Iceland’s Hot Springs and Lagoons Which Ones to Visit and Why?
Iceland is a beautiful country that needs to be on everyone's bucket list! While the country is full of natural wonders from glaciers to waterfalls and volcanos, it is also home to several lagoons and natural hot springs. Iceland offers a wide selection of lagoons with different aesthetics and has something for everyone! During out latest trip to Iceland, we visited 5 lagoons, and these are our thoughts!
The Blue Lagoon has long been labeled tourist trap, however, despite that we are so glad that we went and would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Iceland! Located about 20 minutes from the airport, Blue Lagoon is the perfect way to start your vacation soon after arriving in the country. Our flight landed at 8:00 am and we pre-booked the 11:00 time slot at the lagoon to give us enough time to get through the airport, visit duty free and pick up the rental car. We always recommend prebooking all lagoon experiences as time slots can fill up quickly. The Blue Lagoon offers two different experience packages. The comfort package include entrance to the lagoon, silica mud mask, use of a towel and first drink of your choice, starting at $67.00 USD. We chose the premium package, which included entrance to the lagoon, silica mud mask in addition to two more masks of your choice, use of towel, use of bathroom, first drink of your choice and glass of sparkling wine if dining at Lava restaurant, starting at $86.00 USD. Upon arrival, you are given a bracelet indicating which package you chose so the mask station knows how many masks you get. In addition, you are given a second bracelet that serves as your tab, and you settle up after you are finished enjoying the lagoon on your way out. Was the lagoon busy? Yes, however, it is very large and there was plenty of space to spread out. The lagoon is one giant pool, with a swim-up bar, mask station, and water spirkets to wash each mask off. The lagoon was the busiest around the mask station and the bar. The mask selection was great, and my skin truly felt amazing afterwards! If we were to visit Blue Lagoon again, we would choose the premium package again. We didn't visit the restaurant as we had dinner reservation elsewhere. Some things to keep in mind when visiting is that silica can be damaging to hair and it is recommended to either keep your hair up or slather it in conditioner and don't wash it out. For all lagoons, it is required to shower and clean off without a bathing suit on. If you are not comfortable with showering in an open area, there are single stall showers. Overall, we really enjoyed our experience at Blue Lagoon and would absolutely visit again. It was a perfect start to our two-week trip to Iceland.
If you are looking for a spa feel with less children, Sky Lagoon may be the place for you. Sky Lagoon is located on the outskirts of Reykjavik and is a luxurious, manmade thermal bath that sits on a cliff face over the North Atlantic. Sky Lagoon is built out of manmade cliffs, with waterfalls, private coves, and a swim-up bar with plenty of options. You can soak in warm water as you gaze out over the ocean, enjoying a glass of bubbly. There are two dining options at Sky Lagoon, including the Sky Café and Smakk Bar. We had dinner reservations elsewhere, so we didn't dine at the lagoon. When you check-in, you are given a bracelet that serves as your tab, and you settle up after you are finished enjoying the lagoon on your way out. Like Blue Lagoon, it is highly recommended to book a timeslot in advance as it can often book up. Sky Lagoon offers several packages with a variety of options. The Pure Lite starts at $65.00 USD and includes access to the open changing facilities and access to the lagoon. We chose the Pure package, which starts at $87.00 USD and is the most popular package. The highlight of the Pure package is the 7 Step Ritual, which truly sets Sky apart from other lagoons. Partaking in the 7 Step Ritual looks like this:
- Soaking in the bath-warm waters of Sky Lagoon and possibly enjoying a glass of bubbly.
- Taking a cold plunge in true Icelandic style in water made to simulate ocean temperatures, which rejuvenates the body and the mind.
- Spend as much time as you like in a silent Finnish sauna overlooking the ocean which is a perfect view.
- Cool down again while walking through the Sky Lagoon's fog-mist area.
- Take a cup of homemade body scrub to exfoliate and cleanse your skin.
- Spend time in the steam room to open the pores and really get the benefit of the body scrub.
- Finally, unwind with a warm shower to finish the ritual and head back to the lagoon.
The top tier package, Sky, includes the 7 Step Ritual with the addition of private changing room and begins at $110.00 USD. All packages include use of a towel. We don't mind public changing and shower areas, so we didn't feel the need to pay extra. For all lagoons, it is required to shower and clean off without a bathing suit on. We loved our experience at Sky Lagoon and will visit again during our next trip to Iceland. The only thing that would make the experience better would be visiting in the winter and getting to enjoy the Northern Lights at the same time!
