A guide to the Pools of Reykjavík City

Sundhöllin swimming pool in Reykjavík.

With Iceland’s abundance of geothermal energy, over 90% of the country’s hot water is heated up by geothermal sources. Hot water is therefore very accessible in Iceland and is, amongst other, used to heat up most of the swimming pools of Reykjavík and the country’s pools as a whole.

In Iceland there are over 160 pools, with 18 of them being located in Reykjavík. By visiting one of the many pools in Iceland, you can explore the country’s bathing culture which is ingrained in most Icelanders, where locals visit the pools all year around. See here Iceland Review’s a deep dive into Icelandic bathing culture.

Below you can see our guide to the swimming pools of Reykjavík, located in the city centre or around.

Pools in Reykjavík City

 

Sundhöll Reykjavíkur Swimming Pool

Sundhöll Reykjavíkur, is the oldest purpose-built public pool in Iceland, built in 1937. It is furthermore the only public pool located in downtown Reykjavík, located at Barónsstígur street. The pool consists of an indoor and outdoor pool, hot tubs, a children’s pool, a cold tub and a sauna, where people can escape the city in the midst of the city’s centre. 

Admission: ISK 1,330. Youth 16-17: ISK 210. Free for seniors and children under 16.

People in sundhöll reykjavíkur swimming pool
Photo: Golli – Sundhöll Reykjavíkur swimming pool

 

Vesturbæjarlaug Swimming Pool

Vesturbæjarlaug pool is located in the old town in western Reykjavík, at Hofsvallagata street and is one of the most popular swimming pools of Reykjavík. The pool is made up of hot tubs, a cold tub, children’s pool, a large swimming pool, sauna and a steam room. The surrounding area is quite a nice one, where you can for example pay a visit to Kaffihús Vesturbæjar, or the Cafe of Vesturbær, which is located across the street from the pool. 

Admission: ISK 1,330. Youth 16-17: ISK 210. Free for seniors and children under 16.

 

Laugardalslaug Swimming Pool

Laugardalslaug is the city’s largest pool and is located in Laugardalur valley, about a 5 minute drive from the city centre. It consists of two large swimming pools, inside and outside, a children’s pool, a slide, cold tub, steam room and multiple hot tubs, with one of them being a salt water hot tub. In the Laugardalur valley, close to the pool, you can also find the city’s petting zoo called Húsdýragarðurinn, and the ice skating arena, Skautahöllin. 

Admission: ISK 1,210. Youth 16-17: ISK 195. Free for seniors and children under 16.

Laugardalslaug swimming pool in Reykjavík
Photo: Golli. Laugardalslaug swimming pool in Reykjavík

Árbæjarlaug Swimming Pool

Árbæjarlaug is located in the Árbær district, about 10 minutes driving distance from the city centre. The pool consists of children’s pools, inside and outside, hot tubs, a cold tub, two slides, one for the younger children, a large swimming pool and a steam room. The pool is located near one of the Reykjavík City Museum exhibitions, the Árbær Open Air Museum. 

Admission: ISK 1,330. Youth 16-17: ISK 210. Free for seniors and children under 16.

 

Dalslaug Swimming Pool

Dalslaug is Reykjavík’s most recent pool as it opened in December 2021. The pool is quite modern in design and is located at Úlfarsbraut street, about 15 minutes driving distance from the city centre. Dalslaug consists of two pools, inside and outside, hot tubs, a cold tub and sauna. Near the pool is Úlfarsfell mountain, which is a popular hiking spot amongst locals and tourists. 

Admission: ISK 1,210. Youth 16-17: ISK 195. Free for seniors and children under 16.

Úlfarsárdalur swimming pool Dagur B. Eggertsson mayor trying out the pool after opening
Photo: Former Reykjavík Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson trying out Dalslaug

 

Pools Near Reykjavík City

 

Lágafellslaug Swimming Pool

Lágafellslaug pool is located in the town of Mosfellsbær, and is the perfect stop before leaving the city via Route 1, or the Ring Road. The pool is quite a recent one and presents a modern look. The pool includes hot tubs, a cold tub, inside and outside swimming pools, a children’s pool and not one, but three slides. In addition to that there is a steam room and an infrared sauna where guests can relax tired muscles.  

