Wellness and self-care is an important part of Icelandic culture. In a country of biting winds, drizzling rain and frequent blizzards, Icelanders often find themselves having me-time in different ways. Join the locals by hibernating inside Reykjavík’s many geothermal pools, spas and saunas.
Natura Spa: the whole package
Located next to the domestic airport inside Icelandair Hotel Reykjavík Natura lies the Natura Spa. According to Anna Jónsdóttir, manager of the Spa, it’s the only place in Reykjavík that offers a pool, sauna, steam bath and beauty treatments together. Recently renovated, the decor is inspired by the Icelandic landscape and houses a large pool and relaxation area that’s lit with striking ice-blue lights and a cosy fireplace. “Food and beverages are available from the hotel’s in-house restaurant, and the entire complex is on the doorstep of a vast outdoor recreation area called Öskjuhlíð, and Reykjavík’s geothermal beach, Nauthólsvík,” says Jónsdóttir. The affordable treatments are available to the public, and hotel guests receive a discount.
Step off Reykjavík’s bustling main street Laugavegur and into this peaceful spa escape in the heart of the city. Hand, feet and facial treatments are readily available, as are several different types of massages, be it a relaxation session to help shake off the jet lag, or a sports massage to help you recover from hikes across the volcanic landscapes. Located in downtown Reykjavik, the treatments offered are some of the most affordable in the city.
Sundhöllin Public Baths: the oldest public pool in Iceland
Travellers looking to soak their jet lag away in a classic Icelandic geothermal pool should visit Sundhöllin Public Baths. It is the oldest public pool in the country, tucked neatly away from the hubbub behind Hallgrímskirkja. Inside is everything we’ve come to expect from the Icelandic public baths: two large swimming pools, diving boards, a steam room and sauna, and an array of inviting hot tubs filled with Icelanders discussing the latest gossip. There’s even an ice-cold plunge pool for the bravest of swimmers – the best cure for jet lag.
Well off the beaten track, Hreyfing Heilsulind is a spa situated in the quiet suburban neighbourhood of Glæsibær, located southeast of Laugardalur sports complex and Reykjavík Zoo. Attached to the neighbourhood gym, this is a spa that is not frequently visited by tourists, which is great if you’re looking to have an authentic experience. Opting for any of the treatments here (massages, facials, couple sessions) will grant you access to a sauna, steam house and three hot tubs, one of which contains seawater.
Popular with locals, Vesturbær’s neighbourhood pool has cemented itself among the best spots in Reykjavík to kick back and relax thanks to their quality geothermal pools. The 20-minute walk from downtown might put off a few bathing enthusiasts, but those that make the trek into Reykjavík’s suburbia are rewarded with a truly local experience. Recently renovated, it houses multiple hot pots, a steam sauna and a large lap pool. If you work up an appetite while relaxing in the hot water, Kaffhús Vesturbæjar across the street serves up healthy meals, coffee and beer.
Laugardalslaug is Reykjavík’s biggest swimming pool and sports complex, complete with a gym, swimming pools, hot pots and a soothing spa. Built on Reykjavík’s original geothermal spring, early settlers would walk from downtown to do their washing and bathing here. Centuries later, it’s still popular amongst locals despite its high prices.
Nothing less than world-class facilities can be found at a Hilton Hotel Spa, and the Reykjavík branch is no exception. With luxurious pampering, indulgent beauty treatments and serene hot tubs, this is elegant relaxation at its finest. With a striking wooden interior that does its best to channel the saunas and spas often found in the Alps, the spa offers massages, facials, manicures and pedicures, couple treatments and more. Hot tubs, steam rooms and a rooftop patio relaxation area are also available.
At Hydra Flot Spa near the Hlemmur Bus Station and Food Hall, each visitor is granted access to their own private floatation chamber inside the futuristic-looking establishment, where you’ll float weightlessly on warm Icelandic water infused with Epsom salts – a proven remedy for sore muscles and stress. Once encased inside your cocoon, you’ll feel as if you’re a part of your favourite sci-fi movie. The unique spa treatment is a great way to decompress before or after a flight.
101 Spa is a solid option for those looking for any kind of pampering treatment in the city centre. Highly trained staff are on hand to shower you with facials, nail services and even spray-tan treatments, but if that’s not your style, try one of their relaxing massages instead. Prices are a little bit more expensive than your average spa, but this is Iceland after all.
Seltjarnarneslaug is the neighbourhood pool for Seltjarnarnes in northwest Reykjavík. With great views over the ocean and coastline, there are multiple hot pots and swimming pools, one for laps and one designed for relaxation. But perhaps the best part about making the trip out to this pool is its proximity to the Grótta Nature Reserve. Walking paths circle the peninsula, capped off by a lighthouse, giving you a taste of the beautiful Icelandic nature.