Þröstur (Throestur) has been exploring the mountains since childhood. He has worked as an English-speaking professional hiking and driver guide since 2012. Before his guiding career, he worked in museums for ten years. Don’t be surprised if he starts quoting Nobel Prize-winning author Halldór Laxness on the next mountain top!
It’s no surprise that Icelanders love to go to swimming pools and soak in hot tubs, as natural geothermal water is found in many different parts of Iceland. There are pools in almost every village and town in Iceland, as well as some in the middle of nowhere!
Most swimming pools are heated outdoor pools. Filled with geothermal water, the pools are usually 29°C while hot tub temperatures range from 38 to 44°C. Many pools also have a steam room and some have a dry sauna. Hot tubs and natural hot springs have been a part of Iceland's culture since the first settlement. For centuries we Icelanders have known the health benefits of bathing in warm mineral water.
The pools are seen by many locals as ideal places to exercise and, more importantly, socialize and unwind.
Dip your toe in the water and check out our list of the best 5 swimming pools in Iceland!
Krossnes swimming pool in Strandir
Take the road less travelled to Krossneslaug. The pool is in the remote region of Strandir in the Westfjords. It is one of the rare swimming pools heated by natural hot springs in the region. Krossneslaug lies on a scenic black-pebble beach where you can bathe to the sound of roaring waves. Please note that the pool is usually only accessible in the summer (May-August) when roads are easily passable in the Westfjords region. It was built by the youth association Leif the Lucky Volunteers in the mid-20th century.
Head up the deserted wild Strandir Coast in the Westfjords, past abandoned herring factories and black beaches littered with Siberian driftwood. The road finally leads to the renowned Krossneslaug, which might be lit at night by either the Midnight Sun or the Northern Lights in the late summer or early fall.
What’s special about this pool? It’s right there at the end of the world in Iceland. If you feel daring and can swim safely, cool down in the cold ocean next to the pool on the beach.
What do I really like about this pool? I love its remoteness and being able to look north at the endless ocean that goes up the North Pole.
What’s interesting nearby? Amazing nature and a tiny little community with a working fishing harbour.
What are the opening hours? Unlike most other pools in Iceland, it has no day-to-day staff and admission is just collected in a donation box on the wall. Please remember to pay! This means the pool is always open.
How to get there? From Route 1 In Borgarfjörður turn to R60 through Búðardalur and then R61 to Hólmavík and all the way up Strandir.
Selárdalur swimming pool near Vopnafjörður
Selárdalslaug, near Vopnafjörður in East Iceland, is another picturesque pool in the middle of nowhere. The pool is situated next to a river and is well sheltered from the wind. In this part of the country, the pool also stands out for another reason: geothermal heating. The less seismically active east and west of Iceland have fewer geothermal pools and facilities here tend to be smaller and are more often indoor to cut electricity costs. A large wooden terrace next to the pool makes it excellent for sunbathing. The pool house is without electricity and is not guarded in winter, so at that time of year people bring candles to light it up. The swimming pool gets its water from a nearby hot stream and its temperature is around 30-33°C year-round. There are two hot tubs next to the pool.
Lying on the riverbank, Selárlaug provides a unique view over Selá salmon stream running through a shallow canyon. If you really want to get away from it all and relax during your long-distance drive, this is the place to go! What’s special about this pool? No electricity in the pool house.
What do I really like about this pool? The remoteness and its surroundings.
What’s interesting nearby? There’s an exceptionally beautiful location next to Selá river in Selárdalur valley.
What are the opening hours? In summer from 10 – 22.
How to get there? From Route 1 turn into R85, drive past the Village of Vopnafjörður and in about ten minutes you are there.
Hofsós swimming pool
Surely one of the most beautiful swimming pools in the country — and with the best view! The Hofsós pool is located on a hillside by the fjord of Skagafjordur. This is an infinity pool with an amazing view of the ocean and its islands, notably Drangey, Malmey, as well as the mountains on the other side of the fjord. All add up to stunning scenery.
