Even though Iceland is known for its chilly winters and lush mountain scenery, dipping into one of the natural hot springs near Reykjavik is one of the best ways to experience the country. Geothermal waters are not uncommon in Iceland, but many of them are not suitable for bathing.
The ones that people are welcome to soak in are said to have incredible healing properties. Visitors say it’s a worthwhile activity, regardless of the temperature outside. Whether you’re into developed hot springs pools or a primitive natural soaking area, there’s something for everyone around the island. Some places have entry fees, but there are a couple of free ones, mostly in rural areas.
It’s important to point out that when visiting a hot springs facility, the Icelandic way is to require everyone to strip naked and rinse off in public before getting in. This might shock some travelers, but it’s a common practice country-wide. Doing so keeps the purity of the water in the best shape possible.
Here are the top closest natural hot springs to Reykjavik, in order of proximity:
Vesturbæjarlaug (1.2 km/0.75 miles)
Vesturbæjarlaug Pool area is very close to downtown Reykjavik and within walking distance to several hotels and other attractions. Constructed in 1961, the property has a swimming pool, five hot tubs, a cold tub, a children’s pool, a sauna, and a steam room.
The pools, tubs, and showers are filled with natural geothermal water and have low acidity. There is some chlorine in the water to disinfect, and the water temps are regulated with the latest technology.
The main swimming pool and kids pool are kept at a warm 30℃/86℉, while the hot tubs range from 37-43℃/99-109℉. The cold tub hovers at a chilly 8-12℃/46-54℉. The showers can be adjusted to be cold or hot. Entry tickets aren’t too expensive, and this is a great way to catch the vibe with a local crowd.
Since Vesturbæjarlaug is right in the heart of Reykjavik, the best lodging options are hotels or vacation rentals in the city. There are many places within walking distance of the pool.
Kvika Footbath (5 km/3 miles)
The Kvika Footbath is a small, manufactured foot spa created by Ólöf Nordal. It’s free to use and located in an excellent area for watching sunsets or northern lights, by Grótta lighthouse. Locals and tourists visit the stone-carved foot pool to enjoy a drink, snack, or nature watching by the sea.
Many people walk to Kvika Footbath from downtown Reykjavik. Even though you can’t fully submerge, it’s a fun and relaxing way to soothe your feet in some natural warm water.
Lodging and Camping
Kvika Footbath is so close to downtown Reykjavik that it makes sense to book lodging at one of the many metro accommodations. However, if camping is more your style, look into the Reykjavík Campsite located close to this spring.
Both tent and RV campers can rent a space on these grounds, and there are many amenities like a small grocery store, free WiFi, BBQ facilities, campsite laundry machines, and more. Services at the campground can also provide tours, horseback riding, bus passes, and arrange whale watching.
Sky Lagoon (8 km/5 miles)
Treat yourself to the ultimate Icelandic experience with a soak at the Sky Lagoon, located just minutes from the heart of town. The facility opened in 2021 and boasts a traditional bathing culture, featuring an infinity geothermal pool with an edge overlooking the ocean. Order one of your favorite drinks at the lagoon swim-up bar as you slip into total relaxation, being surrounded by steaming waters.
The ritual package at Sky Lagoon is made up of seven steps. The first stop is a soak in the hot spring lagoon, followed by a refreshing cold pool plunge to boost immunity. After that, visitors spend some time in the hot sauna and cool off by walking through a nippy misted fog. This is followed by a cleansing body scrub, another steam session, and concluded with a gentle shower.
Sky Lagoon is a one-stop place for indulging in an incredible self-care treatment, accompanied by breathtaking views. To learn more about this seven-step ritual, visit their website for more details.
Visiting Sky Lagoon can be easily done by anyone staying at a hotel in Reykjavik. Many nearby fancy hotels, vacation rentals, and reasonable accommodations suit every budget.
Blue Lagoon (49 km/30 miles)
Located on the Reykjanes Peninsula, the Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s most well-known icons and a paradise for hot springs lovers. This geothermal seawater has a magnificent teal color and a reputation for being a reliable skincare and healing source. Based just 15 minutes from the airport and half an hour from Reykjavik, this is undoubtedly one of the things many visitors target.
