Iceland, a land of fire and ice, is renowned for its stunning landscapes and geothermal wonders. At the heart of its allure are the hot springs, nature’s own spas, offering relaxation amid breathtaking views.
This guide explores Iceland’s hot springs across its regions, providing insights into their unique characteristics, cultural significance, and practical tips for those seeking to immerse in these soothing thermal waters.
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West Iceland, with its dramatic landscapes ranging from the lava fields of Snæfellsnes Peninsula to the historic sites of Borgarfjörður, offers some of the most picturesque hot springs and geothermal baths in the country.
This region blends natural beauty with rich history, providing a deeply immersive experience.
- Location: Nestled within the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, surrounded by stunning natural landscapes.
- Characteristics: A natural pool filled with geothermal water, containing minerals believed to have health benefits.
- Facilities: Basic facilities including changing rooms and showers.
- Tips: The pool’s water is not chlorinated, offering a more natural bathing experience. Ideal for those looking for a quiet and rejuvenating escape.
- Krauma Geothermal Baths
- Location: Next to Deildartunguhver, Europe’s most powerful hot spring.
- Characteristics: Offers a blend of hot water from Deildartunguhver and cold glacier water from Ok, creating the perfect bathing temperature.
- Facilities: Modern amenities including a relaxation room with a fireplace, a restaurant, and a spa.
- Tips: Don’t miss the relaxation room for some quiet contemplation amidst the soothing ambiance of a crackling fire.
- Deildartunguhver Hot Spring
- Location: Known for being the highest-flow hot spring in Europe.
- Characteristics: Primarily a sightseeing spot rather than a bathing location, but its waters feed into several spas, including Krauma.
- Facilities: Informational signs and a pathway to view the spring safely.
- Tips: Perfect for a quick stop to witness the power of Iceland’s geothermal activity and learn about its uses in local energy production.
West Iceland’s hot springs and geothermal baths are set against some of the most extraordinary backdrops the island has to offer.
From the serene waters of Lýsuhólslaug to the luxurious Krauma Geothermal Baths, visitors can find both relaxation and adventure.
The region’s hot springs are not just about bathing; they’re about connecting with Iceland‘s natural and historical heritage, making it a must-visit for any traveler seeking to fully experience the diversity of Iceland’s geothermal wonders.
The Westfjords, Iceland’s northwest peninsula, is one of the country’s most remote and untouched regions.
Known for its dramatic fjords, towering cliffs, and sparse population, the Westfjords offer some of the most secluded and serene hot springs in Iceland.
Here, the hot springs are as much about the journey and the destination, with each located in settings that epitomize the rugged beauty of the Icelandic wilderness.
Drangsnes Hot Pots
- Location: On the coast of the small fishing village Drangsnes.
- Characteristics: Three small, roadside hot pots overlooking the sea, offering stunning views of the fjord.
- Facilities: Basic; there are changing facilities located across the street.
- Tips: Visit at sunset for an unforgettable experience as you soak with views of the setting sun over the ocean.
- Location: On the southern coast of the Westfjords, near Flókalundur.
- Characteristics: An unassuming, natural geothermal pool on the beach, with temperatures around 38°C (100°F).
- Facilities: None; this is a completely natural and undeveloped hot spring.
- Tips: Bring a towel and be prepared for a rustic experience. The lack of facilities is more than made up for by the breathtaking surroundings and the warm waters.
Reykjafjarðarlaug Hot Pool
- Location: In a remote valley surrounded by mountains, offering a truly secluded soak.
- Characteristics: A man-made pool fed by natural hot spring water, with an adjacent natural hot pot.
- Facilities: Includes a small changing facility.
- Tips: Explore the area to find the natural hot pot hidden nearby for a more intimate experience with nature.
The hot springs of the Westfjords are for those seeking solitude and a deep connection with Iceland’s untamed nature.
The journey to these remote locations takes you through some of the most spectacular landscapes the country has to offer. Soaking in these hot springs, you’ll find peace and tranquility, with only the sound of the ocean or the whisper of the wind across the fjords.
It’s an experience that encapsulates the essence of the Icelandic wilderness, offering both relaxation and a profound sense of place.
North Iceland is a region of diverse landscapes, featuring everything from the bustling town of Akureyri, known as the “Capital of the North,” to the tranquil beauty of the Mývatn area.
