Iceland has a strong bathing culture. There are more than 45 hot springs scattered across the country, and every community seems to have a public swimming area, either natural or man-made. Here are three geothermal pools where you can enjoy this beloved custom, no matter the time of year.
It may be an obvious stop on the tourist trail, but the Blue Lagoon had humble origins. Decades ago, after locals discovered that the silica-rich runoff from a nearby geothermal plant had healing properties, the lagoon exploded in popularity. The main lagoon can be unpleasantly crowded, but there is now a more tranquil way to experience the site. Next door, The Retreat at Blue Lagoon, which opened in 2018, offers guests exclusive entry to its subterranean spa and 100-degree-Fahrenheit milky-blue waters.
Those who prefer not to overnight at the hotel can buy a five-hour day pass, starting at $400. A visit includes a three-step spa ritual, an elegant changing suite, Blue Lagoon amenities, a drink from the swim-up bar and access to the Spa Restaurant. The lagoon is a mere 20 minutes from Keflavík International Airport, making it an easy stop on the way to or from the capital. Reservations required.
Opened in 2021, Sky Lagoon is just minutes from downtown Reykjavík. And while the waters are not the same ethereal color as the Blue Lagoon’s, they too are a warm geothermal wonder enshrouded in mist and black lava rock. Sky Lagoon’s turf-house exterior is an architectural callback to traditional building methods, but the all-black Nordic-style interior is sleek and modern.