The city operates seven thermal pools (www.spacity.is), all with changing rooms, lockers, showers, wading pools for small children, and "hot pots" (hot tubs), usually organized in a row with successively higher water temperatures. All but one have water slides and other delights for children. Entrance fees are typically 350kr ($5.60/#2.80) for adults and 150kr ($2.40/#1.20) for children ages 6 to 15. Swimsuit and towel rental are typically 350kr ($5.60/#2.80) apiece.
Don't be dissuaded by poor weather. Icelanders still show up in the rain, and believe the combination of cold air and hot water greatly beneficial to health. (They have very long life spans to show for it.) For a side of the city few tourists witness, show up at 7:30am, when Icelanders have a dip before work.
When in Iceland . . . -- Visiting a genuine Icelandic thermal pool is the best antidote for culture shock. Lounging in a hot tub with Icelanders, who are quite blase about this everyday ritual, is for many of us a far better way to interact with locals than Reykjavik's famed wild nightlife.
Reykjavik Thermal Pool Guide
- Arb?jarlaug, Fylkisvegur 9, Arb?r, near Elli?aar River (tel. 510-7600; Mon-Fri 6:50am-10:30pm; Sat-Sun 8am-10pm summer, 8am-8:30pm winter. Bus: 19), is a kiddie wonderland full of water toys, but has plenty for adults, too. (It's even known as a meeting place for single moms and dads.) A 15-minute bus ride from the center, this pool is one of the less touristed. Reykjavik's largest public Jacuzzi is here, but you won't find anywhere to do laps.
- Laugardalslaug, Sundlaugavegur 30, at the north end of Laugardalur Park (tel. 553-4039; Mon-Fri 6:50am-9:30pm; Sat-Sun 8am-10pm. Bus: 14), in the eastern part of the city, is the biggest and most populated pool, with several outdoor swimming areas, an Olympic-size indoor pool, a steam room reminiscent of a whale's belly, and a massage room.
- Sundhollin, Baronsstigur 16, at Bergt?orugata, behind Hallgrimskirkja (tel. 551-4059; Mon-Fri 6:30am-9:30pm; Sat-Sun 8am-7pm. Bus: S1, S6, or 13), is mostly indoors, so you may feel you're missing out on a true Icelandic experience (plus the kids will lament the lack of water slide). The hot pots are outside, however, with views of the city. The historic pool building was designed by the architect of Hallgrimskirkja, and each locker in the labyrinthine facilities has a fold-out dresser with mirror and stool.
- Seltjarnarneslaug, Su?urstrond 8, Seltjarnarnes (tel. 561-1551; Mon-Fri 7am-10:30pm; Sat-Sun 8am-6:30pm summer, 8am-5:30pm winter. Bus: 11), is the least touristed pool listed here (no signs in English), and the only one featuring saltwater. You may find yourself sharing the big Jacuzzi with brave souls just in from a cold swim in the ocean. In Seltjarnarnes, Reykjavik's suburb to the west, it's not far by car or bike.
- Vesturb?jarlaug, Hofsvallagata, at Melhagi (tel. 561-5004; Mon-Fri 6:30am-10pm; Sat-Sun 8am-10pm. Bus: 11 or 15), is a 15-minute walk from Tjornin Pond, on the southwestern edge of the city center, near the university and just a short distance from good shoreline strolling on ?gisi?a. Nautholsvik Beach is nearby, and you can pay extra to sit under sun lamps, a nice splurge on a gloomy day.
A few Reykjavik hotels offer fitness centers, saunas, massages, and health and beauty treatments, but only at Hilton Reykjavik Nordica's NordicaSpa, Su?urlandsbraut 2 (tel. 444-5090; www.nordicaspa.is; Mon-Thurs 6am-9pm, Fri 6am-8pm, Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 10am-4pm), do these combined services truly amount to "spa" status. NordicaSpa is especially adept at treatments utilizing Iceland's natural resources, from geothermal mud massages to seaweed wraps. Non-guests of the hotel are welcome.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.