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Relaxing in geothermal pools is a practice that dates back centuries and is still practiced among many Icelanders today. The old school pools dotting the countryside have given way to spas like the Blue Lagoon. A incredible facility -- yes -- but not a place frequented by locals.
If you really want to check out geothermal pools used daily by Icelanders, you’ll have to go to local recreation center. That’s right, rec centers.
Many small towns and villages across the country have their own local recreation centers. Local kids take their swimming classes there and adults file in to get their sweat on in outdoor geothermal pools. Leave your cameras and GoPros at home. Just relax.
Here’s a guide to my favorite local geothermal pools:
Location: Fylkisvegur 9, 110 Reykjavík, Iceland
Located in Reykjavik, Arbaejarlaug is among the many rec centers (think YMCAs) that have outdoor geothermal pools. I spent several hours at Arbaejarlaug over the course of a week in Iceland chatting up the locals, picking their brains about the best restaurants and bars and what must-sees I might be missing. Each pool, which could fit about 10 to 15 people, are different temperatures. For less than $10, you can lounge in the hot tubs ranging from 99 to 107 degrees, sweat in the sauna or steam room or swim in the pools. The family-friendly facility also features slides and a waterfall for the kids.
Location: Alftanes, Iceland
íþróttamiðstöð álftaness was recommended to me from my AirBnB host during my second trip to Iceland. They said it was the facility they and all their friends go to. The geothermal baths are located outside. Each of the outdoor geothermal baths have varying temperatures. For the more adventurous, spend a few minutes in each bath going from the coolest to warmest. Then, dunk yourself in a freezing cold bath. Then repeat the cycle. A number of locals were performing this ritual for more than an hour.íþróttamiðstöð álftaness also features a wading pool, swimming pool, wave pool and slides for the kids.
Location: Hofsvallagata 107, 107 Reykjavík, Iceland
Located less than 10 minutes from downtown Reykjavik, Vesturbæjarlaug is a small neighbourhood pool that is popular among many city residents. The facility has an outdoor pool and children’s pool, waterslide, four geothermal hot tubs, steam bath, sauna and gym. These hot tubs are a bit larger than those at Arbaejarlaug and íþróttamiðstöð álftaness, which means you’ll have a bit more space to spread out during peak attendance.
What are your favorite geothermal pools in Iceland? Comment below with your picks.
Hey! I'm Christian.