Do you want to find the best swimming pools in Reykjavík and discover the best places to soak in hot tubs? Read more to learn about Iceland's unique swimming culture and the best public pools in the greater Reykjavík area.
- Read about the Best Swimming Pools in Iceland
- Find out more about showering at pools and Getting Naked in Iceland
Icelandic Swimming Etiquette
Going to an Icelandic swimming pool is a unique experience. Most of them are outdoor swimming pools and open all year round, so in the dead of winter, you’ll have to tiptoe barefoot and dripping wet across icy or snowy patches to move between hot tubs. Yes, visiting swimming pools is not an activity reserved for the Icelandic summer. For some, the best time to go swimming in Iceland is during a rainstorm or a blizzard.
Filled with geothermal water, the pools usually have one or two lap pools at about 28°C and hot tubs at temperatures ranging from 38°C up to around 45°C. Most pools also have a steam room, and some have a dry Finnish sauna.
Make sure you shower naked with soap before you put on your swimsuit and enter the pool. The amount of chlorine in Icelandic swimming pools is low, and in order to keep the water clean, people need to wash thoroughly. You shouldn’t feel body conscious, everybody there will also be naked, and there is an unspoken rule of no unnecessary looking.
Photo by Serena Repice Lentini
Frequenting swimming pools is an essential aspect of Icelandic culture. The pools are ideal places to exercise, but it is in the hot tubs you can relax and relieve stress or aching muscles.
The hot tubs are also one of Iceland's most important social venues. In the warm water, everybody is dressed in swimwear, so judging people by their appearance is hard. Be they teachers, artists, or politicians, in the hot tub, everyone is equal, and this is the place where people meet to openly discuss everything from the weather to politics.
The greater Reykjavik area has 18 swimming pools, so you should be able to find one in every neighborhood. They vary in size and age; some are over 50 years old, others were built in this century, but all of them have the essential hot tub where you can find out what is going on in Icelandic society. Additionally, there is a beach area in Reykjavík called Nautholsvik and a small foot bath by Grotta, perfect for relaxing whilst enjoying a view out to sea.
Below is our list of the best swimming pools in Reykjavík and the city's surrounding towns and villages.
7. Sundholl Reykjavikur
The oldest pool in Reykjavík, Sundhollin, was opened in 1937. The building was designed by noted architect Guðjón Samúelsson, who also designed buildings such as The University of Iceland, The National Theatre of Iceland, The Church of Akureyri, and the famous Hallgrimskirkja church, which can be seen from the sundeck.
Sundhollin is unique among Reykjavik's swimming pools as it boasts an ample indoor pool (most are primarily outside) as well as two diving boards; one is only about 3 feet (1 meter) above the water, and the other is almost 10 feet (3 meters). The diving boards are closed during the week but open on weekends.
This Reykjavik favorite has enjoyed recent renovations, including an 82-feet (25-meter) outdoor lap pool as well as an adjacent hot tub which is nearly just as long and fitted with jacuzzi jets. There is also an outdoor sauna as well as shallow hot tubs well suited for children or those wishing to catch some elusive Icelandic sunshine on good days.
- Address: Baronsstigur 45a, 101 Reykjavik
- Opening hours: Weekdays from 6:30 am - 10:00 pm Weekends from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm
Not far from Reykjavik's city center is the quiet little town of Seltjarnarnes. Like the town, the local pool, named Seltjarnarneslaug, is quiet and cozy (although the gym beside it can get quite busy!).
The pool itself is 82 feet (25 meters) long, and at its end is a children's area, which is a little warmer than the larger one. There are four hot tubs there, a cold bath, a steam room, and a water slide.
What sets this pool apart from others is the water itself which comes from the town's reservoir and is filled with minerals that are supposed to be good for your skin.
- Address: Suðurströnd, 170 Seltjarnarnes
- Opening hours: Weekdays from 6:30 am - 10:00 pm Weekends from 8:00 am - 7:30 pm
- Visiting a pool is not expensive. Learn about other affordable activities in 9 Best Cheap Things to do in Reykjavík
Amongst Iceland's most family-friendly pools is Lagafellslaug in the town of Mosfellsbaer. It's a bit far from the city center, but if you don't have a car, you can take a bus (which can be a fun little adventure).
