The Fontana Spa is a geothermally heated spa in south-west Iceland, close to the sites of the Golden Circle.
Those who rent a car can easily visit it from Reykjavík, although certain Golden Circle tours will also include a stop here. Those who book themselves certain self-drive packages, such as this 10-Day Summer Road Trip, will also have the freedom to visit.
The Fontana Spa may be small, but it boasts a wealth of unique qualities that make it a relaxing place to unwind.
It has two pools and a hot tub, with the water varying in temperature but always pregnant with healing minerals. There is also a Finnish-style sauna, which is heated to a sweltering 80 degrees Celsius. Furthermore, there are steam rooms built directly over geothermal vents, allowing you to experience the hot springs of Iceland in an unconventional way.
The pools sit level with Lake Laugarvatn, which is spectacularly beautiful considering its size, serenity and the volcanic ranges that surround it. The lake also has geothermal activity occurring on its bed, and from the Spa, you can wade in to feel tongues of warm water around your feet.
Aside from its swimming and relaxation facilities, there is a restaurant on site that provides traditional Icelandic lunch and dinner, using fresh, local ingredients. Furthermore, there is a bakery which sells a range of bread and cakes cooked using the volcanic heat of the area.
This process is done by sealing the dough, burying it in the hot soil, and letting nature do the rest.
The Fontana Spa is open throughout the year, even over holidays such as Christmas (although hours will be shortened). 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.
In winter, it is thus a great place to visit during the evening in hopes of seeing the Northern Lights.
If you forget a towel or swimsuit, you can rent them on site. During the summer months, it is recommended to book a spot in advance.
The Fontana Spa is right in the middle of the Golden Circle sightseeing route, the most popular tourist trail in Iceland. More specifically, it is directly between Þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Sites where you can walk between two tectonic plates, and the Geysir area, a geothermal valley with exploding hot springs.
The other site that makes up this route is the magnificent Gullfoss waterfall.
To reach it from Reykjavík, take Route 1 North, turning right on Route 36 after passing through Mosfellsbær. Follow this road through Þingvellir National Park, before turning left onto Route 365 towards Geysir. Turn left at the roundabout in Laugarvatn, and the spa can be found on the street Laugarbraut, to your right.
This journey should take just over an hour.
The Fontana Spa is often compared to the Secret Lagoon, which is another pool many detour to from the Golden Circle. Both, after all, are smaller, simpler and cheaper alternatives to the Blue Lagoon in south-west Iceland.
While both have indoor, comfortable changing areas and places to eat, the Secret Lagoon does not have the steam rooms and saunas of Fontana. It does, however, have a geysir on site, a short walk you can take through a natural hot spring area, and a more interesting history as the country’s oldest pool.
There is also a difference in their styles; Fontana Spa is modern and sleek, whereas the Secret Lagoon is more traditional and mysterious.
Both are located in spectacular nature, however, and offer a similar experience of relaxation and rejuvenation for travellers.