Geothermal pools in Iceland that are not the Blue Lagoon

Geothermal energy is a byproduct of volcanic activity. Bathing in geothermal pools do more than just rejuvenate. They can do wonder to the skin and boost blood circulation; help with respiratory problems and provide pain relief to aching muscles. The blue lagoon is undoubtedly one of the most popular geothermal pool in Iceland. But if you want to avoid the crowds and try some offbeat alternatives, keep reading.

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Illustrated Map by Shruti Prabhu | Featured on They Draw and Travel and Published in They Draw and Travel: 96 Illustrated Maps of the UK and Iceland

1. Seljavallalaug

geothermal pool

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

We thought of starting this list with the oldest man-made pool in Iceland which was built in 1923. Seljavallalaug is at about two hours driving distance from Reykjavik along the south coast and a 20-minute hike. It is a natural spring and is surrounded by a stunning valley at the base of a mountain. Nothing fancy here, just a small, make shift changing room, with no other services.

2. Reykjadalur

geothermal pools

Photo Credit: Azuaje | Flickr

The name Reykjadalur means Steam Valley and rightfully so! It is full of hot springs, mud pools and hot river. Hike a long but an easy trail and pass a waterfall and you reach Reykjadalur. With the steam rising, it will be difficult to miss it, just in case you were wondering. Walk down from the hot pools and you will end up at the river. In the summer, it is quite popular especially with locals. The further you go down the river, the less hot it is. Depending on how much heat you can withstand you can choose a spot to relax.

3. Mývatn Nature Baths

geothermal pools iceland
Surrounded by mountains and easy to drive to,  Mývatn Nature Baths is perfect to soak weary muscles. There are two pools of varying temperatures and a hot tub. The facilities include a change room with showers, and a restaurant. The feel of the place is quite modern, perfect for the boutique luxury traveller.

4. Laugarvatn Fontana

Photo Credit: Laugarvatn Fontana

Unlike the Blue Lagoon, or the Mývatn Nature Baths, Laugarvatn Fontana is located right next to a lake. You can gaze onto the beach and lake as soak in the hot tubs and pools. Built in 2011, it is situated within the area of the Golden Circle. If you are going on a short trip (which we do not recommend) and just have enough time for the Golden Circle, step into this peaceful retreat and refresh yourself.

5. Grettislaug

Photo Credit: My Visit Iceland

The hidden gem of Grettislaug is a geothermal hot spring near the sea on Reykjaströnd. The legend is that Grettislaug is named after Grettir the strong because in this pool, Grettir relaxed, disappeared in a storm in 1934. A 25 minute drive from Sauðárkrókur, there are two small rustic rock pools. If quaint and remote is your thing, then this is a must do!

6. Secret Lagoon

geothermal pool

Photo Credit: Secret Lagoon

Like the Laugarvatn Fontana, the secret lagoon is also located in the Golden Circle region. In 1909 the first swimming lessons took place in the Secret Lagoon and they continued to take place every year until 1947. It was only recently that they reopened it. The rustic surroundings make the experience quite surreal.

7. Grjótagjá

geothermal pools

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

If you are a Game of Thrones fan, this may sound familiar.In case you don’t know what we are talking about, it is the cave where Jon Snow and Ygritte get it on. As crazy fans, we promised ourselves we would visit and this turned into one of our misadventures. More about this later. Bathing in the cave dates back to the 18th century. The Krafla eruptions from 1975 to 1984 caused the water in the cave to rise above 50°C. Eventually the water temperatures came down and you can bathe in the water. However the entrance is quite tricky, especially in the winter and better to be done with a tour/local.

8. Gvendarlaug

geothermal pools

There are two natural thermal pools at Gvendarlaug. One of them is medieval and is being preserved as an archaeological site. The other is close by and next to it is a modern swimming pool. It is located in southern Strandir district, north of Drangsnes Village in eastern Westfjords.

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9. Heydalur

geothermal pool

Photo Credit: Heydalur Guesthouse

Heydalur offers up 3 unique hot pool experiences. One is a manmade hot pool, one is a swimming pool in a greenhouse (yes, really!) and the third one is a hole in the ground. No joke, it is a middle of nowhere hot pool. The changing room near the hole is now defunct. So be prepared to shed your inhibitions and bear with the climate. To make use of any of these, you have to be a guest of Heydalur guesthouse.

10. Laugafellslaug

Photo Credit: My Visit Iceland

The Laugafell geothermal pool is located on the northwestern slopes of Laugafell Mountain. There is a folklore which tells the story of Þórunn the Rich, a chieftain’s daughter from Eyjafjörður. She fled to the mountains with all her household to escape from the Black Death Plague. She stayed in Laugafell for almost one year and everyone in her household was spared from death. The hot spring is made two rivers—one hot and the other a bit colder which mix together. You need to get the permission from the farmer nearby to step into this beauty.

Have you visited any of these geothermal pools? Which one intrigued you the most? Tell us in the comments below!

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Related posts: Winter Iceland itinerary | Do’s and Dont’s on the road in Iceland | Eating Langoustines.

