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Iceland's Pool Etiquette

Everything About Icelandic Hot Springs & Geothermal Pools Etiquette

|May 3, 2018
Anthropologist, social media guru, Icelandic nature and food enthusiast.

Take a dip in one of Iceland's natural hot springs or geothermal pools, which are found throughout the country. Thanks to Iceland’s unique geography, the country is awash with natural pools and hot springs, meaning you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding the right pool for you.

Want to immerse yourself in Icelandic culture? Iceland's geography means that it's a popular place to immerse yourself in a wellness tour or retreat in their many spa or pool experiences. Take a dip in one of the country’s natural hot springs or geothermal pools, which are found throughout the country.


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Thanks to Iceland’s unique geography, the country is awash with natural pools and hot springs, meaning you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding the pool for you.

But what visitors mightn’t realize is that Iceland has strict rules in regard to pool hygiene, so much so that the tourism board even created this video guide for visitors:

To help you conquer Iceland’s pool etiquette, we’ve created a checklist of everything you need to know and do before swimming in one of Iceland’s pools. Read on to learn more.


The first step in exploring Iceland’s hot springs is to decide what kind of pool you want to visit. Visitors to the country have many options to choose from, including the world-famous Blue Lagoon or lesser-known geothermal pools like Secret Lagoon or Seljavallalaug.

For more information on these naturally occurring wonders, read our guide to Iceland’s hot springs and pools or check out favorite swimming pools in Iceland and discover which one is the best fit for your Icelandic adventure.


Before you enter the pool, there are a number of steps you have to take. Depending on the pool you’ve chosen, you may have to pay an admission fee, although this doesn’t apply to some of Iceland’s more rural hot springs and pools. So, the more well-known the hot spring or geothermal pool is, the more expensive it is to enter.

For example, a day visit to the famous Blue Lagoon will cost you 64 USD with a Comfort package and 83 USD with a Premium package. The Comfort package includes an entrance to the Blue Lagoon, a silica mud mask, a towel, and one drink of your choice. The Premium package includes everything that the Comfort one is, two extra masks of your choice, a bathrobe, and one glass of sparkling wine if dining at Lava restaurant.

The entrance to the Secret Lagoon is significantly cheaper. To enter this swimming pool costs around 24 USD for an adult, and for children 14 years old or younger, it is entirely free.


Now, that we've chosen the hot springs or a pool to visit and figured out the admission fees, there's stuff to know before entering the public pool. Sounds complicated? Here's a list of the few simple etiquette rules everyone in Iceland should follow while bathing in a public swimming pool or hot spring.


Before entering the changing rooms, it’s important to take off your shoes. It’s considered bad manners to wear your shoes into the changing room. Because of this, bathers leave their shoes on racks outside. Don’t worry though, your shoes will be perfectly safe and won’t be stolen!


Showering naked is mandatory for all swimmers before entering the water. This is done purely for hygiene reasons and is what keeps geothermal water, which has no chlorine, clean and free from harmful bacteria.  

To many visitors, showering in your birthday suit can seem like a daunting task, but trust us, no one is looking. Depending on the hot spring or pool you visit, there may even be showers with private cubicles. If not, you’ll have to use the open shower.

Wearing your swimsuit in the shower is strictly forbidden. Most pools will have shower attendants in the locker rooms who are there to make sure no one is wearing their swimsuit in the shower.

Showers will also have signs or illustrated posters depicting the areas which need to be washed thoroughly. This pre-swim ritual may seem a bit daunting, but rest assured it’s only in place to help preserve water quality.

Each year, the number of visitors to these pools rises. However, the water quality always remains high thanks to the above hygiene rules.


After showering, it’s time to put on your swimsuit and hit the pool. Swimsuits are mandatory in all the public pools. Women have the option of bathing topless but can also swim in a traditional one-piece or bikini. It's also handy if you check out our article about swimming in Iceland before going.


After taking off your clothes, showering and conditioning your hair, it’s finally time to go for a dip in the pool. It’s important to remember that hot springs and pools are a place of relaxation for Icelanders, meaning no shouting, running or diving is allowed. Let the naturally-warm water wash over you as you unwind and enjoy the beautiful surroundings and picturesque scenery.

Outdoor pools are an integral part of Icelandic culture and are used for sports and social purposes. Don’t be afraid to chat with locals and learn a bit more about the pool, the surrounding areas and Iceland itself – you’d be surprised by what you can learn!

Whether you’ve opted for an outdoor pool or natural spring, you’re sure to enjoy your time relaxing in some of Iceland’s best-loved pools.


After your dip in the water, it’s time to have another shower. This is done before entering the changing rooms and is purely for the benefit of bathers who want to wash off any silica or mud.


Visitors should be aware that it’s considered rude to re-enter the changing room wet. After showering, make sure to dry yourself properly, so as not to annoy the strict locker room attendants.


Now that you’ve experienced Iceland’s geothermal pools and natural springs, you’ve probably worked up quite an appetite. Luckily, Icelandic tradition dictates that any trip to a swimming pool must be followed by a visit to a nearby hotdog stand or ice cream parlor.

Icelanders LOVE hot dogs and ice cream, meaning you’ll never be too far away from a delicious dessert and a moreish snack.

Read our blog, ‘What is the deal with Icelanders and their hot dogs’, to learn more about Iceland’s obsession with hotdogs.

Arctic Adventures provides a wide range of tours for thrill-seekers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Check out our range of day and multi-day tours, which you can book in advance of your trip to Iceland.

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