Forget the Blue Lagoon; with Iceland’s wealth of geothermal energy the municipal pools in Reykjavík are the places to go to relax and rejuvenate for a much more reasonable price. Don’t let cold weather put you off, it’s even nicer sinking into a hot tub when the air temperature is below zero and there is snow on the ground. However, be aware that showering naked before entering the pools is always obligatory, and in places enforced by staff who monitor the shower areas. You soon get used to it, and it makes your pool experience feel so much cleaner. Liquid soap is provided. You also generally need to leave your shoes in a shoe rack outside the changing area to ensure no dirt gets inside. Lockers usually aren’t coin operated, just use the key provided to lock and unlock. Likewise, hair dryers usually aren’t coin operated either, and swimming costume dryers are often provided.
Municipal Pools in Reykjavík:
- Laugardalslaug – this is Iceland’s largest pool, with two 50m pools (one indoor, one outdoor), a flume and children’s pool, several hot tubs ranging from 38 to 44°C, a saltwater hot tub, sauna and stream room.
- Sundhöllin – this used to be an indoor only pool, with hot tubs on the roof and male/female sunbathing terraces, but has recently been extended to include a full outdoor complex too.
- Vesturbæjarlaug – a bit of a walk to the West of the city, but a lovely pool with all the usual hot tubs and steam rooms.
- Lágafellslaug – in the suburb of Mosfellsbær north out of the city along Route 1, this is a modern pool with flumes, hot tubs, a children’s pool and a lap pool.
- Álftaneslaug – on the Alftanes peninsula, this is the only pool with a wave machine in Iceland. There’s also the usual lap pool, with a hot tub raised above it, sauna and steam room.
- Árbæjarlaug – a pleasant entry on a cold day as you get into the indoor pool under a glass domed roof and swim outside. The children’s pool and lap pool are joined so you don’t have to venture out into the cold air. The entry to the flume is also very close to the water. Hot tubs require a quick sprint outside though. There is also an indoor pool.
- Kópavogslaug – a 50m swimming pool and all the usual hot tubs, plus some bonus hot tubs at the far end of the lap pool.
The Blue Lagoon – if you really want to see what all the fuss is about, be prepared for some long queues to get in, even if you’ve pre-booked. The easiest way to do the Blue Lagoon is just after arrival, or just before departure, as certain Reykjavik Excursions coaches go via the Blue Lagoon on the way between Reykjavik and the airport. There is luggage storage available. The usual Icelandic washing rules apply in the changing rooms, but it’s not enforced as strongly as in the municipal pools.
Nautholsvik Geothermal Beach – an unusual yellow sand beach amongst the black volcanic sand elsewhere, this beach has been imported from Morocco. We took a look in winter, when the place was deserted and icy, but in the summer there is a hot tub along the back of the beach and you can swim in the sea if feeling brave.