If there’s one swimming pool in Reykjavík that has something for everyone, it’s Laugardalslaug in 104 Reykjavík. With the biggest swimming pool in the country, numerous hot tubs, and a killer water slide, it’s no wonder that this pool is also the most visited one in the whole of Iceland.
Many of the visitors are regulars who have been coming to the pool every day at the same time for years or even decades. When the staff open their doors at 6:30 in the morning, they say there’s always the same group of a dozen or so elderly citizens waiting to begin their day with a few laps, some time spent chatting in the hot tubs and then a post-swim coffee and kleinur break.
Another group that the staff speaks fondly of are “hádegiskarlarnir” or “the noon guys”, as they like to call them. This group of middle-aged men meet at the hot tubs every weekday to discuss politics before they get out and order the same asparagus soup for lunch. If their taste in gossip is more exciting than their taste in soup, this could be a good time to hit the hot tub, though you’re almost always guaranteed to learn something interesting in an Icelandic hot tub.
In addition to the regulars who are there rain or shine, or snow, the pool is packed to the brim on a sunny day. It’s perhaps a little known secret that Laugardalslaug often has the best conditions for sunbathing. The concrete stadium style seating that many would like to do away with actually blocks out the cold northerly winds, which incidentally also bring sunny to partly cloudy skies in Reykjavík.
But let’s be honest, many of us go to Laugardalslaug for its killer 8-metre tall and 85-metre long water slide. Replacing the old slide in 2009, the new and improved one, called ‘Thunder and Lightening’, is completely covered and features a crazy light show before spitting you out.
As a kid you learn that wedgies are the way to achieve maximum speed, but you should know that there is no age limit. Take it from the pool’s deputy director Bjarni Kjartansson who takes the occasional slide himself: “There may be taller slides in the country, but no slide is more fun”.
Tip: Don’t forget your towel in the locker room. It’s the most commonly left-behind item.