The Best Geothermal Spas in Iceland

Iceland is truly the so-called land of Ice and Fire. The vast glaciers, the volcanic activity, and the geothermal energy make the perfect trio. There are no limits: exploring an ice cave or hiking to an active eruption during the day and then relaxing in the rejuvenating, geothermal water in the evening. Let us introduce you to the most beautiful spas and retreats in Iceland that will completely elevate your stay.

THE GEOTHERMAL ACTIVITY

Iceland has been created by the activity of tectonic plates – the Eurasian and the North American one. They drift apart every year and it‘s the only place in the world where it‘s possible to see the Mid-Atlantic Ridge above sea level. The two most popular places to see such extraordinary occurrence is The Bridge Between Continents and Þingvellir National Park, where you can literally walk between the two tectonic plates.

geothermal activity

Given the fact that Iceland is located in such a geologically special place, it’s also bursting with volcanic and geothermal activity underneath the surface. The country has been flooded with lava multiple times and if you haven’t heard yet, there’s an active eruption happening now. It’s located in the Rekjanesbær Peninsula and it’s been going on since the beginning of 2021. It’s easily accessible with an average car which makes it even more attractive!

Iceland has been taking advantage of its geothermal activity for years. It‘s one of the biggest sources along with hydro-energy used for heating houses, generating electricity, heating geothermal pools, warming up the sidewalks during wintertime, or growing own vegetables at greenhouses all year round. Icelanders are known for their passion for hot swimming pools and/or hot pots spotted all around the country. It’s the perfect way to utilize such energy and relax with Northern Lights dancing above their heads. Let us take you on a journey through the most special Spas and Retreats in Iceland, where you can forget all your worries and pamper yourself!

THE BLUE LAGOON

Norðurljósavegi 9, 241 Grindavík

https://www.bluelagoon.com/

blue lagoon

Of course, The Blue Lagoon. The most famous and popular destination when it comes to geothermal pools. It is located in a very convenient spot between Keflavík International Airport and Reykjavík, which makes it the perfect place to stop by either after landing or just before departing.

The interesting thing about this place is that it is not a naturally flowing hot spring. The history backs to 1976 when it was formed next to a geothermal power plant that was drilling for steam and hot water. The lagoon was created by the excess water streaming from it and now the runoff is filtered and flowing straight to the Blue Lagoon. It may sound odd but it‘s completely fine for our bodies as it doesn‘t contain any harmful chemicals. The natural minerals in the water are known for their beneficial influence on the skin’s wellness.

The Blue Lagoon is truly an extraordinary experience. It‘s not only a lagoon that you can enjoy. It also consists of a bar, Lava Restaurant and  Moss restaurant, which was recommended by the 2019 Michelin Guide. You can choose between Silica Hotel or Retreat Hotel in terms of accommodation, with the Retreat giving you access to the Retreat Lagoon: a private and definitely less crowded and more intimate location. You‘ll get the view over it straight from your luxurious hotel room.

If you‘re up for an even deeper experience, you‘re more than welcome to enjoy the rejuvenating process of the Blue Lagon SPA ritual. It consists of various treatments like mud or algae masks, body scrubs, relaxing massages, or face treatments perfectly suited to your skin needs. All in all, The Blue Lagoon is so much more than just bathing in geothermal water. It‘s truly an extraordinary experience that will stay with you for a long time.

SKY LAGOON

Vesturvör 44, 200 Kópavogur

https://www.skylagoon.com/

sky lagoon

It is the most recently opened thermal spa right outside central Reykjavík. The Sky Lagoon’s philosophy is tightly connected to the tradition of bathing in geothermal waters. It takes you through a 7-step ritual, which consists of:

  • relaxing in the warm lagoon water in an infinity pool,
  • cooling down in a cold plunge if you‘re brave enough,
  • warming up again in a stunning sauna with the largest single window in Iceland with a view over a stunning bay,
  • refreshing in a cold mist that perfectly balances the heat,
  • gently applying the signature Sky Body Scrub that leaves your skin soft and nourished,
  • entering a warm steam room which lets your skin absorb the scrub ingredients better
  • rinsing everything off under a shower and feeling absolutely rejuvenated.

So far it has been a huge success. The ritual idea is not the only original feature of this location. The whole place has been built in an extremely aesthetically pleasing way which perfectly ties together the raw Icelandic rocks with characteristic turf houses. You‘re more than welcome to enjoy a glass of champagne from the Lagoon Bar while simultaneously admiring a stunning sunset in an infinity pool with a view over the North Atlantic Ocean.

