Top 12 Natural Hot Springs in Iceland
When you think “cold, snowy day” or “or “icy glaciers,” stripping down and taking a dip is probably not the first thing that comes to mind.
However, in Iceland, swimming in hot steamy springs is a favorite activity, no matter what the weather.
Let’s explore one of Iceland’s most relaxing features: the natural hot springs.
This guide to the top 10 natural hot springs in Iceland will let you know the ins and outs of the country’s most beautiful geothermal lagoons.
What Are Natural Hot Springs?
Hot springs are bodies of water that are heated naturally by geothermal energy. To determine whether a body of water is a hot spring or not, you take the temperature of the water and compare it to the earth around it. If the water is hotter, it’s a hot spring. Most hot springs are at least 38 degrees Celsius (which is 100 degrees Fahrenheit).
There are three main factors that contribute to the heat of a hot spring:
The first is the depth at which the heat is supplied, which is sometimes referred to as the “magma chamber”.
Next is the rate at which the water of the spring flows, or if there is any sort of current.
The last is factor is the amount of cool water that the hot water source flows into.
Why Are There so Many Hot Springs in Iceland?
We know that hot springs are caused by geothermal activity, but what exactly does that mean and why are there so many in Iceland?
Iceland is located on the meeting place of two diverging tectonic plates. This ridge is called the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Half of Iceland is located on the North American plate and half is located on the Eurasian plate.
Volcanic activity is very common along tectonic rifts. Since there is so much volcanic activity, water is often heated under the ground, and this is called geothermal activity. Hot springs are caused by this geothermal activity.
The divergence of the plates causes the volcanic activity, and the hot springs are the end result. The hot springs in Iceland may seem to pop up in random places, but their locations are far from random. Their hot water sources and origins can usually be traced.
What Are the Benefits of Soaking in a Hot Spring?
Soaking in the mineral-rich water of the hot springs has many benefits to several systems of the body. From your head to your toes, you’ll experience a wide range of benefits with your dip in a hot spring.
Why go to a traditional spa when you can soak in a lovely lagoon and admire Iceland’s wonderful landscape?
Let’s explore some of the wonderful benefits of soaking in a geothermal hot spring.
Relaxation and Rejuvenation
The steamy water and beautiful surroundings create the ideal situation for rest and relaxation. Taking a dip in the hot springs is the perfect way to escape the trials and tribulations that are occupying your mind.
Eczema is a skin condition that many people suffer from and find quite difficult to deal with. People with this flaky skin disorder tend to feel itchy and irritated. The water of hot springs offers soothing and relief to people with this ailment.
While soaking in any hot body of water will alter your blood pressure, the minerals in hot springs, such as calcium and sodium bicarbonate, are great for improving circulation. Lowering your blood pressure will help you sink into a more relaxing state.
Relieve Musculoskeletal Pain
Aches and pains throughout your body are no joking matter. Bating in hot springs has been known to relieve all sorts of musculoskeletal pain.
If you have inflamed tendons or ligaments, arthritis, swollen joints, chronic muscle pain, ligament damage or another musculoskeletal issue, soaking in a hot spring will likely offer you the relief you are looking for. You deserve to feel good again.
What Are the Different Minerals Found in Hot Springs?
While the benefits of some hot springs come from microorganisms that live within, most hot springs are so beneficial because of their high mineral content.
Since different hot springs have water that flows through different locations and areas of the Earth, the mineral content and quality will vary.
Minerals Found in Hot Springs
While many feel that the hot springs in Iceland are magical, the healing benefits are purely in the mineral-rich water itself.
Here are some of the minerals that are commonly found in hot springs:
- Sulphur: Treats respiratory problems and dermatitis
- Calcium: Boost blood circulation and increase oxygen flow
- Potassium: Promotes skin health and helps remove toxins from the body
- Magnesium: Helps to clear acne and blemishes and keep skin glowing
- Sodium: Helps regulate the lymphatic system and reduce pain and inflammation in tender joints
Which of these amazing benefits would you like to reap while bathing in an Icelandic hot spring?
Iceland’s 10 Best Natural Hot Springs
If you’re looking for the ultimate mix of healing, relaxation and rejuvenation with amazing views, Iceland’s hot springs are definitely something that you should add to your list of things to do on your holiday.
While the Blue Lagoon is definitely Iceland’s most famous hot spring, it was actually created by a mistake made by humans, so it’s not exactly natural. We’ve put together a list of the best 10 natural hot springs in Iceland. Explore some of Iceland’s most phenomenal hot springs.
The Hrunalaug hot spring is one of the most special in all of Iceland. It is very small and is located near Flúðir, a town outside of the capital. It has stone walls and is very cozy. It allows for some very intimate interaction with nature.
Hrunalaug is located on a farm that is privately owned, so it is very important that it is treated with utmost respect. The owner welcomes guests, but it is recommended that you make a small donation. Donations go to upkeeping the grounds.