 

29 Comment

  1. What! This is so amazing, I want to visit the Blue Lagoon but I have heard it is a bit disappointing since it’s overly crowded and become a bit overrated. I didn’t realize there were so many more options, I want to visit them all! I love that Reykjadalur basically looks just like a river! Awesome post!

  2. I went to Iceland in March and adored the country. So much so I’m going back in the Summer! Pinned this post to help with my planning. I’ve hoping to go to the Mývatn Nature Baths this time or the Secret Lagoon. I went to the Blue Lagoon and whilst it was touristy I did enjoy it.
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  3. Bob R says: Reply

    Spoiled for choices, gee thanks. 😉 Next time just include three photos; that would make it much easier to decide. Grettislaug looks most intriguing.
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  4. Great article. They all look superb. I can’t wait to hear more about your Game of Thrones story.

  5. Annie says: Reply

    All of these look absolutely amazing (and I am definitely a GoT nerd) but I’d probably go for the Reykjadalur hot springs! I like the idea of a natural area as opposed to a man made pool.
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  6. Mags says: Reply

    I wish I had this guide when I was in Iceland. I went to the Blue Lagoon and had a great time, but it was so crowded and expensive! I would love to check out some more “local” spots.

  7. Geothermal lakes have a considerable amount of science behind its origin. Heydalur seems the most intriguing out of all the options.

  8. Fabulous. Great to know the Blue Lagoon isn’t the only option. All of these look so much better and definitely less crowded.

  9. Swati says: Reply

    Great compilation and my favorite is Mývatn Nature Baths. Just love the location and the view 🙂 . Would love to visit these some day !

  10. Henry says: Reply

    Excellent list…last time I was in Iceland we didn’t have a chance to explore any of the smaller pools. I’m hoping to head back in October or November of this year where we’ll really appreciate the hot springs here! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Emily says: Reply

    Great list. None of them look like they have the wow factor of blue lagoon though. I think I would still recommend doing blue lagoon as well as doing some of these more exclusive geo thermal pools.

  12. I love the illustration, awesome job! The pools look so refreshing, we hope to visit Iceland one day 🙂
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  13. Joanna says: Reply

    It’s great to know that there are so many alternatives to the crowded and very expensive Blue Lagoon. I have always wanted to visit Iceland and go to a not touristy geothermal pool. From your list, Laugarvatn Fontana has to be my favorite.

  14. You hear so much about the Blue Lagoon, it’s easy to forget there are other places to visit! We didn’t know about the Game of Thrones connection. Naturally, we have to go there now! Great stuff – thanks for sharing! #FeetDoTravel
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  15. Elena says: Reply

    Somebody here already commented that there are too many choices. No kidding! Each one has something special about it. How to make a decision? Seriously though, you have an awesome list and, honestly, I would be inclined to try all of them just out of curiosity.
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  16. Of course, I have heard all about Blue Lagoon, but I had no idea there were so many other geothermal pools in Iceland. I love that you were able to visit the Game of Thrones site–so much fun for true fans like yourselves. I would love to bathe in these pools.

  17. Have heard so much about these hot pools. The one thing though I am not sure of – are there any charges for using these or anyone can just plunge into them? I particularly loved Grjótagjá from your list!
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  18. oh thank you so much for this post. I was getting sick of seeing Blue Lagoon everywhereeee. I was just think there must be other things to do. I absolutely love the very first one, Seljavallalaug.

  19. sophie says: Reply

    These are some of the best ones to go. because as per my experience I can say that Bluelagoons are very crowded now a days. Hence it is always better to go to such places and enjoy your time!

  20. Such a beautifully compiled up list as each one is special in its own way. Iceland is already high on my list and i need to add these too; to that list now. Thanks for compiling and sharing this up.

  21. Thanks for sharing! This is an useful list that we will read again when we will visit Iceland! Thanks for showing us that there are other pools than just the Blue Lagoons 😉 We haven’t been in Iceland yet and we only been in some hot springs in Australia, Costa Rica and Bolivia but the ones on your post seem to be much nicer! Patrick and Cécile
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  22. Great alternatives to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. Heydolar looks fun with the 3 different pools and the Mývatn Nature Baths. Great places to visit….thanks for sharing 🙂 #feetdotravel
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  23. Reshma says: Reply

    Wow! I didn’t know there are these many options apart from the Blue Lagoon. All of these look gorgeous, and I wish I could try all of these. I especially loved Laugarvatn Fontana from your list! Great post.
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  24. Johna says: Reply

    Beautiful!!! Looks like such an amazing place to visit. Def adding to my bucket list.

  25. erica says: Reply

    I have never been to any of these geothermal pools. But I’d love to go! I’m particularly intrigued with Mývatn Nature Baths. Never seen anything like that! 😮

  26. Wow I have always wanted to visit Iceland! It looks magical. Thanks for sharing this great article, I may have to start planning my trip! 🙂

  27. It so nice to see other attractions highlighted besides the Blue Lagoon. Iceland is a place I’d like to visit so I’ve pinned this for later!

  28. Oh wow, that’s just amazing! Would love to visit Iceland one day and soak in the geothermal pools. 🙂
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  29. neha says: Reply

    Iceland is indeed full of wonders. I didn’t know about the geothermal pools. Some of them even look spectacular. I will put them on my radar when plan a trip here.
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