Whether you visit geothermal pools in Reykjavík, a luxurious spa or a natural pool in the countryside, swimming in Iceland is a unique experience. Nothing beats relaxing in warm water while breathing in fresh cold air. Iceland has a lot of pools to choose from, and which one you like best depends on your preferences. If you don’t know where to go, then read this handy-dandy guide!
Best pool for exercising
Laugardalslaug is Reykjavík’s biggest pool and this is the best pool for a long, intensive swim. It’s an Olympic size swimming pool with swimming lanes of 50 metres long. The outdoor pool is used by many people for recreational swimming, exercise and competitions. The big indoor pool is also used for training and competitions. A fitness centre and spa are located next to the pool.
Best luxury spa
In need of pampering? Read on! There are a couple of lavish spas in Iceland. The most famous is the Blue Lagoon. With its milky blue water, free silica mud masks, sauna and steam rooms, you will be sure to unwind. Of course, it’s possible to book in-water massages and beauty treatments. In Laugarvatn, about an hour from Reykjavík, you can visit Fontana Spa. There are several hot tubs, a Finnish-style sauna and steam baths. Those who dare, can walk out to a cold big lake next to the spa. Cold bathing has numerous health benefits, like improved blood circulation and muscle recovery.
In the North of Iceland close to Reykjahlið, you can visit the popular spa and health centre Mývatn Nature Baths. The alkaline pool is set within beautiful scenery, close to a stunning nature reserve. Krauma is a natural geothermal spa next to Deildartunguhver, Europe’s most powerful hot spring. It’s located in West Iceland, in the valley Reykholtsdalur. Krauma is open year-round and has space for 140 guests. It has five hot tubs and one cold bath, a relaxation room and two steam baths. A good alternative to the often fully booked Blue Lagoon, Mývatn Nature Baths and Fontana Spa!
Best pool to chat with locals
Locals love going to the pool, and chilling in a hot tub is a good way to connect to Icelanders. Often, Icelanders meet in the pool and use this time to chat and catch up on the latest developments. Locals prefer going to pools that are less crowded. Recently renovated downtown pool Sundhöllin would be a good pool to avoid, just like the biggest pool in Reykjavík, Laugardalslaug (especially in summer, because it’s located right next to a campsite and hostel). Good options for socializing with locals are Vesturbæjarlaug, Seltjarnarneslaug and Árbæjarlaug.
Best pool for a day out
It’s difficult to choose just one pool as the best pool for a day out. Because of Iceland’s swimming culture, basically, every town has its own pool. Almost all of them are beautifully located, next to mountains and overlooking fjords and the ocean. Even though some have been in use for a long time, most are in excellent condition and have top-notch changing facilities and showers.
If you plan to make a day tour out of your pool visit, head to the Westman Islands, and visit Sundhöllin Vestmannaeyjar. The journey to the inhabited island Heimaey is fun, with a 35-minute ferry ride from Landeyjahöfn. The island offers different hiking options, and in the summertime, it’s the perfect place to spot puffins and killer whales. Heimaey’s swimming pool has a great indoor pool, but more importantly, it has one of the most awesome outdoor water slide areas in Iceland. Plus, there are several hot tubs with temperatures between 29,5 °C and 42 °C, a massage waterfall and a sauna.
Best natural pool
In a lot of places around the country you will find smaller natural geothermal hot tubs and hot rivers. A visit to the hot river in Reykjadalur Valley, close to Hveragerði, is recommended. From Reykjavík, it’s about a 40-minute drive to Hveragerði. From there, you hike for about 45 minutes to an hour through a hilly area to reach the hot river. Once there, there is only one thing to do: relax!
The warm water of the river is perfect for sitting back for a while and regaining energy for the hike back. Remember to dress appropriately, wear hiking boots and bring some snacks and drinks. Grettislaug in the North of Iceland and the hot river in Landmannalaugar are also amazingly popular places to visit.
Best child-friendly pool
Ásvallalaug in Hafnarfjörður (a neighbouring town to Reykjavík) is the most child-friendly pool. It’s also the biggest thermal pool in Iceland reaching about 6,000 square metres. The site, which is all indoors, offers several 50 metres lanes, four hot pots, a large shallow children’s pool, a slide, a sauna, a solarium, a gym, and a steam bath.