iceland's Geothermal Pools: 2024 Guide

Iceland, often referred to as the Land of Fire and Ice, is a realm where nature's most powerful elements converge to create a landscape of raw beauty and mystique. Among its most cherished natural treasures are the geothermal pools, a testament to the island's volcanic activity and a cornerstone of Icelandic culture.

This comprehensive guide delves into the world of Iceland's geothermal pools, offering insights into their formation, locations, benefits, and the unique experiences they offer.

Iceland's geothermal pools

The Science Behind the Heat: Understanding Iceland's Geothermal Activity

Iceland's position atop the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a divergent tectonic plate boundary, is the key to its abundant geothermal activity. The island is a hotspot of volcanic activity, with magma lying relatively close to the earth's surface, heating the underground water and creating a network of hot springs, geysers, and geothermal pools. This natural phenomenon shapes the landscape and powers the nation, providing sustainable energy and heating.

Diving into the Blue: Iceland's Iconic Geothermal Pools

The Blue Lagoon

Nestled in a lava field in Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula, the Blue Lagoon is renowned for its milky blue waters, rich in silica and sulfur. This man-made lagoon is fed by water from the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power plant and is famous for its healing properties, particularly for skin ailments. The Blue Lagoon offers a luxurious spa experience with modern facilities, including in-water massages, saunas, and a restaurant.

  • Location: In a lava field in Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula, southwestern Iceland.

  • Features: Known for its milky blue waters, rich in silica, algae, and minerals. It offers a luxurious spa experience with various amenities like in-water massages, a sauna, a steam room, and an in-water bar.

  • Health Benefits: The water is beneficial for the skin, particularly for conditions like psoriasis.

  • Cost: On the higher end, with various packages available. Advance booking is essential due to its popularity.

Blue Lagoon

Landmannalaugar Geothermal Pool

Nestled in the heart of Iceland's southern highlands, Landmannalaugar Geothermal Pool is a natural wonder set amidst a stunning landscape of rhyolite mountains and vast lava fields. This pool, known for its warm, soothing waters, offers a unique and rugged bathing experience that contrasts sharply with the more developed geothermal spas.

  • Location: In the southern highlands of Iceland, within the Fjallabak Nature Reserve. Landmannalaugar is renowned for its breathtaking hiking trails and colorful terrain.

  • Features: The pool is a natural hot spring, providing a rustic and authentic Icelandic experience. Surrounded by a spectacular landscape, it's a popular spot for hikers and nature lovers. The area around Landmannalaugar is also famous for its hiking trails, including the start of the famous Laugavegur trek.

  • Cost: Access to the pool itself is typically free, making it an excellent option for those on a budget. However, reaching Landmannalaugar can be challenging and often requires a 4x4 vehicle, especially due to the rough terrain and river crossings. The cost is mainly associated with transportation to the area. We then highly recommend heading to Landmannalaugar by bus.

Landmannalaugar Geothermal Pool is a must-visit for those seeking an adventurous and authentic Icelandic experience, offering a stark contrast to the more commercialized geothermal spas and a chance to connect deeply with Iceland's raw natural beauty.

Landmannalaugar Geothermal Pool

Sky Lagoon

Located just outside Reykjavík, Sky Lagoon is a newer addition to Iceland's geothermal scene. It boasts an impressive infinity-edge design that offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. The lagoon is designed to provide a tranquil and intimate experience, blending seamlessly with the natural landscape. It's known for its unique "7-step ritual" spa experience, which includes a sauna, cold plunge, and relaxation in the warm geothermal waters.

  • Location: Near Reykjavík, in Kópavogur area.

  • Features: Famous for its infinity-edge design, offering stunning views. It provides a unique Icelandic spa experience, including a cold plunge pool, a sauna, and a steam room.

  • Atmosphere: Designed to give a sense of being in a natural setting, despite its proximity to the city.

Myvatn Nature Baths

Situated in the north of Iceland, near Lake Myvatn, these nature baths are a serene alternative to the more tourist-heavy Blue Lagoon. The waters here are rich in minerals and offer a relaxing soak with picturesque views of the unique volcanic landscape. The Myvatn Nature Baths also feature steam baths and a café, providing a more low-key and natural experience.

  • Location: In North Iceland, near Lake Myvatn.

  • Features: Similar to the Blue Lagoon but less crowded. It offers a more tranquil experience with mineral-rich waters in a serene natural setting.

