The Tourist In Residence

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That Icelandic Hot Springs Lifestyle

That Icelandic Hot Springs Lifestyle

Listen, folks. I’m from a place that is famous for being geographically stable. The rolling fields of Iowa certainly have their charm, but any landscape other than waves of grain is new and exciting to me. So the scenery in Iceland blew my damn mind—and the hot springs were a revelation. I’m completely obsessed with them. There’s something deliciously indulgent about a natural spa in a gorgeous setting. I made hot springs were a major part of my first solo travel adventure (I hit three Icelandic springs in a week!) and found them to be super relaxing as well as solo travel friendly. Read on for both my reasons to go to a hot spring, what to know before you go tips, and my three stops. 

Morning at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland

Now I should preface this and say: some people may not enjoy them. I get it. I have friends who believe baths are hanging out in tepid water that’s absorbed your own filth. For them, hot springs may seem like an outdoor version of an activity they hate. However if you’re like me and get excited by the special holiday edition of bath bombs at Lush, you’re going to go love this. 

For those of you with schedule trepidation: I also get you. You have limited room in your itinerary and you’re asking yourself, “is it worth sacrificing multiple hours of my hard earned vacation to sit in a hot pool with strangers? I’m not even into hot tubs at home!” My answer is: quit your whining Sharon, this isn’t your cousin’s weird hot tub party. Hot springs are amazing for your mind and body. Here are my reasons why: 

  1. I don’t know what Nordic concept will be in vogue by the time you read this post, but like hygge or lagom or kalsarikannit, I’m sure it will be about taking it slow and creating time for yourself. The Icelandic hot spring culture lives with the same spirit. It’s good for you like meditation. Take some time out of your trip to slow down.

  2. Unlike meditation, hot springs are a social activity. All of the springs I went to serve alcohol poolside (and in the case of the Blue Lagoon, there’s a swim up bar). Take your friends and enjoy the day drinking. Solo travelers: there are plenty of other guests you can make friends with should you choose. I found that when I wanted to chat with others I could, and when I wanted alone time I got that too.

  3. It’s the perfect way to end a day of hiking. Some of the tours I went on even ended a day with a stop for dinner at a hot spring. There’s actually nothing better after scrambling around Thingvellir on a cold wet day in November than soaking into a warm spring with a cold beer. 

The Secret Lagoon at Fludir is a hot spring in Iceland.

Have you booked your tickets yet? If I’ve got you hooked on the idea, here’s what to know before you dive in. 

  • Book early. More popular spots, like the Blue Lagoon, sell out. This is not a time to wing it.
  • Yes, my fellow Americans, you do need to be nude when you shower before and after. Then put your suit on for the spring. The first time is awkward, by the third time you’re a champ.
  • Everyone knows you’re going to take photos for posterity at the springs. Just don’t be too much of a creep. It was raining for most of my trips, so I pulled out my phone, got my shots, then would return it to my locker before soaking. (Not literally diving - these are shallow springs).
  • If you’re not looking to be social, bring a book to the springs to really relax. It will probably get wet, so I wouldn’t pull anything from the library or something you care too much about.
  • Some of the tours I went to springs on included hunting for the Northern Lights. We were unsuccessful, but it was still a delightful evening. 
The Blue Lagoon snakes through black lava rock in Iceland.

I went to the Blue Lagoon, Laugarvatn Fontana, and the Secret Lagoon at Fludir while I was in Iceland. The Secret Lagoon may have been my favorite - it was the least crowded and had the most natural setting. I’ll share my full Icelandic itinerary in a future post, but for now, make sure you add at least one of those lagoons to your list.

The hot spring at Fontana in Iceland at night.
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