The Sky Lagoon in Reykjavík

A couple at the Sky Lagoon in Iceland

What differentiates the Sky Lagoon from other luxury spas in the country? When is the best time to visit, and how long should you spend there? So, before you indulge in a spot of bathing, let’s learn more about what you can expect from this lovely spa! 

If one image showcases why people travel to Iceland, it would be people relaxing in the country’s hot spring spas

Can’t you picture such luxury for yourself? 

With gentle eddies of steam rising up around their naked torsos, Iceland’s geothermal waters provide visitors serenity, community, and well-being.

A couple at the spa
Photo: Sky Lagoon Pure Pass with Transfer

The Sky Lagoon is just one of Iceland’s many spas, but given that it is a new addition to the scene, it lacks the recognition enjoyed by the Blue Lagoon or Myvatn Nature Baths

Though it hasn’t been around for too long, the spa has rapidly become a favourite among locals and travellers alike. So, without further ado, why exactly has this spa made such a splash since first opening in 2021? 

Why should you visit this exciting new spa?

A woman at Sky Lagoon's sauna
Photo: Sky Lagoon Pure Pass with Transfer

For one, the Sky Lagoon shares its major draws with all other spas in Iceland. Heated from geothermal energy below the ground, the lagoon’s warm waters invite its guests to soak for a few hours at a time. As has been tradition in Iceland for centuries, bathing is a premium opportunity to either socialise with others around you, or close your eyes, lean back, and let the soothing sensations douse you with bliss. 

The Ritual is one of the spa’s major selling points. Guests are offered a seven-step process to relaxation and rejuvenation.

 

 

First, you will spend some time in the lagoon itself, enjoying the peaceful ambience and beautiful surroundings. After a quick dip in the nearby glacial pool, you enter the sauna, followed by a steam shower. Shortly afterwards, you will lather your skin in nutrient-rich sea salt scrub, bringing it to life. To close off the experience, you will take a refreshing shower before returning to the lagoon.

Of course, it is not necessary to take part in the ritual if you would rather bob around in the lagoon. However, it certainly adds a great depth to your experience, maximising your limited time at this exciting new spa. 

Where is the Sky Lagoon?

Looking down on the Sky Lagoon
Photo: Sky Lagoon Pure Pass with Transfer

The Sky Lagoon is located within Reykjavík. This makes it something of an anomaly among spas in Iceland, and a must-stop for those restricting themselves to the Capital Region. It is only a short way from downtown – approximately ten minutes drive – so can be easily slotted in around any other points of interest you’re looking to explore.

What amenities are on offer? 

 

The Sky Lagoon offers a swim-up bar where you can purchase a variety of alcoholic and soft beverages, including cocktails. Nothing beats enjoying a cool refreshment while your body is hugged by the snugness of the lagoon’s water. Don’t worry about paying there and then – upon buying your admission, you will be provided with an electronic wristband that tracks your purchases. 

There is also an infinity pool, allowing you to feel like you are bathing right next to the coast line. Watching the waves, passing ships, and distant islands is the perfect fuel to remain hanging over the lip of the infinity pool throughout your stay. In fact, from this position, guests are provided a brilliant view of Bessastaðir, the official residence of the President of Iceland, offering a small dose of culture during your time at the lagoon. 

Those hoping to take a piece of the Sky Lagoon home will find plenty of fantastic souvenirs at their shop. Products include: the Ritual body scrub, shampoos and conditioners, relaxing pillow sprays, and even gift cards – perfect for friends and family visiting Iceland in the near future.

What attractions are near the Sky Lagoon?

A guest relaxes at the lagoon
Photo: Volcanic Wonders & the Sky Lagoon

Given that the Sky Lagoon is so close to the many cultural attractions, museums, shopping districts, restaurants, and bars that make up Reykjavík, the possibilities are endless.

