Beyond the Blue Lagoon: Iceland’s Best Hot Springs

With an endless supply of hot water bubbling up from underneath Iceland’s volcanic landscapes, scenic swimming holes are everywhere. Here are five of the best.

Hot Springs Etiquette

Before you jump in, if there are showers, it is expected that you nude up and wash thoroughly (separate men’s and women’s facilities are provided). If you find yourself at any of the local swimming pools, you’ll be expected to do the same. So, don’t be shy – but do put your swimsuit back on before you leave the change room.

With proper protocol out of the way, it’s time to dip your toes into one of Iceland’s most essential experiences.

The Blue Lagoon

This is Iceland’s most famous hot spring: sparkling pools of turquoise water carved into the blackened debris of an ancient lava field on the Reykjanes Peninsula. Expect lots of people and astronomical entrance fees, but although it’s a well-known tourist trap, it’s an unforgettable experience.

Blue Lagoon. Photo credit: iStock

Mývatn Nature Baths

Come here for a more charming and serene bathing experience with a marginally lower price tag than the Blue Lagoon. Overlooking beautiful Lake Mývatn (65mi or 105km east of Akureyri) and surrounded by landscapes lifted straight from a fantasy novel, it’s a favorite with tourists and locals alike.

Mývatn Nature Baths. Photo credit: iStock

Reykjadalur

The river running through the valley Reykjadalur is one of Iceland’s best natural springs. Get there via a 1.75mi (3km) hike beginning behind the town of Hveragerði. Boardwalks line the river on either side, and there are small partitions to get changed behind.

Reykjadalur hot river. Photo credit: iStock

Hörghlíðarlaug

To really escape the crowds, head to the Westfjords and seek out this small, remote spring perched on the eastern edge of Mjóifjörður. Take road 633 along Mjóifjörður and look out for the green hut next to the rectangular pool, but remember to ask permission from the owners living on the nearby farm.

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Landbrotalaug

Another off-beat hotpot, this tiny pool on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula is so deep that you’ll sink up to your neck, but only has enough room for two to three people. Head 1.75 hours north from Reykjavik to Borganes, then turn onto road 54. After the farm signed Skjálg, take the first left, an unassuming dirt track that ends at the holy grail of secluded springs.

Lead image was taken by Emily Kydd

Want to know more about Iceland? Check out our podcast. We chat about where to capture the best photos in Iceland, how to speak like a Viking (almost), and how a social policy got the country to the World Cup.

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