Lágafellslaug is ideal for children. The tiles around the pool are made from a soft, rubbery material, which is great in an environment that is overrun by little, wet feet. There is also a shallow pool with a small slide for the youngest children.
For the older children (and parents), there are three big slides ranging from 40 feet (12 meters) long to 140 feet (43 meters). There is also an indoor pool there, as well as numerous hot tubs, a cold bath, and a Finnish sauna.
- Address: Lækjarhlíð 1a, 270 Mosfellsbaer
- Opening hours: Weekdays, 6:30 am - 10:00 pm. Weekends, 8:00 am - 7:00 pm.
The pool overlooks the Ellidarardalur valley, a gorgeous green area in the middle of Reykjavík, which is popular with hikers and cyclists alike. The Ellidara river runs through the valley with many little waterfalls and is ideal for salmon fishing. After hiking the valley, a dip in the Arbaejarlaug pool is a great way to relax.
An indoor pool is located in a beautiful solarium, where you can swim through a little opening to the larger outdoor pool. The outdoor area also has a children's pool, a big slide, a water fountain, a water bridge, and a great hot tub area, making this one of the most impressive pools in Iceland.
- Address: Fylkisvegur 9, 110 Reykjavik
- Opening Hours: Weekdays from 6:30 am - 10:00 pm. Weekends from 9:00 am - 10:00 pm
3. Sundlaug Kopavogs
Another great pool for families is Sundlaug Kopavogs. The town of Kopavogur lies immediately south of Reykjavik. Its name translates to 'baby seal bay,' and in this pool, you can swim like a seal (yes, I said it).
Kopavogur's swimming pool has been one of the most popular swimming pools in Iceland in the last few years. It consists of three swimming pools ranging from 32 to 165 feet in length (50 to 10 meters).
There are also seven hot tubs. One of them is a jacuzzi hot tub, and another is specially designed for children. There are three big water slides for children of all ages (and adults of all ages), a small slide for the youngest children, a cold bath, and a very popular steam room.
- Address: Borgarholtsbraut 17, 200 Kopavogur
- Open: Weekdays from 6:30 am - 10:00 pm. Summer weekends from 8:00 am - 8:00 pm, winter weekends from 8:00 am - 06:00 pm.
- Find out about other healthy activities in Health in Iceland
Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Emstrur. No edits made.
The local's favorite pool, Vesturbaejarlaug, is one of the coziest and most charming pools in Reykjavik. It is located close to the University of Iceland, so it is usually filled with both local and international university students (and teachers).
The pool is on Reykjavik's west side, and a walk from the city center is ideal on a beautiful day. You can walk along the Aegisida seaside path, where you can see all the way to Bessastadir (where the president lives) on the Alftanes peninsula.
Vesturbaejarlaug pool is a local hub of activity. Most (if not all) of Reykjavik's citizens have fond memories of coming to the pool when they were younger, and many still make their way west just for a soak in the tub. This is where Icelandic people meet to discuss politics, culture, the weather, and life in one of the pool's four hot tubs. It also has a fantastic outdoor pool, a cold tub to cool you down, and a gorgeous round steam room.
- Address: Hofsvallagata, 107 Reykjavik
- Opening hours: Weekdays from 6:30 am - 10:00 pm. Weekends from 09:00am - 10:00pm
Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Meltwaterfalls. No edits made.
The Queen of Icelandic swimming pools has to be Laugardalslaug. It is the most popular swimming pool in Reykjavik as its size and location are ideal for those who are in Reykjavik for a short time.
The pool is located near the only campsite in Reykjavik, in the Laugardalur valley. It's just a short walking distance from Reykjavik's center (or an even shorter bus ride). There are numerous cafés and restaurants in the area, as well as the Reykjavik Botanical Garden and Husdyragardurinn, a small amusement park and zoo with farm animals.
The Laugardalslaug pool has two outdoor pools and one indoor, seven hot tubs (one filled with saltwater), a sauna, water slides, and a beach volleyball court. It's the perfect place to go on a sunny or snowy day.
- Address: Sundlaugarvegur, 104 Reykjavik
- Opening hours: Weekdays from 06:30 am to 10:00 pm. Weekends from 08:00 am to 10:00 pm
- There are other activities to do in Iceland, check out Top 12 Things to do in Iceland
Have you been to these swimming pools in Reykjavik? What are some of your favorite swimming pools in Iceland? How was your experience, did you talk to the locals in the hot tubs? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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