Updated: May 10
How does the following scenario sound? Relaxing in a hot spring pool, gazing at the stunning scenery of mountains, the sea, volcanic fields, and ice caps. Well, this is pretty much what you can expect from the Iceland hot springs.
And we have a myriad of them all across the island. If you would like to know more about these natural wonders and would like to add a few as stops to your Iceland trip itinerary, then read on.
Why does Iceland have Hot Springs?
The reason why our landscape is so beautifully contradicting is a direct result of our country being the Land of Fire and Ice. There is a lot of volcanic activity on the island. It is this volcanic activity that heats up the underground water supply of the island, giving us these Iceland hot springs.
The Difference Between a Hot Spring and a Geothermal Pool
There are hot springs and geothermal pools on the island, which people often use interchangeably. The natural hot springs are still in their original form, usually rocky pools or rivers that may require a short hike to reach.
The geothermal pools are man-made pools that utilize the waters of a hot spring to create a warm swimming pool the public can use. This is not just because someone saw an opportunity for a quick buck, but because many of the hot springs are actually so warm that you can cook a chicken in it. To make it accessible to humans at all, it needs to be cooled down, mostly by using cold water from a nearby ocean or stream.
It is this combination that makes up a geothermal pool. You will also find that natural hot springs rarely have many amenities. If you’re hungry or thirsty, you had better have brought your own snacks and drinks. Changing rooms? You might have to settle for a bush, or your RV rental if you have one. And bathrooms? Well, some have pretty primitive ones, but it is generally advised that you visit the loo before visiting one of the natural Iceland hot springs.
The geothermal pools, on the other hand, are almost like restaurants. Most have multiple restaurants and bars, and offer add-on services such as spa treatments. And, yes, these definitely have changing rooms and bathrooms – pretty fancy ones at that.
The Benefits of the Iceland Hot Springs
The Iceland hot springs are known for much more than just taking a snap to share on Instagram. Here are a few of the benefits you can get when it comes to your general well-being:
It helps detoxify skin and soothes dermatological issues. This is because hot spring water is incredibly mineral-rich, and these minerals get absorbed through the skin.
It soothes aches and pain and inflammation in the muscles. This is because of the heat of the water. Warm water actually blocks the pain receptors in bone and muscle and brings some welcome relief.
It aids in sleeping. The same relaxation that reduces stress as you soak in the warm waters with its beautiful surroundings, also helps you to fall asleep faster. You'll also have a better quality of sleep throughout the night.
It improves your circulation. Heat can actually alter your blood pressure. Also, the minerals such as calcium and sodium bicarbonate found in the hot springs of Iceland improve overall circulation.
It clears congestion. This is, once again, due to the powerful combination of the minerals and the heat. After a few deep breaths, you’ll feel the difference in your lungs, nasal passages, and sinuses.
The Best Hot Springs in Iceland
The island has many hot springs, with some that still need to be discovered. Yet, there are definitely a few favorites amongst locals and visitors alike. So, if you want to take a dip in one of the Iceland Hot Springs or geothermal pools during your trip to the island, the following are the must-visit spots:
The Best Natural Hot Springs in Iceland
Below you will find some of the best natural hot springs in Iceland from the 45 that can be found all over the island:
This is the best hot spring in Iceland if you enjoy your privacy. Mainly because there simply is no way that big groups can squeeze into this quaint little hot spring. In fact, you’ll start to struggle as soon as the third person comes along.
Even though Hrunalaug is on privately owned land, the owner has chosen to keep it open to the public and the owner takes very good care of it. So, although there is no official entrance fee, we do recommend that you leave a donation.
If you’re looking for an Iceland hot spring that’s completely off the beaten path, Landbrotalaug is definitely it. This is one of the best hot springs near Reykjavík (if you manage to find it).
You will need a GPS and perhaps a few directions from the locals when you take Route 54 north of the capital city. Then, head towards the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, where this hot spring can be found behind an abandoned farm. But trust us when we say, the views from that hot spring make the journey and struggles to find it well worth it. This is also a small hot spring, so you won’t be able to do it in a bigger group.
Reykjadalur is probably one of the most famous Iceland hot springs, although, it’s technically a river. The warm water of the river runs down and all along its edges and sides, one can find smaller hot springs and mud pits.
To reach Reykjadalur you will need to undertake a bit of a hike. It’s such a popular site, we recommend that you go pretty early to avoid the crowds during the summer peak season. Fun fact: at Reykjadalur, you can choose your preferred soaking temperature by moving up or downstream from the hot or cold water source.
This is one of our own personal favorites because it’s so unique. Kvika is a hot spring that’s known as a foot bath and not a place to take a dip at. And if you want to focus on the best hot springs near Reykjavík, then you need to add Kvika to your list. This footbath is, ironically, within walking distance of the capital city. It will reward your tired feet and bless you with beautiful views.
