Swimming and bathing in hot water pools is a way of life in Iceland. Locals go to the pool to either relax, exercise or even socialise (sometimes all three!). Bathing in hot pools goes back to the settlement period, and one of the oldest and most famous pools is Snorralaug in Reykholt, named after Snorri Sturluson, a famous medieval poet and author. The first hot pool or “hot pot” that was built according to ancient tradition, was opened in 1923 in Seljavallalaug.
GEOTHERMAL ENERGY IN ICELAND
A combination of its unique geographical position on the Mid Atlantic ridge and an abundance of glacial rivers and waterfalls gives Iceland access to an abundance of clean energy. Over the years Iceland has become highly adept at utilising this energy, and today about 85% of the its energy requirements is met by renewable resources.
The energy generated from hydro power is mainly used for electricity production, whereas the geothermal energy is used to provide hot water for a variety of uses: Heating homes, schools and, yes, you guessed it Swimming Pools.
Today there are around 170 swimming pools in Iceland, the vast majority of which are outdoor. At the very least they come with a pool divided into lanes for swimming and one warmer hot pot for relaxing. A few of our favourite pools in the Greater Reykjavik area are listed below.
This pool is the largest and most popular in Reykjavik. Located in Laugardalur valley, a recreation area just outside the city centre.
Its facilities include a 50 metre long swimming pool, a giant waterslide (plus a smaller one for the younger children!), numerous hot pots, a steam bath, mini golf course and a gym.
Slightly further out from the centre is Árbæjarlaug. This pool is particularly good for children and features a water slide, water fountains, hot pots, jacuzzi and a sauna.
This is a very modern pool in the town of Alftanes, just outside Reykjavik. It comes with all the features one expects from an Icelandic pool but with one exception – a wave machine
IMPORTANT RULES AT SWIMMING POOLS IN ICELAND
There are a few things the foreign visitor should be aware of when visiting a pool in Iceland.
- Take your shoes off before entering the changing room. There should be a shelf where you can place your shoes. Alternatively you can put them in a plastic bag and secure them in your locker.
- Shower without a swimsuit before entering a pool. This is for hygiene purposes. The showers are usually provided with soap.
- Don´t use your camera or camera phone in the changing room. You could find yourself in trouble with the police if you do.
Visiting an Icelandic pool is a fantastic experience. It relaxes tired muscles, aching limbs and can greatly reduce stress and make you feel much more calm and relaxed. The contrast of the cool air and the hot water adds to the experience. At around 600 ISK a visit, it´s a cheap way to while away a couple of hours in Iceland.
Travel Guide Iceland Team – Reykjavík (Iceland)