Anhelina is a cat mom with a passion for cycling, adventure, and writing. She spends her days inspiring and educating other travelers through her stories by going down rabbit holes of research.
Swimming is a cherished tradition in Iceland. With countless swimming pools, inviting lagoons, and natural hot springs, our guide lists the must-visit places to experience this part of Icelandic culture.
Woman relaxing in Sky Lagoon in Iceland.
Iceland is all about water and offers some of the best swimming spots you'll ever find. Everywhere you look, there's a story tied to water. The locals are used to drinking tap water, Norse legends are filled with water tales, and even the Aquaman scenes from Justice League were shot here.
But what sets Iceland apart isn't just the views or the pools. It's pure, naturally warm water. Imagine diving into crystal clear waters that are warmed by the earth itself. Some spots heat up to a toasty 36°C (96°F) - you'll forget you're in the middle of the North Atlantic!And for the thrill-seekers, Iceland doesn't disappoint too. There are wild, untouched spots shaped by fiery lava and ice, like the Silfra Fissure, waiting for you to explore.
So, whether you're in for a warm relaxation or an exciting adventure, our guide's got you covered for the best swimming spots in Iceland. Let’s dive in!
ICELAND’S SWIMMING CULTURE
Four essential words for anyone visiting Iceland:Bring a bathing suit!
In Iceland, even with its cold weather, swimming is a big deal. No matter where you go, from the busy cities to the smallest villages, you'll find a swimming pool. But these pools are more than just places to take a dip. They're where the community comes together. People of all ages hang out here, making these pools lively spots to catch up on the news and make friends, and sometimes, you might even chat with the town's mayor as you both unwind in a hot tub.
Woman bathing in geothermal pool in Iceland.
Thanks to Iceland's geothermal activity, there's always a warm pool around. The country is dotted with hot springs, nature pools, and community swimming pools, all benefiting from the naturally heated water bubbling beneath the surface. And in places where there's no geothermal heat? They've got it covered with hydroelectric power, ensuring a warm swim even on the coldest days.
Swimming in Iceland is a trend that has been around for a while. Actually, it's been around for ages. One of the oldest known pools, Snorralaug in Reykholt, has been around since the 13th century. It's believed that the famous historian and poet Snorri Sturluson used to bathe there.
With the country's history tied to fishing, knowing how to swim became a must. The waters around Iceland can be tricky, and many fishermen faced dangers. So, swimming lessons became a thing, and today, every Icelander learns to swim from a young age. It's not just about safety; it's also love for the water. And for those looking to stay fit without the strain, water aerobics is a hit, especially among the older generation. After a good workout, there's nothing like a chat in a hot tub.
With over 100 swimming pools and various spas, lagoons, and hot springs to choose from, there's always a new place to dive into. Let’s look at the best places to swim in Iceland.
ICELAND SWIMMING LOCATIONS MAP
SPA & GEOTHERMAL POOLS IN ICELAND
Iceland, with its geothermal wonders, offers some of the world's most unique spa experiences. These geothermal spas, often set amidst stunning landscapes, provide relaxation and rejuvenation, harnessing the earth's natural warmth. Here are some of the best geothermal spas in Iceland:
Offers access to eight natural hot pools, a steam bath, and various activities.
Temperature in the geothermal pools ranges from 95°F to 104°F (35°C to 40°C)
You can swim or paddle-board in the ocean.
Experience the tranquility of Forest Lagoon, a serene natural oasis.
Located in North Iceland, near the town of Akureyri, in the Vadlaskogur forest.
Opened in 2022, nestled in a serene forest setting among birches and pines.
Overlooks one of Iceland's longest fjords, Eyjafjörður.
Panoramic views of the surrounding forest and distant mountains.
Iceland's geothermal spas and lagoons offer travelers a unique blend of relaxation and Icelandic scenery. These natural wonders, enriched with minerals, provide therapeutic benefits and are set against Iceland's stunning landscapes. But did you know there's a differencebetween man-made geothermal pools and natural hot springs? Dive deeper into understanding these distinctions by exploring this informative article. It's a compelling read for anyone who wants to improve their Icelandic spa experience.
NATURAL HOT SPRINGS IN ICELAND
Iceland is home to a unique gift from nature: natural hot springs. But why Icelandic water is so hot? The answer lies in the geological marvel of tectonic plate boundaries, where lava creeps closer to the surface. This geothermal heritage makes electricity generation remarkably affordable and creates some of the world's most captivating natural bathing spots. Let's discover these hidden gems where warm waters merge seamlessly with stunning landscapes.
