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After an action-packed day of exploring the wonders of Iceland, many travelers need a little relaxation.
What if we told you that you can combine a twilight trip to a soothing hot spring, with a hunt for the spectacular Northern Lights? That’s right, many geothermal areas in Iceland are actually perfect places to view the Aurora Borealis.
1. Reykjadalur Steam Valley
The dramatic landscapes at Reykjadalur Steam Valley hold a mysterious charm for those looking for a rugged adventure. From clouds of billowing white steam to bubbling hot springs, the geothermal activity here is plentiful, making it the ideal place to enjoy a rejuvenating soak in a naturally heated pool.
Although the valley is just 28 miles outside of Reykjavík, the light pollution here is minimal, which means when the conditions are right it is possible to admire the Northern Lights as they flicker through the skies above you.
Accessing the steam valley is fairly simple from the Ring Road, however, you will need to take a hike from the parking lot to the springs. This typically takes around 45-60 minutes each way.
It is important to exercise caution when visiting Reykjadalur as there are numerous hot springs in the valley, some of which are close to boiling. Ensure you have the correct equipment for hiking at night such as suitable clothing and a torch that will allow you to follow the path safely.
Reykjadalur steam valley at sunset
2. Laugarvatn Fontana
Offering a slightly different experience from some of the natural pools on offer, Laugarvatn Fontana is a wellness center which has been built above the hot springs to take advantage of the mineral-rich geothermal waters. In the 3 open-air steambath rooms heated via the natural spring underground, watch the aurora lights dance overhead as you relax in stunning temperatures between 104°F and 122°F (40°C and 50°C).
Its location along the famous Golden Circle makes Laugarvatn Fontana a convenient stop when visiting some of Iceland's most famous attractions, and visiting at night with dreams of admiring the Northern Lights, means you have all day to explore the surrounding areas.
Whilst visiting Laugarvatn Fontana, you can even take a cool dip in the lake if the heat becomes too much.
3. Sky Lagoon
If you’re looking for sea views as well as the chance to spot the famous natural light show, the Sky Lagoon is the Icelandic hot spring for you.
Located on the outskirts of the capital city, Reykjavík, the Sky Lagoon is perfectly positioned above the Atlantic Ocean. This man-made infinity pool is nothing short of luxury and a visit here once the sun has set is truly magical.
During the winter months, the Sky Lagoon is open until 10 pm, which means there is a good chance of spotting the Northern Lights and the astonishing reflections in the water when the conditions are right.
If you aren’t quite lucky enough to spot the Aurora at the Sky Lagoon, the sight of the sun setting into the horizon is wonderfully rewarding and means you will not leave disappointed.
Northern Lights in a starry sky above the sea in Iceland
4. Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is often one of the first places that springs to mind when visitors to Iceland think about the hot springs on offer, and for good reason. The famous waters are renowned for their healing benefits and nourishing properties, whilst the views of the nature that surrounds the lagoon are unforgettable.
If you have an evening flight into Iceland, you could be enjoying the Northern Lights whilst replenishing your body in the milky warm water just 20 minutes after leaving Keflavik airport!
The popularity of the pool means it is advised to book your ticket in advance of your visit. Alternatively, you could book a Blue Lagoon tour which includes your admission and transport to the spa.
Located off the beaten track on the south coast of the Westfjords, Hellulaug hot spring is a unique attraction that’s scarcely known or visited by tourists.
Its isolated location means light pollution is low, and as a result, the Northern Lights are often spotted here during the colder months. However, its remoteness means that it can be tricky to access Hellulaug in the height of winter, when some of the roads may be closed due to snowy conditions.
This small pool in the wilderness has no changing facilities or showers, so you’ll need to come prepared for a quick change in the car.
Northern Lights in the sky above the wilderness in Iceland
With any of the hot springs you choose to visit in Iceland, it is important to remember the etiquette that is expected of visitors. Pool hygiene is strict and respect for the surrounding nature is crucial. It can be dangerous visiting natural hot springs at night in the winter when conditions are highly changeable, so make sure that you keep up to date with weather reports and let someone know where you are going.