There are a variety of tours that include admission to the Sky Lagoon as part of a package. For example, the Golden Circle & Sky Lagoon Bathing Experience offers you the opportunity to dip in geothermal water and discover the wonders of Iceland’s most popular sightseeing route. That’s correct – in the space of a single day, you can visit the UNESCO heritage site, Þingvellir National Park, the explosive Geysir geothermal valley, Gullfoss waterfall, and the Sky Lagoon!

Other tours, such as Golden Circle, Sky Lagoon Premium & Kerid Volcanic Crater | Small Group Day Tour, provide even further depth to your travels, as well as keeping the group size intimate and personal.

If you’re looking for something a little more extreme, but still nearby on the Golden Circle, you could try your hand at some underwater exploration with Cold & Hot: Silfra Snorkeling & Sky Lagoon. This excursion will see you don a protective dry suit, fins, a mask and a snorkel, all in preparation for entering the crystal-clear glacier fissure, Silfra.

These are only a handful of the activity options available to you. Before locking down your itinerary, be sure to check out the many Sky Lagoon combo tours HERE!

When can you visit the Sky Lagoon?

The lagoon has impressive ocean views
Photo: Sky Lagoon Pure Pass with Transfer


The Sky Lagoon is open every day from 9AM to 10PM. This is true both in the summer and winter, making it accessible the entire year around.  

Many people like to enjoy the lagoon in the afternoon so as to watch the sunset over the ocean, leaving them with enough time to dine-out downtown come the evening. Of course, if you are visiting in the summer, the Midnight Sun will remain high in the sky right up until closing. 

The winter offers an entirely different experience, but it is no less wonderful. For one thing, the biting outside climate makes the warmth of the lagoon even more comforting, especially on particularly snowy or windy days. You will likely find the surrounding scenery layered with snow, perfectly demonstrating the contrast in temperatures. 

The Secret Lagoon in South Iceland

A happy couple at the Secret Lagoon in Iceland

What can you expect from a visit to the Secret Lagoon in Iceland? How does it differ from other spas and hot springs around the country? Read on to learn more about the many joys that come with bathing at the Secret Lagoon in Iceland. 

In Icelandic, the Secret Lagoon is known as Gamla Laugin, meaning Old Pool

It is aptly named, being the first artificially-made outdoor swimming area in Iceland. The first incarnation of the pool was built in 1891, smack in the centre of a geothermal area known as Hverahólmi. It was quite the change given this space had historically been used for washing clothes. 

Since opening, it has become a tradition amongst local people to enjoy bathing in these gently simmering waters. Swimming lessons were held there from 1909 to 1947, at which point the original pool fell into disrepair. 

It was not until 2005 that the pool was given a second chance. On the 7th of June 2014, the Secret Lagoon officially opened its doors. Holiday-makers have been flocking to it ever since. 

When can you visit the Secret Lagoon?

Entering the Secret Lagoon
Photo: Secret Lagoon – Gamla Laugin

There really is no best time to visit the Secret Lagoon. Summer visitors can enjoy the lush beauty of the surrounding nature, as well as the omnipresent sunlight. Winter travellers can expect a welcome source of heat from its waters, helping to break up their day exploring the local area. Opening hours for the Secret Lagoon are as follows:

Winter season

*from 1st of October to 31st of May

Open daily from 10:00 to 19:00

Summer season

*from 1st of June to 30th of September

Open daily from 10:00 to 20:00

 

Where is the Secret Lagoon?

Gamla Laugin
Photo: Golden Circle — Platinum Tour | Small group

The Secret Lagoon is located in Flúðir village, in South Iceland. Home to little more than 800 people, the village is known for its abundance of greenhouses and gorgeous surrounding scenery. Travelling by car is a 1 hr 25 min drive (104.7 km) from the capital city, Reykjavík.  

Thanks to its proximity to many other notable attractions, Flúðir is often included as an extra stop on the Golden Circle sightseeing route. 

 

Why should you visit the Secret Lagoon?

Bathers at the Secret Lagoon
Photo: Private Northern Lights Tour – With Secret Lagoon and Dinner

Visiting the Secret Lagoon allows you to experience the soothing warmth of Iceland’s geothermally-heated water. Slipping under its twinkling surface, you’re sure to feel your troubles melt away. 