This region is famous for its dramatic waterfalls, vast lava fields, and remarkable geothermal activity, making it a prime location for some of Iceland’s most famous hot springs and geothermal baths.
- Hofsós Swimming Pool
- Location: In the small town of Hofsós, offering breathtaking views over the Skagafjörður fjord.
- Characteristics: An infinity pool that seems to merge with the ocean, providing a serene swimming experience.
- Facilities: Well-equipped with changing rooms, showers, and a sauna.
- Tips: Visit for the incredible views, especially during the long summer evenings when the midnight sun sets the fjord aglow.
- Mývatn Nature Baths
- Location: Near Lake Mývatn, amidst a landscape of lava fields and geothermal wonders.
- Characteristics: A natural lagoon with mineral-rich waters, known for their soothing effects on the skin.
- Facilities: Modern, including a steam bath, changing rooms, and a café.
- Tips: Spend time exploring the surrounding area, which is rich in geological formations and bird life.
- Geosea Geothermal Sea Baths
- Location: On the cliffs overlooking the ocean in Húsavík, famous for whale watching.
- Characteristics: Seawater pools that blend geothermally heated water with minerals from the sea, offering therapeutic benefits and stunning views of the Arctic Circle.
- Facilities: Includes a café, changing rooms, and relaxation areas.
- Tips: Perfect for relaxation after a day of whale watching; the northern lights are an added bonus in winter.
North Iceland’s geothermal baths and hot springs offer not just warmth and relaxation but also the chance to soak in some of the country’s most stunning landscapes.
From the infinity edge of Hofsós Swimming Pool to the unique blend of seawater and geothermal heat at Geosea, each location provides a unique experience that connects visitors with the natural beauty of Iceland.
These destinations are perfect for those looking to unwind in nature, enjoy the health benefits of geothermal waters, and explore the rich landscapes and wildlife of the North.
East Iceland, characterized by its rugged fjords, towering mountains, and small fishing villages, offers a more secluded experience compared to the country’s more visited regions.
This area’s geothermal activity is less prominent on the surface but still presents unique opportunities for those willing to explore its hidden gems.
- Vök Baths
- Location: Near Egilsstaðir, floating on the pristine waters of Lake Urriðavatn.
- Characteristics: Iceland’s first floating pools, with geothermally heated water that is certified drinkable, showcasing a commitment to preserving the natural purity of the environment.
- Facilities: State-of-the-art, including a café serving local delicacies, changing rooms, and hot and cold tunnels.
- Tips: Try the on-site tea ceremony, which uses the geothermally heated water and locally sourced herbs.
- Guðrúnarlaug Hot Spring
- Location: A historical hot spring nestled in the scenic fjords, named after the Saga heroine Guðrún Ósvífursdóttir.
- Characteristics: A reconstructed traditional Icelandic hot pool, offering a glimpse into the historical bathing culture of Iceland.
- Facilities: Basic, with a changing room nearby.
- Tips: Immerse yourself in the sagas by visiting this spring, and consider exploring the nearby Saga Trail for a deeper dive into Icelandic history.
East Iceland’s hot springs, though fewer in number, offer unique experiences that blend the region’s rich history with its tranquil natural beauty.
Vök Baths provide a modern, eco-conscious approach to geothermal soaking, while Guðrúnarlaug offers a connection to Iceland’s past.
These spots are ideal for those seeking to escape the crowds and find peace in the country’s serene landscapes. Visiting these hot springs not only relaxes the body but also enriches the mind with the stories and heritage of East Iceland.
Iceland’s Highlands offer some of the most otherworldly landscapes on the island, characterized by vast deserts of black sand, towering volcanoes, and glittering glaciers.
This remote and rugged terrain is also home to unique geothermal areas where hot springs emerge as oases in the stark, volcanic wilderness. Access to these areas is limited to the summer months, requiring a 4×4 vehicle for the rough F-roads.
- Location: Nestled in the heart of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, known for its rhyolite mountains and extensive hiking trails.
- Characteristics: A natural hot spring set against a backdrop of colorful mountains, providing a surreal bathing experience.
- Facilities: Basic, with a nearby campsite offering changing facilities and toilets.