Admission: ISK 1,100. Children 11-17: ISK 195. Free for seniors and children under 11.

 

Kópavogslaug Swimming Pool

Kópavogslaug is one of the largest pools in Iceland and is located in the town of Kópavogur. There are two large swimming pools, inside and outside, hot tubs, a children’s pool, cold tub, steam room and three slides. 

Admission: ISK 1,130. Free for seniors and children under 18.

 

Álftaneslaug Swimming Pool

The Álftaneslaug pool is located in the town of Álftanes, almost next door to the presidential house at Bessastaðir. Surrounding the pool is beautiful nature and the pool’s design is quite modern. It consists of an outside and inside pool, a children’s pool, hot tubs, a slide, steam room and a sauna. Álftaneslaug also possesses a wave pool, which is furthermore Iceland’s first and only wave pool. 

Admission: ISK 830. Free for seniors and children under 18.

Exploring Reykjavík in 24, 48 and 72 hours

View of Reykjavík from Hallgrímskirkja church.

Reykjavík, with its quaint houses, tasty restaurants, and countless museums, exhibitions, and galleries, is a marvellous option for a short city break. With a city this small, you can cover a lot of ground and manage a whole host of things in one to three days! 

But even in a small space like Reykjavík, it’s impossible to do absolutely everything, and picking from the numerous options can be an unwanted hassle. That’s why we created our 24, 48, and 72 hour Reykjavík itinerary. Whether you don’t enjoy planning or simply need some inspiration, we hope this guide will help you make the most of your trip! 

Day one: Geothermal baths, Icelandic food and sightseeing

Morning

If your accommodations don’t offer a complimentary breakfast, head to Sandholt, one of the oldest operating bakeries in Iceland. They offer hand-crafted pastries and sourdough bread, as well as a great breakfast menu comprising yoghurts, sandwiches, shakshuka, and other delicious dishes. 

After breakfast, spend the morning in a typical Icelandic way by going to Sundhöllin geothermal swimming pool, where the locals swim, have a ‘pottaspjall‘(an Icelandic word for chatting in the hot tub), and do some cold plunging. 

Sundhöllin swimming pool in Reykjavík.
Photo: Golli. Sundhöllin swimming pool in Reykjavík.

Noon

Go to Kaffi Loki for lunch, where you can taste some of the most traditional Icelandic food: Icelandic lamb soup, gratinated mashed fish, homemade flatbread with smoked lamb, and fermented shark, amongst others.

An excellent way to get to know Reykjavík in your limited time is by taking a free or private walking tour. This way, you won’t have to be stressed out and glued to your phone, trying to figure out the fastest way between attractions. You can simply enjoy the walk while absorbing Icelandic history and culture. 

Afternoon

If you’re hungry after the walk, we suggest making your way to Hressingarskálinn café for a traditional ‘rjómaterta’ or ‘Hressóterta’ (whipped cream cake). This is an old-fashioned staple when it comes to celebrations in Iceland.

For those looking to take a piece of Iceland home with them, use the afternoon to do some shopping. Check out Eymundsson bookstore, Vínberið candy store, or Lucky Records music shop, all of which offer a variety of Icelandic products.

Evening

For a fancy dinner, book a table at Sumac (preferably a few days in advance). They offer mouth-watering food inspired by the Middle East. Pick your own combination of small dishes or opt for a fixed menu. For a less fancy but just as delicious dinner, try Dragon Dim Sum, a Chinese- and Taiwan-inspired dim sum bar by the old harbour.

Not ready to call it a day? Check out Hús máls og menningar, a cultural house and bar located in a former bookshop on Laugavegur street. With live music every night, this is a great place to prolong the evening.

Day two: Unusual museums and the food hall culture

Morning

Start the day with breakfast at Reykjavík Roasters in Ásmundarsalur, a non-profit art space with constantly rotating exhibitions. 

Next up is the Sculpture garden at the Einar Jónsson Museum, a lovely free attraction featuring 26 replicas of Einar’s statues. Einar was one of the artists who laid the foundation for modern art in Iceland. 