Thankfully, there are no seasonal restrictions, meaning you are free to visit during the winter or summer. Each has its benefits; the Northern Lights may very well decorate the night sky for those stopping by between September and March. The Midnight Sun offers eternal light for summer travellers, allowing you to stay out later and fit more into your day.  

A visit to the Secret Lagoon also provides a brilliant opportunity to observe the steaming fumaroles and hot pots that surround the pool itself. Some even have names, such as Vaðmálahver, Básahver, and Litli Geysir, the latter of which is known to erupt every few minutes, offering guests a small spectacle in its own right. 

A steamy fumarole
Photo: Secret Lagoon – Gamla Laugin

In between bathing sessions, step out and take an enjoyable stroll around these fascinating natural features – but don’t step too close! These miniature springs are incredibly hot. This brings us to our next point – not only do these hot springs offer interesting surroundings, but they have a practical purpose too, feeding into the Secret Lagoon, naturally filtering its water and keeping it at a pleasant 38-40 Celsius throughout the year.  

As mentioned, the Secret Lagoon also happens to be the oldest outdoor pool in the country. With that in mind, it is pleasing to know you are taking part in an activity – relaxing in nature – that many Icelandic have done throughout the years prior, adding a real sense of authenticity to your visit. 

 

What amenities does the Secret Lagoon offer? 

A guest at the Secret Lagoon
Photo: The Ultimate Golden Circle Tour with Lunch at the Tomato Farm & Bathing at Secret Lagoon

The Secret Lagoon is more simplistic in its aesthetic and its amenities than many other spas in Iceland. Towels and swimwear are not included in the basic admission, so must be rented separately at 1000 ISK each. Make sure to spend time packing the essentials before visiting to avoid any unnecessary expenses. 

We highly recommend booking your spot in advance, especially during the busiest times of the year. However, it is also possible to buy tickets at the front desk should you decide to stop by on impulse. The ticket prices are as follows:

Adults: 3600 ISK

Children (14 and under): Free 

Seniors (and disabled): 2500 ISK

 

 

There are showers and changing facilities on-site, kept much the same as they always have been. Note that showering before entering the lagoon is mandatory, as it is with all pools in the country. Chastisement can be expected if one tries to skip this step, as a pre-entry shower is considered a foundational aspect of bathing culture in Iceland.

There is also a bistro that serves up refreshing drinks and a variety of delicious snacks. However, the bistro does not serve hot meals, so it is best to stop by the lagoon before or after you’ve had lunch. (We recommend Restaurant Minilik, an Ethiopian eatery nearby.) Exceptions are made when bigger groups make arrangements in advance. 

 

What attractions are near the Secret Lagoon? 

A couple at geysir geothermal area
Photo: Golli. A couple watches Strokkur explode!

On average, visitors tend to spend around 1.5 – 2 hours at the Secret Lagoon, leaving plenty of time to check out points of interest in the area. Fortunately, there are many worthwhile sites nearby that are worth slotting into your schedule. 

The Golden Circle is Iceland’s most popular sightseeing route, covering approximately 300 km (190 mi). It boasts three star attractions; Þingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal valley, and the powerful waterfall, Gullfoss, as well as other extra sites like Kerið volcanic crater and Friðheimar tomato farm. Almost all visitors to Iceland will want to make time to discover the beauty of this exciting drive. There is no better way to close it off than with a little bathing. 

If you were to head in the other direction, you would find yourself on the picturesque South Coast. This lovely journey showcases an eclectic mix of landscapes, from ancient sea cliffs to black sand deserts, craggy shorelines, and sweeping green meadows. Attractions on the western side include the waterfalls, Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss, while exploring further will take you to the dark beach, Reynisfjara.

Nauthólsvík Beach in Reykjavík, Iceland

Nauthólsvík Beach in Reykjavík, Iceland

What is Nauthólsvík?

