The panel this year skewed towards the over-30 bracket, so the criteria for selecting the best municipal swimming pools had to take into account the needs of kids and their world-weary handlers. Lágafellslaug might not be the best spot for actual swimming but instead you get a triple-whammy water slide (one that ends in warm water, not the usual polar bear challenge) and a sauna with a glass window, which means you can watch the kids while you try to unclench that sciatica and buy yourself 10 minutes of uninterrupted adult-time.
Fylkisvegur 9, 110 Reykjavík
Here’s another one that’s a fair bit outside of downtown Reykjavík but well worth a visit. Árbæjarlaug combines a lived-in 90s charm with facilities that seem better suited to Icelandic weather than most pools. First of all, you have a sauna in the changing room, which means you could forego pee-walking on frozen cement in your tankini and just hang out there. If you choose to brave the cold, then the first hot tub is strategically located right by the changing room exit. This is very much a family-friendly pool, though, so beware if you are looking for a quiet place to sweat out a hangover.
Barónsstígur 45a, 101 Reykjavík
Finally, one for the childfree people! The original hot tubs (on the 2nd floor) are a classic of the genre: large, aquamarine, hot, outside and without sharp angles. It’s not one of the biggest pools, however, and the sauna is best described as ‘good for two people who don’t mind touching knees or for three people who don’t mind human Tetris in the buff. Bonus points go to Sundhöll for regularly hosting cultural activities, like swim-in movie screenings.
2022: Sky Lagoon
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