After the garden stroll, head down to The Icelandic Phallological Museum. This unusual museum, “dedicated to collecting, studying, and presenting actual phalluses and all things phallic”, was founded in 1997 and has become a top-rated attraction in downtown Reykjavík.

Noon

For lunch, it’s time for an Icelandic classic: Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur at Tryggvagata street. This hot dog stand has been serving Icelanders Icelandic hot dogs since 1937. Ask for ‘one with everything’ for the most authentic experience.

Bæjarins Bestu hot dog stand in Reykjavík.
Bæjarins Beztu hot dog stand in Reykjavík.

While you’re digesting your hot dog, pop down to the Reykjavík Punk Museum, a tiny museum located in an old public bathroom where you can learn about the Icelandic punk scene. 

Afternoon

Spend the afternoon in Perlan, one of Reykjavík’s famous landmarks. Inside, you’ll find a fascinating nature exploratorium, as well as an observation deck, planetarium, café, restaurant, bar, and ice cream parlour. 

Evening

In the past few years, a myriad of food halls has popped up all over Reykjavík. Hlemmur Mathöll, one of the first, is a particularly fun one to visit, as it used to be a bus station. If you don’t see a restaurant you like, try Pósthús, located in a former post office, or Hafnartorg Gallery down by the Reykjavík harbour.

A busy day at Gallerí Hafnartorg food hall.
Photo: Golli. A busy day at Gallerí Hafnartorg food hall.

How about a movie after dinner? Bíó Paradís is a unique and small movie theatre in downtown Reykjavík where you can get popcorn and wine while watching critically acclaimed and foreign movies. It has a vibe you won’t find in other Icelandic cinemas and is definitely worth a visit. If you’re not in the mood for movies, check out Bullsey or Skor, where you can grab a drink and play a fun game of darts.

Day three: The National Museum, a typical Icelandic ice cream and Flyover Iceland

Morning

Have a refreshing acai bowl from Maikai for breakfast before walking or taking the bus to The National Museum of Iceland

Noon

When you’re done soaking up the Icelandic history, it’s time for lunch at SÓNÓ matseljur. SÓNÓ is a seasonal vegetarian restaurant situated in the fabulous Nordic House, which was designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. It’s well worth taking a walk around the house after lunch. 

Head back downtown through the beautiful surrounding area, past Tjörnin pond and through the charming neighbourhood of Þingholtin.

Afternoon

If there’s one thing the Icelandic people love, it’s ice cream. All year round, no matter the temperature or weather, a typical Icelandic activity is going for an ice cream drive. Swap out your afternoon coffee for a classic soft serve in a dip, a delicious ‘bragðarefur’ blizzard or a creamy Italian scoop.

Two people eating ice cream in the snow.
Photo: Golli. Two people eating ice cream in the snow.

Make your way to Flyover Iceland for a fantastic trip that covers the whole of Iceland. This is an amazing experience, even for those who have already travelled around the island. If you get easily motion sick, the Whales of Iceland exhibition is an excellent alternative.

Evening

For your final evening in Reykjavík, grab some street food at LeKock, a restaurant inspired by childhood memories and travels. Enjoy sensational but simple food in a laid-back atmosphere and play one of the many board games available. If you’d rather have a fine dining experience, Oto is the place to go, but remember to book in advance! With its Japanese Italian fusion cooking and excellent choice of music, you’re bound to have a fantastic final night.

If you don’t fancy going to bed just yet, Tipsy is a fabulous place for a last cheer, and Kaffibrennslan café is a cosy one for a quiet evening coffee and a slice of cake. 

Cocktails in the making at Tipsy, Reykjavík.
Photo: Golli. Cocktails in the making at Tipsy, Reykjavík.

Sauðárkrókur Splashes into the Future with New Pool Expansion

The public pool in Sauðárkrókur

The town of Sauðárkrókur in North Iceland is enhancing its public pool with a new recreational area, including an 11-metre-high water slide and additional facilities. The project is a significant investment expected to become a place of leisure and recreation for both children and adults.

A cornerstone of community life

In Iceland, swimming pools are more than just a place for leisure or exercise. They are a cornerstone of community life, deeply woven into the fabric of Icelandic culture.

