BATHE IN STYLE
The guide to eight 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 its swim-up bars and stunning views.
The Famous Blue Lagoon
The largest tourist destination in Iceland, situated in a lava field near 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 causes the lagoon’s milky blue-green color. It also creates a shoft white mud on the lagoon’s floor. Studies have shown that the lagoon’s white mud helps skins conditions including psoriasis. There is a now a clinic and a spa attached to the lagoon.
Swim in Icelandic History
Sky Lagoon draws inspiration from Icelandic heritage. Visitors can experience the warmth of a turfhouse, as well as a cold plunge pool made from hewn stones. The grey-blue and deep green design reflects the surrounding landscape. Their guide helps visitors make the most of the spa, from the lagoon to the cold plunge to the cold fog-mist space.
The 75-meter infinity pool offers a view across the the Faxa Bay, and towards the Bessastaðir residency where the President of Iceland lives. If you don’t want to leave the warm water and the stunning view behind, you can order drinks at the in-water bar.
Green Ferns and Clean Water
The waters of Krauma are drawn from Europe’s most powerful hot spring, Deildartunguhver. The extremely high rate of water flow 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 quiet and peaceful.
The spring is also special for being the only place in the world that 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!
Swim Under the Northern Lights
Sometimes referred to as the “Blue Lagoon of the North,” Jarðböðin is situated near the volcanic Lake Mývatn. Along with the main pool, the spa offers a hot tub, steam room, and plunge pool. The alkaline water is rich in minerals and deters bacteria and vegetation, leaving the waters bright blue and clear.
In fact, these waters are so rich in sulphur that the baths recommend 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.
Whale watching from the Cliffs
Up north, the GeoSea pools began with an old cheese barrel: locals carted it up the mountain and used it to bathe in the sea water. Now, the pools offer a cliffside view of Skjálfandi Bay, a popular place for whale watching. You might catch a glimpse of humpback whales below, or 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 blends smoothly into the mountainside, while the buildings are made of polished black lava rock and gray slate.
The Floating Baths
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 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 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.
Bread Baked by the Earth’s Heat
A series of interconnected baths and steam rooms, Laugarvatn Fontana is a less trafficked spa with wooden steam rooms built directly over the boiling springs. They also offer an unusual kind of tour. Their geothermal bakery makes bread following an old recipe, by baking it directly in the ground with geothermal heat.
On daily tours, you can hear an explanation of the process and even watch as they dig up a fresh loaf of bread from the hot black sand, and eat it hot with some Icelandic butter and smoked trout. Truly a unique spa snack!
The Oldest Pool in Iceland
Just off the famous Golden Circle, the Secret Lagoon is the oldest swimming pool in Iceland, dating from 1891. This has earned it the local nickname “gamla laugin,” or “old pool.” The pool is less developed and has fewer facilities compared to 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.