Visit these thermal soaks in Iceland to immerse yourself in unique geothermal hot springs and pools, as you relax and unwind as native Icelanders do. Guest author Heidi Siefkas shares five of her favorite thermal soaks in Iceland, along with tips to help you plan your visit.
5 Divine Thermal Soaks in Iceland
Guest article by Heidi Siefkas
When in Iceland, do as the Icelanders do. That means that along with your warm clothes, rain gear, and sturdy boots or shoes, you better pack a couple of swimsuits, flip flops, and extra towels. Why? Without an outdoor plaza scene like Italy or Spain nor a pub culture like England or Ireland, the place where Icelanders catch up on local news and gossip as well as unwind from their day is at a local sundlaug (public pool). In essence, the Icelanders have harnessed the land’s natural, geothermal energy to make cold temperatures bearable as well as a way to establish strong community bonds.
Although Iceland is relatively small in population, it certainly doesn’t lack for pools. There are roughly one hundred and forty sundlaugs across the country. Some are private pools like the Myvatn Nature Baths and the Secret Lagoon. Others are local community pools. You will get no better cultural understanding of Iceland than at a sundlaug all ages, sizes, shapes, and professions frequent their local pool.
5 Divine Thermal Soaks in Iceland
After spending two weeks driving around Iceland’s Ring Road, I had my share of soak—in public, private, and natural baths. Since you may not have much time to investigate, here’s my list of five divine Iceland hot springs that are not to be missed.
If you are driving the famous Golden Circle of Southern Iceland, make time for a stop in Fludir for a good soak at the Secret Lagoon. Like the name suggests, this thermal pool is far less crowded than the Blue Lagoon. Plus, it is much less expensive (roughly $30). After buying your ticket, the attendant will ask you to take off your shoes before entering the locker rooms.
Each guest will have a locker with an elastic bracelet for his/her key. As a must at the Secret Lagoon and every sundlaugs in Iceland, there are signs posted to teach the proper etiquette of showering without your bathing suit, using soap for your head, face, underarms, private parts, and feet. Depending on the time of year, it may be a leisurely walk to the heated pool or a mad dash, but then the timetable is up to you a half-hour or multiple happy hours. Speaking of happy hour, if you enjoy beer or wine, they have a small café where you can try a Viking, Gull, or even champagne.
>>> Form more information about Iceland, read 4 to 5 Day Southern Iceland.
The valley of springs called Reykjadalur is also on the Golden Circle route about forty-five minutes outside of the capital. After parking, a gravel trail leads three kilometers to a natural hot springs. Although the trail is easy and the roundtrip distance not far, I would gauge a half-day for this as the soak is worth relishing and the scenery along the way worthy of many pictures. Make sure to bring a towel as well as your flip flops or water shoes. Although I got in as soon as I saw the springs, I explored farther up. It gets warmer the farther you go. Price of this soak is completely free.
>>> Read more about Hveragardi in 8 Great Iceland Photo Destinations.
On the west side of Iceland, approximately an hour outside of the capital, is Borgarnes. This is a perfect little town for stopping for coffee and Internet, stocking up on travel snacks and supplies, as well as a soak at its sundlaug. This Icelandic version of the YMCA or community center has three hot pots (jacuzzis), a swimming pool for laps, kiddie pool, and multiple water slides. Although I’m already over the hill, I indulged in the water slides before I soaked my aches and pains. In my mind, Icelandic sundlaugs are fountains of youth.
The second largest town in Iceland is Akureyri, located in the far North. Its modern sundlaug has two heated pools, three large hot pots all with jets, a sauna, a large kiddie pool, and amazing water slides. I hadn’t frequented water slides since my last visit to a water park probably a few decades ago in Wisconsin Dells, but it felt right. It was chilly out (4 degrees C/40 degrees F), but the sundlaug had thought of everything. The stairs to the top of the three-story, spiral slide platform was enclosed, keeping us all warm enough. It was approximately 900 Krona (roughly $9) for this epic soak. What a bargain!
Myvatn Nature Baths
Another gem in the northern part of Iceland is the Myvatn Nature Baths. This private sundlaug has two pools, various hot pots, sauna, and a full bar and restaurant. After exploring the Myvatn area and its volcanic hiking trails, mudpits, and more, this is a joyful experience. I would highly suggest taking in the sunset from this private pool, making an epic and unforgettable happy hour. Many compare this bath as a smaller, less crowded, and more affordable version of the world-renowned Blue Lagoon outside of Reykjavik; 3800-4700 Krona (or $40) for Myvatn versus 6100 Krona (or $60) for standard entry at the Blue Lagoon. I have done both. I enjoyed the Myvatn Nature Baths more.
When in Iceland…
… do as the Icelanders do. Get ready to live like a local with these five divine thermal soaks in Iceland, but don’t forget your swimming suit, flip flops, and towel.
See more adventures from my two weeks in Iceland, in this video.
Have you visited these thermal soaks in Iceland? Do you have other favorite Iceland hot springs?