I absolutely adore the swimming pool culture in Iceland. Nearly every town or village has a local pool, they almost always outdoors and not only do they have a good lane and kids pool, but there are usually several hot pots and a cold one too! There is a staggering number of pools, in fact, there is one pool for every 2,000 people in Iceland! For me, the local pools are so much more enjoyable than the world famous Blue Lagoon. In the morning and daytimes you'll chat to older Icelanders, who all meet to socialise while soaking and swimming and in the evening it is much more family centred when kids run off steam and parents relax.
Hot water isn't an issue in Iceland, with the pools being geothermally heated and so that is why you find so many amazing outdoor options. I wish we had pools like this in the UK. If I had to pick one active thing to do, swimming would be it. I swim most days and always have done, years ago I did my swim teacher training and I just love being in the water here and swimming in the sea in the UK in the summer.
I am on a mission to swim in as many pools as I can over the years, so here is a guide to some of the epic pools in Iceland I've experienced and my bucket list of pools to swim in at some point!
Things to know about swimming & using hot pots in Iceland:
- You have to shower naked before you swim. Over the years this has caused so many giggles when I break the news to prude Brits that they've got to shower their bits. But really, its fine, liberating in fact. Everyone just cracks on with it in Iceland, so just chill out, shower like the poster says, put your swimmers on and enjoy!
- The pools are usually about 26-32 deg c and then the hot pots vary from 36-43 deg and there are normally 2-3 at different temperatures in this range.
- Many of the pools have waterslides, although when the temperature drops, the closed signs go up on these.
- There are cold pots that are about 4 deg c. Become a true Viking, gently lower yourself into the cold water and take some deep breaths and then rush back into the hot pots. A few rounds of this, is nothing short of life affirming and your aches and pains will have melted away!
- There is usually hairdryers at every pool.
- It will only cost you £6-8 and I heartedly recommend planning to swim every day of your trip!
- Take goggles & a water bottle, you can usually fill them up on poolside and all tap water is drinkable in Iceland and you'll want to rehydrate during a mega hot pot session!
- You're not allowed to use your phone at a lot of local pools. Any photos I have taken and shared in this post were taken after I asked staff and were given permission.
So, without further ado, I'll kick off this list of pools in Iceland that are totally worth a visit and share ones that are on my wish list!
SWIMMING POOLS OF ICELAND - pools & hot pots I've visited
The Hofsós swimming pool is quite simply magnificent and it is my favourite one. Arguably the most beautiful swimming pool in Iceland, it is designed by the same architect responsible for the famous Blue Lagoon. It may not be Olympic size, but because it has been built into the hillside above the sea, the views over to Drangey are breathtaking. Come rain or shine, the vista from the pool is a combination of marvellous different shades of blue; the clear blue colour of the swimming pool itself, the green blue sea, the dark blue of the islands and mountains in the distance, and finally the blueness of the sky on a clear day.
The Selfoss Public Swimming pool is in the middle of the town and within walking distance from all major shops and services as well as having ample parking. Inside the building there is a children's pool and an 18 meter pool while outside there is a 25 meter pool, children's pool with 3 slides, wading pool, steam room, sauna and hot and cold tubs. So if you’re a family looking for a pool that has everything, this may be the one for you! I have a 10 swim ticket that I use each time I go to Iceland that reduces the price of the swimming to about 1/3 of the price compared to a pay as you go approach.
This is a beautiful natural lagoon located near Fluðir in the heart of The Golden Circle. It is a completely authentic experience, with the pool being surrounded by geothermal vents and tiny geysirs! It gets up to 38-42 deg c and is one of the best geothermal hot pots in Iceland.
An incredible alkaline geothermal lagoon with panoramic views across the Myvatn area. In 2019, I bumped into my geography teach from school here, almost 20 years after leaving school and having done geography at uni, it was cool to catch up with them and the story about it is here.
In the northern town of Husavik, GeoSea looks over Skjalfandi Bay and the Arctic circle is in sight. We soaked and watched whales out to sea which was magical! The warm sea water is taken direct from the ocean and heated via a geothermal spot near the pool.
Located directly beside Europe's most active hot spring, Deildartunguhver, water is taken from the angry steam vent and channeled into this stunningly designed geothermal spa. Enjoy the sunset and cold beers in the water - it's epic! The food is also amazing here and there is a chill out room with central log fire, it is easy to spend several hours here.
