Jump to content

Bathing together - a cultural exchange of ideas

Iceland is privileged with many natural resources and geothermal water is one of them, filling our natural hot springs, nature pools, swimming pools and baths all around the country. The spa is a modern day invention, but enjoying the various health benefits of bathing in thermal baths is an Icelandic tradition dating back to the settlement. Snorri Sturluson, the famous twelfth century historian and author, was a prolific spa enthusiast by modern standards, and had his own thermal pool built so he could soak in hot water whenever the mood struck him. Of the thirteen baths that are known to have been used in the early days of the Icelandic society, four are still standing.

Since the advent of harnessing geothermal energy in Iceland, the tradition of public bathing has become deeply rooted in the local culture. Iceland is made up of mostly small towns in addition to our few bigger cities. The smaller communities often have a homely feel to them with a sense of unity. Many of our smallest towns have only one grocery store but most of them have a local swimming pool. The pool is often the staple of the community, a daily meeting place for people of all ages and a big part of the community as a whole. In the hot tub, you can find yourself in a conversation with the town mayor, discussing everything from local politics to the most casual topics. So it is safe to say that the local public swimming pools are a vital part of the typical Icelandic small-town community. 


  • Get more insight into the Icelands public swimming pool culture
  • Soaking in a natural lagoon after a hike, long or short, is perhaps the ultimate Icelandic experience. Here are six of Iceland‘s natural baths where hot springs mix with groundwater
  • Across the country, spas have been stepping up their game by opening in more diverse locations, with more amenities and plenty of breathtaking views. Check out the Wellness Resort guide.