- Tips: Bring waterproof bags for your belongings and be prepared for changing weather conditions. The area is a hiker’s paradise, so allow time to explore the surrounding trails.
- Location: In the central highlands, part of a volcanic mountain range known for its geothermal activity and stunning hiking routes.
- Characteristics: Hot springs and mud pots are scattered throughout the area, with a particularly enjoyable hot river perfect for bathing after a day of hiking.
- Facilities: The area is equipped with a mountain resort offering accommodation, dining, and basic amenities for hikers and bathers.
- Tips: The geothermal area is sensitive; stick to marked paths and respect the fragile ecosystem. The contrast between the hot springs and the surrounding snowfields makes for a unique experience.
- Location: Between the glaciers Langjökull and Hofsjökull, Hveravellir is a geothermal oasis in the middle of a desert.
- Characteristics: Offers both a natural hot pool and a geothermal area with colorful hot springs and fumaroles.
- Facilities: Includes a service center with basic amenities, a small café, and accommodation options.
- Tips: Nighttime soaks offer a chance to experience the midnight sun in summer or the northern lights in early fall. The area also features hiking trails that showcase the stark beauty of the Icelandic Highlands.
The hot springs of the Highlands are for the true adventurer, offering a blend of natural beauty, geothermal activity, and isolation that is hard to find anywhere else.
These areas provide not only a place to relax but also a deep connection with Iceland’s wild and untamed nature.
Accessing these remote springs requires effort and preparation, but the reward is an unforgettable experience that captures the essence of exploring Iceland’s less-traveled paths.
Off the Beaten Path Hot Springs
For those adventurers seeking solitude and the road less traveled, Iceland offers numerous hidden gems away from the more popular geothermal attractions.
These off-the-beaten-path hot springs allow for a more intimate and serene experience with nature, often requiring a bit of extra effort or guidance to find but rewarding the intrepid traveler with unique stories and memories.
Fjallabak Nature Reserve
- Location: A remote hot spring in the southern part of the Highlands, accessible by a challenging hike.
- Characteristics: A sizable natural pool with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and landscape.
- Facilities: None; this is a completely natural setting without any amenities.
- Tips: Be well-prepared for a long hike in varied terrain and weather conditions. GPS or a guide is recommended as the trail can be difficult to follow.
Westfjords Remote Springs
- Location: On the edge of the Arctic Ocean in the remote Strandir coast of the Westfjords.
- Characteristics: A geothermal pool where you can soak while looking out over the ocean, often with no one else in sight.
- Facilities: Basic facilities including changing rooms.
- Tips: The drive to Krossneslaug is as spectacular as it is remote, with stunning fjord views. Check road conditions and fuel up before heading out.
- Laugafell Hot Springs
- Location: In the interior of the Northern Highlands, accessible via 4×4 during the summer months.
- Characteristics: A small oasis in the middle of the desert, with a natural pool and a small hut nearby.
- Facilities: A mountain hut provides basic shelter and amenities for those trekking through the area.
- Tips: The area around Laugafell is rich in hiking trails. The hot spring is a perfect spot for relaxing after a day of exploring.
These off-the-beaten-path hot springs are for those who truly wish to connect with Iceland’s wilderness away from the crowds.
Each location offers a unique experience, from the seaside soaks at Krossneslaug to the solitude of Strútslaug in the Highlands.
Visiting these spots requires more planning and self-sufficiency, but the reward is a deeper sense of discovery and immersion in Iceland’s natural beauty.
Accommodations Near Iceland’s Hot Springs
Exploring Iceland’s hot springs can be even more enjoyable when you have a comfortable place to stay nearby.
This section highlights accommodations close to or adjacent to some of the most popular hot springs across Iceland, offering a range of options from luxurious resorts to cozy guesthouses and campsites, ensuring you can relax and unwind after a day of adventure.
Near the Blue Lagoon – Grindavík
- The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland
- Description: A luxury resort offering an exclusive, private section of the Blue Lagoon, with spa services and stunning architecture blending into the volcanic landscape.
- Facilities: Spa, on-site restaurant, private lagoon access.
- Why Stay Here: Perfect for those seeking a high-end experience with direct access to one of Iceland’s most famous hot springs.
