Swimming Is Awesome! - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Swimming Is Awesome!

Swimming Is Awesome!

Published July 23, 2010

RX Beckett

It’s surprising that Iceland‘s amazing pools are still a secret to the outside world, considering it’s one of the only countries in the world that gets their hot water environmentally soundly and dirt-cheap (or should we say water-cheap) all year round. To our loyal readers, it’s definitely no secret how much us Grapeviners love them pools. They are without doubt one of Reykjavík’s redeeming qualities.

Lucky for us, then, that there are three great ones close to downtown (where we keep our offices). And there are also many pools just off the beaten path that are totally worth taking the trip to. Some of them have really cool hot pots and water slides and stuff, and maybe soon we’ll all be getting free towels like our new mayor has promised (in fact, that would up our pools’ to ‘SPA STATUS’ according to some crazy EU regulation). So check out all the pools in the Greater Reykjavík Area, y’all, before it’s too late and they all turn into spas!

Árbæjarlaug
Fylkisvegur 9, 110 Reykjavík

The swimming pool in the neighbourhood Árbær is a really neat maze of indoor and outdoor tubs. The indoor pool is housed under a huge glass dome where one can gaze out at the sky all year round, feeling like some kind of fancy millionaire. What is super cool here is that the pools are all connected to each other so you can leave the glass dome and go outside without ever getting out of the water. The hotpots are also connected by barely a step, so this place really tops the lazy swimmer list. It is verifiably a great place for Skinka-watching, too.
Weekdays: 6:30–22:00
Weekends: 8:00–21:00

Breiðholtslaug
Austurbergi 3, 111 Reykjavík

Originally opened in 1981 as a teaching pool for school children, Breiðholt’s pool is now known for being one of the best family-friendly hangouts in the city. The massive indoor and outdoor facilities offer four pools (one for the kids), as well as three excellent hotpots, a steambath and the elusive dry sauna that most Icelandic pools do not have. They also have a pair of waterslides that bring out the kid in everyone. A favourite amongst some of our staff.
Weekdays:  6:30-22:00
Weekends: 8:00-20:00

Grafarvogslaug
Dalhúsum 2, 112 Reykjavík

Another great family hangout, this pool also has an excellent outdoor lap pool for anyone who likes to get their serious swim on. The beautiful open-air location makes it a great place to sunbathe on clear days or sit in the cluster of hot tubs during grey skies. Here again you’ll find another huge fantastic waterslide for all to enjoy, as well as a water playground for the kiddies. Inside the main building there is also a refreshment area to buy drinks and snacks or various swimming accessories one may need.
Weekdays: 6:30–22:30
Weekends: 8:00–20:30

Laugardalslaug
Sundlaugavegur 30, 105 Reykjavík

Probably the most famous pool around town, this central behemoth is totally worth its weight in geothermal gold. Located in the lower valley of Reykjavík where women traditionally went on Saturdays to do their washing, this location is said to have been a swimming spot since 1772. The modern facilities were first opened in 1968 but renovated and re-opened in 1986. Now it boasts a massive lap pool, six hot tubs including one with seawater, a huge kids’ pool and steambath. The newest addition is the crazy disco slide they just completed, with flashing lights and powerful jets to shoot you down at crazy speeds. So fun!
Weekdays: 6:30–22:30
Weekends: 8:00–22:00

(opening hours change during winter season).

Sundhöllin
Barónsstígur 45a, 101 Reykjavík

The only pool in the actual downtown proper, Sundhöllin is also the eldest of Reykjavík’s pools. After many snags in municipal proposals and cutting through the red tape, the pool finally opened on March 24, 1937. Set in a magnificent white art-deco structure, it’s also the only exclusively indoor pool in town, and frequently used for swimming lessons. What’s more, they have two springboards to do cannonballs off of. The outdoor rooftop hot tubs and steambath are a great place to soak in some rays and is a classic hangover cure for all the weekend club-kids.
Weekdays: 6:30–21:30
Weekends: 8:00–19:00

Vesturbæjarlaug
Hofsvallagata, 101 Reykjavík

Although its address is in the 101, this pool really resides in the fancy west-side neighbourhood of Vesturbær. Located mere metres from the Oceanside, this quaint pool isn’t huge or geared out with waterslides and all that jazz, but it has a lot of character. Something about the dark wood walls around the hot tubs and the sunbathing area give it a real community feel to it. The steambath is one of the nicest ones in town, housed in a large round room made of thick glass that lets sunlight stream in (it was also known as a ‘gay cruising spot’ for a long time, as referenced in many Icelandic hip hop songs). The kids’ pool is also great place to play water-basketball with your buddies.
Weekdays: 6:30–22:00
Weekends: 8:00–20:00

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