This small hot spring used to have an interesting purpose on its farm. Back in the day, Hrunalaug served as a sheep washing station, but today, tourists are the only ones who bathe here.
Although it may sound wonderfully tempting, there is no camping allowed at this site.
2. Sky Lagoon
Where sea meets sky. Sky Lagoon is geothermal spa inspired by Icelandic nature, heritage, and history. It is located only minutes away from the Reykjavík city centre and offers dramatic yet stunning views across the North Atlantic Ocean.
Feel yourself relax and unwind as you take in the dazzling sunsets and moody skies and, if you’re lucky, the dancing Northern Lights will put on a stunning show.
Then, take your relaxation deeper with the Ritual, a unique seven-step experience that guides you through the history of Icelandic bathing culture.
Over the centuries, we’ve developed a way to combine the healing powers of warm water, cold water, warm steam, dry heat and fresh air.
We use our traditions to integrate these natural elements to promote our wellbeing, inside and out.
Those traditions are integral to Icelandic way of life and are at the core of the Sky Lagoon journey.
Hvammsvik Hot Springs is the newest Hot Spring destination in Iceland while built on and around the old Hvalfjardarlaug which has been around for decades and been especially popular among the locals.
What is unique about Hvammsvik Hot Springs is how the many hot springs blend into the spectacular surrounding nature and literally evolve into the Atlantic Ocean allowing guests to linger on the edge of the ocean as the tide comes in.
There are eight natural hot springs of various sizes and temperatures as some of them disappear completely in high tide twice every 24 hours. The Hot Springs are heated geothermal source close by and is then cooled down by ocean water resulting in a unique mixture of 90C hot geothermal water and 2/3rds salty ocean.
There are no time limits at Hvammsvik Hot Springs so you can spend the day enjoying the various pools, jump into the ocean, take in the incredible mountain and ocean scene while watching the birds and seals pass by. The facilities are also beautifully designed using local materials and inspiration from the surroundings.
Overall there is a personal touch to everything and less commercial than many other destinations.
Seljavallalaug is Iceland’s oldest man-made pool and is heated by a natural hot spring. It is nestled in a remote area of southern Iceland near the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano.
The mountains and scenery surrounding this little, old pool are simply majestic. When you take a dip in this pool, you’ll feel like you’re dreaming.
The water of this warm pool tends to turn green from algae as it is only cleaned once every summer.
This pool does have changing facilities, but they are very, very basic. Be sure to bring a dry set of clothing.
5. Reykjadalur Steam Valley
The Reykjadalur Steam Valley is a river full of mud pits and hot springs that serves as one of the most popular hot bathing locations of Iceland. It’s close proximity to the nation’s capital makes it very convenient for visitors from around the world to visit this hot spot.
The drive from Reykjavik to Reykjadalur is less than an hour, but the best spots take about an hour of hiking to reach.
This natural steam valley is particularly neat because you can “adjust” the temperature of the water if you are no comfortable. All you’ve got to do is move closer to the cold or hot water source, whichever feels best to you.
It is important to note that there are no bathrooms or changing facilities at this attraction, so you should bring a bag that will keep your clothing dry while you swim.
6. Kvika Geothermal Footbath
The Kvika Geothermal Footbath in Reykjavik is the perfect spot for those who want to test the waters of the natural hot springs Iceland without diving in. It truly allows visitors to just get their feet wet.
Visit the Kvika Geothermal Footbath to watch the sunset or tho admire the Northern Lights. The scenery that frames this footbath is unlike any other. Feast your eyes while getting a natural pedicure.
While this destination is said to be perfect for romantic dates and couples, this location is also family friendly, so bring the whole family.
The Kvika Geothermal Footbath is walking distance from downtown Reykjavik.
This itty bitty hot spring is one of Iceland’s most romantic hot springs. It is so tiny that only two or three people can fit in at a time. Landbrotalaug is located on the Snæfellsnes peninsula and is about a two hour drive from Iceland.
The location of this hot spring may be a little difficult to find, but a quick search on Google Maps will get you there in no time! Landbrotalaug is quite literally a hole in the ground full of hot water, but many people find it so attractive for this very reason.
Grab your honey and head over to this romantic spot.
8. Lake Mývatn Nature Bath
The Lake Mývatn Nature Bath in the northern region of the nation is one of Iceland’s most commercial natural hot springs. This bath is more like a spa with its relaxing lagoon and steam baths. Lake Mývatn Nature Bath also has a cafe and bar on site.
Although it is not required, the faculty at Lake Mývatn Nature Bath suggests that you pre-book your tickets to the spa, especially if you are visiting with a group of ten or more.
Although the price of admission includes a locker and an entire day of admission to the lagoon, most people only spend about 90 minutes bathing in the majestic waters.