Here are some of the best hot springs to swim in Iceland:
Landmannalaugar Hot Pools
Geothermal marvel of Landmannalaugar Hot Pools amidst Iceland's volcanic landscape.
Offers a natural bathing experience in a 'Smoky Valley.'
Víti Crater Lake
Viti Crater Lake, an awe-inspiring geothermal wonder in Iceland.
Located in the Icelandic Central Highlands within the Askja Caldera.
Water temperature averages around 25°C or 77°F, warmer on good days.
Access can be challenging due to snow in early summer and a muddy descent.
Despite its name, "Hell," it's a popular spot for a dip.
Do not confuse it with Krafla Víti Crater.
Laugavallalaug (Laugarvellir Hot Natural Pot)
Laugavallalaug Geothermal Area and Waterfall, an Icelandic wonder.
Located in the lush green valley of Laugavalladalur in East Iceland.
Fed by a geothermal stream from a nearby hot spring.
Offers a unique experience of showering under a waterfall pouring into the pool.
Grettislaug hot pools are coastal geothermal marvel amid Iceland's stunning fjords.
Located in Skagafjordur in North Iceland.
Named after Grettir the Strong, a famous Icelandic outlaw.
Offers a view of surrounding mountain ranges and the sound of waves.
Hellulaug Hot Spring, where nature's warmth meets coastal serenity.
Situated in the Westfjords, near the village of Flókalundur.
Offers a temperature of around 38°C or 100°F, ideal for relaxation.
Directly faces the fjord, providing breathtaking views of Vatnsfjörður.
Although not signposted, it's a hidden gem frequented by locals and informed travelers.
Hrunalaug Hot Spring is a natural geothermal oasis near Flúðir, South Coast.
Situated near Flúðir in South Iceland, just 5 minutes off the Golden Circle.
A natural geothermal source with consistently warm temperatures of 40°C or 104°F.
Set within a remote landscape.
Has a limited capacity, ideal for a quiet soak.
Seljallalaug Hot Springs is Iceland's Oldest Geothermal Pool Amidst Stunning Scenery.
Seljavallalaug is among the oldest swimming pools in Iceland, built in 1923.
Nestled in the mountains of South Iceland, approximately 10 km east of Ásólfsskáli.
The pool’s temperature ranges from 20° to 30°C (68 to 86°F), making it warm rather than hot.
Hveravellir Nature Reserve views, with fumaroles and hiking trails.
Hveravellir is located between the glaciers Langjökull and Hofsjökull in the central highlands of Iceland.
It is one of Iceland's most beautiful geothermal areas, with multi-colored boiling mud pools, fumaroles, and azure hot springs.
Offers a natural pool for bathing amidst the Icelandic highlands.
Secret Lagoon is one of Iceland's oldest geothermal pools, a serene and historic hot spring.
Secret Lagoon is located in the village of Flúðir, part of the Golden Circle route.
Iceland's oldest swimming pool, established in 1891.
Natural geothermal waters maintain a temperature of 38-40°C year-round.
Features a geyser that erupts every 5 minutes, offering a unique bathing experience.
Snorralaug Pool in Reykholt is an ancient geothermal bath with historical significance.
Located in Reykholt, West Iceland.
One of the oldest hot springs in Iceland, dating back to the 12th century.
Named after Snorri Sturluson, a famous Icelandic historian and poet.
Snorri's tunnel, a 10-meter-long stone passage, connects the pool to Snorri's house.
Krosslaug Hot Springs - Westfjords
Couple kissing in Krosslaug Hot Sping, Wesfjords.
Also called Birkimelur Pool, located in the remote region of the Westfjords.
Features two distinct pools: a concrete swimming pool built in 1948 and a natural hot spring pool by the seashore.
The concrete pool was used for swimming lessons for residents.
As you traverse the breathtaking landscapes of Iceland, seize every chance to immerse yourself in the land's beauty and inviting, warm waters. These pockets of warmth can be a delightful surprise during your hikes and sightseeing adventures. But a word of caution: always heed local advice. Some of these springs can be surprisingly hot, so ensuring they're safe for a dip is essential.
BEST SWIMMING POOLS IN ICELAND
Swimming pools are a staple in Iceland, with almost every town boasting its water haven. Locals cherish these spots, making them a part of their daily or weekly routines. These pools serve as relaxation zones and social hubs where people of all ages come together to unwind, chat, and soak. While some pools offer entertainment features like water slides, others provide serene hot tubs and steam baths, catering to the adventurous and those seeking tranquility. Here are some of the best swimming pools in Iceland:
Laugardalslaug Swimming Pool
Laugardalslaug, the biggest swimming pool in Iceland.
Located in Reykjavík.
Iceland's largest and most visited swimming pool complex.
