Sky Lagoon

For the past years, developers across the country have been stepping up the variety of leisure baths, with their amenities and stunning views. Photo: Sky Lagoon Iceland.

BATHE IN STYLE

The guide to 11 hot resorts along the Ring Road

Warm or chilly, bright or dark, gray or blue, any day is good for a warm outdoor bath. That, at least, is the local consensus. Icelanders love soaking in hot water. And for the past years, developers across the country have been stepping up the variety of leisure baths, with more amenities and stunning views.

The Softness of Silica

The Blue lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is incredibly charming in winter.

The most prominent tourist destination in Iceland, situated in a lava field not far from the airport, is in fact, a happy accident. The superheated water flows from underground and is used to run the turbines of a nearby geothermal power plant. An employee discovered the healing nature of the waters, and the Blue Lagoon was born. The water is now redirected into pools, where bathers can enjoy the pure, mineral-rich baths. Silica gives the water its milky blue-green color, which eventually precipitates as white mud on the lagoon's floor. Studies have shown that the lagoon's white silica-rich mud helps skin conditions, including psoriasis. There is now a wellness clinic and a spa attached to the lagoon.

Visit the Blue Lagoon

Swim in Icelandic History

People bathing in Sky Lagoon

Sky Lagoon opened in 2021 and is in Kópavogur in the Reykjavík capital area

Sky Lagoon draws inspiration from Icelandic heritage. Visitors can experience the warmth of a turf house and a cold plunge pool made from hewn stones. The grey-blue and deep green design reflect the surrounding landscape. Sky Lagoon guides help visitors make the most of the spa experience, from the lagoon to the cold plunge, the sauna, to the cold-mist space. 

The 75-meter infinity pool offers a view across the Faxa Bay toward the President's residence at Bessastaðir. You can order drinks at the in-pool bar if you don't want to leave the warm water and the stunning view behind.

Visit the Sky Lagoon

Green Ferns and Clear Water

Krauma baths

Krauma Baths in West Iceland

The waters of Krauma are drawn from Europe's most powerful hot spring, Deildartunguhver, in the western Borgarfjörður. The extremely high flow rate of the water means that absolutely no chemicals are needed for the water, as the six pools are constantly replenished. Krauma is smaller than some of the other spas on this list, which means it tends to be more peaceful and is about 100 km (62 miles) from Reykjavík.

The spring is also special for being the only place in the world where the Icelandic fern grows. And as the waters of the geothermal baths are also used to heat nearby greenhouses, you can find fresh fruits and tomatoes at spots nearby!

Visit Krauma Baths

Surprise Lagoon in the Forest

the forest lagoon

The Forest Lagoon in North Iceland

When life gives you hot water—you make a spa out of it! While digging the long (and unpronounceable) Vaðlaheiðargöng tunnel in 2014, workers accidentally discovered a new geothermal hot water source deep in the mountain. The road authorities diverted the hot waters and use them not far away in a gorgeous place on the side of a mountain overlooking the town of Akureyri and Eyja Fjord.

The Forest Lagoon has Scandinavian charm, with a cold bath and a sauna attached to the main leisure bath. Alongside the 2022 construction, several walking paths through the surrounding forest were made, adding to the attraction.

Visit Forest Lagoon

Swim Under the Northern Lights

Mývatn nature baths

Mývatn Nature Baths are located close to the fragile beauty of Lake Mývatn Nature reserve.

Sometimes referred to as the "Blue Lagoon of the North," Mývatn Nature Baths are situated near the volcanic Lake Mývatn. Along with the main pool, the spa offers a hot tub, steam room, and plunge pool. The alkaline waters are rich in minerals and inhibit bacteria and vegetation, leaving the waters bright blue and clear.

In fact, these waters are so rich in sulfur that it is recommended that you remove brass jewelry before your plunge. The steam bath's windows allow guests to look over the landscape, part of a designated nature reserve. Soak on a summer day, or catch a view of the Northern Lights from September through April.

