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Ása Steinars

Geothermal Springs

Iceland

TextÁsa Steinars
PhotographerÁsa Steinars

As an Icelander, bathing in geothermal springs is a very big part of our culture. It comes from living on a volcanic island, with cold harsh weather, but plenty of natural warm water around.

Almost every little town has their own pool

Filled with geothermal water and outside the cities, you’ll find the countryside sprinkled with natural hot springs. It is thanks to the volcanic activity in Iceland there are so many hot springs. The water is heated up deep underground and makes it to surface level to create hot springs. The best thing about them is that they exist almost all over the country, so anywhere you go you can find a hot spring or a pool.

A place to catch up

For the locals, a visit to the pool is a weekly occurrence, sometimes daily. We use the pools as a place to catch up and it’s deep in our culture. In a way similar to how the Brits go to the pub, but more relaxing. Some say this is how we survive the dark winters, and they might be right. Popping over to the local pool to see friends and get some fresh air never disappoints.

The northern lights

Then there is the holy grail of hot spring bathing when the northern lights come out. There’s nothing better than going out with friends to a cabin, far away from the light pollution from the cities. After dinner, you all hop into the hot tub and suddenly the northern lights start playing in the sky. It can be painfully cold to wait for them outside in winter, but sitting in a hot spring is pure pleasure.

To me this is what makes Iceland the best place in the world.

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Cold water swimming

These days it’s not only hot water we Icelanders swim in. Cold water swimming is the latest trend but it does of course require a hot spring afterward to heat up. Head down to Nautholtsvik in Reykjavik to join the local cold water swimming culture.

On Reykjavik’s own Riviera, a white sandy beach, you’ll see the locals dressed up in nothing but neoprene gloves and shoes going for surprisingly long swims in the cold water.

Sometimes it’s not more than 2-3°C but you will still see swimmers far out in the fjord. That might sound extreme to many but I do recommend trying a cold dip in a fjord and then heating up in the hot spring. It’s very refreshing but also calming in a very special way.


My favorite hot springs

Hellulaug - Hrunalaug - Galtahryggjarlaug

To me, this is what makes Iceland the best place in the world. There are a few other places that have stunning nature and incredible landscapes. But nowhere else have I found the combination of natural hot springs and spectacular nature. The cold harsh weather combined with a hot soak at the end of the day, that’s why I keep traveling around this beautiful country.

Hellulaug - Hrunlaug - Galtahryggjarlaug

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