Hveravellir is one of the Iceland hot springs that offers something most don’t; overnight accommodation. And since Hveravellir is located in a nature reserve, you really want to take your time exploring the area. This hot spring is known for its unbeatable views, since it’s surrounded by glaciers and lava fields.
Kerlingarfjoll is one of the best hot springs in Iceland if you suffer from anemia. This is because Kerlingarfjoll has something that most other Iceland hot springs don’t have: a staggering amount of iron. Whilst the hot spring still gives visitors the same experience of relaxing in beautiful and peaceful surroundings, it’s the healing properties of the water that attracts many.
If the name sounds familiar, it might be because of the famous Landmannalaugar trek that attracts avid hikers from all over the world. Hikers and tired drivers often use the hot springs to soothe their tired muscles before continuing their journey. Surrounded by meadows and views of the mountains, it is definitely a good spot to rest and re-energize.
The Best Geothermal Pools in Iceland
Below you will find what are considered to be some of the best thermal pools in Iceland from the more than 200 scattered across the island:
The Blue Lagoon
Although it is probably the most famous hot spring in Iceland, the Blue Lagoon is a geothermal pool. Because of its unique aesthetic, it has been featured in many movies, such as Hostel and Star Trek. The water is an incredibly bright blue color. Also, it’s one of the places where you can add-on additional spa treatments to the complimentary mud mask that’s already included in your entrance fee.
The Secret Lagoon aka Gamla Laugin
You might be forgiven if you mistake this pool for a natural hot spring when you take a look at its rough finishes and surroundings. But the reasons for this can be found in the strange backstory of Gamla Laugin. For a certain time, the pool was completely abandoned, and it really seems as though people forgot about it.
It was only in 2014 that the landowners decided to give the pool a much-needed overhaul. It reopened to the public that its popularity started rising again. The fact that it was forgotten for so long is also why it is called the Secret Lagoon. Due to its age, the pool’s exterior cannot be compared to the modern geothermal pools and facilities we find in Iceland today. Its rough, rocky bricks and rugged surroundings do make it appear as though it’s still in its natural form.
Seljavallalaug’s claim to fame is that it’s the oldest man-made pool on the island. Its warm water is actually heated up by the infamous Eyjafjallajökull volcano. Some think that the pool is dirty upon arrival, since the water has a green tint to it.
But this is merely because the pool is kept as natural as possible and the green is algae that’s not harmful to humans at all (in fact, it adds benefits). Despite the pool being left as natural as possible and cleaned only once during the summer, the water is clean and pure.
Sky Lagoon is one of the best thermal baths in Iceland to visit if you don’t have your own transport, and you’re in the capital city. The bath has an infinity pool vibe, providing a stunning view of the ocean and the Icelandic coastline. It appears almost surreal, like a green screen effect.
This is also one of those facilities with luxury in mind and some local cuisine, a nice drink, and a relaxing spa treatment is just a lap around the pool away.
What makes the Vök Baths so popular is its convenient location. Situated just off the popular road trip route around the island, the Ring Road, it offers visitors a myriad of pools and all sorts of other relaxing options.
From infinity pools to on-shore pools to a restaurant, a bar, and a spa – the Vök Baths have it all. What sets the Vök Baths apart is that they use exceptionally pure hot water in their pools. In fact, they are the only pools in Iceland with a certification that confirms the water is safe to drink.
Krauma offers a similar experience to some of the other luxury geothermal pools such as the Blue Lagoon or Sky Lagoon, but in a more intimate setting. Krauma consists of 6 shell-shaped smaller pools with breathtaking views. Once you’ve finished soaking all your stress away, you can pamper yourself with a few treatments at the spa.
Nautholsvik takes geothermal pools to the next level! Instead of the normal pools and baths, Nautholsvik is an entire geothermal BEACH! As you can imagine, this was a gigantic undertaking. The constructing the lagoon with its large sea walls where the cold ocean water meets the hot water was no small feat. But thanks to those hard-working efforts, we can now enjoy a beach experience in Iceland that doesn’t require a drysuit.
Myvatn Nature Baths
The Myvatn Nature Baths is also one of the best geothermal pools in Iceland when you take its location into account. Right off the Ring Road route, the Myvatn Nature Baths are situated next to the beautiful Lake Myvatn. In fact, the hot water’s origin source, found in a cave nearby, is so hot that without the cool water of the lake, it would be impossible to swim in.
Luckily, now, you can soak in its mineral-rich milky blue water whilst soaking up the scenery. Simply buy your tickets in advance and secure your spot for a rejuvenating experience amidst the natural beauty of Myvatn.
The Iceland Hot Springs Offer Rest & Relaxation on Any Iceland Road Trip
We believe the best way to explore the island is via a road trip. And with many of the Iceland hot springs conveniently located next to some of the most popular road trip routes on the island, it seems only fitting that you add a few of these as stops to your trip itinerary. Simply rent a campervan in Reykjavík for the most exciting, affordable, and relaxing road trip of a lifetime.