9. Gamla Laugin
Gamla Laugin, which is also known as “The Secret Lagoon,” is iconic in Icelandic history. It is one of the oldest swimming spots in Iceland.
This special lagoon is located at a geothermal activity area with a very active geyser that erupts every few minutes.
Due to this spot’s popularity, it is highly recommended that you book your tickets in advance. Reservations tend to book up so you definitely want to secure your spot in this magical pool!
For sanitary reasons, you are required to shower “butt naked” before entering Gamla Laugin. Icelanders are very, very serious about this rule. It is considered to be quite rude if you don’t strip down and shower before taking a dip in the lagoon. There are showers on site.
Hveravellir is one of the most beautiful hot springs in all of Iceland. Located on a nature reserve that is considered “one of the last great wilderness areas” in all of Europe, this hotspot is speckled with bubbling water holes and smoking fumaroles.
This steamy lagoon is framed by an array of glaciers and lava fields, so any way you look you get a postcard-worthy view. The location is truly breathtaking.
Unlike most of the other hot springs, this one provides accommodations to stay the night. Spend some time in this phenomenal nature reserve. Wake up, take a dip and enjoy the rest of your day exploring some of Iceland’s local wonders.
11. Hot Spring at Landmannalaugar
Landmannalaugar, which means “the people’s pools,” is a wonderful geothermal energy heated hot spring in Iceland’s southern Highlands. For many years, this mineral-rich water served as a rest area of sorts for exhausted travelers who were passing through. The travelers would take a break to relax and recharge in the soothing waters before getting back on the road.
The road to Landmannalaugar is a rough one, as it cuts through terrain full of mountains and lava fields. You’re either going to want to hike to this hot spring or drive a 4×4 vehicle. The local buses are also designed to navigate this terrain, so those are a safe option, as well.
While you’re floating in Landmannalaugar, you can look out and see meadows full of flowers and snow capped mountains. It is truly beautiful.
12. Hot Spring at Kerlingarfjöll
The hot spring at Kerlingarfjoll is hidden not far from the resort. It is nestled between two beautiful mountains and is a lovely spot for bathing.
This hot spring is known for its high iron content, which is not a mineral that most hot springs are rich in. This is particularly helpful for visitors who suffer from anemia.
This hot spring has no changing facility, so it is important that you bring a bag that will keep your clothing dry.
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Hot Springs Etiquette
Hot springs are places that are meant to be healing and peaceful. They serve as a getaway to those who need it most.
Icelanders are very serious about their hot springs. There are a few general rules that you should follow out of respect for nature, natives and the other guests.
Familiarize yourself with these rules before enjoying one of Iceland’s majestic hot springs:
- Shower without a bathing suit before entering any hot spring.
- Do not scream, yell or raise your voice. Speak softly and quietly to other guests.
- Do not splash and swim frantically. Stay where your feet can touch the floor.
- If there are hooks or locker rooms, hang our towel up. Do not lay them on the deck or floor.
- Avoid blowing your nose in the water. This is gross.
- Do not bathe if you are pregnant or if you have heart conditions. If you’re not sure whether bathing in a hot spring is good for you, ask your doctor before your trip. Most of these beautiful locations are remote.
- Drink lots of water. Do not enter a hot spring on an empty stomach.
- Do not litter. Take your trash with you.
These suggestions may seem like a lot, but they are to protect you and those around you. We want you to have the best trip possible. We want you to enjoy your time in Iceland.
Where Else Are There Hot Springs?
While the hot springs in Iceland are absolutely beautiful, there are hot springs located around the world. The term “spa” that we use today to describe a place where you go to get facials, massages and other cosmetic treatments originates from a Belgian town with quite a few hot springs.
Hot springs are typically located where tectonic plates meet or there is volcanic activity. Some of the most popular hot springs spots around the world are located in Belgium, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States and Japan.
Similar Hotspots in Iceland
Iceland’s hot springs are definitely something from a dream, but this tiny country is full of so much more beauty that you do not want to miss.
Explore some of our other great city guides and travel resources that will help you plan the holiday of a lifetime.
What are you looking forward to most during your trip to Iceland? Maybe you want to slow things down with horseback riding and bathing in hot springs, or maybe you want to get your adrenaline pumping with chasing the Northern Lights on ATVs and exploring magma chambers. Whatever your travel style is, Iceland has got options for you.
Not interested in planning your own trip? Let Hekla do it for you! Explore our Icelandic tours. We’ve got you covered.
You can’t deny it: Iceland is a nation full of wonder and beauty. This small country is full of natural phenomena. It’s hard to believe it’s real!
You should see these wonders with your own eyes. From hot springs to lava fields, your vacation can be as relaxing or as adventurous as you’d like. The options are endless when you visit Iceland.
You deserve to get away and enjoy the beauty of this lovely little nation.
It is time to plan your trip to Iceland. Book your flight and explore some of the amazing tours and excursions that Hekla has to offer.