HOW TO: THERMAL POOLS IN REYKJAVIK, ICELAND

I have to admit, my recent addiction has to be hanging out in the thermal pools at the local swimming pool, Laugardalslaug. About 10'c outside, a soak in 38'c and upwards is just bliss to re-energise and help you relax. Though the Blue Lagoon is the more obvious choice, especially for tourists, the local pools are fantastic. Iceland takes swimming pools pretty seriously, there's one in every town. After all it's a social thing here, people hangout and put the world to rights down the local pool. Rumour has it that Icelandic students can't graduate from school without learning how to swim. Here are some pools to visit:

Laugardalslaug - our local pool with a huge indoor lanes pool, an outdoor pool, kids flume and a variety of hot pools

Vesturbæjarlaug - a good outdoor pool and a big hot tub, where I've previously spotted Bjork

Sundhöllin - downtown pool with both indoor and outdoor pools and a hot tub

Árbæjarlaug - a great pool because you can swim from the indoor pool to the outdoor and get straight into a hot tub

Breiðholts - a very local pool offering swimming lessons, an outdoor lanes pool, kids pool, slides and hot tubs

Blue Lagoon - not for swimming but for bathing, relaxing and posing for that Instagram shot. Pricey but an experience!!

Secret Lagoon - A toasty lagoon with changing rooms and showers, not for swimming in but the waters so good

Seljavallalaug - one of the first man made pools built to teach local kids how to swim. A naturally heated algae pool. My favourite pool

Natural Pools - head to the West Fjords to explore and find hidden pools

Going for swim in Iceland can be a little confusing, the Icelanders are obsessed with being clean prior to jumping in the pool and this can make the foreigner cringe somewhat. So here are some pointers on the changing and showering rituals here in Iceland.

entrance Ticket

The public pools in Iceland are relatively inexpensive:

  • Adult 950ISK
  • Kids 6-17 years old150ISK
  • Kids under 6 years old are free
  • Senior citizens are free

I believe you can also the Reykjavik City Card for entrance to local pools too.

Undress, shower + re-dress

Some pools will require you to take off your shoes and socks and leave them on a shelf before entering the changing room. Once in the changing room, find a locker (you might beed to bring a small padlock) and get undressed. Take everything off and roll up your towel and shampoo. There is an area beside the showers where you can leave them for when you're finished swimming. 

Now it gets a little awkward (but don't worry as the changing rooms and showers are same sex so males are in one changing room and female in another). Some people will walk to the shower naked, some will go in their swimming costume only to take it off to wash themselves and then out it back on. Either way, you must wash your body with soap and water before you go into the pool. Be warned, there are often strict Icelandic pool staff keeping an eye out for shy foreigners who just shower and go. If you feel a bit sky, some showers have one with a curtain not not many. No ones looking and everyone has to wash. 

Once you have washed, put your swimming costume on and head out to the pool.

swim

It's Iceland so it's probably going to be cold out. Some people use flip flops, some take their towel but I say leave it all behind and just go for it - the hot pools will be your reward!! Enjoy.

Personally I go to Laugardallaug and it costs about £3 for pool access (£10 for gym and pool) but I have a months pass and so use the very fancy retina scanner to access. The centre is well equipped with a huge gym, range of workout classes, spa, and both indoor and outdoor pools. The main attraction however has to be the thermal pools, I love this part of the Icelandic culture. Whether rain, snow or shine, everyone heads to the pools to warm up, chill out and relax. A great source of natural therapy, pools are heated at 38'c 40'c 42'c and 44'c with a natural salt water pool at the very end which is extracted from a nearby borehole. 

Laugardalslaug opening hours: Monday - Thursday: 6:30 - 22:00, Friday: 6:30 - 22:00, Weekends: 8:00 - 22:00

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Sonia Nicolson

Hi, I'm Sonia from Edinburgh, Scotland. I relocated to Reykjavik, Iceland back in February 2016 to live life with my Viking, Ingimar (marrying summer 2017). I blog about Design, Travel and Lifestyle and upload a weekly 'Living in Iceland' vlog every Thursday on my YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/soniascot