Nauthólsvík is a recreational area in Reykjavík. It includes a yellow sand beach in a sectioned-off bay. On the shore is a 30-39°C [86-102°F] hot tub and a pool with a temperature of 38°C [100°F]. The sectioned-off lagoon has a temperature of 15-19°C [59-66°F]. Aside from the Siglunes Sailing Club, Nauthólsvík has clubs for water sports, diving, and open-water swimming.

The Nauthólsvík bathing area first opened in 2000, to the joy of locals. Imported golden sand had been pumped onto the man-made beach to give it a Mediterranean look since Icelandic beaches are usually black. A stone barrier sections off the coast, where geothermal water meets the cold water from the bay. Walking on the golden sand and stepping into the warm sea gave locals a taste of summer travel.

Nauthólsvík has a service centre with changing and showering facilities and a snack bar. During the winter, Nauthólsvík is open Tuesday-Friday from 11 AM to 7 PM and Saturdays from 11 AM to 4 PM. On Sundays and Mondays, the beach and its facilities are closed. During the summer, The entry fee to Nauthólsvík is ISK 890 [$6.50, €6]. You can rent a towel and a bathing suit in the reception for a fee.

Dining in Nauthólsvík

Besides the snack bar at the service centre, there are two restaurants by Nauthólsvík: Bragginn Bar and Nauthóll. Bragginn Bar is a new restaurant that offers drinks, hamburgers, tacos and chicken wings. It is located in a renovated 1940s military barracks. Their kitchen is open on Wednesdays from 11:30 AM to 8 PM and Thursday to Saturday from 11:30 AM to 8:30 PM. The bar’s closing time varies. The other restaurant, Nauthóll, serves Icelandic cuisine, such as lamb, fish and salads. They serve brunch, dinner, desserts and coffee and are open daily from 11 AM to 10 PM. Both restaurants have indoor and outdoor seating, including views of the bay.

How do I get to Nauthólsvík?

Getting to Nauthólsvík from the city centre is quite simple. If you take the bus, you can take line 8 from Gamla Hringbraut, across the street from the BSÍ bus terminal in downtown Reykjavík. The ride is about 15 minutes long, and as of 2024, the fare is ISK 630 [$4.60, €4.20], payable through the Klapp bus app or with exact change on the bus. Nauthólsvík is about 2.2 km [1.4 mi] from the BSÍ bus terminal, so the ride is about five minutes if you go by car. You can also walk down Nauthólsvegur street, which intersects with Hringbraut road by the bus terminal.

 

More Facilities Needed as More Visit Landmannalaugar

landmannalaugur iceland

Increasing numbers of visitors have put a significant strain on the facilities at Landmannalaugar, reports RÚV.

Landmannalaugar, a popular highland hiking area known for its hot natural pools, has recently installed new changing facilities to accommodate the increasing numbers. However, the recent construction has raised concerns for some, as they feel it obstructs the view and limits the overall experience.

Over 130,000 tourists visit the area annually, with the majority opting for day trips.

Additional plans are underway to renovate the facility, including a new service hut with a dining area and shop, a man-made swimming pool, and more. The latest addition of new changing rooms is the first step in this development project.

Inga Dóra Hrólfsdóttir, manager of nature conservation at the Environment Agency, stated to RÚV that the facilities are necessary, in light of the increased volume: “This is just a renovation of the existing changing rooms, which are merely walls with pegs to hang towels or clothes.”

“There is still a fantastic view of Landmannalaugar all around,” she continued.

Approximately 2-3,000 visit Landmannalaugar daily, averaging around 20-30 tour buses, and increasing numbers of jeeps and rental cars.

 

Does Reykjavík Have Heated Sidewalks?

heated sidewalks reykjavík

When the city of Saskatoon wanted to invest in heated sidewalks in 2013, the CBC wrote: “Imagine a city with snow-free sidewalks all winter long without having to be plowed or shovelled. This isn’t a magical land — it’s Iceland, and the City of Saskatoon is looking towards it and a few other Scandinavian countries for inspiration.”

