If you’ve already soaked in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon or you’d rather escape the crowds when you visit, try these seven alternative hot springs… bliss!
Iceland is scattered with geothermal hot springs, thanks to its location atop two diverging tectonic plates. Rich in minerals such as calcium, potassium and magnesium, the ‘hot pots’ are known for their health benefits, which range from reducing stress to improving circulation. Whether you want a pool with changing facilities or a dip in a spring admired for its natural beauty, here are seven you won’t want to miss.
While the water in Myvatn Nature Baths is milky turquoise like the Blue Lagoon, its remote location near Akureyri in the north of Iceland – a six-hour drive from Reykjavik – means it sees far fewer visitors. It’s cheaper, too. As with Japan’s hot springs, it’s the done thing to shower in the nude before you get in. However, visitors are expected to soak in swimwear. The water here is a toasty 36 to 40°C and high in sulphur, which, while a bit pongy, benefits bathers who suffer from eczema or arthritis. The price includes the use of lockers and changing facilities.
How does whale watching while soaking in an infinity pool sound? GeoSea is set on a cliff in Husavik in the north of Iceland, which is known as the whale capital of the world. So look out for minke whales or white-beaked dolphins playing near the Arctic Circle while you bathe at its swim-up bar. Unlike most of Iceland’s hot springs which are filled with naturally heated spring water, GeoSea brims with sea water geothermally heated to 38 to 39°C. The salt is thought to ease cramps and stimulate circulation. The price includes a steam room, changing facilities, showers and Sóley Organics products.
Dating back to 1891, this hot spring was abandoned for 60 years before being rediscovered – hence its nickname, the Secret Lagoon. It’s close to Flúðir, in the south west of Iceland, and just a 90-minute drive from Reykjavik. While this means it can get busy, it’s quieter after dark and it still feels natural, with grassy banks and rocks covered in moss. It has the added advantage of a geyser, too, which erupts every few minutes. The price includes showers, changing facilities and lockers.
If Gamla Laugin is still too busy for you, then visit Hrunalaug on a farm nearby. If you’re lucky, you’ll have it all to yourself which is just as well because it’s tiny – there’s space for just a handful of bathers. Popular with locals, it has a back-to-nature feel to it: the changing hut is a primitive shack with a grass roof, while the pool’s walls are rocks embedded in a grassy bank. That is, of course, part of its charm. This one’s free, although donations are welcome.
If you thought Hrunalaug was small, then try soaking in Landbrotalaug, which has space for just two people. You will find Iceland’s most intimate hot pot on an abandoned farm on Snaefellsnes Peninsula in the north west of the isle, two hours’ drive north of Reykjavik. If you’re driving there yourself, ask a local for directions. Understated and charming, it’s just you, the mountains and perhaps the northern lights if you visit in winter. There are no changing facilities here, so once you’ve whipped off your undies you’ll just have to hope no one else turns up.
While you can access Laugavallalaug in the east of Iceland in a 4x4 followed by a 200m walk, you’ll appreciate it all the more after you’ve trekked to get there. If you drive in a two-wheel vehicle to Kárahnjúkar dam, you can then hike alongside Hafrahvammagljúfur canyon to Laugavallalaug. The hike takes around seven hours, which includes bathing time. Chances are you’ll have the place to yourself, so you will be able to appreciate the raw beauty of the mossy pool – and the naturally hot waterfall that plummets into it – alone.
Kerlingarfjöll hot spring wins big in the beauty stakes, as it’s surrounded by steaming vents and geysers that pop out from glaciers and lava fields. The spring is part of Hveravellir Nature Reserve – which means valley of hot springs – in central Iceland. While a path guides you towards the pool, there are no changing facilities, so this one is for outdoorsy types who prefer to be at one with nature. The pool fits up to 15 people and is usually 34°C at the edges and 37°C in the middle. The water here is unusually high in iron, which is ideal if you suffer from anaemia.
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