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.

 

Hypothermia on the Rise at Reykjavík Beach as Winter Sets In

As winter sets in around Iceland, hypothermia is becoming increasingly common among open-water swimmers at the Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach in Reykjavík, according to Department Head Óttarr Hrafnkelsson.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, Hrafnkelsson implored patrons to exercise caution and good judgment. Exhaustion and hypothermia among patrons have put a significant strain on Nauthólsvík’s staff (as many as four patrons in one day have suffered exhaustion from swimming in the frigid waters, Mbl reports).

In his announcement, Hrafnkelsson advised amateur swimmers to stay close to land in order to ensure safe passage from water.

“The Geothermal Beach is a bathing place. Our job is to maintain a sanitary and safe environment: a hot tub, a steam bath, toilets, showers, and a locker room. It is worth pointing out that none of our employees’ job description involves rescuing swimmers struggling at sea. Besides, when the water is four-degrees or colder, swimming with another person to land is nothing short of impossible.”

The Nauthólsvík beach was opened in 2001 and it attracts over 500,000 guests annually. Over the years, open-water swimming has become increasingly popular among patrons of the beach (and Icelanders generally). The temperature of the ocean varies from around -1,9°C during the coldest winter months and around 17°C in the summer.

What Doesn’t Kill You…

I’m outside looking at the wild sea at Nauthólsvík beach. It’s noon on a Wednesday, and despite the winter sun and the scarf, hat, winter coat, mittens and wool underwear I have on, I’m freezing. The temperature is 1 degree Celsius, which the astute reader will note is the least amount of positive degrees possible. This is not good, I’m thinking. See, I’m here to partake in sea swimming, a tradition that many people practise here at Nauthólsvík up to six times a week. But I also want to live to tell the tale.

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