Traveling to Iceland and not enjoying its hot springs should be considered a sin. So, today we bring you one of the most charming and historical options in southern Iceland.
One of Iceland’s most popular attractions is its natural hot springs, fed by geothermally heated water. Because the soothing hot water is so easily accessible, swimming and relaxing in hot pools is extremely popular in Iceland. With a country that is rarely warmer than 15°C, Icelanders have always appreciated having a naturally heated pool nearby. In recent decades, as technology has improved and tourism has increased hugely, more locals are acquiring hot tubs in their gardens and more man-made pools have opened. Luxurious geothermal spas have opened up throughout the country to provide visitors with an enriching Icelandic experience. One great example of these spas is the Secret Lagoon.
The Secret Lagoon is the oldest swimming pool in Iceland. First built in 1891, the Secret Lagoon is a man-made pool. It is fed by natural hot springs in the Hverahólmi geothermal area, and this spa’s focus has been on maintaining a natural feel. The pool itself is maintained at a temperature of 38-40°C and is surrounded by a moss-covered lava field.
Enjoy the steam rising off the water and the wonderful surrounding views. If you come to Iceland in the winter, when the pool is open until 8 pm, there is even a chance to see the northern lights while you’re at the Lagoon. A great thing about this area, and all of Iceland in general, is that the air is so clean and there is such little light pollution that you can always see for miles when the sky is clear.
There is a path by the pool that allows you to explore the surrounding area, as well as see a nearby small geyser that erupts around every 5 minutes. Please stick to the path and don’t walk on the moss; it’s very delicate and takes decades to grow back once it has been stepped on.
If you become peckish when you arrive or after you’ve relaxed in the pool, the Lagoon serves snacks, sandwiches, and drinks to indulge in before moving on.
Despite its name, the Secret Lagoon is easily accessible. In fact, it’s located on the most popular tourist route in Iceland: the Golden Circle. This is a route that begins in Reykjavík and passes through some very impressive features, of which there are three main stops: Þingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss waterfall. The Secret Lagoon is located about an hour and a half away from Reykjavík, or 105km (65 miles) away, near to the village of Flúðir.
That distance is, however, if you go straight there. If you take the Golden Circle route clockwise, aiming first for Þingvellir, the Secret Lagoon will be on the way home. And since it’s open until 10 pm in the summer, this would be a great place to stop and relax before heading home to bed, to cap off a day exploring some of Iceland’s beauty.
The admission prices for the Secret Lagoon are as follows: 3,000 ISK ( 21 USD) for adults, 2,200 ISK (15 USD) for seniors over 67 and those with disabilities, and free for children 14 years old or younger (ID is required to prove your age if you intend to take advantage of the lower fares). Booking in advance is strongly recommended, especially in the summer when the pool becomes very busy. Save yourself the disappointment of not being able to enter and book your spot on their website before arriving.
Most of you who are planning a trip to Iceland will have already heard of the Blue Lagoon; it’s one of Iceland’s most famous attractions. It’s bigger and offers more facilities than the Secret Lagoon, such as a sauna, steam room, mud masks, and restaurants, among other amenities. Because it’s so popular, the Blue Lagoon is also busier and more expensive than the Secret Lagoon, but it does have that mystical looking blue water. It’s also conveniently located near to Keflavík International Airport, the airport you will fly in and out of.
Mývatn Nature Baths is found in the north of Iceland, so if you’re completing a ring road trip then this place is definitely worth a visit. It also contains the milky blue water that the Blue Lagoon is renowned for, and has two natural steam baths, built directly on top of a geothermal area. The water itself is supplied by the nearby geothermal power station, just as the water for the Blue Lagoon is supplied by its local power station.
On a side note, Mývatn is also known as the ‘northern lights capital of Iceland’. Something to keep in mind if you’re deciding where to spend your nights on a ring road trip.
The capital city is home to seven public swimming pools, all naturally heated and all very reasonably priced. If you’re not heading out of the city on your Iceland trip but still want to have a geothermal experience, head to one of the public pools. They’re a great way to warm up and a great environment in which to chat with friends. Some have cold pools, steam rooms, and saunas too. A personal favorite is Sundhöllin.
There are many natural hot springs in Iceland that are free to use. They are scattered around in the less populated areas of the country, and many are so small they can only fit three or four people. Keep in mind that some of them are not cleaned so often, and because they are not regulated the temperature can fluctuate. Some may be too cold or too hot for your liking, so always test them with your hand before jumping in.
A great rule when traveling around Iceland is to always have a towel and swimming costume with you because there is always a hot spring nearby. Some hot springs are located in places you cannot drive to but must hike to reach, so you can really earn your time in the relaxing water.
Samuel Hogarth, Reykjavik Cars.