Swimming in Iceland

Come rain or shine, one thing you can always trust the Icelanders to do is to go swimming all year around. The weather has to be exceptionally evil to stop Icelanders taking a dip in their local pool. When you drive around Iceland you will see there are swimming pools everywhere. We will go as far as to say there is not one village in Iceland that does not have a swimming pool (probably not a correct statement).

So when you pack your bags for your Iceland vacation, make sure you bring your swimsuit, towel, shampoo and if you want to swim a few laps, goggles are nice to have. Doesn’t everybody go to the pool to swim laps? No, they don’t, the pool culture is different here. People go there to hang out, socialize, sit in the hot tubs, use the steam baths or just to meet friends and family. It’s fascinating to lie in a hot tub and watch the Northern lights dancing among the stars.

Code of conduct in Icelandic swimming pools

So do you just put on your swimwear and jump in? Absolutely not. Icelanders have a very strict code of conduct and etiquette in their swimming pools. If you try to enter the shower area wearing your swimwear, you will get evil looks from other guests and someone from the staff will scold you like a little baby! (lol, it’s all true).

There is no way around it, you need to be naked in the shower area but, for those of you who are very shy, there are places with curtains you can shower behind but naked you must be.

So how to proceed then?

1. When you have arrived to the pool of your choice, you need to pay an entrance fee. If you are in Reykjavik and plan to use the swimming pools more than once, you might want to buy a card (10 visits). Depending where you are, you will get a wrist band, a key or some form of a digital key.

Thermal pool rules in Iceland


2. Before you enter the locker area, you take off your shoes, either store them outside the lockers of carry them to your locker.

3. Undress fully and bring your towel, swimwear, shampoo and your goggles if you have them.

4. You shower and wash (there are free, floating soap in all shower areas) your whole body. Don’t worry, there are signs everywhere to show you where to clean! 🙂

5. When you are done showering, you put on your swimwear and leave your towel (and shampoo) in the designated area and enter the pool area.

6. If you are planing to swim a few laps, there are “traffic” rules in the lanes. You always keep to the right in the lanes, so the oncoming swimmers can pass you, just like on the roads.

7. After you are done enjoying the pools, the hot tubs, the outdoors showers, you get your towel and dry off in the shower area. It is considered rude to enter the locker area all wet and you never place your wet swimsuits on the benches.

8. Leave the area holding your shoes until you have left the locker area.


Washing rules for swimming pools in Iceland

The temperatures in the pools are usually around 28C/82F and the hot tubs vary from 38C/100F to 45C/113F. The hottest ones you should enter with care if you are not used to them. While in the hottest tubs, it becomes more comfortable after a while if you don’t move around in the water.

Kids under the age of 10 are not allowed to be unsupervised and you are not allowed to bring diving gear or flotation toys without permission from a pool attendant. Shampoo is not necessary to bring along. The floating soap they have is made for hair too.

While you travel around Iceland in your rental car you are bound to come across many swimming pools, hot springs and tubs so have your gear ready, you want to use it here, all year around. However, there is one little detail to have in mind, if there is a hail storm, you might want to reconsider to enter the pool while that is going on for that hurts, really does.. lol… but they never last for long so just wait it out and you will be fine!

Here are some useful links so you can find what you are looking for:

Swimming pools in Reykjavik

Swimming pools in Iceland

Natural hot springs


Happy swimming!  #GoIceland


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