The water temperature in the lagoon ranges from 37-39℃/98-102℉, making it a very comfortable soaking place all year long. There is no slow season for Blue Lagoon, so if you’re traveling to Iceland and want a turn in these majestic waters, you’ll have to book your reservation months in advance. Additionally, this is likely the most expensive hot springs destination, which might affect those traveling on a budget.
In addition to soaking in the water, there are a couple of on-site restaurants and a spa.
The first person to bathe in the lagoon was Valur Margeirsson in 1981. Soon after, nearby residents began dipping in the azure waters and noticed that it has incredible healing properties. People with skin conditions like psoriasis noticed that their symptoms lessened after time in the water, and the word quickly spread around the “Land of Fire and Ice”, aka Iceland. By 1987, Blue Lagoon was officially a popular swimming spot.
Many visitors opt to book a whole Blue Lagoon package that includes soaking time and accommodations at one of the two nearby hotels, Silica Hotel and Retreat Hotel (affiliate links). Planning ahead of time is beneficial because some guests can arrange to be picked up at the airport. Day trippers most often stay in Rejkavik as more lodging options are there.
Reykjadalur Hot Spring Thermal River (50 km/31 miles)
Reykjadalur Hot Springs is set in a beautiful valley within the vicinity of the town of Hveragerði, making this a more rural bathing area. Being so close to Rejkavik, only 45 minutes away by car, these thermal waters are very popular among locals and tourists. Visitors have to hike the trail 8 km/5 miles out and back to reach the bathing area.
While on the trail to the hot springs, trekkers will see many pools and hot water areas with signs posting temperatures along the way. It’s important to note that not all springs on the bath are appropriate for bathing; some are at boiling temperatures that would cause a lot of harm to anyone that gets in them.
No one should attempt to enter any water until crossing the wooden bridge into an area that looks like it’s been developed for swimming.
The lower part of the river is cooler than the upper part, so dipping temperatures vary. If you want to avoid large crowds, hit the trail early in the morning. On this hike, it’s also possible to see some authentic native wildlife: Icelandic horses and sheep. The best times of year for this trek are in the summer and early fall, and it can be enjoyable to stride up the river while it’s still light out after midnight.
For those that don’t want to stay in Reykjavik, there are plenty of hotels and accommodations in Hveragerði. Everything from boutique hotels to rental apartments is available, which might be an excellent option to see more of the Icelandic countryside. However, since Reykjavik is less than an hour away, either city is a perfect option for visiting the springs.
Laugarvatn Fontana (77 km/ 48 miles)
Set on a lake in The Golden Circle, Laugarvatn Fontana Geothermal Baths is a must-do activity for first-time visitors to Iceland. This unique property has three connected bath pools that vary in temperature but are comfortable for relaxing and soaking in. There are also two steam baths built right over a hot spring with high humidity and temperatures ranging from 40-50℃/104-122℉. Additionally, the property has a Finnish-style Sauna with dry heat and an atmosphere that varies from 80-90℃/176-194℉.
A great way to cool off after indulging in the warm pools or hot rooms is to dip in the lake. The water is accessible from Fontana and is incredibly polarizing. The vistas from this property are stunning and add to the total relaxation of their facilities.
Lodging and Camping
Laugarvatn is a developed city with plenty of hotels, vacation rentals, and cabins or cottages to stay at. The small town is right along The Golden Circle, so it’s an area that accommodates tourists.
If you’re interested in sleeping outdoors with nature, look into the Laugarvatn Camping Ground right off the lake. Campers and tents are allowed, and there are several amenities on-site. A restaurant, swimming area, horse paths, hiking paths, a playground, and places to fish are just a few of the top features.
Secret Lagoon Iceland (105 km/65 miles)
Known to locals as “Gamla Laugin,” the Secret Lagoon is advertised as being Iceland’s oldest swimming pool. It was constructed in 1891, and even though it is manufactured, it’s fed by the natural hot springs surrounding it- Vaðmálahver, Litli Geysir, and Básahver. Icelandic natives and tourists often visit the pool, but the water inside it is constantly flowing and completely replaces itself every 24 hours.
Secret Lagoon’s water temperature ranges between 38-40℃ (100-104℉) and is a cozy place to soak all year long. People have reported being able to see the Northern Lights while in the water, so if timed right, this is an incredible opportunity for travelers.
The area around the pool is also natural, with a small geyser that erupts every five minutes or so. Swimmers can see the geyser go off while in the water, but there is also a pathway around it if sightseers are up to walking around.