This is a pool perfect for relaxing and enjoying life. The sunset while bathing is truly exquisite. The pool is 25 meters long. You also have a hot tub to soak in as well as a steam bath and an infrared sauna.
The architecture of the pool and surrounding facilities is exemplary, attracting people from all over. A view worthy of any luxury spa in Iceland at a very reasonable price. The pool is designed by the same architect who worked on the famous Blue Lagoon.
Expect crowds on warm, sunny days. There’s usually plenty of space in wintertime when it returns to its regular role as a hub for local life in Hofsós, a village of about 200 people.
What’s special about this pool? It’s designed by the same architect who worked on the Blue Lagoon.
What do I really like about this pool? The Midnight Sunset in the summer.
What’s interesting nearby? Staðarbjörg, basalt column cliffs by the Staðarbjargarvík cove right next to the Hofsós pool.
What are the opening hours? The summer opening hours are June 1 to August 31 from 7 – 21.
How to get there? From Route 1 in Skagafjörður take R76 north to Hofsós.
Laugarskarð swimming pool in the town of Hveragerði
Located in the idyllic greenhouse farming town of Hveragerði, the Laugarskarð swimming pool was built by volunteers in 1938. It sits just on the edge of town and is nestled against a hillside. The pool is a 50m long flow-through pool and is heated with thermal steam that ensures the purity of the water. Some say it also has healing powers. The pool has a warm, shallow sitting pool and a children’s pool, along with a hot tub with electronic massage as well as a natural steam bath built over a hot spring and a fitness centre. Built in a small valley, the pool is shielded from the sterner elements of Icelandic weather and offers a beautiful view over the surrounding mountains. For many years this was the country's largest pool. The Icelandic national team used it for practice until Laugardalslaug in Reykjavík was opened. Now we have four more Olympic size swimming pools in Iceland, all located in the capital area.
What’s special about this pool? The only 50 meters pool outside of the capital area.
What do I really like about this pool? The natural steam bath built over a hot spring.
What’s interesting nearby? That nice little town Hveragerði where the pool is located.
What are the opening hours? Summer opening May 15 to September 14. Weekdays: 6:45- 21:30. Weekends: 9 – 19.
How to get there? Laugaskarð swimming pool in Hveragerði is a half hour drive southeast of Reykjavik on Route 1.
Álftaneslaug in Álftanes
Álftaneslaug swimming pool features the largest waterslide in Iceland (10 m/30 ft tall), Iceland's only wave pool, a nice indoor pool, two excellent hot tubs, a wading pool for the kids and a really good 25 meter swimming pool. Álftaneslaug is also one of the few pools in Iceland that has both an excellent sauna and a nice steam bath. The location is ideal with a great view.
The pool has some dramatic building history. It’s known as the pool that bankrupted the town of Álftanes.
Its planning and construction took place during the pre-crash financial boom of 2008, a time when Iceland was supposed to become global financial centre (we found out that we are not the best bankers in the world).
Nothing was spared during the design and construction. The cost of the whole project played a major part in the bankruptcy of that small town. A few years later it was absorbed by the neighbouring municipality of Garðabær.
What’s special about this pool? It’s the only wave pool in Iceland!
What do I really like about this pool? Hopping between the sauna and the steam bath.
What’s interesting nearby? Bessastaðir, the home of the President of Iceland.
What are the opening hours? Summer opening May 1 to September 30. Weekdays: 06:30 – 21. Weekends: 9 – 18.
How to get there? Drive to the suburb of Álftanes south of Reykjavík.
Practical information to know
Make sure you shower naked with soap before you put on your swimsuit and enter the pool. The amount of chlorine in Icelandic swimming pools is low and in order to keep the water clean, people need to wash thoroughly. And don´t worry, everyone else will also be naked and there is an unspoken rule of no unnecessary looking.
How many swimming pools are there in Iceland?
Iceland is home to about 160 pools, giving it the most pools per capita in the world. For a complete list of pools in Iceland, please visit: sundlaugar.is.