What would be so fun that it would be worth shoving your wedding tackle about in front of a mass of strangers? (That is assuming you don’t just enjoy the aforementioned act.) Well, it’s swimming in geothermal pools (all pools in Reykjavík are heated by geothermal energy).
Why is swimming fun? A few key reasons: 1) By standing in warm water, one can be outdoors in any temperature or weather and still enjoy physical comfort. Want to watch Northern Lights, you’ll be fine. Want to look at a sunset, you’re golden. Want to just get a little sun despite the bone-chilling cold, all good. 2) Warm water relaxes most people. It’s a basic thing. And there aren’t many negative side-effects to standing in warm water for hours. 3) If you go to the effort of swimming, (not usually done by Icelanders), it makes your heart feel good. 4) Locals go the same pool regularly, and they go there sober. Relaxed and warm, they often speak with each other. The pools are the place to get a feel for your local community.
Here is a list of our favourite pools, with reasons we like them, reasons we don’t live there, and typical quotes from a day at each pool.
Reason we like it: This is the Disneyworld of Reykjavík swimming pools. Designed by the same team behind the Blue Lagoon, it really doesn’t get more high tech than this. Children and people interested in making children most frequent this pool.
Reason we don’t live here: Far away. Also, the pool is crowded and too small to swim in. The people are also sometimes intimidatingly attractive.
Typical Quote: I’m sorry, did my handsome child bump against your well-formed abdominal muscles? His father and I are not living together so he sometimes acts unruly.
Árbæjarlaug – Arbaejar Swimming pool
Tel.: 567 3933
Open weekdays from 6:50 to 22:30 and on Saturdays and Sundays from 8:00 – 22:00.
Reason we like it: With an Olympic-sized pool, Laugardaslaug is also located next to the youth hostel, next to World Class gym, and next to one of the best hot dog stands in town. The crowd is diverse; you are most likely to strike up a conversation with a tourist here. But you are also most likely to see people who really enjoy their gym time.
Reason we don’t live here: Odd tendency for locals to swim using FLIPPERS and other devices. Locker room is often over-crowded, and swimming 50-meter lengths can be daunting.
Typical Quote: How do you like Iceland?
Laugardalslaug – Laugardals Swimming Pool
Tel.: 553 4039
Open on weekdays from 6:50 to 22:00, Saturdays and Sundays, from 8:00 to 20:00.
Reason we like it: Salt water pool with a very local crowd, this is the most relaxed pool in town. Except on Sundays, when unruly ocean swimmers crash the pool after their chilling Atlantic swim.
Reason we don’t live here: The pool is frequented by locals, and none of us live in Seltjarnarnes. If we move to that neighbourhood, we will definitely live at this pool.
Typical Quote: Lifið er dásamlegt. (Life is good.)
Seltjarnarnes Sports/Recreation center
Tel.: 561 1551.
Open weekdays from 06:45 am until 8:30 pm and from 08:00 am until 5:30 pm on weekends.
Reason we like it: Located near the University of Iceland, and in he historically open-minded but working class neighbourhood of Vesturbær, this pool has a reputation among some as a gay pool. We have seen nothing to suggest that any pool is more gay than any other, but there are fewer homophobe types, which is nice.
Reason we don’t live here: This pool is especially popular for young parents, and the children can intrude a little on the tranquillity.
Typical Quote: When the hydrogen bus leaves in six months, something will have to be done to show that we’re committed to reform.
Vesturbæjarlaug – Vesturbaejar Swimming Pool
Tel.: 551 5004
Open on weekdays from 6:30 to 22:00 Saturdays and Sundays, 8:00 to 20:00.
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