Read More: Pooling Together (A Deep Dive into Iceland’s Swimming Culture)

This being the case, residents of the town of Sauðárkrókur in North Iceland are understandably excited about the construction of a new recreational area next to the town’s swimming pool, which, at 70 years old, bears the mark of time. 

The forthcoming recreational area will enhance the current facilities — which currently comprise an outdoor pool, two hot tubs, and a plastic vat for soaking in cold water — with several water slides, including a notable 11-metre-high slide. Work on the expansion began in January of 2021.

Listen to Our Podcast: Listen to Iceland Review’s Podcast on Swimming Pool Culture in Iceland

“This recreational area is designed for both children and adults, serving as a kind of comfort zone. Our plans include constructing an 11-metre-high slide tower, complemented by approximately three to four water slides. Additionally, we will introduce a pool for swimming instruction, massage tubs, and a cold tub, alongside the current pool and tubs. It represents a substantial expansion of our facilities,” Ingvar Páll Ingvarsson, project manager with the Municipality of Skagafjörður, stated in an interview with Vísir yesterday.

“I believe it will be magnificent. Once the tower is up, it will be a major landmark,” Ingvar Páll added. 

At a considerable cost

The mayor is equally excited: “We’ve been waiting a long time for this, and as you can see, it’s just a splendid project that we look forward to inaugurating,” Sigfús Ingi Sigfússon, Mayor of Skagafjörður, told Vísir.

When asked about the total cost of the project, Sigfús Ingi admitted that the renovations came at a considerable cost: “Yes, the cost is considerable. In total, from start to finish, including a complete overhaul of the old swimming pool and building, around ISK 1.4 billion [$10.2 million/€9.3 million],” Sigfús Ingi stated.

The mayor hopes that the residents and visitors of the area won’t have to wait much longer for the new swimming pool area to open, although he does not want to specify any month or date in this regard.

Plans for the new recreational area at the public pool in Sauðárkrókur
Skagafjordur.is

Árborg Announces Overhaul of Aging Stokkseyri Pool

The public pool in Stokkseyri is in need of repairs

The swimming pool in Stokkseyri, a small town in South Iceland, is in poor condition, requiring extensive repairs to the pool’s basin. According to the Árborg municipality’s website, it is necessary to replace all sides of the pool, as well as the bottom and liner,

Clear that extensive repairs are needed

This summer, as part of the municipality’s austerity measures, Árborg decided to keep the Stokkseyri swimming pool closed this winter, from November until March of next year. In a news update on its website yesterday, Árborg revealed that the pool basin, after 31 years of use, was in a state of disrepair. The municipality also published images depicting the pool’s condition.

Read More: Pooling Together (Iceland’s Unique Swimming Pool Culture)

“It’s clear that more extensive repairs are needed for the Stokkseyri swimming pool’s basin, as all sides of the pool along with the bottom and liner need replacement. Additionally, the hot tubs will be painted, and maintenance of other aspects of the pool’s grounds and building will be considered. Work has begun, but due to the extent of the damage, it’s uncertain when the repairs will be completed,” the municipality’s website notes.

The Stokkseyri swimming pool complex includes an eighteen-metre outdoor pool, a wading pool, and two hot tubs.

The public pool in Stokkseyri
Árborg

Iceland’s Swimming Pools and Laufabrauð Proposed as Intangible Cultural Heritage

Laufabrauð.

Minister of Culture Lilja Dögg Alfreðsdóttir wants Iceland’s government to nominate the country’s swimming pool culture and laufabrauð (a traditional Icelandic bread made at Christmastime) to the UNESCO Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage, RÚV reports. The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies took part in determining which aspects of Icelandic culture would be nominated for the lists.

Laufabrauð is a thin, decorative, fried bread made and eaten during the Christmas season in Iceland. It originated in North Iceland but is now eaten throughout the country. The geometric patterns in the bread are cut by hand or using a brass roller. Making laufabrauð is often an activity that brings together families in Iceland and an unmissable part of Christmas celebrations.

