The Secret Lagoon, located about an hour and a half from Reykjavik in Flúðir, is the kind of pool that looks like it has always been there. Carved into the mysterious landscape, it seems as though Iceland’s oldest swimming hole has been fully formed for as long as humans have been around.
In reality, it was dug in 1891 in the geothermal area known as Hverahólmi. Fed by a mineral-rich hot spring, the water here is as warm as it is healing. Nearby, visitors can also stop by the lesser-known Hrunalaug Hot Spring for an intimate soak.
Locals also call this spring “Gamla Laugin” or “Old Pool” in reference to its long history. While people have been coming for over a century to bathe in the waters, there was a time when parts of Hverahólmi were used to do laundry, though it was in a separate spring called Vaðmálahver.
The nearby village of Flúðir set its legislature on the bank of the local landmark up until 1894, but it wasn’t until 1909 that the first swimming lessons in the country were held in the springs.
Before this, and despite being an island nation, very few people knew how to swim. The lessons were so well-received that they offered them every year until 1947 when they were moved to a separate pool in Flúðir and the national focus shifted Gamla Laugin to the back of everyone’s minds.
It’s important to note that swimming is now seen as a vital skill across the country. As part of the national curriculum, Iceland likely has one of the more swimming-literate populations in the world.
With a mission to revitalize the area while maintaining its traditional feeling, the creators of the Secret Lagoon spent several years renovating, opening their doors in June of 2014. The pool has remained the same, but tasteful modern facilities have been built for the added comforts of bathers. Today, it has once again become a favorite local spot for swimming and relaxing.
The Pool and Other Activities
The hot spring that supplies the mineral water to this gigantic pool is actually an active geyser that delights others every few minutes as it spouts water and steam. Refilled completely every 24 hours, the steam continuously rises from the ground in every direction, which is apparent in colder weather.
As with most spas and hot springs in Iceland, visitors can enjoy the heat year-round. This sulfur-rich water sits between 100° and 104℉ regardless of the weather. When wandering around the property, guests should stick to the walking path as boiling water comes out of the ground in many different places and can be dangerous.
A unique feature of the hot spring is that the geothermal heat efficiently heats homes and many greenhouses in the nearby vicinity. In a country that experiences months of cold weather, the greenhouses powered by Hverahólmi help supply the population with fresh produce throughout the year. Be sure to plan a visit here before you go!
Due to high demand, pre-booking your soaking time is highly encouraged in the summer. Even with the best-laid plans, things can get left behind, but don’t worry, the people who run the pool know that. As a courtesy, they offer swimsuits and towel rentals for anyone in need.
The new-and-improved Lagoon also has an on-site bistro with basic snacks and drinks. They’re great for when the hunger strikes, but to get a full, hot meal, you’ll have to go elsewhere or request something in advance if you’re traveling in a large group.
Address: Hvammsvegur, 845 Flúðir, Iceland
Phone: +354 555 3351
Season: Year-round | Hours vary with the season