Visit Mývatn Nature Baths

Whale watching from the Cliffs

Geosea baths

The view from GeoSea in North Iceland

Up north, in the town of Húsavík, the GeoSea pools began with an old cheese barrel. Locals carted it up the mountain and used it to bathe in the warm seawater. Now, there is much more than a barrel with pools that offer a cliffside view of Skjálfandi  Bay, a popular place for whale watching. You might catch a glimpse of humpback whales surfacing below, and the icy Kinnarfjöll mountains in the distance.

The waters at GeoSea are distinctive in that they are hot seawater, rather than a mix of seawater and fresh water. The design blend into the mountainside, while the buildings are made of polished black lava rock and gray slate.

Visit Geosea

The Floating Baths

Vök baths

Vök baths float in the beautiful lake Urriðavatn in East Iceland.

These picturesque baths are actually located right on the dark waters of Lake Urriðavatn in East Iceland. The springs that feed them were first discovered by locals from the nearby town of Egilsstaðir who noticed that certain patches of water did not freeze over in the wintertime. At first, neighbors expected some kind of bottom-dwelling lake monster—but thankfully, it turned out to be underwater hot springs. 

The baths are named after these mysterious patches: Vök is the Icelandic word for "hole in the ice." The floating pools, shaped like the ice-free patches themselves, float on the lake's surface.

Visit Vök Baths

Bread Baked by the Earth's Heat

Laugarvatn Fontana

Laugarvatn Fontana is located in South Iceland

Laugarvatn Fontana is an invigorating and historical bathing site where you can enjoy the healing powers of the geothermal waters, soak in natural pools, and listen to the bubbling hot spring in the steam rooms. For the venturesome, take a cooling dip in the refreshing Laugarvatn Lake. The warm pools and hot pots vary in depth, size, and temperature just like the three traditional steam rooms. There is a series of interconnected baths and steam rooms built directly over the boiling springs. After your visit, be sure to check out the geothermal bakery where they bake delicious rye bread following an old recipe in the steamy, geothermally heated ground. 

There are daily tours, where you can hear an explanation of the process and watch as they dig up a fresh loaf of bread from the hot black sand. Try a hot slice with some Icelandic butter and smoked trout for a truly unique spa snack!

Visit Laugarvatn Fontana

The Oldest Pool in Iceland

The secret lagoon

The Secret Lagoon is also referred to as "gamla laugin"

Just off the famous Golden Circle, in the village of Flúðir, the Secret Lagoon is the oldest swimming pool in Iceland, dating from 1891. This has earned it the local nickname "gamla laugin," (Icelandic for old pool) The pool is less developed and has fewer facilities than other spots, like the Blue Lagoon, so it's a perfect retreat for those seeking a more pared-down experience.

From the pool, watch as a small nearby geyser erupts every five minutes, or take a stroll along the path by the pool to explore the rolling landscape strewn with jets of steam.

Visit the Secret Lagoon

Canyon Baths on the Edge of the Highlands

Húsafell Canyon Baths

The Húsafell Canyon Baths are exclusive

Known for lava caves, forested areas, and being close to glaciers, Húsafell is a popular getaway bordering the Highland region to the West. With the opening of the Canyon Baths, the destination arguably has it all. The two man-made stone pools are more exclusive than other geothermal baths. Guests are limited to sixteen and must travel with a guide down a short walking path into the remote canyon. Over the summer, there are four scheduled departures.  

In construction and style, the baths draw inspiration from the nearby Snorralaug, a heritage site pool dating back to the 13th century when poet-turned-politician Snorri Sturluson ruled western Iceland. Take a dip in pools while listening to the river, close your eyes, and imagine the good life of being… a medieval legend.

Visit the Húsafell Canyon Baths

Cheers for the Beer Spa in North Iceland

Beer is not just for drinking

There are not many beer spas in the world, but you will find one in rural North Iceland. The local brewery, Bruggsmiðjan has brought “beer culture” to new heights of relaxation with Bjórböðin, Icelandic for Beer Spa, the first of its kind in Iceland. The combination of beer, hops, and yeast is said to be rejuvenating for the body and spirit.

A session at the Beer Spa includes a 25-minute cedar wood tub beer soak followed by a 25-minute session in the relaxation room. The outside area has incredible views over Hrísey island, the mountains, and Þorvalds valley. The on-site restaurant offers a variety of meals and beer-inspired foods.

Visit the Beer Spa

View all geothermal pools in Iceland

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