  • Cost: More affordable than the Blue Lagoon and offers a more intimate connection with nature.

myvatn geothermal baths

Secret Lagoon (Gamla Laugin)

Located in the small village of Fludir, the Secret Lagoon is one of Iceland's oldest geothermal pools. It offers a more authentic and rustic experience, surrounded by natural beauty and geothermal activity. The water temperature is consistently warm, and visitors can enjoy the sight of a small geyser erupting nearby every few minutes.

  • Location: Near the village of Fludir in the Golden Circle area.

  • Features: One of the oldest natural geothermal pools in Iceland, offering a more traditional experience. The water temperature is naturally regulated.

  • Surroundings: Features a walking path around the pool, allowing visitors to explore the geothermal area.

Secret Lagoon

Krauma Spa

Near Reykholt in West Iceland, Krauma Spa sources its water from Deildartunguhver, Europe's most powerful hot spring. The spa offers a modern and luxurious experience with various hot and cold baths, relaxation spaces, and a restaurant. The contrast between the hot geothermal water and the cold glacial water from Okjokull glacier provides a unique and refreshing bathing experience.

  • Location: Near Deildartunguhver, Europe's most powerful hot spring, in West Iceland.

  • Features: Offers a modern spa experience with multiple hot-pots of varying temperatures, steam baths, and a relaxation room.

  • Unique Aspect: The water is a mix of hot spring water and glacial water, providing a unique bathing experience.

The Health Benefits: More Than Just a Warm Bath

The geothermal pools of Iceland are not just a source of leisure but also a natural remedy with numerous health benefits, attributed to the mineral-rich content of the water. Here are some key health benefits:

  • Skin Care: The high silica content in many of these pools, especially notable in the Blue Lagoon, is beneficial for the skin. It helps in treating various skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. The minerals have exfoliating and nourishing properties, leaving the skin smooth and rejuvenated.

  • Muscle Relaxation and Pain Relief: The warm waters of these pools are therapeutic for muscle aches and joint pain. The heat helps in relaxing muscles, reducing stiffness and inflammation, which is particularly beneficial for those suffering from arthritis or recovering from physical injuries.

  • Stress Reduction and Mental Wellness: Soaking in the warm, serene waters of geothermal pools is a profound stress reliever. The natural setting and the warmth help in reducing cortisol levels, promoting mental relaxation, and enhancing mood. This can be particularly beneficial for combating anxiety and promoting better sleep patterns.

  • Improved Circulation: The warm temperatures aid in improving blood circulation. Enhanced circulation is beneficial for cardiovascular health and efficient oxygen and nutrient distribution throughout the body.

  • Detoxification and Immune Boost: The sweating induced by the warm waters helps in detoxifying the body. Additionally, the minerals absorbed through the skin can boost the immune system.

Health Benefits of geothermal lagoons

Can You Swim in Geothermal Pools in Iceland?

Swimming in Iceland's geothermal pools is a unique experience, but it's important to choose the right pool based on your swimming preferences:

  • Temperature Variations: The temperatures of these pools can vary significantly. Some pools, particularly natural hot springs, can be quite hot, more suited for soaking. Others, especially the larger, man-made pools, are maintained at temperatures conducive to swimming.

  • Pool Types:

  • Natural Hot Springs: These are often found in more remote locations and offer a rustic experience. They are ideal for soaking and relaxing rather than swimming due to their smaller size and varying temperatures.

  • Public Pools and Lagoons: Facilities like the Blue Lagoon, Sky Lagoon, and many public pools in Reykjavík are larger and have controlled temperatures, making them suitable for both swimming and relaxing.

  • Safety Considerations: Always check the temperature before entering and be aware of the depth and size of the pool. Some natural pools may not have lifeguards or safety measures in place, so caution is advised.

  • Hygiene Practices: Iceland has strict hygiene standards for pool use. It is customary and often required to shower without a swimsuit before entering the pools to maintain cleanliness and water quality.

Iceland's Geothermal Pools

Cost of Experiencing Iceland's Geothermal Pools

The cost of visiting geothermal pools in Iceland can vary widely, depending on the location and the amenities offered. Here's a breakdown:

  • The Blue Lagoon: As one of the most iconic and well-known geothermal spas in the world, the Blue Lagoon is also the most expensive. Prices can vary based on the package chosen, with basic entry starting from around 40-50 Euros and going upwards for more luxurious experiences, which can include massages, private changing rooms, and even meals. Advance booking is essential due to its popularity.

