You’ve probably heard about the borderline-magical healing powers of Icelandic spas. Unlike the heavily-chlorinated urban puddles of many mainland European countries and the US, Iceland’s swimming pools run on a constant, plentiful supply of geothermal water, heated by the earth itself. And while even the most humble municipal pool in Iceland is worth a relaxing half-hour visit, here are seven modern Icelandic spas where you’ll want to spend a whole afternoon.
The original mothership of fancy bathing spots, the Blue Lagoon has handled the teeming crowds who flock there all year round by enlarging the swimming area and limiting the amount of people who can enter at any one time. This has restored the health-spa atmosphere that made it a firm favourite in the first place. Sink into the pearlescent white, silica-rich water—which has first been used to produce clean energy by the neighbouring geothermal power plant—and you’ll feel like a new person, inside and out. Be sure to book ahead.
A newcomer with a stark black design, Krauma exploits the most powerful hot spring in all of Europe, Deildartunguhver. There are several hot pots of varying temperatures—all offering great views over the picturesque valley in which the pool is situated—as well as a searing steam room. Take a robed-up selfie in the relaxation lounge and watch your Insta-comments explode with envy.
One of the more humble setups on the list, the Sjávarsmiðjan spa is basically a handful of outdoor hotpots in the lower-Westfjords village of Reykhólar. What makes it special, though, is the use of seaweed. There’s a processing plant just outside the village, creating a nutritious seaweed powder that’s used in all kinds of cosmetics. At Sjávarsmiðjan, they ladle it decadently into the water to replenish your skin and soul as you look out towards the Snæfellsnes to the south.
Mývatn Nature Baths
The ‘Blue Lagoon of the North’ is a much quieter proposition than its southerly counterpart. Bask in the main pool, swimming around to find the temperature that suits you; pop into the sauna to steam yourself, and then cool off on the deck. It’s the perfect end to a day spent exploring the wonders of Lake Mývatn’s shoreline, or as the final stop of your Diamond Circle road trip.
On a grassy hilltop at the edge of Húsavík you’ll find this state-of-the-art bathing facility. A relative newcomer to the scene, GeoSea takes advantage of a borehole that mixes salty seawater with a geothermal outpour, enabling you bask in a naturally-heated saline pool. The attractively-designed pool has an undulating edge and a stunning view over the Skjálfandi Bay.
While the concept of bathing in beer might sound like some kind of Viking-themed fantasy, everyone from the Grapevine who’s visited Eyjafjörður’s Beer Spa has come back singing its praises. The young beer in the bath has beneficial effects for the skin—and there’s a pump to pour yourself a fully-developed brew right next to the tub, plus an outdoor hot pot to relax in afterwards.
This newcomer spa in East Iceland is about to open its doors, and we’ve been drooling over the early photos of the “floating pools”—that is, hot pots that hover in waters of Lake Urriðavatn. With a cold mist tunnel, a pool bar, and more, we’ll be checking this one out as soon as we can.
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