Sky Lagoon offers three entry options: Pure Lite Pass, Pure Pass, and Sky Pass, with the most popular one being the Pure Pass. It provides access to the shared showers and lets you go through the whole ritual. Whatever pass you choose, you‘ve got an unlimited amount of time you can spend at the Lagoon. Please note the place isn‘t meant for small children, as the tickets are sold from the age of 12. If you‘re feeling hungry after your time spent in the water, the Smakk Bar and Sky Cafe have got you covered!

KRAUMA

Deildartungu 3, 320 Reykholti í Borgarfirði

https://www.krauma.is/en

krauma

Krauma is easily accessible from Reykjavík as it only takes 60 minutes to get there from the capital by car. It is placed right next to Deildartunguhver, which happens to be a hot spring with the highest flow of all springs in Europe. The water you‘ll be bathing in is a mix of the hot spring and the cold waters from the nearby Okjökull glacier, the first glacier of Iceland lost to climate change.

The retreat consists of six warm pools and one cold. It also offers access to a sauna as well as to a relaxation room, where you can completely unwind by a beautiful fireplace surrounded by stunning Icelandic views. If you‘re feeling hungry, the on-site restaurant that focuses on high-quality ingredients will definitely satisfy your needs.

Krauma is a child-friendly place that doesn‘t have any restrictions on the age of entering guests. It‘s a great place to visit if you‘re staying, for example, near Húsafell, Borgarnes or even Snæfellsnes.

LAUGARVATN FONTANA

Hverabraut 1, 840 Laugarvatni

https://www.fontana.is/en

laugarvatn fontana

A place located in a very convenient area for those traveling around the Golden Circle. You will find it on your way from Þingvellir National Park to Geysir and Gulfoss or the opposite. It‘s a perfect way to wind down by taking care of your active body and soaking in the beautiful surroundings.

The Fontana is equipped with three pools varying in temperature, depth, and size. One of the hot tubs called Viska provides a stunning view over the lake thanks to being placed slightly higher up. The lake itself is a great attraction too as you can dip in its cold waters to boost your blood circulation and help the sore muscles to recover. You can enter it either from a pier or from a black sand beach.

But these are not the only highlights that Fontana offers. You‘re welcome to enjoy the healing powers of its steam and its Finnish-style saunas. The first one is definitely special as you can hear the bubbling water right beneath your feet, whereas the second one offers a stunning view over the lake.

There‘s one more thing that draws attention to this place – the geothermal bakery! Every day at 11:30 AM and 2:30 PM you‘re invited to take a walk and see with your very own eyes a loaf of delicious Icelandic rye bread dug out from the ground. It‘s baked in the hot black sand after 24 hours and it‘s been a tradition in Iceland for centuries. You‘ll get to try it with a smear of Icelandic butter and optional smoked trout.

SECRET LAGOON

Hvammsvegi, 845 Flúðir

https://secretlagoon.is/

secret lagoon

Secret Lagoon is also referred to as Gamla Laugin (The Old Pool) and it is the oldest swimming pool in Iceland. It was created in 1891 near Hverahólmi, a geothermal area in Flúðir. It is also a great pit stop place if you‘re out and about exploring the Golden Circle and other nearby attractions like Fríðheimar or Kerið.

It‘s a rather basic pool with natural geothermal water flowing directly from the nearby hot springs that provide 100% water supply to the lagoon. The Litli Geysir likes to show off and it erupts every couple of minutes. It‘s meant to be a simple swimming pool tightly connected to the old traditions with simplified modern luxuries.

Before or after bathing in the relaxing waters that stay warm all year round, you‘re free to take a stroll on the walking path around the pool with views over boiling hot springs. Secret Lagoon offers free entry for children up to 14 years old.

GEOSEA HÚSAVÍK

Vitaslóð 1, 640 Húsavík

https://www.geosea.is/

geosea húsavík

We‘re finally traveling up North, to the town of Húsavík that gained enormous fame after the release of the „Contest: The Story of Fire Saga“ movie. The story behind Geosea is rather unusual and interesting. The warm waters of Húsavík have been known for ages to its residents although the drilling in the mid-20th century revealed that its hot seawater is simply too rich in minerals to be suitable for heating houses.

At first, an old cheese barrel was set up so the locals could soak in the healing waters to ease their various skin conditions. Nowadays the waters from Geosea come from two drill holes – the one by the barrel and the other by Húsavík harbor.

The Geosea itself is a very picture-perfect spot, located just by the coast and it offers stunning views over the Skjálfandi Bay and the Arctic Circle to the north. If you‘re lucky enough, you might spot a whale in the distance or Northern Lights in the wintertime.

