Iceland’s blessed with abundant geothermal energy and for visitors, that brings one advantage in particular: its glorious lagoons. From luxurious spas to rustic lakes surrounded by nature, these are the 7 lagoons you absolutely must visit during your stay.
1. Blue Lagoon (Reykjanes)
When you first set eyes on the Blue Lagoon, with its contemporary facilities and stylish design, it’s hard to believe that it opened in 1992. Over the years there have been changes and improvements but despite the ever-increasing competition, this sleek spa still manages to hold its own. The juxtaposition of its rough lava walls and pale blue, silica-rich water echoes the very best natural landscapes in the country. Yet, this is the by-product of industrial waste – an imaginative way to recycle the waste hot water emanating from the nearby geothermal power station. It’s one of the most extraordinary visitor attractions in the country and you shouldn’t miss it.
Relax in the milky blue water of the Blue Lagoon
2. Sky Lagoon (Reykjavik)
Opened in 2021, Sky Lagoon is the Blue Lagoon’s first serious local competitor. While there are other luxury lagoons in Iceland, this one’s located just beyond Reykjavik city centre. The setting is perhaps even more striking, as Sky Lagoon boasts an infinity pool right beside the Atlantic Ocean. In a nod to Icelandic heritage, it also features a Klömbruhleðsla, or turf wall, constructed in the traditional manner. Its therapeutic, seven-step regime is branded as Sky Ritual, involving alternate stints in hot and cold environments to relax and invigorate those who embrace it. Like Blue Lagoon, there’s a shop where you can stock up on products designed to extend the experience to when you arrive home.
The infinity pool at the Sky Lagoon
3. Forest Lagoon (North Iceland)
Forest Lagoon, or Skógarböð as it will be known by locals, is new for spring 2022. It is located in Akureyri, in North Iceland. The seed of an idea came about in 2014 when engineers were excavating the Vaðlaheiðargöng tunnel between Akureyri and Húsavík. Construction hit a snag when they hit a previously unknown source of geothermal water and it began streaming from the mountain. What at the time was a bit of a headache for the build soon became the cloud’s metaphoric silver lining and led to the development of the Forest Lagoon. Surrounded by birch and pine trees and centred on two infinity pools, this place promises to be every bit as special as those which have come before it.
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4. GeoSea (North Iceland)
Húsavík has its own luxury lagoon, and it’s called GeoSea. It sits on the top of the headland overlooking Skjálfandi Bay, one of Iceland’s premier spots for whale watching. It’s a relatively small pool, yet this intimate lagoon still manages to squeeze in that all-important swim up bar. Thanks to its infinity edge design, the water appears to spill over the hillside into the water of the bay below, and at sunset, the light seems to dissolve into the surface of the pool. Under a clear sky, it’s a beautiful place to end the day, and perhaps if you’re lucky you might also see the Northern Lights before you drag yourself away.
The Geosea Spa in Húsavík
5. Secret Lagoon (South Iceland)
To give this place its correct name, you should call it Gamla Laugin. It’s the oldest swimming pool in the country, dating from 1891, and was frequented by Icelanders long before the Blue Lagoon was even a figment of someone’s imagination. Though this simple place fell out of favour in the 1940s, it was restored and reopened in 2014. You’ll find it at Hverahólmi, a geothermal area near Flúðir. This historic lagoon gets all its water from Vaðmálahver, Básahver, or Litli Geysir. The latter is an active geyser and puts on a show every few minutes for bathers. The water is constantly replenished and rich in sulphur, while its temperature stays around 38 to 40°C all year, ideal for a soak no matter what the weather.
Relax in the Secret Lagoon after a day of exploring
6. Mývatn Nature Baths (East Iceland)
Mývatn Nature Baths sits alongside the lake of the same name. Two spacious outdoor pools, one slightly warmer than the other, boast incredible views out over the water and beyond. Just as you’ll find at the Blue Lagoon, the water is a milky blue, and for a long time, this was its main rival – though as it is located on the opposite of the country ring roaders could do both, of course. It’s an intimate place, relatively, and the outlook over the surrounding landscape makes this a must if you’re passing by. One last, and crucial, point: Mývatn means midge lake, but fortunately the midges to which the name refers don’t seem to like the geothermal area, so even though you might see them in the car park, they won’t bother you as you bathe.
Enjoy a wonderful stay at the Mývatn Nature Baths
7. Vök Baths (East Iceland)
Now this one’s a little unusual, but for water views it’s almost unbeatable. Vök Baths is a geothermal floating lagoon – or to be more accurate, two floating lagoons – which extend out onto Lake Urriðavatn. Observant locals had noticed that part of the lake never froze, which was quite unusual in that part of Iceland. In the past, this part of the lake was used for washing clothes, but now it serves a different purpose as a thermal bath. If you get too hot, you can simply hop over the edge into the lake until you’ve cooled off. Like Mývatn, nature is the star here and this serene, unspoilt spot is a lovely place to come and relax.
Vök baths seen from above
If you want to explore pools and lagoons, you should read our article about the top 30 hot springs and swimming pools in Iceland.