There’s no shortage of competition when it comes to picking the best hot springs in Iceland. This small Nordic country has around just 272,000 residents and over 45 hot springs with more than 200 pools, including one that formed in the wake of the Holuhraun volcano eruption as recently as 2014.
After narrowing down the field, each spring on this list has that special something to make it stand out amongst a crowded field. So pack a bag, hop on a plane. These top Icelandic thermal pools are waiting.
It may not be a hidden gem, Blue Lagoon is a popular choice for the crystal blue water (98-104℉/37-40℃) and an other-worldly feel. The massive lagoon with large, cliff-like rock formations that create a maze through the water, creates spaces of seclusion for added privacy.
The full spa offers unique treatments like in-water massage and float therapy, during which a body worker strategically moves you as you relax on the surface of the pool, assisted by flotation devices. There are also several areas designed for relaxation out of the water: a sauna, a steam cave, fire pits, cave-like spaces with the sound of falling water, and hanging “nest” chairs.
To extend your time, rent one of the sleek, modern rooms that overlook the untouched nature of Iceland. Multiple restaurants on the property satisfy even the most discerning palate. One of the esteemed kitchens was listed as a recommended experience by Michelin.
The pools of the Forest Lagoon sit in the treetops of the Vaðlaskógur forest. In fact, if you didn’t know it was there, you might drive right by it, mistaking the waterfall and the living roof for a meadow. It’s easy to see why it has been featured in trusted travel resources like Travel & Leisure, CNN Travel, and Condé Nast Traveler.
Compared to the previous listing, things here are fairly simple; there’s a bistro, two infinity pools (102-107℉/39-42℃) and swim-up bars, a cold tub, and a sauna. Along with the bathers, those enjoying the indoor fireplaces with floor-to-ceiling glass windows can take full advantage of the spectacular surroundings, including views of the nearby fjord.
There are no hotels here, but Akureyri´s city center is a 25-minute walk or a short drive away. Luckily, the lagoon is open until 11pm, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the starry night sky before heading back to rest.
Secret Lagoon (Gamla Laugin)
The Secret Lagoon, or Gamla Lagugin to the locals, is one of the oldest swimming pools in the country. This massive pool is supplied by a nearby geyser that often spurts from the ground to the delight of the guests.
The water is comfortably hot at 100-104℉ (38-40℃), and the ground around the pool can often be seen steaming from the multiple geothermal springs that are sizzling hot at the source. It’s a popular place amongst the locals, though being off the tourist track, foreign visitors are less common.
After falling into disrepair for many years, an updated facility was unveiled at the reopening of the pool in 2014. There’s now a bistro with snacks and drinks but no meals, so if you’re looking to feast, you’re better off heading into Flúðir.
You’ll need a 4×4 vehicle to get to Laugavallalaug, but it’s worth the added effort if you have good weather. Make your way to this remote hot spring waterfall in Eastern Iceland with geothermal pools for a view of what looks like the original Gateway computer background with that perfectly treeless, grassy green hill against a bright blue sky.
Stick to the pool with the falls for the warmest water (104℉/40℃). The two without the falls mix with more of the cold river water they’re situated next to. You should always check the temperature before jumping in, as it’s been known to be too hot for comfort on occasion.
It’s rustic, but there is a toilet and changing hut nearby. You may want to camp for a night or two to fully explore the area. Just half a mile from the pools is Hafrahvammagljufur and Studlagil Canyons, more magical landscapes of a fairytale of a country.
One big selling point of the Sky Lagoon is the ease of access; it’s just a few minutes outside of the capital city of Reykjavik on the Atlantic coast. While it only just opened in April 2021, it’s already made an impression with its location “where the sea meets the sky”.
The pool itself is toasty at 100-104℉ (38-40℃) and has a 230-foot ocean-view infinity edge opposite craggy rock borders on the other sides. Also included are a cold pool, a steam room, and showers. The sauna leaves quite an impression with one wall being made entirely of glass to capture the view.
Start with the recommended seven-step ritual for complete relaxation and revitalization. Then hit up the bar and restaurant for flavors and rustic dishes from the region.
Hvammsvik Nature Resort and Hot Springs
Hvammsvik Nature Resort and Hot Springs has been called “laid back” by many bathers referring to the lack of crowds. This first-class, 1200-acre resort has eight pools of varying temperatures (up to 107℉/42℃) and sits next to the ocean that serves as a cold plunge for circuits (50℉/10℃).
Relax with a drink in the Lounge Pool or one of the Rock Pools along the fjord with mountain views. Spend your time out of the water feeling the black volcanic sand of the beach between your toes, or take one of the paddleboards out for a spin. For the competitive spirits, an Instagram challenge asks guests to try to lift one of three progressively heavier boulders for rewards like free drinks, a free single pass, or free entry for a whole year!