  • Secret Lagoon: Located in Fludir, the Secret Lagoon offers a more authentic and natural experience at a lower cost compared to the Blue Lagoon. Entry fees are around 20-30 Euros, making it a more budget-friendly option while still providing a unique geothermal experience.

  • Myvatn Nature Baths: Situated in the north of Iceland, these baths offer a tranquil experience akin to the Blue Lagoon but at a lower cost. The entry fee is approximately 30-40 Euros, offering access to the mineral-rich waters and stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

  • Landmannalaugar Geothermal Pool: For those seeking an adventure in the Icelandic highlands, the Landmannalaugar geothermal pool is a hidden gem. Nestled amidst colorful rhyolite mountains and black lava fields, this natural pool offers a truly unique and rustic bathing experience. Accessible mainly in the summer, it's a part of a larger hiking and camping area, making it ideal for nature enthusiasts. The cost of visiting Landmannalaugar primarily involves transportation, as the pool itself is free, but reaching it can be challenging due to rough terrain, requiring a 4x4 vehicle.

  • Public Pools: Reykjavík and other towns across Iceland have numerous public geothermal pools that are very affordable, with entry fees typically around 5–10 Euros. These pools may not offer the same scenic settings as the lagoons, but are an integral part of Icelandic culture and a great way to mingle with locals.

  • Seasonal and Time Variations: Prices can vary depending on the season, with higher rates generally in the peak tourist season (summer). Some pools also offer different rates for day and evening sessions.

Each of these pools offers a unique experience, from the luxurious amenities of the Blue Lagoon to the rugged natural beauty of Landmannalaugar, catering to a wide range of preferences and budgets.

Experiencing Iceland's Geothermal Pools

Why Iceland Has Naturally Heated Pools

Iceland's geothermal pools are a direct consequence of its unique geological setting:

  • Volcanic Activity: Iceland is situated on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. This location is characterized by high volcanic activity, which heats the underground water.

  • Geothermal Heat: The heat from the Earth's interior, particularly in volcanic areas, warms the groundwater. In some areas, this heated water reaches the surface naturally, forming hot springs and pools.

  • Sustainable Energy Source: Iceland harnesses this geothermal energy not only for creating these pools but also for heating homes and generating electricity, making it a leader in renewable energy use.

  • Variety of Geothermal Features: Apart from pools, this geothermal activity also results in other natural wonders like geysers, steam vents, and mud pots, all of which contribute to Iceland's unique landscape.

  • Accessibility: While some of these geothermal pools are easily accessible and have been developed into tourist attractions, others are more remote, offering a more natural and rugged experience.

The Closest Geothermal Pool to Reykjavík

The closest geothermal pool to Reykjavík is the Sky Lagoon, located just a 15-minute drive from the city center. It offers a convenient and luxurious geothermal experience for those staying in the capital.

Iceland's geothermal pools are more than just tourist attractions; they are a window into the heart of the island's geothermal wonders. Each pool, whether a luxurious spa or a natural hot spring, offers a unique experience that connects visitors to the primal forces of nature that shape this extraordinary land. Whether seeking relaxation, health benefits, or a touch of adventure, Iceland's geothermal pools are a must-experience for any traveler.

reykjavik hot springs

Frequently Asked Questions about Iceland's geothermal pools

Can you swim in geothermal pools in Iceland?

Yes, you can swim in many of Iceland's geothermal pools. These pools vary in size and depth, with some being more suitable for soaking and relaxing, while others, especially the larger public pools, are designed for swimming.

How much does it cost to go to the geothermal pools in Iceland?

The cost of visiting geothermal pools in Iceland varies depending on the location and facilities. The Blue Lagoon, one of the most famous pools, is also the most expensive and requires advance booking. Other pools, like the Secret Lagoon and Myvatn Nature Baths, offer more affordable options. Prices can range from a few thousand ISK (Icelandic Krona) for less commercial pools to higher rates for luxurious spas.

Why are there naturally heated pools in Iceland?

Iceland's naturally heated pools are a result of the country's volcanic activity. The island's location on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge means it has a high level of geothermal activity. This geothermal heat warms underground water, creating the naturally heated pools.

What is the closest geothermal pool to Reykjavík?

The closest geothermal pool to Reykjavík is the Sky Lagoon, located in Kopavogur, just a short 15-minute drive from the city center. It offers a modern, luxurious geothermal bathing experience with stunning views.


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