Nothing says rest and recuperation more than bathing in a geothermal spring gazing up at the majestic Northern Lights.
The volcanic activity and incredible natural landscape found in Iceland is a major draw for international tourists who are searching for a retreat away from urban life and the trials and tribulations of the working week.
Magnificent mountain ranges, dramatic lava fields, countless craters and many other spectacular features are scattered across the country’s dramatic landscape and garner international recognition for its beauty and mysticism.
But it is perhaps the geothermal water that takes most of the credit for drawing in tourists. Providing a unique and rejuvenating experience, the hot springs have been channelled into luxurious spas that can pamper the mind, body and soul in a way you never thought possible. Read on for details on four of Iceland’s best spas and wellness retreats
This geothermal spa can be found on the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwest Iceland, around a thirty-minute drive from the capital Reykjavik. Blue Lagoon actually began its history as a pool of wastewater from the Svartsengi geothermal plant in 1976, but people soon discovered the healing qualities of the milky blue water, and it quickly became a hotspot for people looking to relax or soothe a physical ailment.
Today, Blue Lagoon has become one of the most successful spas and wellness retreats in the country as its silica and sulphur-rich water draws crowds from all over the world. The temperature in the bathing area is comfortable, averaging 37–39° C (98–102° F). The centre also boasts the LAVA Restaurant, the Blue Café and the Lagoon Spa – here, guests can enjoy cocktails, health products, delicious meals and treatments such as massages without leaving the premises. Saunas, steam rooms and a small waterfall are also on the premises.
Address: Norðurljósavegur 9, 240 Grindavík, Iceland
Price: There are three levels of admission – Comfort ($53), Premium ($68), or Retreat Spa ($372)
This man-made pool is fed by naturally occurring hot springs located at Hverahólmi, a geothermal area in the south of Iceland. As the oldest pool in the country, it remains consistently popular with locals and tourists but is cheaper and less busy than Blue Lagoon.
For the lower price, you don’t get access to the same kind of facilities as Blue Lagoon, but the mossy lava fields and geothermal hotspots that leave the water at a temperature of 38-40° Celsius (100° Fahrenheit) all year long make for a perfect relaxing dip.
Address: Hvammsvegur, Flúðir, Iceland
Price: Around $25 for adults
Located at the centre of the Golden Circle, the most popular tourist route in Iceland, Laugarvatn Fontana Geothermal Baths has two pools and a hot tub. There is also a Finnish-style sauna and steam rooms that are built directly over geothermal vents.
The pools lie next to Lake Laugarvatn, a truly beautiful lake providing the ideal backdrop for your day of wellness and pampering. Guests often speak highly of the bread-making facilities on site too, as the dough is baked using the volcanic heat of the area, and also the opportunity to spot the Northern Lights.
The Fontana Spa is open all year long, operating shortened hours during Christmas. Outside of holidays, it is open from 10am to 10pm from the start of June to the end of August, and 11am to 10pm the rest of the year.
Address: Laugarbraut, Laugarvatn, Iceland
Price: Access to pools and spa services start at $30 for adults
GeoSea only opened to visitors for the first time in 2018, but it has fast become a favourite for locals and tourists alike. The sea baths are essentially geothermal infinity swimming pools full of heated seawater that look out across Skjálfandaflói bay and the North-Atlantic, where you can watch boats and ships sail by.
Whale watching tours operate from the same location, so if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of Minke or Humpback whales from afar.
The baths are flooded with geothermal seawater that comes from two boreholes in the vicinity, measured at a pleasant 38-39° Celcius (102° Fahrenheit) and rich in minerals. Guests can even swim up to the bar and buy drinks to enjoy with the awe-inspiring vistas that can be seen in every direction.
Address: Vitaslóð 1, 640, Húsavík, Iceland
Price: Entrance fee starts at $40 for adults