Reserve freestanding homes for four to nine people that includes access to “The Barn” with a game room, a gym, and a lounge. You can spend hours hiking the trails throughout the estate or fish for rainbow trout in the small lake. Concerts and other programming events are also hosted, giving guests even more reasons to stick around.
Geosea Geothermal Sea Baths
Set on the side of a western-facing cliff on the north coast, the Geosea Geothermal Sea Baths are a perfect place to enjoy a sunset or the northern lights. Grab a spot in one of three infinity pools with temperatures 100-102℉ (38-39℃), and spend an afternoon whale-watching.
The swim-up bar and dining area in which you can eat in your bathrobe make it easy to feel at home and fully relax. The scenery here is next-level. There is rarely a review that doesn’t mention how affected the writer was by the nature around them.
Hellulaug Hot Pools
Hellulaug Hot Pools are well-loved, rustic hot springs just off a highway near the beach in Vatnsfjörður. At just under two feet deep (60cm), there’s just enough mineral water to sit back in.
While there’s no changing room–it’s a low wall–or toilet in the vicinity, there is a parking lot next to the path that leads to the springs. This secluded gem isn’t very big, so try to time your visit when traffic is low. For a seat directly next to the ocean, park yourself in the pool during high tide, when the seawater comes up to the edge of the spring.
On the shore and in the waters of Urriðavatn Lake, Vok baths attract lots of bathers looking to get out in nature and soak in a hot mineral pool with views. What makes it unique are the two floating geothermal pools (102-106℉/39-42℃) dropped into the lake itself.
These pools are placed strategically for 360-degree views of pristine nature, including the living roof of the facility. Two on-shore hot pools (100℉/38℃), a steambath (122℉/50℃), and a cold water spray tunnel (50℉/10℃) add varying temperatures to any Scandinavian spa circuit.
Round out your time in the water with a drink from the in-water pool bar or dry off and get cozy at the tea bar. The on-site restaurant provides local cuisine with a flair when you get hungry.
Landmannalaugar Hot Springs
Bathe amidst the lava fields and multi-colored mountains of the Iceland highlands at the Landmannalaugar Hot Springs. The latter is made so by the presence of volcanic, iron, and sulfur-colored rhyolite rock and makes quite the impression.
This secluded pool can fit 40 people with plenty of breathing room. The water is typically a satisfying 100℉ (38℃) except around the black lava rocks along the border where things can get uncomfortably hot, thanks to the Brennisteinsalda volcano.
While it’s remote, there are showers and changing rooms available for a small fee, and there is both camping and a furnished mountain “hut” with a kitchen and dorm housing for up to 78 people for those who want to spend the night. Be aware, without a snowmobile, this spring is too difficult to get to in the winter.
Krossneslaug Hot Spring
Krossneslaug Hot Spring is a simple, standard swimming pool with basic facilities set on a rocky beach with panoramas that are anything but simple or standard. Located in the Strandir region of the Westfjords, two hours from the nearest town large enough to be worth mentioning, it’s isolated and surrounded by untouched nature.
In fact, from the unimpeded views from the pool, humpback whales, seals, and dolphins are just a few of the marine visitors you can spy from in the sea. On the north coast, the roads leading to it are too icy to drive on for large parts of the year.
Built to replicate the hot pools of the Vikings, Gudrunarlaug is something out of a storybook. The love-triangle legend comes from Laxdæla Saga, of the old Icelandic Sagas, and the changing hut is modeled after the place one of the female characters lived.
Perfectly round with inlaid stones both inside and around the pool makes it look like it belongs in a professionally landscaped sanctuary more than a wild hot spring. Unfortunately, the original historic pool–thought to be thousands of years old–caved in during a landslide, so in 2009, the current one was reconstructed with a nod to history near its predecessor.
While you can’t exactly call the small grouping of buildings in the area a town, there is an unassociated hotel a short walk away from the spring for anyone wanting to spend some extra time here. Tent camping is also available.
Reykjadalur Steam Valley
Reykjadalur Steam Valley is known for its breathtaking surroundings and the thermal river that runs through it. Start with a 1.86-mile (3km) hike one way before it opens up with the river and several hot springs pools, most of which are too hot for bathing. As you might expect, there is a lot of steam.
Stay on the wooden plank path that lines the river so you don’t accidentally step in scalding water or mud. The river itself is usually around 104℉ (40℃) but gets hotter or cooler depending on your distance from the source. There are no facilities other than small walls designed to change behind, but there is a parking lot at the trailhead.
Locals love this place, because it’s less than an hour from the capital to the start of the hike. Save some time for additional hiking to enjoy the natural environment full of colorful moss, waterfalls, a gorge, and more.
Whether you’re looking for a luxurious hot springs spa or a remote hole in the ground, you’ll find it in the land of fire and ice. The best hot springs in Iceland offer something for every taste. Experience all the island country has to offer on your next trip.
If staying nearby the capital city, consider these hot springs closest to Reykjavik.