Offers Olympic-size lap pools and various hot tubs.
Krossneslaug Swimming Pool
Krossneslaug Swimming Pool in Westfjords, a soothing relaxation experience with ocean views.
Located in the remote region of Strandir, in the Westfjords.
Access is from May to August due to the region's challenging road conditions.
It lies on a scenic wild beach, directly by the ocean
Reykjavík Swimming Hall (Sundhöllin)
Sundhöllin, the oldest swimming pool in Reykjavik.
It opened in 1937 and is the oldest one in Reykjavík.
Located in downtown Reykjavík, close to the main shopping and nightlife area.
Features diving boards, hot tubs, and a steam bath.
Vestmannaeyjar Swimming Pool
Vestmannaeyjar Swimming Pool, located on Heimaey Island, offers a unique swimming experience.
Offers a wide range of toys, a basketball ring, a rounded waterfall, and exciting water slides.
Features a climbing wall with the outlines of Heimaklettur, the highest mountain in the Westman Islands.
Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach
Nautholsvik Geothermal Beach, Reykjavik's geothermal gem, boasts golden sands and rejuvenating oceanfront hot tubs.
Visitors can enjoy the views of the waterfall Systrafoss from the hot tub.
Before the Norse arrived in Iceland, it's believed that Irish monks lived in this village.
More than 100 options are available in various towns and cities in Iceland. You can explore a comprehensive list and details of these pools on the Icelandic Sundlaug website. This platform provides information on the many geothermally heated swimming pools that are popular spots for both locals and tourists to relax and socialize. Additionally, check out the local’s top 5 favorite swimming pools for a deeper dive into the most cherished spots.
SNORKELLING AND DIVING IN ICELAND
Snorkeling in Iceland
Snorkeling in Iceland is a more challenging experience, but it’s the one you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
Silfra Fissure, located in the Þingvellir National Park, is one of the top snorkeling spotsin the world. The fissure is a crack between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, offering crystal clear waters with visibility often exceeding 100 meters. People travel from all over the world to experience snorkeling in the Silfra Fissure. The swim takes you between two continental plates as you travel through some of the purest water on Earth. In fact, with visibility of an astonishing 100 meters, it’s the clearest water snorkeling site available anywhere: The view is so clear that it feels like flying! The water temperature remains around 2-4°C year-round, so dry suits are essential. More about Silfra snorkeling.
Person during a snorkeling tour in the Silfra Fissure, Iceland.
Diving in Iceland
While snorkeling in Silfra offers a glimpse of its crystal-clear glacial waters, diving between continents takes the experience to another level.
Situated within Thingvellir National Park, Silfra's depths reveal a captivating underwater realm. Venturing down to 18 meters (59 feet), you'll find yourself in a realm where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates drift apart, offering a firsthand look at the raw power of nature. This isn't just any dive; it's a journey into the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage site. So, if you've skimmed the surface snorkeling, diving in Silfra promises a deeper connection to this geological wonder. Dive in and uncover the secrets that lie beneath.
For those new to diving, certification is essential. But don't let that deter you! If you're yet to be PADI-certified, we offer a comprehensive two-day tour, complete with a diving course, ensuring you're well-prepared to explore the wonders of Silfra.
BEACHES IN ICELAND
Iceland's rugged coastline, shaped by its rich geology and the cold North Atlantic, offers a completely unique experience for those exploring its waters. While some intrepid locals might venture into the wild Icelandic sea for a refreshing dip or even a surf session, it's often recommended for visitors to seek out the warmer, more controlled environments of the country's renowned geothermal lagoons and hot springs.
Nautholsvik, situated in Reykjavik, stands out as an exception. This man-made beach provides a more temperate swimming experience. It boasts light sandy shores, a contrast to the typical black sand found on many Icelandic beaches. The beach's geothermally heated waters and on-site hot tubs offer a pleasant respite, making it a favorite for both locals and tourists.
Many beaches in Iceland, such as Diamond beach, are not suitable for swimming.
However, not all of Iceland's scenic coastal spots are suitable for swimming. With their captivating beauty, local beaches come with their share of challenges: the icy waters, strong currents, and ever-changing weather. For instance, the picturesque town of Vík í Mýrdal offers breathtaking views, but its ocean's powerful currents and cold temperatures make it better suited for sightseeing than swimming.
In conclusion, while swimming in the wild Icelandic open waters is very dangerous and not recommended, the country offers plenty of alternatives for those looking to experience its unique coastal beauty. For those eager to take a dip, it's wise to opt for safer spots like Nautholsvik or the numerous geothermal pools throughout the country.