As at every swimming pool in Iceland, you have to shower before entering the rejuvenating waters. The lagoon provides high-quality cosmetics by the Icelandic company called Sóley Organics which focuses on the local, natural resources. You‘re also welcome to enjoy refreshments from the swim-in bar as well as from the special dining area where you can relax in your bathrobe.

It‘s a great place to stop by if you‘re exploring the Northern part of the country. It is conveniently located not far away from the nearby attractions like the town of Akureyri or the Diamond Circle.

MÝVATN NATURE BATHS (Jarðböðin við Mývatn)

Jarðbaðshólum, 660 Mývatni

https://myvatnnaturebaths.is/?lang=en

mývatn nature baths

Yet another memorable place located in the North right near the picturesque Mývatn lake. Its turquoise waters are sourced directly from the National Power Company´s borehole in Bjarnarflag. The temperature varies between 36 – 40°C and the water contains a high amount of minerals like alkaline or sulfur. Due to the chemical composition, it‘s not needed to use chloride to keep the harmful bacteria and germs away.

The sulfur content is higher in Nature Baths than in other retreats therefore it is advised to be mindful of wearing any kind of jewelry. On the other hand, it‘s known to be extremely helpful when it comes to respiratory problems like asthma or other issues like skin problems.

It‘s a great idea to take advantage of the two steam rooms built straight on top of a geothermal area with a cold outside shower in between. The temperature in the steam rooms is usually about 50°C with the humidity level at 100% and they‘re equipped with large windows so you can peacefully enjoy the stunning views of Northern Iceland.

VÖK BATHS

Urriðavatn, 701 Egilsstöðum

https://vokbaths.is/en/

vök baths

A gorgeous place located in the Eastern part of Iceland, just outside the town of Egilsstaðir. The special feature that makes these baths stand out is the fact that it is a set of floating geothermal pools placed right on Lake Urriðavatn.

Another fact worth mentioning is the way the VÖK Baths have been created. For centuries people living near Lake Urriðavatn were astonished how some parts of the lake didn‘t freeze during severe winters. Some said it‘s because of a monster living inside the lake but soon enough, some geothermal springs got discovered.

Nowadays the floating pools are shaped after the ice-free patches. Even though Iceland is known for its high geothermal activity, the Eastern part of the country doesn‘t offer many natural hot springs, so it certainly makes the Baths stand out. Their ethical philosophy is to protect the fragile nature of Iceland and to be close to it. They limit the usage of plastic to the bare minimum and the wood used to overline the pools was ethically sourced from trees from East Iceland.

You get to bathe in three pools, one large one, and two on-shore smaller ones. Additionally, a pool bar, a steam bath, and a cold tunnel equipped with a mist shower inside are free for your use. After the rejuvenating time spent in such a wonderful place, you can nourish your body from the inside dining at the Tea Bar & Vök Bistro, where the menu changes accordingly to what‘s available during each season.

A BONUS – BJÓRBÖÐIN

Ægisgötu 31, 621 Dalvík (dreifbýli)

https://www.bjorbodin.is/eng

BJÓRBÖÐIN

Bjórböðin is definitely unique and different and stands out from the rest of the places mentioned before. It‘s a beer SPA with 7 inside beer hot tubs in which you can bathe alone or with an accompanying person. The beer water you bathe in is actually undrinkable but you‘re welcome to have one or more local beer sourced from a draught next to each bathtub (if you‘re over 20!). The beer water contains hops, beer salt, beer oil, and yeast which soothe your skin, making it soft and calm.

The beer that is used is in a very early stage of fermenting so it has a very low pH which cleanses your skin as well as tightens and softens your hair. It‘s highly advised to skip your bathing suit this time to fully absorb all the goodness of the bath. You‘ll relax in a private room for 25 minutes and the staff will knock on your door to let you know the time is up. Then you‘ll be invited to spend another 25 minutes in a relaxation room to fully soak in the revel in the soothing feeling of both mind and body. It‘s best not to take a shower during the next 3 to 5 hours so let the ingredients penetrate your skin.

After your unwinding time, it‘s worth continuing your beer journey through dining at the restaurant that offers a variety of meals and beer-related foods. Other than that the whole place is also equipped with a large outside area where you can find two large hot tubs with regular water. They can fit up to 10 people built with cedrus wood that comes from Canada. You‘re also welcome to take advantage of the sauna located at the property.

To finish up your beer adventure, Bjórböðin offers a variety of beer beauty products. So if you haven‘t had enough, you can stock up and enjoy the further journey at home!

Agata Ryszkowska

September, 2021

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