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The ultimate guide to the best hot springs in Iceland
Iceland is hot. Hot as a travel destination and hot in the ground. As it’s located right on the ridge of two tectonic plates there is a lot of movement and geothermal activity. When going to Iceland, you can’t miss a visit to a hot spring. Or a hot pool. Or a hotpot, as the Icelanders call it. I’ve written a couple of posts about the best hot springs in Iceland and they are among the most popular posts on my entire blog. So I figured I’d combine them into one post, making this ultimate guide to the best hot springs in Iceland. Having been to Iceland no less than ten times over the past decade, I think I can say I’ve become quite an expert to all there is to know about hot springs in Iceland. Enjoy!
The Blue Lagoon Hot Springs Iceland
The number one hot spring to visit in Iceland is of course the Blue Lagoon. However, you should really consider whether this is what you’re expecting of it. Over the past years, the Blue Lagoon has become a major tourist attraction and during my last visit, there were even more visitors than they could handle, despite the fact we had booked our entrance well in advance. If you are looking for an authentic, quiet soak into a natural hot spring, then the Blue Lagoon is definitely not for you.
In my opinion, it’s overpriced, way too crowded and it doesn’t really look like a natural spring anymore, with construction going on most of the time. However, if you really don’t want to visit Iceland without bathing in the milky blue water and/or if you just have too little time to visit one of my other suggestions, then you should definitely visit. The 2019 entrance fee to The Blue Lagoon is € 85 and please note you need to book your slot in advance. If you don’t mind going late at night, rates drop to about € 51 for the last hour. My full blog with reasons why you should not go to the Blue Lagoon can be found here!
The Secret Lagoon Iceland – the best alternative!
If you don’t want to spend a whole lot of money but still want to bathe in a geothermal spa in Iceland, then the Secret Lagoon is your best alternative. This one is located near the village of Flúðir, about an hour and a half east of Reykjavík. On their website it states ‘we’ve kept it unique for you’ however I still found it to be quite busy. I visited in March 2019 and even though we arrived quite early in the morning, we still had to share the pool with another 60-70 people. It’s best if you book your ticket ahead, which can be done here. If you are not driving, then you can easily book a tour from Reykjavík.
Other paid alternatives to the Blue Lagoon: Fontana Spa Laugarvatn
There are various hot springs in Iceland that offer pretty much the same facilities as the Blue Lagoon. My choice would be to go to Fontana Spa in Laugarvatn. This place is just about an hour drive from Reykjavík and located on the shores of Laugarvatn Lake (vatn means water). This does not just mean that you can actually overlook a lake rather than buildings and many of other people, but also that you can take a totally natural dip into cold water between saunas, which is said to have beneficial health effects. Entrance to the Laugarvatn Fontana Spa is ISK 3.800 which also gives you entrance to various saunas, rather than just a nature bath.
Myvatn Natura Baths Hot Springs
Another great option is to go to Myvatn Nature Baths up north in Iceland. If you are heading this far, that is. I’ve not been there myself but Martijn (my former partner) has been many times as a tour guide and according to him, it’s even better than The Blue Lagoon because it’s more quiet. Especially in off peak season it will be since not too many people bother to go all the way up north, in summer it can still get quite crowded here. In low season the entrance fee to Myvatn Nature Baths is ISK 3.800, in high season (mid May – September) it’s ISK 4.300.
Hot springs in the swimmings pools in Reykjavík
If you fancy a quick plunge into a hot bath but can’t be too bothered about fancy changing rooms and spa-facilities, then just head to the Laugardalslaug swimming pool in Reykjavík. It’s located next to the City Hostel and Campsite and has a large swimming pool and various hot tubs. The entrance fee is currently not published online but I remember paying a small amount of money not even coming close to the entrance fees of the facilities I previously mentioned.
Free hot pools in nature: Seljavallalaug
Icelanders love bathing in hot water and have there for made many pools and hotpots that are easily accessible. You will notice that many accommodations have their own manmade hotpots or small swimming pool. However if your hotel doesn’t have one, you can always head to one that’s right outside in nature. A great one to visit is Seljavallalaug on Iceland’s South Coast. When driving on the Ring Road from Reykjavík take the 242 left, just a little before Skogár. It’s an unpaved road in poor condition so take it easy while driving, as your rental car insurance probably does not cover unpaved roads. From the parking lot you will have to walk for some fifteen minutes until you reach the pool. The facilities look a bit dodgy but the water is nice and warm. Plus the area is stunning, you are right in the middle of nature.
Grottá Island near Reykjavík
Another option is, in case you are not going much further than Reykjavík, is to head out to Grottá Island which is a peninsula west of the city. There you will find a tiny hotpot that can fit no more than two or three people. There are no changing facilities here and since space is super limited, you will have to be lucky to be able to get yourself a spot. The views over the bay and the lighthouse in the distance are stunning though.
Hot rivers in Iceland to bathe in: Landmannalaugar
If you fancy going for the real deal, then continue reading. Because coming up are my two suggestions for hot streams that you can visit for free. They are both located right in the middle of nature and will give you an authentic Icelandic experience. My favorite place to bathe is the hot stream near Landmannalaugar, Iceland’s most amazing place for hiking if you ask me. The drive here is tricky and should only be done in summer and with a 4×4 because you will have to cross various streams. Your best option is to take a bus from Reykjavík and then stay for a night or two. You can only camp here or stay in the simple mountain hut. The good thing about this place is that many people visit during the day, but during the night, many people are gone. As it’s light for 24 hours in summer, you can bathe here all by yourself at night or in early morning, like I did last summer.
Reykjadalur Hot Springs in Iceland
If you prefer to stay closer to Reykjavík then make a trip to Reykjadalur Valley. You can park your car in Hveragerdi, which is about a 45 minute drive from Reykjavík. From here, you will still have to walk for about an hour until you reach the point where the stream actually gets warm. You will not be the only one here, the number of people will indicate where you can head into the water comfortably. They have recently built some boardwalks here to protect the nature but other than that, it’s pretty untouched. In case you are not driving, you can still visit this valley with a guided tour!
The hot pot of your hotel
Apart from the free hot springs in Iceland, your best option is the hot pot of your accommodation. Many hotels in Iceland offer a hot pot as they call it and it will be a nice way to relax after your day of exploring. My favorite place to stay while in Iceland is Hjardarból Guesthouse in Hveragerdi, about one hour from Reykjavík. If you are looking for a hotel in Reykjavík, check out my favorites in this blogpost!
What to bring when going to hot springs in Iceland
When going to some hot springs in Iceland, you don’t need a whole lot. First of all, bring your swimming gear. Naked is not done, not even in the saunas they have in the spas. Also bring a towel because renting one can become pretty expensive. If you are going to a paid facility, make sure to also bring shampoo so you can wash your hair afterwards. Never do this in the natural streams though because it can really mess up nature. Flip flops may come in handy too because the terrain can sometimes be rocky and painful to walk on barefoot. Don’t forget to bring a big bottle of water as well, hydrating is super important when you’re going to a hot pool or sauna. Other than that, you don’t really need anything else!
Conclusion and disclaimer
That’s it, my ultimate guide to the hot springs in Iceland. I’m sure there are a few more but I think I’ve got the most ones covered. I hope you found this guide useful. Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions and/or if you’d like to know more about a specific facility. If I can’t answer your question, I know quite a bunch of people in Iceland who can!
Note that this article has affiliate links. If you make a reservation or purchase through any of these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you!