Politics and passion in a hot tub

All geothermal pools in Iceland have at least one outdoor hot tub
February 19, 2019
Inga Rós Antoníusdóttir

Iceland is hot - no pun intended. As you may have heard we don’t only have volcanoes and geysers, we also have this thing about hot tubs in Iceland. And we’re not just talking about the natural hot springs and natural pools. All geothermal pools in Iceland have at least one outdoor hot tub and many homes have private hot tubs.

And why wouldn’t they, considering the majority of Icelandic households use geothermal water, pumped directly from the boreholes or water that has first been used in power plants to produce electricity.

Visitors tend to ask, when the outdoor pools and hot tubs open in summer, as they are used to them being closed over winter in their home countries. But not in Iceland. After all we’re Vikings and we bathe outdoors all year round. The truth is that there’s nothing better than a hot soak after a long day and adding snow and maybe even northern lights to the equation just makes the experience more magical.

Public tubs are not just relaxations areas, they are also an integral part of Icelandic culture. This social and cultural role of swimming pools and hot tubs should not be underestimated. The tradition of discussing current affairs, such as politics or the latest gossip, sports and/or personal affairs, is old and deeply rooted.

One might even argue that a local swimming pool with an outdoor hot tub in Iceland is as much the heart of the community as a local pub may be the heart of the community in other countries. Unlike in some spas there is no age limit and this is maybe the best place to experience a cross section of the Icelandic community. From babies to grandparents, from drivers to doctors, mailmen to ministers. They all meet here! Oh, and one word about local custom – don’t forget to take a shower before entering the pool - NAKED (in the shower mind you. Please wear appropriate swimwear to the pool/tub)!

Watch trailer of a documentary by an Icelandic filmmaker Harpa Fönn Sigurjónsdóttir, which follows a group of people who meet every morning at Vesturbæjarlaug in Reykjavík.

If you prefer your tub “au natural” there are still plenty of natural hot springs in Iceland to choose from. Some of them just a few minutes walk from the road, but the farther you get off the beaten path the more exclusive your experience will be. Unless you end up disturbing honeymooners that is. There’s nothing charming about feeling like the third wheel in a natural hot tub in Iceland. Furthermore, getting there often requires a lot of hiking or driving on rough dirt roads, roads which many car rental companies will forbid you to drive a regular car on.

Then there’s the opposite from natural springs. Namely a beer spa - designed especially for beer lovers. You know the types, who don’t think that enjoying a cold beer while having a soak is enough. Well….they can now enjoy a beer bath.

At Bjórböðin, Iceland’s first beer spa, that opened in 2017, guests get into tubs filled with a blend of young beer, hops, brewer’s yeast and essential oils and after that get to enjoy 25 minutes in the relaxation room. The experience leaves you just as happy and relaxed as you usually get from indulging in a few beers, the traditional way.

Last but not least, the most famous geothermal spa of them all is the Blue Lagoon. You’ve probably seen Did you know that National Geographic named it one of the top 25 Wonders of the World, and Condé Nast Traveller awarded it as one the Top 10 spas in the world?
On a Wellness and Northern Lights tour you can combine a visit to the famous Geysir hot spring area with beautiful waterfalls such as Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss and also enjoy the warmth of Icelandic hot thermal water in the Blue Lagoon in the midst of winter. The tour is furthermore designed to maximize your chances of witnessing the amazing Northern Lights. All on board!

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