From erupting volcanoes to powerful geysers, Iceland is teeming with geothermal energy — and few experiences immerse visitors in this natural phenomenon like the country’s signature hot springs. Toasty, tranquil thermal baths abound across the country, from the beloved Blue Lagoon outside Reykjavik to the far-flung Mývatn Nature Baths in the mountainous north. By Stephanie Vermillion
If you’re planning a visit to the Land of Fire and Ice, here are seven of the best Iceland hot springs you shouldn’t miss.
Built into Iceland’s craggy Atlantic coast, the Sky Lagoon pairs dramatic ocean scenery with soothing hot-spring serenity. Located in Kársnes Harbour, just outside Reykjavik, it’s also one of the country’s newest thermal spas, having opened in March 2021. This geothermal pool, which regularly hovers between 37 to 39 degrees Celsius, features a 230-foot ocean-view infinity edge. Other on-site features include a cold pool, sauna, cold mist, steam room, and shower.
Iceland’s oldest swimming pool is also one of its best hot springs. The Secret Lagoon, known by locals as Gamla Laugin, opened for recreation in 1891. It continues to offer the country’s signature attraction: water naturally heated to around 37 to 4o degrees Celsius. The toasty lagoon, warmed by three nearby geysers, also boasts an allure that’s rare in Iceland’s best hot springs: privacy. It’s located in the Hverahólmi geothermal area, just beyond the Golden Circle and mostly off the tourist track.
Mývatn Nature Baths
Enjoy northern Iceland’s snow-capped mountains and ethereal aurora borealis displays from the comfort of Mývatn Nature Baths, a hot spring located about 80 kilometres from Akureyri. These cosy pools are naturally heated in the Lake Mývatn geothermal area; they lie just 104 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle. In addition to the relaxing alkaline bathing lagoon, facilities here include saunas, steam baths, and an on-site café.
Don’t let Seljavallalaug‘s low-frills digs fool you — this pool in southern Iceland is one of the area’s most calming natural gems. At 30 by 82 feet, Seljavallalaug is among the country’s largest swimming pools. It’s free and open to the public, but unlike most hot springs, it’s a swim-at-your-own-risk kind of place. Seljavallalaug is not regularly cleaned, and therefore, algae can accumulate. It also has no lifeguards or facilities — and for many, that’s the draw. The location, tucked between mountains on the rugged southern coast, promises dramatic mountain-meets-ocean scenery.
Reykjadalur Steam Valley
It doesn’t get more natural than a soak in Reykjadalur, a mossy green valley dotted with hot springs, mud pools, and a naturally warmed river that’s safe for swimming. Just 48 kilometres from Reykjavik, Reykjadalur is a quick day trip option. From the parking lot, it’s a three-km hike to the swimmable river. Stick to the trail and avoid the mud pools and hot pools along the way. The swimmable river, a thin sliver of water that remains around 40 degrees Celsius, is flanked by a boardwalk for easy access.
When it comes to Iceland’s best hot springs, it’s hard to beat the Blue Lagoon. This iconic Iceland attraction is the ultimate in hot springs luxury: Visitors can enjoy steamy turquoise waters with swim-up bars, spas, and even a glamorous on-site accommodation, the Silica Hotel. The location mixes striking décor, from moss-dusted boulders to picturesque bridges, with upscale wellness offerings like an in-water massage, mask bar, and sauna. And Blue Lagoon isn’t just tranquil; it’s convenient. It’s located near the Keflavik Airport, making it the perfect place to beat jet lag before starting an Iceland excursion.
GeoSea Geothermal Sea Baths
Built in the quaint fishing town of Húsavik, the GeoSea Geothermal Sea Baths offer a dose of Icelandic culture. These mountain-fringed springs sit along a cliff overlooking the Skjálfandi Bay and, to the north, the Arctic Circle. Come for the mineral-rich hot springs, stay for the chance to see whales or, if the season’s right, the northern lights. These relaxing hot springs, which stay around 37 degrees Celsius, include changing rooms, storage, and on-site beverages.