Iceland’s Geothermal Pools and Hot Tubs
Who doesn’t like lounging poolside somewhere? I had already mentioned Iceland’s geothermal pools in a previous post, and they are fantastic. So if you ever travel to Iceland, you must check them out! These geothermal aquatic complexes are part of the Icelandic culture, and are integrated into daily living. It is a very social element to be a part of; not to mention very relaxing. While I took the time to enjoy some of Iceland’s geothermal pools, I also discovered that there are very strict rules and etiquette surrounding the use of the aquatic complexes. So read more to find out!
Rules and Etiquettes
If you are going to an aquatic complex, there is likely a fee to enter it. You can also find geothermal areas that would be free of cost, but if you decide to utilize a complex, bring a towel or else you can rent one for another fee.
Shoes need to be removed upon entering the changing rooms. You will find a place to store them just inside the door. I won’t worry much about theft while there because it’s extremely unlikely, but if you wanted to, you could carry them into your locker.
Splashing, cannoning balling, and other such ruckuses was not something I saw a lot of while at the pools. I had asked locals about it, and they replied that it is just something kids are taught; not to splash around and disturb the enjoyment of other people using the pool. It is deemed annoying behaviour.
Do not skip the shower. This is a no-no. You may be scolded by the locker room attendant or get the evil eye from the locals…and trust me, they can tell a foreigner a mile away I’m sure. You also cannot leave the geothermal pools with wet hair. All parts of you must be dry before you can leave. I reckon this may have to do with the cold weather.
No cameras or mobile devices, and no audio and video recording devices permitted once you enter the changing room. Hence why there is a lack of photos in this post while I was at the aquatic complexes. Respect this rule, and also by doing so you won’t annoy other people in the area by having a conversation with someone else over the phone. Be connected with your environment, and those who are in it. It’s awesome.
Now onto the topic of nudity. Some people and cultures are more comfortable with nudity and/or being naked in front of others, while other people or cultures still tend to consider nudity taboo, and there is a level of discomfort in being nude in front of others. Personally, I’ve never understood the taboo or discomfort. What’s so wrong with appreciating one’s own individual natural form? Why do we live in some societies where body shaming, or gawking is tolerated? And why can’t one enjoy be nude without having to worry about someone disrespecting them in some manner?
Anyways, I digress. Just know that when you go to the geothermal aquatic complexes, brace yourself to experience nudity as you are required to shower nude and thoroughly wash yourself prior to getting into your swimsuit for the pool, and after you get out of the pool, you need to take off your swimsuit and shower before heading to the locker area. Although there are separate male and female locker rooms, inside there aren’t any shower curtains or individual stalls. So again, brace yourself; especially if you are from North America.
I for one absolutely loved this element about the Icelandic geothermal tradition; how normal it was to be naked in front of strangers. It’s as normal as eating a meal for the locals. No one is staring at you, and there was nothing inappropriate while in the complex; it was completely comfortable. What I also loved was the rule about not allowing your mobile devices and cameras past the locker area. Again, this is great as it forces you to actually connect and have face to face conversations with someone. It is a fantastic way for getting to know all about the Icelandic way of life, and learning some of their language. Thankfully most of the Icelandic people I came across spoke very good English actually, so that was helpful.
Additionally, I learned about these locker room attendants mentioned above. They ensure you follow the rules while at these geothermal aquatic complexes. The one error that I made was leaving the shower area for my locker… where my towel was. I neglected to bring it to the shower area (where there was a place for them) before going outside (where the pools and hot tubs are), so I was approached by a locker room attendant who explained that I can’t cross the floor while wet. I tried to dry off the best I could without a towel, and she must felt sorry because she allowed me to cross the floor, but not without trailing a dry mop behind me to pick up the water droplets. I apologized profusely, and wondered how many times she encountered a foreigner like me who was (accidentally) not following the rules.
So now that you know about common rules surrounding the geothermal pools and hot tubs, I’m including this humorous video from the Reykjavík Grapevine that is about the very thing I have been writing about so far. Check it out here.
The Blue Lagoon
This is one of the most famous geothermal pools in Iceland, and it is located in a lava field on the Reykjanes Peninsula about 40-50 minutes from Reykjavík. I spent part of my last full day visiting this place. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a wee bit disappointed in this place. It is possible I felt this way due to the time of day I went. The Blue Lagoon is quite an expensive place to visit, and they have pre-booked scheduling where you have to pick a time to attend. You are only allowed entrance during the time you selected. It is a busy place, and I thought pre-booking three weeks in advance was enough time to get a good time slot, but I was wrong. I had the last 2 hours of the day, 8:00 – 10:00 pm. But in all fairness I can see why they stagger visitors throughout the day. Although the pool itself is fairly large in size, it could be overflowing with people if they didn’t limit the amount allowed in the pool at any one time. Too many people would take away from the enjoyment of what the Blue Lagoon had to offer for others.
I also found the Blue Lagoon to have water that was deeper than I anticipated, which works for average height people, but if you are small in stature, you need to be careful. Anyone can also use any of their floatation devices as well if desired. The water was definitely more green than blue, and not very hot at all. It was more like warm bath water. However, they did have a sauna and steam room you can use, and a swim up bar for drinks, which is always a nice touch. They also offered a swim to counter where you can try two of their different, and complimentary, mud masks. Very awesome.
For more information about the geothermal water, check out this website.
Reykjavík One Last Time
With my time in Iceland coming to an end, I had to take in more of Reykjavík one last time. So here are some more photos that I want to share of Reykjavík that I took while walking around town. I will miss the beauty of this place but that just means I will have to be back to do even more!
Walking past Höfði (above photo).
Safnahúsið (above photo) exhibition house.
Government House (above photo).
The photo above is outside Harpa, and below are 4 photos from inside the building.
More from inside Harpa.
Just across the waterway from outside Harpa (above photo).
The above and below photos are from the top of the Perlan building… which was extremely windy!!
The 4 photos below shows Hallgrímskirkja standing tall, which was just up the street from my hostel.
I enjoyed walking the streets of Reykjavík, and taking in the sights. The weekends are different than back home when it came to the noise, but cool to experience. On the weekend, there was a lot of people in the streets, and very late into the early morning hours there was music blaring from various venues. When I walked the streets earlier in the morning, there would be litter in many areas, but then all the street cleaners would come out, and it’d be cleared quickly.
Now whenever I travel, it is impossible for me to not try local beverages, whether it be beers or wines. In Iceland, I took to their delicious beers :o)