Iceland has secured a coveted position in the list of the happiest places to live in the world. But there’s more than just one factor that contributes to this prestigious ranking. From its low population and high level of income, to its people’s connection with the natural world, locals in the Land of Fire and Ice are visibly satisfied and joy-filled.
So, just what is it that makes this country such a healthy and happy place to call home? Is it something to do with the work/life balance, or the healthy diet? All of these factors do play a part, but one of the main reasons, in our opinion, is the emphasis placed on spending time in nature. And we are talking about some pretty superlative nature here!
Maybe you don’t live in Iceland yourself, but if you’re planning a trip sometime soon, you too can experience this cheerlife lifestyle. In this article, we are going to take a look at some of Iceland’s top wellness activities and where to enjoy them when you’re here. We’ll be covering the following::
- Hot springs and spas
- Yoga and wellness retreats
- Horse riding
- Camping in Iceland
- Seeing Iceland’s wildlife
Hot springs in Iceland
Iceland is blessed with a huge wealth of natural geothermally heated hot springs. From thermal swimming pools to swanky spas and rustic outdoor pools, there is an array of bathing options available here to please any preference.
In fact, for locals, visiting hot springs isn’t just another thing to do - it’s a way of life. It is something that friends and family of all ages will do to socialize and share valuable time with each other on the weekends. As well as being a healing and rejuvenating experience, it allows people to fully relax. Lounging in balmy waters gives you the chance to disconnect from your everyday life and really slow things down.
We truly believe that a big part of the Icelandic people’s happiness levels stems from their regular hot spring visits. Not only do these springs help heal physical pains, but soaking in mineral rich waters also eases mental worries. There’s no question that good things happen when the body is allowed to switch gears. As tension melts away, we slowly transition out of our habitual fight or flight mode and into stillness.
So, where are the best places in Iceland to soak away your worries? Here come some of our favorites.
The Blue Lagoon
This is the most famous hot spring in Iceland;It has a reserved spot on any list of the best things to do in Iceland and therefore, it gets a considerable amount of attention and visits. Located partway between Reykjavík and Keflavik International Airport, its popularity also lies in the fact that it is extremely convenient to reach.
Even though it is a large pool, you’ll need to book well in advance to secure your spot, especially if you are visiting Iceland in summer.
The balmy waters of the Blue Lagoon hover at about 37 degrees Celsius, and are infused with silica. Their mineral content turns them a stunning shade of turquoise, offset by the dark volcanic rocks that surround the pools. This is a picture moment if you ever saw one.
For the ultimate start to your Iceland wellness itinerary, schedule a swim here right after touchdown.
The Secret Lagoon
The not-so-secret Secret Lagoon is Iceland’s oldest outdoor swimming pool. Dating back to 1891, it was abandoned for years but renovated in 2014. You’ll find it not too far from Iceland’s Golden Circle, near the little town of Fludir. Although the set up is pretty basic, there are changing rooms and its surroundings aren’t lacking in beauty.
Myvatn Nature Baths
Myvatn Nature Baths are located in the less visited northern part of Iceland. The southern portion of the country is much busier, especially in summer, so the north makes for a more relaxing and crowd-free experience. The baths here are located in one portion of the expansive Myvatn Lake.
After soaking in the waters, you could choose to stick around and camp on the water’s edge. There is a great campsite where you can easily park up your rental car or pitch a tent. An abundance of natural wonders fill the area with opportunities to explore, so relax your pace and stay a while.
The Geosea Sea Baths
Also located in North Iceland, but a little more swish and modern are the Geosea Sea Baths. Perched on the edge of the ocean in the town of Husavik, this thermal hot spring spa is a real delight. Steamy waters, majestic views and excellent facilities, what more could you ask for?
Yoga and wellness retreats
Joining a yoga retreat in Iceland is a wonderful way to unwind and reconnect. There are many retreat centers up and down the country offering a varied program itinerary of spiritual and wellness options. Along with daily classes, they will almost always have geothermal pools and saunas for some much needed R&R following lessons.
The great thing about these retreat centers is that they are located amidst sublime scenery. You can also take part in the many nature tours in Iceland these centers offer. There, visitors are able to spend time in the beauty of Iceland’s natural landscapes while getting the chance to escape from the humdrum of their everyday lives. Connecting with nature is an integral part of the retreat experience
Hiking in Iceland
Hiking is an ever-popular Nordic wellness activity, loved all across the region and it is no different in Iceland. Icelandic children are brought up in a culture of walking and hiking, and it’s easy to notice the difference it makes. Getting outside and exercising in nature is an important part of life here. And parents instill this in their children from an early age.
As such, Icelandic people have a close connection to the landscapes of their home country. They respect and appreciate the natural world along with its power and beauty. If you go hiking in Iceland's stunning landscapes and national parks, you will very quickly understand why
Horse riding in Iceland
Icelandic horse riding is another great way to get out into nature and connect with the landscape. Not to mention meeting and connecting with these gentle creatures is a therapy in and of itself. Icelandic horses are characterful creatures, both strong and gentle and great with nervous passengers.
Joining an organized horse riding tour is a great family activity, as it's a good plan for little legs that might get tired quickly on a hike. Horse riding tours are available all around the country, so keep a lookout for them if it suits your group
Camping in Iceland
Camping has long been popular amongst Icelandic people and a regular summer activity. Weekends are often spent loading the back of the car with camping gear and heading out into the countryside. This time spent outdoors is proven to be greatly beneficial for mental health and wellbeing.
Humans weren’t built for sitting at desks indoors and looking at screens, after all. For our physical and mental health, we need to get out and about and move our bodies, and camping allows us to do just this. Cooking, eating and sleeping in nature has to be one of Iceland’s top wellness activities.
As a visitor you can easily join in. Just take a leaf out of the Iceland wellness book by hiring a car and going for a road trip. With volcanoes, waterfalls, glaciers and volcanic beaches, there’s just no end of places to explore or natural splendor to adore.
Seeing Iceland’s wildlife
Connecting with wildlife and the wonder of the natural world is hugely advantageous to your overall well being. It helps us to see our place as part of a connected world, and to appreciate the miracle of planet earth and its myriad forms of life. In addition to wondrous landscapes, Iceland has some pretty amazing wildlife.
You won’t find so many land animals here, but turn your eyes to the ocean and you’ll be floored. The waters around Iceland welcome all sorts of marine life, including whales. Take a whale watching boat tour and you’re likely to see several types of whale species. This is topped with jumping dolphins and puffins flitting low to catch fish.
Planning wellness activities in Iceland
All in all, Iceland is a true wellness wonderland. Engaging in these everyday activities is a good opportunity to be active, healthier and less stressed. Also, for a real stress-free vacation, don't underestimate the importance of a flexible and reliable way to move around the country. Our team has been offering car rentals in Iceland for more than 10 years now, and we are pretty good at what we do: offer the best price, for the best service. Don't believe it? Check our reviews, and start preparing your Icelandic restoration trip today!