A Guide to Reykjavik‘s Swimming Pools
They are the Icelandic equivalent of the English pub. The swimming pool is a national staple where friends and families gather after work and school to play in the kid’s pool, swim a few laps for exercise and soak in the hot tubs and saunas to relax afterwards. They are to be found in nearly every small town and village in Iceland and are a real treat, if you know how to best enjoy them. If you’re traveling around Iceland, check out our Swimming pools in Iceland blog but read on for our favorite pools in the metropolitan area of Reykjavik.
What rules apply to the swimming pools in Reykjavik?
The pools of Reykjavik are family places and frequented by people of all ages, gender and races. These are inclusive, public places that should be open to all and feel like a haven from the stress of everyday life. That said, there are a few rules that visitors need to keep in mind. Rule number one and the one that’s been quite lost in translation as foreign tourists began frequenting these establishments, revolves around washing. The pools require visitors, without exception, to bathe with soap provided in the showers in the pools, without their swimsuits. The pools are quite clean and even though chlorine is added to the water for hygienic purposes, it’s a relatively small amount and everyone is expected to clean themselves thoroughly before entering the water. That said, Iceland is a stereotypical Nordic nation in the sense that people are unlikely to correct any errors or possible faux pas from strangers. You might, however, get a stern look. Locker rooms and showers are divided by gender and nudity is the norm within those quarters. Children under the age of six can accompany either parent, regardless of their gender. Some shower rooms now have shower curtains to accommodate those that have a problem with (semi)public nudity. We do however recommend that you just embrace the absolute lack of interest or judgment in other people’s bodies while you’re there.
Then there are the unwritten rules and customs of these places. Rowdy behavior and noise aren’t very on-brand for the hot tubs and saunas. It’s where you go to relax, have a nice conversation and gossip a little, but primarily people are there to soak in the warm water and relax.
The lanes of the main pool are intended for exercise, at whatever speed you’re at. Take notice of the current traffic on the lane you intend to use, if they’re doing a circuit or not and what the average speed is. The lanes are sometimes designated as fast lanes, sometimes a couple are reserved for swim team practice and others are open to playful shenanigans. Floating devices and toys are, however, usually reserved for the shallow pool where shouting and jumping is encouraged.
What kind accessibility can I expect in the pool?
Swimming pools are considered a prime location for people with disability to exercise as the water enables easier movement for any kind of mobility. Pools in Iceland are frequented by people with all kinds of disability and are, to the best of our knowledge, top performers when it comes to accessibility. That said, not all of them have the latest equipment or best accessibility but the larger pools in the Reykjavik area are all pretty well equipped. Some include lifts for entering the pool, others have larger changing rooms for people accompanied by a special assistant, etc.
How many swimming pools does Reykjavik have?
The larger metropolitan area of Reykjavik has 18 swimming pools. They all include children’s pools, hot tubs and saunas. A few include a water slide and one pool even has a wave pool. More on that in a little bit. They are a huge part of everyday life and a prime neighborhood location. They’re also excellent places to get a glimpse of the real Icelandic life of the locals. Most of them are outdoor pools, open all year round and while you might think a trip to the pool in a snowstorm is a bad idea, think again. That is in fact the best time to hit the pool. Hot tub in a blizzard is a 10/10! Highly recommend!
How much is the average price of admission for a swimming pool in Reykjavik?
Around 1,000 ISK. Prices vary of course and most locals have discount cards or annual passes. The pools of the municipality of the City of Reykjavik are all priced the same with adult admission at 1,210 ISK, teenagers at 195 ISK and children enter the pool for free. You probably won’t know when you’ve entered another municipality within the larger metropolitan area of Reykjavik, but they are most often cheaper than in the City of Reykjavik and you’ll notice there’s usually a very large gap between children/teenagers and adults.
A few of our favorite pools in Reykjavik
They all come with their unique character and most people favor their neighborhood pool, but we’ve made a shortlist of a few of our favorite swimming pools for travelers in Reykjavik.
Álftaneslaug – 830 ISK / 0 ISK (0-17)
It’s probably the only controversial pool in Iceland since its build was so costly, it nearly bankrupted the municipality. So, you can imagine how great it is. This relatively new pool is complete with a huge waterslide (on a public pool standard) standing 10m tall with an 85m long slide. And that’s not all because it also has a wave pool. There’s an indoor and outdoor pool, hot tubs and saunas of course but this is one very well-equipped pool. Perhaps its only downside is that getting children to actually leave the premises is nearly impossible.
Bottom line: Great for kids!
Laugardalslaug – 1210 ISK / 195 (16-17)
Laugardalslaug is situated in the outdoor and sport area of Laugardalur. This is Iceland’s largest pool and it has to be as its part of a network of sporting arenas and serves ambitious swim teams, pool-yogis and kids of all ages. There’s a waterslide, a variety of hot tubs in various temperatures, competition-sized indoor and outdoor pools and it doesn’t hurt that the locker rooms have recently been renovated. This is the perfect destination for the entire family in Reykjavík.
Bottom line: Great for families!
Sundhöll Reykjavíkur – 1210 ISK / 195 (16-17)
The Reykjavik Swim Hall is one of very few indoor pools in Iceland but this old gem is more of an architectural experience than anything else. A new outdoor addition was recently added to this icon of central Reykjavik with brand new women’s locker rooms and it is lovely. However, the authentic experience lies in the old swimming hall and its retro and picturesque locker rooms. The swimming hall is Reykjavik’s biggest icons and is often used as a venue for various live events, music videos and films.
Bottom line: Old Iceland and epic architecture
Vesturbæjarlaug – 1210 ISK / 195 ISK (16-17)
If you’re staying in Reykjavik, the iconic Vesturbæjarlaug is a great place to start. This outdoor pool in Reykjavik’s old west town, is a much-loved location among locals and you’re more likely to spot a real celebrity in this pool than anywhere else in Iceland. The pool has a series of hot tubs of varying degrees, a steam room, a picturesque lobby and we particularly recommend their outdoor locker rooms for the most authentic experience.
Bottom line: The coolest pool!
Seltjarnarneslaug – 1100 ISK / 130 ISK (6-17)
Seltjarnarnes is the peninsula that jots out from the downtown/western side of Reykjavik and their pool is in a league of its own. The mineral-rich water in this pool comes straight from the municipality’s own borehole and is renowned for being mild on sensitive skin. The pool is rather small but has all the usual trimmings, a sauna, hot tubs, a water slide, a children’s pool and excellent accessibility for the disabled.
Bottom line: A skincare favorite
Activities in the swimming pools in Reykjavík
Samflot or “Co-floating” is a popular activity in Iceland’s pools and comes highly recommended. For a nation that loves its hot water, its relaxing properties and wellness, co-floating is the logical next level. Equipped with a specially designed floating capLink opens in a new tab and ankle floats, people gather in the pools for co-floating events. It’s exactly what it sounds like, you float and relax in the weightlessness of the water in a group of people, with or without a guided meditation. It is frankly wonderful, and that relaxation is somewhat addictive in today’s stressful world. See Flothetta’s websiteLink opens in a new tab for more information about this floating experience of water wellness.
For a comprehensive guide to the swimming pools in Iceland, including opening hours, extra activities, price of admission and more information, visit the website www.sundlaugar.is/enLink opens in a new tab. The pools’ websites in this article all lead there since one of the few things Icelandic pools do not excel at, is online presence in English. The website www.sundlaugar.isLink opens in a new tab, however, does that beautifully.