Stykkisholmur boasts an outdoor and indoor swimming pool with Frasenius certified water, which has been claimed to have regenerative powers! Thermal tubs are also on site, as well as a water slide and a wading pool for the children. The large outdoor pool measures 25x12 metres, and has two hot tubs with pure water straight from the earth.
The thermal pool in Hella is 25 x 11 meters and and is also suitable for competitions! There are five different pools available next to the main swimming pool: one massage hot-tub, two hot-tubs and two shallow wading pools for the little ones. There are also three slides for the thrill seekers out there!
This protected pool is Iceland's oldest pool and you have to hike through a mountain valley and cross two rivers to get to it's geothermal goodness! It is a comfortable 20-30 deg c. At just 10m in length, it is something to experience but probably not one to notch up lengths in! It is often full of algae, I remember the bottom being very slimy! I'd recommend taking a waterproof bag to put your clothes in, as the changing shed floors are often wet and muddy.
A wonderful lake front spa and hot pot complex. With lots of different temperature hot pots, saunas and steam rooms as well as the option to jump in the lake, Laugarvatn, there is lots here to relax and enjoy. There is a lovely cafe too that serves bread that has been cooked in the ground using the geothermal heat!
The swimming pool at Laugaskarð, which for many years was the country's largest pool, is renowned for its lovely setting as well as excellent facilities; including hot pots, whirlpools, sunlamps, and a natural steam bath. You won’t be able to find a more beautiful place for a few laps around the pool, and is situated less than an hour away from the country's capital, Reykjavik.
Located in the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, Laugardalslaug swimming pool has facilities which include a 50m outdoor pool, outdoor children’s pool and paddling pool, two waterslides, numerous hot tubs, steam bath, gym and mini golf course. This place has everything!
A lovely 25m outdoor pool and 50m indoor pool. A mix of hot pots and a steam room - idea for a swim before a flight or just after you've arrived as it is only a few km from the airport.
With both indoor and outdoor pools and multiple hot pots that look out to sea, Borgarnes town pool is a lovely way to pass some time. It is heated with steam from Europe's most powerful steam vent at Deildartunguhver Hot Spring.
Probably Iceland's most well know attraction. I don't want to detract from an experience I know a lot of people will dream about, however, it is the most expensive way to bathe outdoors in Iceland and is usually rammed with other tourists. Some also find it surprising that it isn't natural. It uses water, a clean waste product, from a neighbouring power station. I think I've been three times and once experienced an in-water massage treatment which was amazing, but I think there are a lot of other options as you can see above that outstrip this experience.
The swimming pool in Höfn is a 25 meter family friendly outdoor pool, with 2 hot pots and one cold tub! When I saw here a local main trained me a little in sitting for longer in the cold tank. He stayed in for 15 minutes and said he believes it is this ritual that has helped him live to 89!
A small pool in the heart of the village. I loved swimming and soaking and taking in the mountain views late one summer's evening.
SWIMMING POOLS & HOT POTS OF ICELAND - My Wishlist
Westfjords Swimming Pools & Hot Pots:
- Patreksfjörður - views across mountains & fjord
- Hellulaug pool - geothermal pool right on a beach
- Reykjafjarðarlaug pool - natural geothermal pool
- Drangsnes Hot Tubs
- Pollurinn in Tálknafjörður - natural hot pots on a mountainside
- Krosslaug - geothermal hot pots
- Gvendarlaug in Bjarnarfjörður - natural hot pot
- Krossneslaug pool at Strandir - right on a beach looking out to sea at Laugarvík cove
- Heydalur hot springs & pool - a pool inside a greenhouse
- Hörgshlíð - ask permission from the farmer
West Iceland Swimming Pools & Hot Pots
- Húsafell Geothermal Baths
- Húsafell Canyon Baths
South West Iceland & Reykjavik Pools & Hot Pots
- Strútslaug Hot River
- Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach
- Sunlaug Kopavoga
South Iceland Swimming Pools & Hot Pots
- Reykjadalur Hot River
Central highlands hot springs
- Landmannalaugar hot river
East Iceland Swimming Pools & Hot Pots
- Neskaupstaður - views over Norðfjörður fjord
- Djúpivogur - half inside half outside pool
- Vok Baths - floating hot pots on a lake
- Hoffel Hot Tubs
North Iceland Swimming Pools & Hot Tubs
- Víti Geothermal Lake
- Hrísey - on an island
- Okastar, husavik
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