This may have led to a perception that most streets in Reykjavík, or even all of Iceland, are heated for snow removal. While this is not the case, many of Reykjavík’s busiest streets and sidewalks are, indeed, heated.

Iceland began installing these systems in the early 2000s. And while the energy cost might be prohibitive elsewhere, the availability of environmentally-friendly geothermal energy makes the system more or less environmentally neutral once it’s installed. Additionally, around two thirds of the heated water used in these systems is return water from space heaters. The water in space heaters in homes and businesses throughout Iceland averages 35°C [95°F], making it ideal for this task.

While many new outdoor parking lots feature such heating systems, there are still plenty of sidewalks throughout the capital region without these, as many travellers discovered this winter. 

In general, only new developments and the densest part of downtown are heated. Other municipalities throughout Iceland also have such systems, but the majority can be found in and around Reykavík. Of the 920,000 m2 total area covered by snow removal systems in 2008, 690,000 m2 was in the capital area.

Approximately one-third of these systems are in use in commercial areas, one-third by private homes, and one-third are installed in public areas.

 

Newly Discovered Cave in North Iceland Closed

mývatn cave iceland

A newly discovered cave near Mývatn, a lake in North Iceland, has been closed by the Environment Agency of Iceland. The closure comes into effect today, March 14, and will be in effect for two weeks.

The Environment Agency recently received a tip on the discovery when a construction crew was laying the foundations for a new building near Mývatn. When the roof of the cave opened up, it revealed unique and fragile mineral formations associated with the geothermal area.

mývatn cave iceland
Umhverfisstofnun

Experts at the Environment Agency undertook several trips into the cave and determined that, prior to its accidental opening, it was likely filled with hot, geothermal air. These special conditions gave rise to the unique formations that can be seen in the picture above. Some of these formations stretch for several square metres on the floor of the cave.

In light of the unique nature of the cave, the decision was made to close it while further decisions can be reviewed. During this time, further investigative trips into the cave will be permitted to relevant researchers and staff, but it will be closed to the public.

Initial reports indicate that navigating the cave without disturbing the many mineral formations there is difficult.

Currently, efforts are underway to map and digitally scan the cave, while also marking out a footpath that is minimally destructive.

 

 

 

Energy Credit Market Means Only 13% of Icelandic Energy is Renewable in Origin

Carbfix Hellisheiðarvirkjun

In figures recently released by the National Energy Authority on 2021 energy usage in Iceland, it has come to light that Icelandic energy may not be as “green” as previously thought, due to the energy credit market.

According to the latest numbers, in 2021, 63% of energy used in Iceland was produced by fossil fuel, 24% by nuclear power, and only 13% by renewable energy sources.

This may come as a surprise to many, as Iceland is often lauded as a leader in the energy transition, with a power grid entirely dependent on hydroelectric and geothermal power. And to be sure, the actual electricity flowing into Icelandic homes and businesses is still green, as Minister of Environment, Energy, and Climate Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarsson stressed in recent comments: “It doesn’t change the fact that all our energy is green. This is simply an arrangement that is supposed to encourage investment in producing more green energy. That’s the thinking behind this.”

The energy credit market, however, allows foreign companies to “buy” Icelandic green energy. In this way, consumers in Europe might choose to buy green certificates of origin for their energy, even though the energy actually powering their house is sourced from a coal plant.

Of the energy actually produced in Iceland in 2021, some 70% was hydroelectric, 30% geothermal, with a negligible but growing percentage of wind power, at .03%. Fossil fuels accounted for .01% of all energy produced in Iceland in 2021.

In contrast to Iceland, a majority of energy produced in Europe is still nuclear or fossil fuel. In order for energy providers to be able to certify that they provide 100% renewable energy, it is required that they purchase at least as many renewable energy credits as they produce.

