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One of the most popular activities visitors to Iceland enjoy is visiting one of its many lagoons. The ritual of enjoying the geothermally heating bodies of water has a long tradition that both locals and tourists get to savor. But there are a variety of rules, both written and unwritten, that visitors should keep in mind. For this reason, this post addresses Iceland lagoon etiquette so that you’re aware of what to expect and can blend in with the Icelanders!
For this post, the lagoons will be divided into three categories. The first category is what I will call the tourist lagoons, frequented by locals but mainly geared at attracting tourists. The second category is what I will call the local lagoons; these lagoons are fewer thrills and cater to both locals and tourists. The third category is the local pools, which are the no-thrills pools frequently mostly by locals.
General Showering Etiquette for Lagoons and Pools
Heading to Iceland and have questions about the etiquette involved with the lagoons? Here are the answers you seek!
Here is the routine: Pay at the entrance, go into the changing room (a separate one for women and men), take off all of your clothes and put them in a locker. Take a shower naked using soap to wash your face, pits, privates, and feet. Put on your bathing suit and exit into the cold air to enjoy a warm soak in the lagoon!
Do I really need to shower naked?
Yes, unlike in other countries where you usually shower with your swimsuit on, in Iceland, you’ll shower naked and then put on your bathing suit. Don’t worry, everyone is in the same boat as you. No one is staring at you, this is required by the Environment Agency of Iceland.
Is there a private shower available?
If you’re at a local pool, no private showers are available. If you’re at a lagoon in the first category, there may be at least a few private showers. If you’re at a lagoon in the second category, there may or may not be a private shower available, so brace yourself or skip it unless you know. If you’re with a group of friends and don’t feel comfortable being naked in front of them, take turns.
Do I have to pack a bathing suit?
Space can be extremely limited in a suitcase, so you may wonder whether some of your other clothing items can double in a pinch. Generally, the answer is no. Most lagoons and pools require bathing suits and will not allow shorts, sports bras, leggings, etc., to be worn instead of bathing suits.
What if I don’t have a bathing suit or towel?
All of the pools have bathing suits and towels for rent or purchase.
Do I need flip-flops or sandals?
The distance from the showers to the pool is generally short and you do not need footwear, although you may prefer it since the walkways will be frozen and slippery.
How do I pay for drinks?
If you’re at one of the Category 1 lagoons, you’ll be provided with a bracelet that you can use to charge items. The front desk will store your credit card information and a simple tap of the bracelet will charge your drinks at the bar. At other lagoons, you’ll have to make arrangements before hand so that you don’t have to carry your credit card.
Lagoons and Pools to Visit in Iceland (near Reykjavik)
Iceland is home to innumerable lagoons and public pools. This list is just a fraction of the lagoons and centers on areas in and near Reykjavik but is not all-inclusive.
Blue Lagoon: Category 1
One of the top attractions in Iceland is the famous Blue Lagoon. The milky white water gets its blue sheen from the sun reflecting off the silica in the water. The silica deposits at the bottom of the lagoon, and can be applied to your face and body for skin improvement. You’ll need reservations to visit Blue Lagoon and most people come either on their way in or out of the airport.
Even with the basic (comfort) package, visitors get a towel, a drink, and a silica mask. There is a swim-up bar available and visitors use an electronic bracelet for charges. A few showers with doors are available. Pricing varies depending on the time for your entrance and your chosen package, from USD 62 to USD 475 and up. Children 2 and up can visit, though those under 8 will need to wear floaties.
Sky Lagoon: Category 1
Opening in the Spring of 2021, the Sky Lagoon is the newest lagoon in the Reykjavik area. Its location along the waterway creates the appearance of an infinity edge so that you can admire downtown views. Reservations are highly recommended. You may even get to see the Northern Lights if you’re lucky!
The Pure Lite package is sufficient to enjoy the Lagoon. There is a swim-up bar available and visitors use an electronic bracelet for charges. Admission costs range from about USD 42 to 100, depending on the time and package purchased. All the showers have private doors, making for a private shower routine. Children under 12 are not permitted at Sky Lagoon.
Secret Lagoon: Category 2
The oldest natural pool in Iceland is a laid-back option and a great addition to a Golden Circle tour. This rustic pool is formed by rocks and even the bottom is covered in smooth pebbles.
Don’t expect a swim-up bar here, though you can get snacks and drinks from inside. Admission does not include a towel, so bring your own. You can rent a towel and swimsuit for about USD 6.50 each. There are no private shower stalls here. Admission is approximately USD 23. This is a favorite with both tourists and locals. Children must be supervised by adults.
Laugarvatn Fontana Geothermal Baths: Category 2
Located along the Golden Circle, the Fontana Baths provide access to steam baths and heated pools which can be followed up with a cool dip into the Laugarvatn Lake. Reservations are recommended but not necessary. Admission costs about USD 32. An evening visit may even permit a view of the Northern Lights. Towels, swimsuits, and robes are available to rent. Fontana does not have private showers. Kids are permitted with adult supervision.
Rye bread is baked daily from 11:30-2:30, and you can book a Rye Bread Tour for about USD 12, and you’ll dig up rye bread that has been baked in the volcanic ground. Or enjoy a soup buffet featuring incredible rye bread.
Sundhöllin: Category 3
This local pool in Reykjavik features no thrills. Sundhollin looks like what you would expect any swimming pool to look like, including lanes for swimmers. You won’t find a plush bathrobe or slippers or a swim-up bar (or any bar) here. You can purchase swimwear if needed. What you will find here is locals hanging out and happily sharing their city with you. Cost is equivalent to about 6 Euros. Kids are welcome with adult supervision.
Vesturbæjarlaug: Category 3
This local pool in Reykjavik allows for easy access by those using wheelchairs or walkers. The facility features a sauna, hot pools, cold tubs, whirlpools, and more. You can even purchase swimwear and use the free Wifi! Drinks and snacks are available for purchase. Cost is equivalent to about 6 Euros. Kids are welcome with adult supervision.
Final Thoughts on Iceland Lagoon Etiquette
While not everyone is comfortable with getting undressed in front of others, consider that you may not know the others in the dressing room with you. It would be a shame to miss trying out one of the lagoons solely due to the nudity issue. However, if this is your line in the sand, I recommend visiting one of the Category 1 lagoons with private stalls. I was happy to see that all of them offer food and drinks, even if you can’t always consume them in the lagoons.
Have you enjoyed Iceland’s geothermal pools? What did you think? Share your tips with us in the comments below!
Check out more Iceland content here:
- What to Know Before Visiting Iceland in Winter
- A 4-Day Iceland Winter Itinerary
Annick, The Common Traveler