Four geothermal pools you have to experience in Iceland

Marinating in a geothermal pool steaming with sulfur water from deep within the earth is a quintessential Icelandic experience. Sure you could spend a small fortune at the Blue Lagoon along with everyone else who ever goes to Iceland and look no further, or you can do as the Vikings did for a very long time and make soaking in thermal pools around Iceland a memorable part of your trip. Would you rather soak in one thermal pool or four?

If you are looking for geothermal experiences in Iceland that are NOT the Blue Lagoon, read on!

Iceland thermal pools – some general tips

  • You have to pay for towels and all other extras when you get there so plan to take your own towels to save a few dollars.
  • Showering out in the open in a locker room style bathroom (gender-specific) is kind of part of the experience. They expect you to shower naked but I didn’t and well, who’s going to watch you?!
  • Keep colored/processed hair out of the thermal pool water; remember it’s chockful of sulfur!
  • You can bring slippers to wear in the bathrooms and out to the entrance of the pools if you’d like but it is not necessary.
  • You can drink alcohol in some pools so if you want to sip on a cold beer while you set in scalding thermal waters or some other version of that, ask when you are checking in.
  • If you are camping during your time in Iceland, end each day in a thermal pool and shower there as an alternative to showering at your campsite.

Top 4 thermal pools in Iceland

1. Secret Lagoon

Nearest town (s): Fludir (1 mile), Reykjavik (65 miles)

Cost: $25 per person

Gamla Laugin, also known as Secret Lagoon, is set in the quaint town of Fludir.

We went late in the evening before it closed when it was a lot less crowded and it was quite magical to be sitting in the water under a dusky sky. These pools have been in use since the 1800s and were forgotten for a while until some recent renovations which made these pools less of a secret but just as cozy and relaxing as if they were. There is also a geyser onsite that erupts every few minutes.

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If you have some time to spend around the area, I would HIGHLY recommend grabbing lunch at Fridheimar, a geothermal-powered farm where they grow tomatoes and cucumbers all year round. Everything on their menu is made from tomatoes and it’s quite a spectacular experience to sit and eat a meal in the brightly lit greenhouse among vines of juicy tomatoes. They even have tomato beer! The most popular thing to do is to enjoy bowls of unlimited tomato soup with sides of crusty olive bread, cucumber relish and sour cream.

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Fridheimar typically requires reservations but we went there at 11:30a before it opens and got a table right away. There is also the option to sit at the bar and enjoy a cup of tomato soup.


2. Myvatn Nature Baths

Nearest town (s): Akureyri (64 miles), Egilsstadir (101 miles)

Cost: ~$50 per person

Nestled in the multifaceted Myvatn National Park in the North Eastern part of Iceland, these thermal baths are spectacular for their setting and a combination of feeling like you are in the middle of nowhere but with plenty of vibes akin to the Blue Lagoon. But rest assured it’s less expensive and less mainstream than the Blue Lagoon. Hang in the pools feeling black ashy sand at your feet and taking in the incredible views of a volcanic crater among other things around you.

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The smells of sulfur emanate from the milky waters of the hot springs as you drive toward it. Myvatn National Park itself is a unique place molded by volcanic and earthquake activity with Lake Myvatn at its core. Surreal panoramas of volcanic craters, mud pools and geothermal caves are just part of the draw and you can easily spend a couple of days of your Iceland trip in and around this intriguing area.

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If you want to earn your stint in the Myvatn thermal pool, add on a hike to it. You can start from the Grjótagjá Caves, a lava tunnel housing steaming waters. You can take the hiking trail across the parking lot from the caves to Hverjfall, an otherworldly, volcanic crater 1,3000 ft high. You can hike all the way up to the black ash cone that resembles something you might find on the face of the moon. You are also able to hike around the rim if you wish. Beware that it is extremely windy at the top; even though we got sweaty hiking uphill to the rim of the crater, we were glad for the additional layers (and hat and gloves) once we got up to the top.

The Nature Baths are a 15-minute drive from the Hverjfall parking lot and a 4-minute drive from the Grjotagja Cave.


3. Laugarvatn Fontana

Nearest town (s): Akureyri (64 miles), Egilsstadir (101 miles)

Cost: $35 per person

This place is different from your run of the mill Icelandic thermal pool and more of a spa than an earthy pool. But what makes this place unique is its lakeside setting. You can alternate between the 3 hot pools, steam rooms heated by the natural steam from the ground wafting with smells of sulfur, and the frigid waters of Lake Kaygarvatn. Yes, you read right, you can jump right into the Lake to cool off, well more like freeze your ass off for a few minutes, before jumping back into one of the thermal pools heated at different temperatures and feel the rush of pins and needles all over your body. A truly memorable experience and said to be good for your immune system!

The showers at the place were the nicest we saw so take an extra long shower after your pool time! This place is also known for its food; we read great reviews of its buffet even though we didn’t have a chance to check it out. They bake their own bread onsite using geothermal energy by burying the dough into the hot black sand and digging it up 24 hours later.


4. Djúpavogskörin

Nearest town (s): Hofn (63 miles), Egilsstadir (53 miles)

Cost: $35 per person

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If you made it this far into the post, you deserve this treat about our favorite thermal pool experience in Iceland, and best of all it is FREE. This remote, tiny pool is located right on the East coast overlooking the ocean on one side and tall mountains on the other. This hot pot is definitely not well known and was completely empty when we got there on our drive between Egilsstadir and Hofn. You have to look for Djúpavogskörin on the map and keep your eyes peeled as you get closer to it. Even then it is hard to see if from the street, so pull up into a small parking lot and walk toward the ocean and you will see the rising steam soon enough. The water from the sulfur springs was scalding hot!! But with the crisp evening air, it felt nice once we got used to the heat. That being said, we still couldn’t still in it for too long. Even if you don’t spend too long here, I can not explain how incredible this experience was; definitely one of the most memorable parts of our entire Iceland trip.

We got to Djúpavogskörin just as the sun was starting to set so we sat in the pool overlooking the ocean watching the sky turn shades of blush and lilac. There wasn’t a single soul around us when we got there. However, about 30 mins into our time there, people saw us parked from the highway and saw the wisps of steam rising and found us!

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