A trip to Iceland is not just about icy adventures, it’s also about relaxing in serene and breathtaking landscapes. You only need to attend one Iceland spa to know exactly what we’re talking about.
In this article, we’ll take a dive into all the best spas in Iceland, both natural and commercial spas. This way, you know exactly where to go to get your pampering on the next trip.
The Difference Between a Hot Spring & a Geothermal Pool
Iceland is filled with hot springs across the island (more than 45 to be precise). Due to all the volcanic activity on the island, the underground water supply gets heated up easily. Wherever this hot water surfaces (from rock pools to rivers), it is called a natural hot spring.
Now, this might sound idyllic (and, let’s be honest, in many ways it is), but some of these hot springs can reach temperatures of 75 - 100 degrees Celsius. So, unless you have girlfriend-a-la-king on the menu, it’s best to steer clear of those hot springs.
Cue geothermal pools! Where the natural hot springs are too hot, man-made and commercial pools are built but are countered with a colder water source (such as from the ocean, a river, etc.). This way, the pool is maintained at a comfortable 36 – 40 degrees Celsius for all to enjoy.
The Difference Between Natural & Thermal Spas in Iceland
Technically, most Iceland spas you visit would’ve originated from a natural spa. Natural hot springs have been proven to have incredible healing properties, especially when it comes to the skin. That's usually due to the water being so mineral-rich.
And these mineral-rich elements can even be found in the mud of these natural hot springs. To such an extent that you will find plenty of treatments and products on your Iceland spa vacation. Most of them use these as some of their main ingredients.
So, anytime you take a dip in a hot spring, you’ve essentially visited a natural Iceland spa in its original form.
The thermal spas in Iceland are what you will find at many of the geothermal pools. Firstly, these pools will have more health benefits than your public pool at home. The same healing hot spring waters flow into the geothermal pools, making these waters mineral rich.
And secondly, these healing characteristics have inspired many spa facilities at the geothermal pools. They, as mentioned earlier, actually use some of the natural healing ingredients in their treatments and products.
Many of the natural hot springs are still completely free to use, except where a donation is appreciated. Whilst most geothermal pools and thermal spas in Iceland will ask an entrance fee. But whichever Iceland spa option you choose, you are guaranteed to have an incredibly unique and relaxing time.
The Best Natural Spas in Iceland
If you prefer visiting one of the hot springs in their natural and original form, here are a few options to consider:
Reykjadalur Thermal River
As it’s conveniently located just 30 minutes outside of the capital city of Reykjavík, this is a good option as a day outing. The hike to Reykjadalur takes about an hour, but the river is definitely worth the effort.
With a wooden boardwalk built alongside it as a walkway, one can walk up and down the walkway to take a dip in the running stream or rock pools along the way.
As an insider tip: the river gets hotter the more upstream you go. So, you kinda get to pick and choose your preferred temperature, even in this natural setting.
It is also essential to take note of the signs. Remember the water that can turn your girlfriend into dinner? Well, Reykjadalur has plenty of those boiling hot pools all around.
You definitely don’t want to end up in one of them just because you couldn’t be bothered to read. As this natural hot spring is affected by the changing seasons, we highly recommend planning your dip when visiting in the summer or early fall.
Okay, so technically this is more of a foot spa. But you cannot choose a better setting for this hot spring for your feet than this spot. It is right on the Seltjarnarnes coastline, overlooking Mount Esja and even the Snæfellsjökull glacier. The best part? It’s within walking distance of Reykjavík (about 45 minutes).
If you’ve ever felt like the most relaxing thing you can do for yourself is to “get away from it all” Hellulaug is the Iceland spa for you. This natural hot spring is only 60 cm in depth! That means that you can comfortably sit on your booty in the healing waters and stare out over the Icelandic coast.
The fact that it’s not a massive hot spring and does not come with all the facilities and amenities of most geothermal pools, such as bathrooms and changing facilities, means that you don’t need to worry about overcrowding. A tranquil soak is pretty much guaranteed.
The Best Geothermal Spas in Iceland
Whether a popular geothermal pool with healing properties or a completely separate spa facility, these are a few Iceland spa options not to be missed during your next trip to the island:
The Blue Lagoon
This is probably one of the most famous Iceland spas or even the world, as it has graced our screens in many movies such as Star Trek and Hostel. The Blue Lagoon in Iceland is not just known for its milky blue mineral-rich water, but also for its famous mud masks. The mud found in the lagoon is incredibly silica-rich. According to the research and development team on site, it deep-cleanses and strengthens the skin.
If you want to put a little extra spa in your Iceland spa experience than just relaxing in the hot healing waters with a mud mask on, then the Retreat spa at this geothermal spa/pool should hit the spot.
Here you can find various treatments and products or day packages that will give you exclusive entry. Treatments include things such as massage and float therapy. The products include things such as algae face oil and the now-patented silica mud mask to take home with you.
Since Blue Lagoon is conveniently located about half an hour away from Keflavik Airport, many opt to visit upon arrival and on their way to Reykjavík. Another great option is to visit the spa shortly before departing the island.
The Secret Lagoon aka Gamla Laugin
The Secret Lagoon is Iceland’s oldest man-made geothermal pool. That’s why one can easily mistake it for a natural hot spring setting, due to its rocky ridges and organic feel.
Although this is technically classified as a geothermal pool, its water source is 100% hot water straight from Litli Geysir in the geothermal area surrounding the pool.
The water here is not only mineral-rich, but contains increased amounts of sulfur, which has anti-inflammatory properties. But a word to the wise; whilst sulfur is great for the skin, it’s terrible for hair. So, if you don’t want to end up with dried-out hair at the end of your relaxing Iceland spa day, we recommend you keep long hair tied and your head above the water.
This spa favorite actually has an interesting history. It got its name “Secret Lagoon” since it was weirdly forgotten from 1974 and only “rediscovered” in 2005.
Skovarboo Geothermal Spa aka The Forest Lagoon
This is one of the newest geothermal spa addictions to the island and although it has a very natural aesthetic it’s the definition of luxury. The spa is situated close to what is known as the capital of the North, Akureyri, and is one of the few geothermal pools in Iceland surrounded by woods.
The Skovarboo Geothermal spa does not only offer visitors a dip in hot, healing waters and picturesque surroundings! It also has a cold plunge pool and a sauna.
This is yet another one of the thermal spas in Iceland that is well-known for its spectacular views. Sky Lagoon is just a short distance from downtown Reykjavík. The spa offers visitors breathtaking views over the North Atlantic Ocean. The entire idea around Sky Lagoon is that it merges the modern Icelandic spa experience with Icelandic tradition. The reason why their “Ritual” is definitely a highlight.
Don't start running for the hills. We know it may sound eerily like it could mean your demise, but this is not a horror movie. It’s actually a 7-step process of complete relaxation and rejuvenation.
You are taken through an entire regime of soaking in the healing waters of the lagoon. Then, it's time for cold therapy in a glacier-fresh pool, taking a cleansing sauna, and much, much more (or 4 more to be exact). This is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime Iceland spa experience.
Full Steam Ahead to Maximum Relaxation
If visiting an Iceland spa is on your radar, our list of some of the best spas in Iceland will definitely point you in the right itinerary direction. All that’s left to do is for you to show up, and rent a car in Reykjavík for your drive to the spa. There you can bathe in the healing waters whilst soaking up the breathtaking Iceland landscape.