Iceland is notorious for its natural hot springs all over the island, and one of the things visitors love to do is sit in the warm water and watch over the chilly, majestic Iceland landscape. In this article, we reveal which Iceland hot springs are worth a dip during your next visit.
Natural Iceland hot springs are created by the volcanic activity on the island heating up the underground water supply. And while there are plenty of popular hot spring spots, what most don’t know is that not all Iceland hot springs are actually hot springs.
Hot Springs vs. Geothermal Pools
Many of the so-called Iceland hot springs are actually geothermal pools. A hot spring is a little natural hot tub still in its perfectly natural form. In other words, you really will be taking a dip in what appears to be a river or water-filled rock formation. A geothermal pool is where human intervention has stepped in. It is where the natural hot water is channelled to a man-made pool.
Many of the geothermal pools are not because of commercial greed as most probably suspect, but due to safety reasons. Some of these natural hot springs can reach temperatures of up to 386 degrees Celsius! It’s simply impossible (or very, very stupid) to don your bathing suit and think you’re going to get out of that hot water unscathed.
The Iceland thermal baths are essentially used to cool down the water to a manageable 38-40 degrees for all to enjoy. That is also why it is so important to stick to designated spots to take your dip, otherwise, it may be your last.
The Benefits of These Iceland Warm Springs
Whether you opt to visit one of the untouched hot spring locations or keep to the Iceland hot pools, they all have various benefits for your well-being:
This has to do with the fact that the water is so mineral-rich. Since the skin is porous, it absorbs these minerals that help detoxify the skin as well as help with a variety of other dermatological issues.
Taking Advantage of the Heat
Heat has been a remedy for aches and pain and inflammation in the muscles for centuries. Today we know it’s because soaking in hot water manages to block pain receptors in both muscles and bone. So lounging around in the Iceland hot pools can alleviate any such aches and pains.
This is an interesting benefit that we all discovered first-hand during the Covid pandemic. We all have an incredible need to feel connected with one another (no matter how big of an introvert you think you are). And you don’t need to stock up on your social engagements to do so – even just being around people will give you that connected feeling and lift your spirits. All over the world community baths have served that purpose all over the world and the Iceland thermal baths are no different.
This should come as no surprise. Being in water as well as heat has been proven to be greatly beneficial to your well-being. Put these two together and you have a potent combination of deeply restorative properties. Not only does relaxing in Iceland warm springs reduce stress and bring about a sense of peace and tranquillity, but it will also guarantee you a good night’s rest.
Heat in general is known to alter one’s blood pressure, but once again, the healing minerals of the Iceland hot springs come into play. Some of the minerals found in the water include Sodium Bicarbonate and Calcium. These minerals are renowned for improving circulation.
If you’re having issues with your sinuses, Iceland hot springs are the answer. The heat along with the minerals is perfect for dissolving any nasal and lung congestion issues. After a while in one of these pools, you’ll be able to take clear and deep breaths again. Please just keep in mind that there is a difference between congestion and being ill. You don’t go swimming in a public pool where you place everyone at risk with a cold or flu.
The Best Iceland Hot Springs
There are more than 45 natural hot springs all over the island, many included in our list of best things to do in Iceland, so it can be tricky to decide which one should be your next stop. But don’t worry, use our nifty list as your guide:
This is one of the Iceland hot springs with the most intimate of settings. It’s very cute and cosy and definitely not the place to take a massive tour group (which makes it perfect for those who want to steer clear of bigger crowds). Hrunalaug is actually situated on private property. Lucky for us, the owner welcomes visitors to his waters. Technically, it’s a free experience with no entry fee, but just remember to give a donation to show your appreciation.
This river filled with steaming hot springs and mud pits is less than an hour away from the capital of Reykjavik, but if you want to take a dip in some of its best spots, you’ll need to be ready for a little bit of a hike added to your journey. What makes this experience so unique is that you can essentially pick and choose the perfect temperature for you by simply moving either closer or further away from the hot or cold water source.
This is one of the Iceland warm springs that are the most remote, so be ready with your GPS. This is a tiny little hot spring that can accommodate only 2-3 people at a time. With its beautiful vast landscape surrounding the spring, it’s definitely worth a visit.
Ok, this one can’t really be called a pool since it’s more of a natural hot spring footbath. But it’s certainly the cutest footbath with the most beautiful views you’ll ever find. The best part? It’s within walking distance from Reykjavik.
