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The 8 Must-Visit Iceland Hot Springs

The Land of Fire and Ice is a landscape of extreme and contrasting terrain with many interesting attractions and activities. The Iceland hot springs are some of these go-to sites.


In this article, we tell you everything about these natural wonders, why they exist in the first place, what makes them so popular, and what to expect from a visit to some of our most famous hot spring hot spots. Take a deep dive with us into the warm waters of our island “hot tubs”.


hot spring hot spots


Why are There So Many Hot Springs in Iceland?


Our hot springs result from all the volcanic activity here on the island. This is because Iceland is situated on top of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where two tectonic plates (the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates) are continuously pushing apart.


This tectonic activity has resulted in Iceland having numerous active volcanoes, one of which will erupt at least every four years. These constant high temperatures underneath the ground heat up our underground water supply, creating natural hot springs.


The Different Types of Hot Springs in Iceland


Our hot springs come in various forms. There are certain spots on the island where the hot water reaches the surface and you can take a dip in a hot spring still in its natural state and original setting. But others are simply too hot to use or located underneath the ground where it’s not easily accessible.


These hot springs are often utilized in the heating of homes in the surrounding area and in the creation of geothermal pools. Geothermal pools are essentially man-made hot springs that combine the water from a natural hot spring and a local cold water source (whether a local stream, the ocean, you name it).


These pools are open to the public and have extra amenities such as restaurants, spas, accommodation, etc. While most natural hot springs are free of charge, most geothermal pools will have an entrance fee to cover the upkeep of the pools and other amenities.



type of hot springs Iceland


Why are Iceland Hot Springs So Popular?


There is a variety of reasons why people from all over the world come to soak in our hot springs:


To Relax


Soaking in warm water with breathtaking scenery surrounding you is a pretty relaxing experience. If you add some of the additional amenities, such as the spas, you’ll probably feel like you’re walking on clouds after you’re done with your hot spring outing.


To Have a Unique Experience


Few can say they’ve taken a dip in water warmed by volcanic activity while looking out over a glacier or a volcano. Iceland is one of the few places in the world offering such a unique experience.


To Take Advantage of the Water’s Healing Properties


Icelanders have been soaking in the hot springs for many generations because of their healing properties. The warm water helps soothe all sorts of aches and pains. The water is also incredibly mineral-rich, which helps with all kinds of dermatological problems. The warmth, combined with minerals such as Calcium and Sodium Bicarbonate, can improve blood circulation and help manage blood pressure.


If you have sinus problems and feel congested, the combination of warmth and minerals will also help clear it up. Just remember that it is a public space, and feeling congested doesn’t mean you can take a dip while suffering from a cold or the flu.



Hot spring healing properties


The Best Natural Hot Springs in Iceland


The following are some of the best natural hot springs in Iceland:


Reykjadalur


Saying that this is a famous hot spring in Iceland is an understatement. Reykjadalur is, in fact, an entire river with various smaller rock pools alongside it. This experience is even more unique because this natural wonder has its own temperature control system in place.


The further upstream you go, the hotter the water. And the further downstream you go, the cooler the water. Visiting Reykjadalur will require a short scenic hike, but don’t worry; the trail is easy.





Hrunalaug


Hrunalaug is one of the best hot springs in Iceland if you’re looking for a bit of privacy. The hot spring is not very big. It can comfortably fit 8-10 people, but you can squeeze in 20 if necessary. So, this is the perfect spot for you if you’re a family or group of friends. This hot spring is located on private land, and the same family has maintained it since the 1890s and graciously kept it open to the public.


Before 2023, leaving a cash donation after your visit was considered a common courtesy, but now a standard 2000 ISK (+/- $14) is charged as an entrance fee. During the busy warmer months, there will also be an attendant taking cash and card payments, but throughout the year, you can pay by using the QR code at the entrance.


After the revamp using natural rock in 2017, you might be forgiven for thinking that this is a man-made pool, but except for a couple of finishing touches, it’s still in its original form.



hrunalaug, Iceland


Kvika


We absolutely adore Kvika. It is the best hot spring in Iceland if you don’t have your own transport and plan to stick to the capital city of Reykjavík. It’s a mere 10-minute walk from mid-town.


This hot spring is more like a footbath where you can sit with your feet in the warm water while looking out over the ocean and the mountains in the distance. It is about 30 centimeters deep and roughly 90 centimeters wide, so it’s not accommodating to a group of people. Although the hole in the rock is man-made, everything else about Kvika is still 100% natural.


Kvika footbath


Landbrotalaug


Landbrotalaug is a hot spring similar to Kvika because it’s one of our smaller natural hot springs – more like a hot pot than a hot spring. And, just as with Kvika, it offers spectacular views, especially since it’s located in one of the most beautiful regions in Iceland: the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. So, we highly recommend that you take in a few of the other famous sights in the area while you’re there. 



