Pools and hot tubs
Without doubt the cornerstone of Icelandic social activities and gatherings are the hot tubs and swimming pools, located in all major towns and throughout rural areas of the country.
Icelanders truly love their pools and hot tubs, which are focal gathering points for those wishing to catch up on gossip and other key talking points.
Iceland’s plentiful sources of geothermal activity means that naturally occurring hot water can be easily accessed and used in hot tubs, most commonly located outdoors, allowing bathers to experience a truly favourite Icelandic past-time in all weather conditions.
Reykjavik in particular has an abundance of swimming pools with hot tubs, steam rooms and saunas located throughout the city.
Iceland’s biggest swimming pool, Laugardalslaug, is located just a short distance from central Reykjavik, containing several hot tubs of varying temperatures as well as a saline hot tub, several Olympic-length swimming lanes, and large children’s play pool and water slide.
Visitors to swimming pools are required to wash without a bathing costume before entering poolside and hot-tub areas.
Pools which have open-area showers and changing areas have often deterred some visitors who feel slightly put off by washing naked in front of others. For Icelanders, this does not seem to present a problem, but in recent years some pools have adapted and refurbished their changing areas so that visitors who wish to have some privacy may do so.
Many swimming pools, and in particular the Blue Lagoon, now have both changing cubicles and individual showers with a partition door to ensure bathers can change and shower privately.
Visits to pools and hot tubs are reasonably cheap, with access to pools in the Reykjavik area priced at ISK 650 for adults, and free for young children and senior citizens. There are discounts available on multiple passes and concessions. Pools often open early, with many in Reykjavik open as early as 6.30pm and staying open until 10pm on weekdays. Weekend opening hours vary from pool to pool, so it is worthwhile checking for opening times. Free soap is provided in shower areas and visitors can rent bathing costumes, towels and robes at certain pools.
A trip to the hot tub is recommended as a must for any visitor to Iceland, regardless of whether they are a competent swimmer or not. During the dark winter months, it can be a truly rejuvenating experience to sit in an outdoor tub, neck-deep in clean, hot water whilst snow settles on top of your head.