Near Mývatn Nature Baths – Mývatn Area
- Sel-Hotel Mývatn
- Description: Situated within a short drive from the Mývatn Nature Baths, this hotel offers comfortable accommodations with views of the surrounding landscapes.
- Facilities: Restaurant, bar, access to nearby hiking and bird-watching sites.
- Why Stay Here: Ideal for exploring the Mývatn area, with easy access to the Nature Baths for a relaxing soak in the geothermal waters.
Near Secret Lagoon – Flúðir
- Icelandair Hotel Flúðir
- Description: A comfortable hotel in the small village of Flúðir, known for its greenhouses and geothermal activity, just a short walk from the Secret Lagoon.
- Facilities: Garden, restaurant, outdoor hot tub.
- Why Stay Here: Offers a peaceful retreat in a scenic location, with the oldest swimming pool in Iceland, the Secret Lagoon, just around the corner.
Near Landmannalaugar – Highlands
- Landmannalaugar Mountain Hut
- Description: Operated by the Icelandic Touring Association, offering basic but cozy accommodation in one of Iceland’s most stunning landscapes.
- Facilities: Shared kitchen, dining area, and bathroom facilities. Pre-booking is essential.
- Why Stay Here: For the adventurous traveler, this hut provides an authentic experience in the heart of the Highlands, steps away from the famous Landmannalaugar hot springs.
Near Vök Baths – Egilsstaðir
- Hotel Herad
- Description: A modern hotel in Egilsstaðir, providing a comfortable base for exploring the Eastfjords, including the nearby Vök Baths.
- Facilities: Restaurant, bar, conference facilities.
- Why Stay Here: A convenient location for those traveling around East Iceland, with stylish rooms and excellent dining options.
Near Hveravellir – Highlands
- Hveravellir Mountain Hut
- Description: Located in the remote central highlands, this hut offers a unique stay near one of Iceland’s most beautiful geothermal areas.
- Facilities: Basic amenities, including a shared kitchen and dining area. Access is season-dependent and requires a 4×4 vehicle.
- Why Stay Here: Perfect for those looking to escape the beaten path and experience the raw beauty of Iceland’s highlands, with easy access to the Hveravellir hot springs.
Practical Information for Visiting Hot Springs
Visiting Iceland’s hot springs can be an unforgettable experience, but it requires some preparation to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit.
This section covers essential practical information, including the best times to visit, what to pack, and guidelines for sustainable and respectful visiting.
Best Times to Visit
- Summer (June to August): The most popular time, offering long daylight hours and the best weather. Remote hot springs in the Highlands are accessible during this period.
- Winter (November to March): Ideal for those wanting to experience the northern lights while soaking in a hot spring. However, access to some springs may be limited due to snow and ice.
Entry Fees and Reservations
- Some hot springs, especially those with developed facilities, charge an entry fee. It’s advisable to check the current fees and whether advance booking is required.
- Remote and natural hot springs are generally free to access, but always respect private land and local regulations.
What to Pack
- Swimwear and Towels: Essential for any hot spring visit.
- Waterproof Bag: Useful for keeping your belongings dry, especially at natural springs without lockers.
- Hiking Boots or Sturdy Shoes: For those springs that require a hike to access.
- Warm Clothing: Weather in Iceland can change rapidly, even in summer.
- Snacks and Water: Particularly important for remote springs where there are no facilities.
- Trash Bag: Leave no trace. Always pack out what you bring in.
Guidelines for Sustainable and Respectful Visiting
- Respect the Environment: Stick to marked paths and trails to minimize impact on the fragile ecosystem.
- Hygiene: Shower before entering communal pools, a common requirement in Iceland to maintain water quality.
- Noise: Keep noise to a minimum to respect other visitors and the natural surroundings.
- Privacy: Some hot springs may be on or near private property. Respect any posted signs and seek permission when necessary.
- Preservation: Do not use soap or shampoo in natural hot springs. Chemicals can harm the delicate balance of these ecosystems.
Iceland’s hot springs offer a unique window into the country’s geothermal heart, providing warmth, relaxation, and a deep connection to the natural world.
Whether you’re soaking in a remote highland spring or a luxurious geothermal spa, these tips and guidelines can help you have a safe, enjoyable, and respectful visit.
By preparing properly and approaching these natural wonders with mindfulness, you can fully embrace the magic of Iceland’s thermal waters.