Iceland, the land of fire and ice, is one of the most volcanically active countries in the world. Straddling two tectonic plates and situated over a hot spot charging up through the Earth’s mantle, the resulting volcanic systems scattered across the island in turn provide abundant bubbling hot springs, a lot of them the perfect temperature for bathing. A long tradition of using these waters for healing and wellness means that Iceland does luxurious spas better than anyone else. Here are the best in the country.
1. Iceland’s Most Famous Spa - The Blue Lagoon
Iceland’s famed geothermal spa, and the one that nearly everybody has heard of by now, is the Blue Lagoon. Some cry out ‘tourist trap!’, but my what a lovely place to be trapped in. Found on the volcanic Reykjanes Peninsula next to the airport, the silky blue water sits at a lovely temperature, a swim up bar serves drinks, and plenty of extras are on hand – think face masks, in-pool massages and fluffy bathrobes. Experience even more luxury at the Retreat Lagoon, where access is granted to a secluded bathing area, private changing room, subterranean steam caves and various wellness treatments.
2. The Best Kept Secret - Laugarvatn Fontana
Laugarvatn Fontana is found after a quick drive out of Reykjavik into the Golden Circle territory. With three beautiful pools of different temperatures, steam baths, and a Finnish sauna, it’s surprising that this spa doesn’t attract more visitors. Locals have used this area since 1929 as a place for wellness and therapy, and in lieu of any cold plunge pools, guests can jump into the nearby lake before scampering back up into the warm hot pots above. You can also taste fresh bread that baked for 24 hours in the warmth of the nearby earth.
3. For the Ring Road Tourists - Myvatn Nature Baths
Found next to the popular area of Lake Myvatn in Iceland’s north, in recent years the Myvatn Nature Baths have become more popular and is now the preferred spa to stop at for tourists travelling the ring road. Surrounded by lava bedrock and with spectacular views out over the smoky volcanic plains towards snow-capped peaks, it feels as if you’re still in the middle of all that exotic Icelandic nature. This spa is also one of the best spots to watch for the northern lights during winter. The inhouse restaurant is a popular place to enjoy a warm soup before heading back out into the wilds.
4. The Most Unique Spa - GeoSea Geothermal Sea Baths
Rapidly making a name for themselves in the country, the GeoSea Geothermal Sea Baths in Húsavík use natural hot seawater from two nearby sources to fill up their pools. Spilling out over the infinity pools’ edge into the ocean below, the view over the bay of Skjálfandi across to the distant peninsula is worth the entrance price alone – but you’ll make your way here immediately when you learn that guests often spy whales breaching in the water from the warmth and comfort of the pools. An onsite café serves sandwiches, soups, and drinks.
5. New on the Scene - Vök Baths
Iceland’s newest geothermal spa is in East Iceland, the least geothermal active area in the entire country. Luckily, locals in the area have long known about the hot water that bubbles up from the bottom of Lake Urriðavatn, as ice never formed on this spot during the long winters. Now, Vök Baths are the first ‘floating’ geothermal pools in Iceland, with a gorgeous wooden pier leading out over the water to the pools. The adjoined Infusion Bar & Café serves up seasonal and locally sourced Icelandic fare and a range of herbal teas brewed with water from the lake itself.