If there is one thing you cannot miss while in Reykjavík, it has to be taking advantage of all the amazing thermal pools scattered around town. Ask any Icelander living abroad what they miss most from home and I can guarantee you that they’ll mention the pools.
Information about pools in Reykjavík
It’s ironic that the best place for information about Icelandic swimming pools is a website that was founded by and is maintained by a foreigner. Whether you need photos of Vesturbæjarlaug (The West Side Pool), a live webcam from the Blue Lagoon or the opening times during public holidays – www.swimminginiceland.com is the place for you.
Where to go if you forget your swimsuit
If you have Alzheimer’s Light like me there’s a good chance you forgot to pack your swimsuit. The Reykjavík Swimming Pools have a solution for you: Rent-a-trunk for about 600 ISK. For those who feel a bit squeamish about rental swimwear or need a new one anyway, you can also visit Útilíf (Kringlan Shopping Mall) or go to Brim (Laugarvegur Main Shopping Street) for a more surfer-like attire
Don’t forget to wash yourself and other rules
There are some rules that you should keep in mind in Icelandic swimming pools.
First, you must remember washing in the nude before putting on your swimsuit and heading out to the pool. Why? you might ask and the answer is simple: It’s all about hygene. Don’t worry, we are all very used to naked bodies. The bodies that usually get the most stares in the showers, and the wrath of the shower guards, are the ones of overly shy tourists that are trying their best to bend the rules and avoid nudity.
Secondly, the regulars in the pools come to do some swimming so try to keep out of the lanes if you don’t intend to swim. There’s normally a play area for silliness and underwater handstands and then you can always just enjoy the hot pots. If you do intend to swim a few laps, just remember to swim on the right and stay out of the fast lane of you are not a strong/quick swimmer.
Swimming in the sea, not for the faint hearted
Icelanders do many strange things, such as voluntarily eating ram testicles once a year, and ocean swimming is probably one of these strange things to some. What it’s about can really be found in the name of the activity: One swims in the sea. The best place to do that is in Nauthólsvík, our geothermal artificial beach, and they even have a whole organization dedicated to those who do this strange thing on a regular basis
Fancy a bit of au natural?
If you like to be naked (What? – Some folks do!) or if you want to combine bathing with nature, finding a natural hot spring is the way to go. The closest one to Reykjavík is probably in Reykjadalur which is a Valley close to Hveragerði village. There are no rules per se in Reykjadalur but I recommend you take care and look where you’re walking because I’ve heard endless stories about people getting hurt in their quest for some skinny dipping.