Landbrotalaug hot spring


The Best Geothermal Pools in Iceland


If you would like to try out some of our geothermal pools with all their added amenities and features, we suggest you try out a few on our list of best thermal pools in Iceland:


Blue Lagoon


The Blue Lagoon is one of our most famous geothermal pools and one of the best hot springs near Reykjavík (halfway between Keflavik Airport and the capital city). If you have watched movies like Hostel and Star Trek, you’ve already seen it without even realizing it.


The Blue Lagoon offers visitors the whole hot spring package: healing waters, Icelandic cuisine, luxury accommodation, and top-of-the-range spa treatments. Please take note that the Blue Lagoon has been opening and closing periodically due to the latest volcanic eruptions in the Reykjanes Peninsula, so do call ahead to ensure you’ll be able to get access.



Blue Lagoon Iceland


Sky Lagoon


From one lagoon to another, Sky Lagoon is one of the best thermal pools in Reykjavík. In fact, it can be found smack-bang in the capital city. This geothermal pool is extraordinary, and considered to be one of the best thermal baths in Iceland.


Here, you have an eagle’s eye view over the ocean and the city when staring out from the infinity pool. And when you’ve had enough of breathtaking views and lounging around in the warm water, you can enjoy the spa facilities, grab a drink at the bar, or get a taste of Iceland at the café.




The Secret Lagoon


This lagoon is a bit different from our previous two. Here, the amenities are relatively primitive, but luxury is not this hot spring’s claim to fame. The Secret Lagoon, also known as Gamla Laugin, is the oldest swimming pool in Iceland.


But even though it was built in 1891, it was kind of forgotten for a while. It’s only been since 2014 that it’s been rediscovered and growing in popularity. The surrounding landscape is magnificent, and the water ranges between 38 to 40 degrees Celsius. At The Secret Lagoon, you also have rental options if you’ve forgotten a towel or a swimsuit.



Iceland oldest swimming pool


Seljavallalaug


Seljavallalaug also joins the ranks as one of Iceland’s oldest swimming pools, having been built in 1923. Compared to the rest, this is a longish pool, stretching out for 25 meters with a depth of 1.8 meters.


This makes it perfect for why the pool was built in the first place – teaching locals to swim. Just like at The Secret Lagoon, facilities are minimal, so you need to come prepared. You’ll need to make a short hike to reach the pool, but there are no access fees.



Seljavallalaug


Remember to Adhere to Hot Spring Etiquette


There are a few things to keep in mind when visiting one of our hot springs:


  • Take a shower before getting into the hot spring. This is a matter of hygiene and respect for others using the pool. This includes washing off any hair gel and makeup.

  • In the same vein, it may be referred to as a thermal bath, but this is not the place to start whipping out the soaps and shampoos. No actual bathing is allowed in the hot springs, not only out of respect for others but also to keep all sorts of harmful chemicals out of our water and soil.

  • You need to be appropriately dressed in a bathing suit. You don’t want your outing to a hot spring to turn into a charge of indecent exposure.

  • After your swim, you need to dry off before entering the changing rooms. Entering the changing rooms and creating a soppy, wet mess is considered very rude and disrespectful.

  • Also, do not enter the changing rooms or the showers with your shoes on. This is also considered to be rude.

  • Do not run, play, and splash around in the water. Hot springs are for soaking and relaxing. This is especially important to communicate to any children in your party.

  • Make sure that you leave only your footprints behind. Here in Iceland, we take taking care of the environment very seriously, and littering will not be tolerated.

  • Be considerate of others. There may be times, such as at Kvika, when you will be the only ones there, but at other places, such as Reykjadalur, you will have to share the space.

  • Be careful where you take your photos. We understand that you want to capture the moment, but plenty of other people around in their swimwear may not want to be a part of it.

  • Manage your drinking. Some visitors come to the geothermal pools, where we have pool bars, and treat their outings like spring break. We do not think drunkenness at the hot springs is appropriate, and you will be asked to leave in most cases.

Iceland best hot springs


Iceland Hot Springs: Places of Healing and Relaxation


As you can see, the various hot springs in Iceland can offer very different types of experiences. But whether you want a bit of privacy in more remote regions or want to have it all – the food, the soak, and the spa pampering – you’ll find the hot spring that suits you best. And whether you’re going for the once-in-a-lifetime experience, some relaxation, or actual aches and pains – the hot springs will not fail to deliver.


They also make excellent pitstops on a road trip around the island. Rent a car in Iceland and take on one of our popular road trip routes, such as the Golden Circle or the Ring Road, and you’ll find plenty of hot springs on our list along the way. This is one of the rare occasions that we can say we hope you find yourself in plenty of hot water during your trip to Iceland!

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Apr 23

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