Icelanders swear by the benefits of a daily soak the country’s volcanically heated pools and spas for a healthy lifestyle and long life span. Natural bathing dates back to at the 12th century and the locals called them heitir pottar which literally translates as ‘hot pools’. It is said that people began bathing the volcanic pools when saga poet Snorri Sturluson composed his work from a home-made hot tub at his home in Reykholt, north-west Iceland. Today, there are many places to bathe naturally across the country and here are some of the best:
Swim in a volcanic crater
Situated in an isolated part of Iceland’s central highlands next to the Vatnajokull ice cap lies the lake filled crater of ‘Viti’. It was created following the eruption of Askja volcano in 1875 and visitors can hike up to the crater to take a dip in the warm waters which get up to 30°C. The crater can only be accessed by 4WD vehicles, so booking yourself on a tour or taking a guide is recommended.
Shower under a warm waterfall in Laugarvalladalur Valley
The Laugarvalladalur Valley in the east of the country boasts a natural warm water shower located under a waterfall and fed by the geothermal River Jökulsá. The waterfall and its pools are located next to an abandoned farmhouse and can be reached by hiking or on horseback.
Relax in a lazy river in Reykjadalur
A popular day trip from Reykjavik, the Reykjadalur geothermal area features a warm water river that makes for a perfect bathing spot. The best place for a dip is slight downstream from where the boiling hot water of Klambragil merges with the cold fresh water from the east, making it lovely and warm. The river can be reached by a hiking trail which is well sign posted and takes around 40 minutes.
Unwind at the Blue Lagoon
Lastly is one of Iceland’s most famous natural swimming holes, the Blue Lagoon, heated by geothermal rocks and located in a lava field. The water is rich in natural minerals and is said to help cure ailments and skin conditions. Here you can relax and bathe in water temperatures of 37°C-39°C or also enjoy indulgent massages and body wraps in the attached spa.