Nature baths - hot springs

Magazine Nature baths - hot springs

No trip to Iceland would be complete without a dip in a natural pool. Icelanders have been bathing outdoors for centuries, and for good reason. Few things soothe sore muscles and chilly limbs like a hot spring. Iceland is home to a wide variety of geothermically-heated pools, ranging from plush to pastoral. No matter where you’re staying, there’ll be somewhere nearby where you can get your feet wet.

The Blue Lagoon is by far the most famous nature bath in Iceland, as well as one of the most popular tourist attractions. Even travelers just stopping in Iceland for a lengthy layover have been known to take advantage of a warm soak after a long flight. Due to its popularity, the Blue Lagoon offers many enticing extras, such as a luxurious spa, fine dining, and even a swim-up bar. If this is your first trip to Iceland, the Blue Lagoon is a must-do.

Laugarvatn Fontana

When touring the Golden Circle, make sure to stop by the gorgeous geothermal baths at Laugarvatn Fontana. Guests can enjoy pools of varied depths and temperatures while basking in the spectacular views of lake Laugarvatn. Fontana is also home to invigorating steam rooms built over natural hot springs, which been in use since 1929. This is an ideal spot for nature lovers in need of a little R&R.

For those staying in Akureyri or traveling through the north, the Myvatn Nature Baths are well worth a visit. While this destination lacks the fancier amenities of the Blue Lagoon (no spa treatments here), it has the benefit of a quieter atmosphere, especially during the off-season. If you’re looking for peace and relaxation, Myvatn is an excellent choice.

If you plan to visit a hot spring with visitor facilities, keep in mind that in Iceland, anyone who uses a public pool is expected to shower beforehand -- without a bathing suit. Places that see a lot of tourists sometimes have separate shower stalls for more modest guests, but most places will just have one communal showering area. This custom can be a little surprising for some tourists, but for Icelanders, it’s no big deal. People of all ages, sizes, and shapes use public pools. All anyone cares about is that you have a good time!

But what if you’re looking for something a little more rustic? If an old fashioned swimming hole is more your style, the countryside has plentyGuðrúnarlaug in Sælingsdalur
 of options for you. Popular camping site Landmannalaugar is named for the warm, inviting pool that has calmed the feet of many a weary backpacker. Visitors staying at Icelandair Hotel Fludir can take a quick drive (or even hike) to Hrunalaug -- two small rock-lined pools resting in the middle of a grass-covered gully. In western Iceland, history buffs can unwind in Guðrúnarlaug, a hot-tub sized pool used during Viking times (and mentioned in the Icelandic Sagas). For adventurers in the north, there’s Grjotagja, a thermal spring hiding inside a natural lava cave. Entering Grjotagja requires a short climb through a narrow cave entrance, and you’ll need to bring a flashlight or a headlamp, as no natural light enters the cave.

These are just a few of the possibilities available to you. Chances are that wherever you’re traveling, there’s a hot spring somewhere along the way. Please remember that it’s not a good idea to jump into just any hot spring you see along the road. Some natural springs get scaldingly hot, and there’s no good way to tell by looking if the water is safe. If you don’t see a man-made sign or a path leading to it, it’s probably not a place used by people. When in doubt, ask a local.

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