This market dynamic has led to a curious situation: although the electricity flowing into Icelandic homes and businesses is 100% renewable in origin, Icelandic consumers are now being made to pay extra for green energy certification. Some 90% of energy produced in Iceland is now sold on renewable energy credit markets, leaving Icelanders with the “sins” of fossil fuel and nuclear energy.

Berglind Rán Ólafsdóttir, director of ON (Orka Náttúrunnar) stated to Vísir: “As it stands now, we can expect increases from five to fifteen per cent coming months and years. The development will depend on how the energy credit market in Europe further develops.”

2,000 Attend World Geothermal Congress in Iceland

Carbfix Hellisheiðarvirkjun

The World Geothermal Congress, held in Reykjavík’s iconic Harpa Concert Hall this week, has drawn 1,100 in person guests and another 900 virtual attendees from around 100 different countries. Bjarni Pálsson, chairman of the congress’ organisational committee, says it is a big recognition for Iceland to be selected as the conference site this year.

“We have been really lucky with our resources and have been able to utilise them very well for a long period,” Bjarni told RÚV, adding that other countries are looking to Iceland for assistance on how to utilise their geothermal energy sources. Iceland is also the site of a special geothermal training program established by the Icelandic government and the United Nations University in 1978. The program brings geothermal professionals from developing countries around the world to Iceland for a six-month intensive training program in geothermal science and engineering.

One fifth of the lectures and articles presented at this year’s congress are from the school’s graduates. Ingimar G. Haraldsson, the school’s assistant director, says Iceland is a great location for the program. “The knowledge here is so broad,” he stated. “We live in a northerly region and have such a great need for heating. We have direct utilisation; heating homes, swimming pools, aquaculture, greenhouses, even snowmelt. You can find specialists in so many areas here in Iceland.”

The next World Geothermal Congress is scheduled to take place in Beijing in three years.

Geosea Sea Baths Named One of ‘World’s Greatest Places’

Húsavík’s Geosea Geothermal Sea Baths have been named one of Time magazine’s 100 “destinations to experience right now,” Vísir reports.

The Geosea baths opened just last year in August 2018 and have been hugely popular since their inception. They were designed by Basalt Architects and are located right on the North Icelandic village’s harbour, offering a view of Skjálfandi Bay and the Kinnarfjöll Mountains. The spa draws its water from two sea water bore holes that were originally intended to be used for the collection of sea salt but are now used to produce a steady flow of mineral-rich saltwater for its infinity-style pools.

“Overtourism is a tremendous problem for Iceland,” reads the Time location description, “its iconic Blue Lagoon packs in visitors by the busload. But roughly 300 miles north in Húsavík…a lesser-known geothermal spa gives its guests plenty of room to breathe” and is, the publication concludes, “a spectacular way to catch the Northern Lights when swimming after dark.”

The American publication’s full “Greatest Places 2019” list includes a wide variety of destinations all over the world from the Museum of Black Civilizations in Dakar, Senegal and the Central Library in Calgary, Canada, to the Liechtenstein Trail in Liechtenstein and the Zealandia ecosanctuary in Wellington, New Zealand.

Reykjadalur May Become Protected Area

Municipal authorities are considering whether to designate Reykjadalur, a geothermal area in South Iceland, protected status, RÚV reports. Famed for its “hot river” in which you can bathe, the area has become a popular tourist destination in recent years, but has had to be closed by the Environment Agency on occasion when the high level of foot traffic has caused significant damage to the area. This is a particular risk in the wet season.

Reykjadalur is located just above the town of Hveragerði, but the land is actually part of the Ölfus municipality. The mayors of both locations met in late September to discuss the possibility of protection status for the area. Following this meeting he Environmental Agency of Iceland sent the mayors a letter asking for them to make their position on this matter known. The Environment Agency also asked that the local governments appoint a representative to join a land conservation consultation team, which they have since done.

Per the minutes of the town council meeting, it appears that the local governments are in favor of the idea of designating Reykjadalur a protected area. It’s clear that foot traffic has increased dramatically in the area in recent years and has had a profound effect on the environment. Just this spring, for instance, the area had to be closed for six weeks.