SWIMMING ETIQUETTE AND TIPS
What is the swimming etiquette in Iceland? The culture of bathing in Iceland emphasizes hygiene and respect for communal spaces. Before enjoying the rejuvenating waters, a thorough, swimsuit-free, soapy shower is mandatory. This ritual ensures the cleanliness of the geothermal pools, which typically have low chlorine levels. In the shower rooms, Icelanders embrace the practice of washing naked, highlighting the importance of hygiene.
People enjoying the Icelandic landscape from a hot tub.
Remember these etiquette rules when preparing for an Icelandic pool experience:
Always shower without your swimsuit before entering the pool.
Leave your shoes outside the locker room.
Maintain privacy by refraining from using phones or cameras in the locker rooms.
Most pools have a reasonable entry fee. The fee goes to the maintenance and/or operation of extra facilities like saunas.
At some pools, there might not be a formal ticket booth but a place to leave your entry fee. This honor system reflects the Icelandic culture of trust and responsibility.
Iceland has some truly beautiful waters, but they can also be tricky. When thinking about swimming in Iceland, safety should come first. The waters can be cold, the currents strong, and the weather can change quickly. So, while there are many places to swim, it's a good idea to stick to well-known spots like Nautholsvik or the many warm geothermal pools around the country.
For example, these are some popular places where you absolutely should NOT swim:
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach: Known for its strong and unpredictable sneaker waves. Even walking around here needs to be approached with caution.
Brimketill Lava Rock Pool: Located on the Reykjanes Peninsula, it has strong waves and is best viewed during low tide.
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon: While stunning, the ice-cold waters filled with icebergs make it absolutely unsuitable for swimming.
Dettifoss Waterfall: This is an extremely powerful waterfall whose surrounding waters are treacherous. The same goes for the rest of the Icelandic waterfalls!
Kirkjufjara Beach: Close to Reynisfjara, this beach also has dangerous waves and strong currents.
There are many more locations in Iceland where you are better off observing from a distance. To stay safe, remember to save this guide and follow local advice. In short, always be carefuland respectful if you plan to enjoy Iceland's waters. This way, you can have a great time while staying safe.
BRING A BATHING SUIT!
Woman, enjoying a hot tub overlooking the waterfall.
Swimming in Iceland feels as warm as the tropics, with crystal-clear waters and amazing views. It's a unique experience you won't forget. Check out our range of activities, from calming natural hot springs tours to exciting snorkeling and diving adventures. Each trip is designed to show you the best of Iceland's water attractions.
SWIMMING IN ICELAND - FAQ
CAN YOU SWIM IN ICELAND?
Yes, you can swim in Iceland. In fact, swimming is deeply ingrained in Icelandic culture. There are several hundred public pools to choose from, which the country’s population considers both a health necessity and a social hub. Since the earliest settlements, Icelanders have enjoyed bathing in geothermally heated warm water pools all year round.
DOES ICELAND HAVE SWIMMABLE BEACHES?
While the article doesn't directly mention beaches, it does highlight various pools and lagoons that are popular for swimming. However, it's worth noting that while Iceland might have beaches, the North Atlantic waters can be quite cold.
IS IT EVER WARM ENOUGH TO SWIM IN ICELAND?
It is warm enough to swim in Iceland, especially in geothermally heated pools and lagoons. Some locals even suggest that the best weather to go swimming is when it's rainy and windy, as it allows for a deep connection with nature.
CAN YOU SWIM IN ICELAND IN THE SUMMER?
Yes, you can swim in Iceland in the summer. In fact, you can swim in Iceland all year round, thanks to the geothermally heated pools and lagoons.
ARE THERE ANY FAMOUS SWIMMING SPOTS IN ICELAND?
Some renowned swimming spots include the Blue Lagoon, the Retreat Spa, Sky Lagoon, Laugardalslaug, Krossnesllaug, and Seljavallalaug. Each of these places offers a unique experience, whether it's the healing properties of the water, the scenic beauty, or the cultural significance.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF SWIMMING IN ICELAND'S GEOTHERMAL WATERS?
Swimming in Iceland's geothermal waters can offer various health benefits. For instance, the warm waters can help alleviate chronic pains, reduce inflammation, strengthen the immune system, and provide relaxation. Floating in these waters can also reduce stress, release the body’s natural painkillers, and offer a deep sense of relaxation.
ARE SWIMMING POOLS IN ICELAND WARM?
Yes, swimming pools in Iceland are geothermally heated, ensuring a warm and comfortable experience.
IS IT SAFE TO SWIM IN THE BLUE LAGOON ICELAND?
The Blue Lagoon in Iceland is safe to swim in, with its mineral-rich waters known for their therapeutic properties.