“I think we can all agree that laufabrauð and the Christmas tradition is something that brings the whole family together and is unique to Iceland,” Lilja stated. “And then of course this rich swimming pool culture, which is, in my opinion, absolutely magnificent and a huge attraction for the country as a tourist destination.”

Geothermal swimming pools are a feature of most towns in Iceland and are a source of relaxation, physical exercise, and social interaction for locals. While modern geothermal swimming pools were largely built starting in the middle of the 20th century, the use of natural geothermal pools stretches back many centuries in Iceland.

UNESCO’s Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage were established in 2008. They aim to ensure the better protection of important intangible cultural heritages worldwide. Argentine tango is one example of a tradition included on the lists, and France’s “artisanal know-how and culture of baguette bread” was added last year. If approved, swimming pool culture and laufabrauð would be the first items on the list unique to Iceland.

Deep North Episode 10: First Among Equals

swimming pools iceland

Every weekday morning at the public pool in West Reykjavík (Vesturbæjarlaug), Halldór Bergmann – called Dóri – slips into his grey, square leg suit and declares that he shall swim 1,800 metres (1.1 miles). He is 68 years old, and, also, a great mangler of the truth. He swims only 200 metres (660 feet), on a good day, but does not like the facts getting in the way of a good time – and this may be his best quality: his penchant for childlike embellishment. It’s this trait, above any else, perhaps, that has won over a troop of loyal followers, and why those followers have, in the spirit of his own whimsy, taken to calling him “the Commander.”

In the latest episode of Deep North, we consider Icelandic swimming pool culture and ask: is the public swimming pool a wellspring of social democracy?

Capital Area Pools Closed to Conserve Hot Water

sundhöll

Pools throughout the capital region will be closed today due to the cold spell affecting Iceland.

Utility company Veitur will be cutting its supply of hot water to some of its largest users, in an attempt to reduce hot water use.

In response to Veitur’s reduction, Reykjavík City has made the decision to close the city’s pools today, January 19. The closures will also affect the bathing facilities at Nauthólsvík. The closures will also be in effect in the nearby towns of Mosfellbær and Kópavogur.

Bathers will however still be able to visit the pools in Garðabær, though water temperatures may be potentially lower than usual. The Seltjarnes pool will likewise continue to be open, as it is supplied directly from a geothermal borehole.

In a public statement, Veitur hopes to not have to limit the hot water supply for any longer than today, as warmer weather is expected. Pools are expected to open tomorrow, but this may be subject to change.

The pool closures come during one of the coldest winters in recent memory. This past December was the coldest since 1973, although average temperatures have risen slightly in January. Temperatures have been especially cold in the Reykjavík area, where it has not been colder (on average) since 1916.

In light of these unusual conditions, Veitur has also asked residents to help out in conserving hot water where possible. According to Veitur, some 90% of hot water use by Icelandic households goes towards heating alone. Residents are reminded to close doors and windows to conserve energy and to ensure that radiators aren’t blocked from heating the room.

New Cultural Hub Opens in Úlfarsárdalur Neighbourhood

Úlfarsárdalur swimming pool Dagur B. Eggertsson mayor

The City of Reykjavík’s seventh library and eighth swimming pool have officially opened at a brand-new cultural hub in the Úlfarsárdalur neighbourhood in eastern Reykjavík. The hub also contains a new preschool and elementary school. While most city libraries are open for around eight hours a day, the new library will have the same opening hours as the neighbouring pool: from 6:30 AM to 10:00 PM on weekdays and from 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM on weekends.

Úlfarsárdalur is one of Reykjavík’s newer neighbourhoods and it could be said that it is still developing. Some residents have waited years for the services that the cultural hub now offers. Reykjavík Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson attended the opening and even took a dip in the new pool. “It’s just wonderful, really great and unbelievable to have it connected with the library and cultural centre, fun to chat with people in the neighbourhood and feel their joy, and the kids’,” Dagur told RÚV reporters.

Reykjavíkurborg. Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson opening the new cultural hub in Úlfarsárdalur along with the neighbourhood’s younger residents.

The new buildings spread across some 18,000 square metres that house not only a library and swimming pool, but a preschool, primary school, athletics centre, and more. The library, for example, also contains a fully-equipped recording studio and the school houses a youth centre.