This is one of the few hot springs that offer accommodation as well. And you’ll be glad they do once you arrive because this is not a setting you would like to rush. Situated in a nature reserve, this hot spring is surrounded by breathtaking lava fields and glaciers. So between taking dips and exploring the surroundings, you’ll be glad to have at least a couple of days in the area at your disposal.
In the past, these hot springs served as a resting spot where weary travellers could soak their tired bodies in the warm water and relax before tackling the road again. And we are not surprised since the roads (even today) are not for the faint of heart. You either take it on with a 4x4 or give the road a skip entirely and opt for a hike. But no matter how tiring the journey to the hot spring may be, it will all melt away when floating in the soothing waters surrounded by mountains and meadows.
This is not your usual hot spring in a beautiful setting. Whilst the surroundings are nothing to scoff at, there is something else that makes taking a dip in this hot spring quite unique. Hot springs are notorious for being mineral-rich and having certain health benefits, but Kerlingarfjoll has a secret ingredient that many other hot springs lack; iron. Those who suffer from anaemia swear by its healing waters.
The Best Iceland Thermal Baths
If you thought Iceland has a lot of natural hot springs… they are overshadowed by the more than 200 geothermal pools on the island. If you’re someone who enjoys having some extra amenities in the surrounds of your hot spring dip, then these are the spots to visit:
Gamla Laugin aka The Secret Lagoon
If you’re looking for a hot spring with an interesting backstory, this one’s for you. The reason why it is called The Secret Lagoon is that there was a period when it was left abandoned and people seemingly forgot about its existence. It was really only in 2014 after the landowners revamped and reopened the pool that the visitors started pouring in again. While this is technically a man-made pool over a natural hot spring, a lot of its natural look and feel were kept intact, so we guess you can say this is the little hybrid pool on our list.
This is one of the most conveniently situated Iceland thermal baths with it being just a short trip from the city centre of Reykjavik. The Sky Lagoon is also a pool that’s beauty is so beyond comprehension that it looks like the FX department outdid itself on a paradise-themed movie location. The pool gives its visitors an eagle-eye view over the ocean and the coastline and since its claim to fame is as a spa experience, you’ll find other treatments and packages on offer there too.
This is Iceland’s oldest man-made pool and with its source of warmth (the Eyjafjallajökull volcano) close by, the scenery surrounding this pool is simply breathtaking. The pool has a green tint to it from algae in the water. This is because the pool is kept as natural as possible and cleaned only once a summer. But don’t confuse the green of the algae water with being dirty. This water is absolutely pristine in its natural state.
The Blue Lagoon is probably one of the most infamous Iceland thermal baths with its bright blue water. This is yet another pool that offers spa extras such as mud and algae masks one can wear inside the pool.
I see your geothermal pools and raise you… a beach! To say that this was an ambitious project would be an understatement, but it sure paid off. The Nauthólsvik beach construction included a lagoon with large sea walls where the hot geothermal and the cold ocean water meet to culminate into the perfect fun-in-the-Icelandic-sun temperatures.
The Vök Baths geothermal pools are conveniently located close to the popular Ring Road. It offers ample relaxing opportunities with its infinity pools, on-shore hot pools and other spa and entertainment options. An interesting fact about these pools is that the hot water here is so pure that it is the only geothermal water in Iceland that has been certified as drinkable.
Myvatn Nature Baths
Yet another spot close to the Ring Road, is the Mayvatn Nature Baths. These geothermal man-made pools are situated next to Lake Myvatn. Its hot water source is a natural spring inside a cave, but since it’s extremely hot it would be impossible to swim in without the cold intervention of the lake.
Whilst offering a similar spa experience to a few of our other geothermal pools on this list, Krauma puts a unique twist on it. Krauma consists of 6 smaller baths, most of which remind one of bathing in cute little pots made of shells. If you’re looking for a more intimate experience with breathtaking views, Krauma is the one for you.
Travelling To & Fro
Iceland hot springs are an absolute must for anyone visiting the island. Visiting the springs in and around Reykjavik shouldn’t be a problem, but if you start visiting the springs in the more remote areas you will need to arrange transport. We suggest renting a campervan to sort out the accommodation issue as well.
Just remember that if you’re planning on visiting in the summertime, it’s wise to book transport, accommodation and any activities well in advance as things tend to book up fast. Now, what are you waiting for? Grab those bathing cozzies, pack your bags and come and chill in the Iceland hot springs!