There are well over a million visitors heading to Iceland every year these days and the number one tourist attraction is the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa. Known for it’s pearl blue water and beauty, it is also known to be quite packed with people (a reservation is recommend), and also comes at a hefty price tag (starts at around $60!). During my visit to Iceland, I was doing it on a budget, so I didn’t make an appearance at the Blue Lagoon, and instead partook in the numerous other hot springs around the country of Iceland. Here are a number of the ones I went to soak – avoid the crowds and save some cash.
Icelandic Hot Springs Other Than The Blue Lagoon
- Laugardalslaug map:
This was the first body of water that we ended up exploring. We had just gotten into Reykjavik, were exhausted from the day of travel, and had to wait a couple hours for our hostel (Reykjavik City Hostel) to allow check-ins. We arrived to this pool and was pretty wowed by the experience. Outdoor Olympic sized swimming pool, and a number of smaller ones that are all geothermal heated. It was cold (45 degrees) in town and the water just wasn’t warm enough, so we went into their hot pools that ranged from 102-115 degrees. They also had a pretty awesome tube water slide that I highly recommend. Price to enter was around $10.
- Secret Lagoon map:
Located in Fludir, not far from the Golden Circle route, the Secret Lagoon is a man-made pool fed by a natural spring. Though it’s similar in concept to the Blue Lagoon, it lacks the opaque powder blue water — and the crowds. With a sand floor and natural rocks forming the walls, it also has a much more wild feel, as though it was created purely by nature.We went by this place, and decided to pass as the price was on the steeper side ($22.50) and we were planning to go to the next water spot on the list that day already. If you’re driving around the Golden Circle and decide to check it out, be sure to let me know if it is any good.
- Reykjadalur map:
The name of this place, Reykjadalur, means “Steam Valley” which is quite accurate. The area here is surrounded by numerous boiling hot springs which gave off the effect of walking through a cloud at times. To get here you have to hike up the hill side from a small cafe. The hike takes about an hour (just over two miles) and is worth it once you arrive. We arrived at a number of man made walking paths that allow you to get right next to the water. The walking path is alongside the heated river and gets hotter as you go further up the hill. They had these structures that are built to block you from the wind, but they only do so much when the wind is blowing super hard. We found some other people and got inside (with our beanies on to keep our heads from freezing).It was so windy and cold out (25 degrees) that when we arrived back to the car, I pulled out my swimsuit from my jacket pocket and it was frozen. I recommend going here when the winds aren’t blowing so hard. Price is great – free!
- Seljavallalaug map:
This is Iceland’s oldest man-made pool (built in 1923). Fed by a natural spring and tucked into a picturesque, waterfall-filled valley at the base of a mountain. There is a small, rudimentary changing room, but no other services. Visiting requires a detour down a dirt road, and a 15-minute hike that includes crossing a small river — but the effort is worth it as this place was just stunning. Another free location!
- Landmannalaugar map:
Another location I really wanted to get to, but because of the road conditions, we weren’t able to make this happen. The location is supposed to be beautiful because of the multi-colored hills. The springs here can get quite packed during the summer months. Not accessible int he winter (boo!). The water temperature is about 96-104°F (36-40°C), and there are bathrooms and changing facilities onsite. Driving here is down roads that cab be quite rough (and at times, crossed by small rivers), so go via guided tour, or be sure to rent a car rated for off roading.
- Grjótagjá [Cave] map:
This cave is a bit off the ring road near Akureyri and known for being the location where Jon Snow lost his v-card with Ygritte (Game of Thrones). It’s quite a beautiful cave to go into and though the water is now too hot for swimming (prohibited actually) because of shifting due to volcanic movement, it still makes for an awesome place to dip your toes (be warned – it is quite hot!).
- Myvatn Nature Baths map:
Not sure if it was just because it was amazing weather, but this place was beautiful. The Myvatn Nature Baths, or Blue Lagoon of The North, has a number of similarities as the Blue Lagoon. Primarily, the same pearl blue water. Though quite the drive from Reykjavik, and only visited by those generally making their way around the “Ring Road”, this place was one of the best experiences of the trip. The cost to get in is around $20, compared to around $60 with the Blue Lagoon. One perk was that there weren’t many people here because of the location and therefore made it even better. I enjoyed purchasing the beer bracelets which allowed you to flag down a person in a puffy green outfit that would bring you a beer or two (or three) while you enjoy the pools. I definitely recommend a stop here if you are in the area. People I’ve spoken to told me they enjoyed these over the Blue Lagoon anyways, so make it happen!
- Grettislaug map:
Make your way around the northern part of Iceland and you may find yourself at Grettislaug. Built in 1994, there are two rock pools here that have been built for those who get up this far. There is a large amount of rocks that separate the pools from the ocean water. That being said, if you get here, I recommend you going over those rocks to take a dip in the ocean. It’s extremely cold, but very refreshing (not that I know, I only got my feet in before jumping out). The pools are quite warm and enjoyable. We were lucky enough to happen to meet the gentlemen who created this place. He told me that it use to be where the nuns would clean clothing, but he decided it would make a better pool instead.
- Hostels and City Pools:
On top of the many outdoor springs in places around Iceland, there are also other places to swim. A couple of our hostels had hot tubs, or fancy spring fed outdoor tubs (Sæberg Hostel pictured above). Pretty much every town around has a swimming pool (and a church). There are no shortages to places to swim in Iceland, so if you find yourself wanting to get in the water, just know you’ve got plenty of options.