The Best Swimming Pools in Reykjavík
Icelanders like nothing better than to have a dip, whether that's a sociable catch-up in a geothermal bath or an invigorating workout in a swimming pool. It's long been part of the national culture. Once, these places would have served as the local launderette as well as for keeping oneself clean. Their enduring popularity says a lot about Nordic values, as losing the trappings and status of everyday life once you enter the pool is a great leveller. Reykjavik residents have grown up with the pool: children are taught how to swim at a young age, and retirees love it as a way to stay fit.
Why not join them next time you're in the Icelandic capital? It's a year-round obsession; even in winter, you'll find the pools open and well-frequented. Before you leave for the airport, throw a swimsuit into your case so you can check out these, the best pools in Reykjavik, during your stay.
Where to swim in Reykjavik
Be careful to check opening times before heading out to the pool. Opening times can vary; however, they are often open from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm most days. Here are our picks for some of the best pools in Reykjavik. Which will become your favourite?
While some of the best pools in Reykjavik are out in the suburbs, this centrally located swimming pool can be reached in just five minutes on foot from Hallgrímskirkja. But convenience isn't its only draw. It features two pools, one outdoors and the other an indoor saltwater pool heated to a comfortable 28°C year-round. There are other facilities, including hot tubs, a diving board, a wading pool, a cold tub and a sauna.
Vesturbæjarlaug is another pool that's close enough to downtown Reykjavik to be reached on foot. Situated only a fifteen-minute walk from the National Museum of Iceland or Tjörnin, this complex boasts an outdoor pool and a children's area with a water slide – it's good to know that children under 16 get in free. In addition, there are four outdoor hot tubs, two saunas and a steam bath.
Located on the city's north-eastern fringes, this complex features the largest swimming pool in Reykjavik. The indoor and outdoor pools are 50 metres long; lanes help serious athletes monitor their progress and performance. In addition, kids can take advantage of a smaller, shallower indoor pool to build their skills and confidence. Additional facilities include an 86-metre-long water slide, hot tubs, a Jacuzzi and a sauna. Though the place isn't at the heart of the city centre, there's plenty for visitors nearby, including hiking trails, Reykjavik's botanical garden and zoo.
This pool is unusual as the water is a mixture of geothermal and saltwater. This means the amount of chlorine required is reduced, which many swimmers find kinder to the skin. The water is also relatively rich in minerals, another big plus. It forms part of the sports centre complex at Suðurströnd and features a sizeable outdoor pool as well as hot tubs, cold pots, a steam bath and a slide. The place is open year-round apart from a short closure for maintenance each May.
Nauthólsvík is the closest of Reykjavik's swimming places to Perlan, so combining the two attractions is easily doable. This geothermal beach was created specifically with leisure users in mind. Strictly speaking, it's more of a manmade lagoon than a pool, but nevertheless, swimmers will enjoy it, not least for its novelty value. Water temperature averages between 15° and 19°C in summer, so expect a fresh and invigorating experience.
6. Sky Lagoon
If you're looking for a more upscale pool experience, then Sky Lagoon fits the bill. This geothermal spa first opened in 2021 and has earned rave reviews ever since. Luxuriate in the warm water with an uninterrupted view of the Atlantic Ocean thanks to its infinity edge, or follow its 7-step wellness programme to take things up a notch. This place books up well in advance, so pin down your plans and lock them into your itinerary. It is important to note that children under 16 are not welcome.
Why does Iceland have so many geothermal pools?
It's common knowledge that Iceland has a plethora of geothermal pools, but have you ever wondered why? Iceland's position in the mid-Atlantic, where the North American and Eurasian plates are pulling apart, means there's plenty of tectonic activity. It's worth visiting Perlan so that you can check out the fascinating exhibition about volcanoes and earthquakes.
The presence of underground heat means that a large proportion of Iceland can capitalise on geothermal energy. Other areas make use of hydroelectric power. Together, this is what heats buildings – and pools – up and down the country. Unlike fossil fuels such as oil, it's relatively cheap, so why wouldn't you make the most of it while visiting Iceland?
Tips for getting the most out of the best pools in Reykjavik
Adhere to pool etiquette
The biggest of these is, without a doubt, driven by hygiene. Showering naked prior to getting in is a must; if you're not so body-confident, choose a pool that offers private shower cubicles. Another thing to remember is to leave your mobile phone in the locker to avoid disturbing others or invading their privacy.
Embrace cold therapy
Devotees believe that dunking themselves in frigid water can have health-enhancing benefits, such as reducing stress and easing inflammation or pain. Once you've had the all-clear from your own doctor, perhaps you might want to give it a go.
Plan when to go
Popular geothermal spas like Sky Lagoon can get booked up at peak periods, so you may wish to lock down a preferred slot in advance to avoid disappointment. Note that swimming is still popular in winter (don a hat!), so avoid weekends if you want to take a dip when the pool is quieter.
Make it a habit
In addition to the single admission price, some pools allow you to purchase tickets in blocks. If you plan to stay in Reykjavik for an extended period, you might choose to take advantage of the discounted rate this offers. Do a quick calculation before taking your first dip and see if it's cost-effective.
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