5 of the best swimming pools in Reykjavík and the capital region
The public swimming pools are one of the best things about Reykjavík, a center for social gathering, a place where locals gather to discuss the state of the economy, politics or football, or just lounge around and relax!
The pools are generally first rate, with numerous hot tubs, steam rooms, saunas, many also have first rate gyms, although you must pay extra for entry and most pools have waterslides for the kids. Clean and modern, the admission is still cheap: Single tickets are 900 ISK for adults (8.1 USD/7.6 EUR), but if there is more than one of you and you are planning to take more than one dip buying a 10 ticket card for 4,300 ISK (39 USD/36 EUR). You can also rent towels and swimwear.
There is no better way to immerse yourself in Iceland and Reykjavík than to dive into one of the fabulous geothermal swimming pools!
Public pools generally open early and close late, making for an excellent way to begin and end the day. Opening hours in the capital region vary slightly, but you can count on Reykjavík pools being open from 6:30-22:00 Monday through Thursday (on Friday-Sunday, closing times vary).
Of course every pool has its charm and there will be locals who swear this pool or that is hands down the best - and with 16+ different pools in the Capital Region it can be difficult to pick one or two to visit, so to help you decide which pool to visit we at Iceland Magazine prepared this guide to five of the best swimming pools of Reykjavík.
And remember: you must shower in the nude before you enter the pool: Those are the rules at Icelandic swimming pools!
This pool has repeatedly been voted “Iceland’s best pool,” by locals. It is one of the oldest pools in Reykjavík, located in Vesturbær, the residential neighborhood west of downtown and within easy walking distance from the cafés and shops of the city center.
Since Vesturbæjarlaug was opened in 1961 it has occupied a certain place in the hearts of Reykjavík residents. The hot tubs are the heart of the pool: A gathering spot of local politicians, since a significant part of the Icelandic political class lives in the Vesturbær neighbourhood, academics, since the University of Iceland is only a few blocks from the pool and various hipsters and artistic types.
Vesturbæjarlaug was also Iceland’s first public pool to offer a sauna. The sauna has not been updated since 1961, but recently the pool added a unique rustic steam bath, a large yurt like circular room with glass walls and a bare concrete floor. But the best part about Vesturbæjarlaug is its location. There is also a nice café across the street, and a really good hot-dog stand right next door.
Just east of downtown Laugardalslaug, the largest pool in Reykjavík, sits at the same location as the first site of the first public bath in Reykjavík. The current pool was opened in 1968, but there has been a public bath at the site since 1772. The Laugardalur valley, where the pool is located, is home to one of the most active geothermal areas in the region. Still today 8% of all the hot water consumed in the Capital Region comes from boreholes in the valley.
The pool is a favourite with locals and always packed during warm summer days. It has something for everyone: a 50 meter long pool, a second large and somewhat warmer pool popular with kids and teens, a large indoor pool, a tall water slide, a wading pool, two smaller waterslides, a steam room and a large selection of hot tubs - including one geothermal sea-water tub which gets its water from a low-temperature hot spring just off the coast to the west of the pool. And, of course, a hot-dog stand. (Buying a hot-dog after visiting the pool is an Icelandic tradition!)
Its proximity to nearby hotels and Laugardalur’s camping grounds and hostel, has made it a favourite destination for foreign travellers.
Laugardalslaug’s late opening hours make it a great place to finish off your day. An on-site hot-dog stand ensures you can experience almost everything you would want from a pool trip in Iceland.
Seltjarnarneslaug is located on Seltjarnarnes, a western suburb of Reykjavík. Although it is not far from downtown it is best accessed by public transit or car. If you visit the Grótta nature preserve at the tip of the peninsula, the Seltjarnarneslaug swimming pool is the perfect way to finish the day off! The pool is very compact and has everything you could want, very comfortable changing rooms, a good selection of hot tubs, a steam room and a water slide and a wading pool for the kids.
What really makes the pool, however, is the view from the wading pool. You can lounge in the warm water and watch out over the Kollafjörður bay to the south of Reykjavík, and marvel at the mountains of Reykjanes peninsula. Seltjarnarneslaug gets its water directly from a nearby borehole, making it rich in minerals.
Read more: Five “hidden” Cafés in Reykjavík
Standing in front of the pool is a small eco-friendly café/shop Systrasamlagið, “The Sisterhood,” which sells sandwiches, smoothies and coffee. Definitely worth a visit!
Álftaneslaug is located in the suburb of Álftanes, south of Reykjavík. The official residence of the President of Iceland, Bessastaðir, is located only a few blocks from the pool. The location is ideal and the pool itself is great.
It also has a fascinating history: Known to Icelanders as the pool which bankrupted the municipality, its planning and construction took place during the pre-crash financial boom, a time when Iceland was supposed to become global financial center and a "Dubai of the North." Nothing was spared during the design and construction. The cost of the design and construction played a major part in the bankruptcy of the municipality of Álftanes, which was then absorbed by the neighbouring municipality of Garðabær.
It features the largest waterslide in Iceland (10 m/30 ft tall), Iceland's only wave pool, a nice indoor pool, two excellent hot tubs, a wading pool for the kids and an excellent swimming pool. Álftaneslaug also has an excellent sauna and a nice steam bath.
A favourite destination for Reykjavík families, it is the most popular pool in Reykjavík among kids. It has a nice water slide, a shallow outdoor pool, connected to a shallow indoor pool. Several large hot tubs and a steam bath provide perfect opportunity to relax while the kids play in the shallow pools and water slides. Like Laugardalslaug it is always packed during the summer.
What really makes this pool, though, is the view. There is a beautiful view of Reykjavík from the hot tubs, looking down Elliðaár valley out over the city, the view is amazing any time of day and year.
Definitively worth the visit, especially if you want to avoid the flocks of tourists at Laugardalslaug.
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