This geothermal pool is often compared to the world-famous Blue Lagoon, but this one is less crowded, less expensive, and has fewer amenities. Secret Lagoon does have outdoor showers and a snack bar on-site, though.
These hot springs require reservations during the summer months, but they are open year-round with varying seasonal hours. Secret Lagoon is also right on The Golden Circle, making it an easy stop for tourists to include.
Lodging & Camping
Iceland’s Secret Lagoon is one of the most visited hot springs pools next to The Blue Lagoon, which means there are plenty of nearby places to stay. Hotels, cottages, vacation rentals, and B&Bs are just a few of the businesses set up for lodging. Two of the most popular hotels are Icelandair Hotel Flúðir (affiliate link) and The 5 Million Star Hotel.
The best place to camp near The Secret Lagoon is at Flúðir Camping Ground, which is only open from mid-May through mid-September. This is a great place to crash for a few nights outside because it has many amenities, including toilets, a swimming pool, a hot tub, a restaurant, a nearby golf course, a playground, and several trails for walking.
Hrunalaug Hot Springs (107 km/66 miles)
Based just off The Golden Circle’s route 30 near the town of Fludir, Hrunalaug Hot Springs is a small thermal reservoir area with three pools, each bordered by a rock wall. It’s in a primitive setting, but there is a little area to use for changing clothes. This is one of Iceland’s hidden natural gems, and even though it’s just off one of the leading tourism routes, it’s possible to experience this soaking area all by yourself.
The drive from Reykjavik is only about an hour and a half, and the hot spring has a defined parking lot to let you know you’re in the right place. From there, it’s about a five-minute stroll to the pools, which are cozy and have varying temperatures. The hottest pool is about 40℃/104℉, and the others are slightly cooler.
There is a cost for entry, but it’s based on the honor system, and a local farmer runs the collection box. It’s essential to pay the fee so that the space can stay open for future visitors.
Hrunalaug Hot Springs are located very close to The Secret Lagoon. Lodging options for these thermal pools would be the same selection mentioned above. The Flúðir Camping Ground is an ideal location for nights outdoors by these springs. These accommodation spots are suitable for people or families looking to hit Hrunalaug Hot Springs and The Secret Lagoon in one trip.
Seljavallalaug Swimming Pool (153 km/95 miles)
The Seljavallalaug spring pool is an incredibly rural pool with amazing views, located at the foot of a mountain roughly two hours away from Reykjavik. Despite being out in nature, the pool itself is a man-made structure from 1923 and fed with natural hot spring water.
Depending on the season, the temperatures are more warm than hot, hovering around 20-35℃ (68-95℉). Many locals swim here, but it’s open year-round and doesn’t cost anything to use.
Getting to the hot spring is somewhat of an adventure; most people get there by taking Route 242 to c. Signs for Seljavallalaug will start to show up, which you follow to a parking lot with a trailhead. The hike to the hot spring takes about 20 minutes, so be sure to have decent footwear, clothing, and swim attire. This area can be snow-covered in the winter, making this spot more ideal for summer visits.
The water in the pool can have algae, which means it’s probably a good idea to avoid altogether submerging. However, this is a picturesque spot to soak and admire some iconic Icelandic scenery.
The closest hotel to the Seljavallalaug Swimming Pool is the Welcome Hotel Lambafell (affiliate link), located in Eyvindarhólar.
Gudrunarlaug (173 km/107 miles)
Located Sælingsdalur in West Iceland, Gudrunarlaug thermal pool is a quaint, rural soaking hole that many tourists might not know about. Initially founded in the late 19th century, it was ruined by a landslide. It was rebuilt in 2009 and has been a hidden gem for hot springs hunters ever since.
A small, medieval changing area is by the pool. The temperature sits at about 37℃/100℉, and there is some algae, so dunking completely underwater is advised against. Swimming in Gudrunarlaug is free of charge.
The closest place to stay near Gudrunarlaug is Hotel Laugar Sælingsdal (affiliate link), with affordable rates and excellent proximity to the springs. It’s a great choice for travelers looking to spend some time in Icelandic nature.
Hot springs are fantastic ways to practice self-care and wellness, but any one of these by Reykjavik is ideal for sightseeing and experiencing Icelandic culture, too. Make the most of your time visiting the capital city, whose name translates to “smoky bay” or “bay of smokes”.