Located in eastern Iceland, Vok Baths offered a completely different experience when compared to the first two lagoons we visited. Located a few minutes from the town of Egilsstadir, Vok Baths allows one to participate in the age-old Icelandic tradition of bathing in a natural geothermal pool. What really sets Vok Baths apart is the floating geothermal pools with an infinity edge on Urridavatn Lake, which you can jump into if you want a natural cold plunge. The lagoon offers 3 pools of increasing temperature, a sauna, cold water spray tunnel, tea bar, a swim-up pool bar and the onsite restaurant, Vok Bistro. Vok Baths does not offer different packages and admissions to the lagoon starts at $50.00 USD, which includes entrance to the pool and a tea from the tea bar. Towels are available for rent for $7.50 USD and robes are available for rent for $11.00 USD, so it is recommended to bring your own. When you check-in, you are given a bracelet that serves as your tab, and you settle up after you are finished enjoying the lagoon on your way out. Like all lagoons, it is recommended to book tickets in advance. In addition, it is required to shower and clean off without a bathing suit on. Our plans changed for the day as our hike took less time than anticipated and Vok Baths were able to accommodate us arriving earlier. The tea bar was a nice touch as they had a wide variety of all organic tea to choose from and it was only a small feel to take the reusable cup home with you. We didn't dine at the lagoon but the menu did look very good! The lagoon was much less crowded than Blue and Sky, as it is located on the eastern side of the country. While overall, it was an enjoyable experience, the layout was less desirable, however, that is in part due to where the natural hot spring is located within the lake. The swim-up bar is in the coolest of the 3 pools so if you were sitting in one of the hotter ones, you must get out and walk to the pool, which got a bit chilly. It was a bonus to have the steam room located near the cooler of the 3 pools, with the cool mist right next to it. By cool, I do not mean cold as the temperature was 100.4, however, we like it hot hot. The floating decks are all wood so the walkways did become slippery as everyone is wet so there is a fall risk, however, they do have rubber mats to mitigate the chance of slipping. If you are traveling in eastern Iceland, we do highly recommend a stop at Vok Baths as it is a memorable experience to relax in one of the only natural hot springs on the eastern side. Also, how many people can say they swam in an Icelandic lake?!
GeoSea is located in the whale watching capital of Iceland in the northern town of Husavik. For those who think the town name sounds familiar, it does! Husavik was not only the hometown of the main characters of Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, but several scenes from the show were filmed there as well. GeoSea includes three beautiful pools that cling to the cliffs above the Skjalfandi bay. The upper pool is tucked into the corner of the building, is the hottest of the three and includes the swim-up bar. The swim up bar had a great variety of wines, beers, spirits, and nonalcoholic options. When you check-in, you are given a bracelet that serves as your tab, and you settle up after you are finished enjoying the lagoon on your way out. The pool immediately outside of the locker rooms in the medium temperature pool and has an amazing infinity edge and on a clear day, you may get lucky enough to see a few whales or dolphins splashing in the water below. The largest pool is the coolest of the temperatures and is one of the most famous infinity pools in Iceland. In addition to 3 amazing infinity pools, GeoSea boosts a lovely steam room, which was not included in the other lagoons we visited. You can sit in the hot water and look across the bay at the snow-capped Kinnarfjoll while enjoying a nice glass of prosecco. Entrance to GeoSea starts at $45.00 USD and includes only entrance to the lagoon. Towels are available for rent for $9.00 USD and robes are for rent for $19.00 USD. For all lagoons, it is required to shower and clean off without a bathing suit on. During our visit, we noticed that GeoSea cost significantly less then Blue and Sky Lagoon. In addition, it was far less crowded, which gave it a more private feel. While the scenery is breathtaking, on a very windy day, the experience is less pleasant. We visited GeoSea after a whale watching tour in yellow flag weather as the perfect way to warm up and while overall, it was still enjoyable, we were consistently sprayed with lagoon water. We did find reprieve from the wind and spray in the hottest pool, but one can only sit in it for so long. Like Vok Baths, if you were in one of the pools that didn't have the swim-up bar, you did have to get out of the pool and walk to the hottest pool, which was chilly but also a slip risk. We realize that we have no control over the weather and while it would have been more enjoyable with less wind, it was still a wonderful experience, and we would visit again!
We saved the best for last! Forest Lagoon is tucked away in the northern woodlands outside of Akureyri, Iceland and is one of the newest lagoons in the country. Forest Lagoon was designed by the same architects who built both Blue Lagoon and GeoSea, however, the integration with the surrounding rock and wooded environment sets it apart. By design, the spa melds into the surrounding forest and mountain in a seamless fashion. The lagoon is equipped with two pools of different sizes and temperatures. The larger of the two pools is kept around 98.6, has two swim-up bars and an indoor entry. The smaller pool is located towards the back of the larger one near the second swim-up bar and is kept around 104 F. You do need to exit the larger pool to get into the smaller one. When you check-in, you are given a bracelet that serves as your tab, and you settle up after you are finished enjoying the lagoon on your way out. A really cool feature within the larger pool, is a fresh spring water fountain that one can drink out of to stay hydrated when soaking. Our favorite part of the lagoon experience was the Finnish Dry Sauna that overlooked the larger pool. The humidity is kept around 40% and the temperature is around 176 F. Located right next to the sauna, there is a cold pool that is kept around 51.8 F. It is highly recommended to enjoy the health benefits by combining both cold plunging and the sauna. Lastly, is the Forest Bistro, which we didn't dine in, however, the menu looked amazing. In terms of entrance, you can purchase the package that includes one alcoholic drink for $59.00 USD or the package that is entrance only for $50.00 USD. While we did book our tickets ahead of time, we only booked a few days in advanced and still had out pick of times. For all lagoons, it is required to shower and clean off without a bathing suit on. The changing area was very spacious and there was both open and private shower options. If you have the opportunity, we suggest arriving right when they open at 10:00 am as you will likely get the whole lagoon to yourself for some time! While each lagoon offered its own unique experience, Forest Lagoon was our favorite.