Life in Hot Water – The Geothermal Waters of Northern Iceland

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Guest post by Yvonne Sartain, our Resort Manager based in Akureyri Iceland.

When I first came to Akureyri, in North Iceland, I had no idea how much time I would spend in hot water. Up here, in the North of this wonderful country, there is an abundance of outdoor bathing opportunities and I am going to tell you about my favourite three.

In Iceland, nine out of ten households are heated with geothermal energy. Iceland is one of the most tectonically active places on earth and has more than 200 volcanoes. To date, over 600 hot springs have been found.

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The tradition of bathing outdoors in volcanically heated pools goes back to Viking times and the abundance of warm water from the geothermal energy sources has helped to ensure that this tradition continues. Swimming pools are located in almost every town and everyone grows up being able to swim. It could be minus 10 and you will still see children running around in swimsuits as if it were a summers day.

Icelandic people visit public pools for both social and health reasons. The swimming pools and various hot tubs are the perfect place for exercising, relaxation and catching up with the latest news and gossip. Sitting in the hot tub is like sitting on a bench in the local park. It is worth heading to the local geothermal pool just for the experience of sharing this wonderful tradition. Icelanders are known for being friendly and love nothing more than a chat in the pool.

The Akureyri Swimming Pool is one of the most popular places to go and one of the finest facilities in the whole of Iceland.  It is open all year round and has two 25m outdoor pools, water jets, water slides, four ‘hot pots’ and a steam room. All of the pools are heated by natural geothermal water and temperatures range from 27 degrees to the hottest ‘pot’ which is 44 degrees. Personally, I go every day. There is nothing more invigorating than a swim outdoors whilst it is snowing. The facility is open all day until 9pm. You will emerge feeling relaxed and refreshed!

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One of my favourite natural experiences is the Jardbodinn Nature Baths, close to Lake Myvatn. They are the northern equivalent of the Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik, but much better and far less crowded! It is a complex of geothermally heated pools and offers a fantastic example of Iceland’s hot spring culture. The Nature Baths are located around a large lagoon which has a temperature of approximately 40 degrees. The water is full of minerals, silicates and geothermal micro-organisms and is known to be good for skin and respiratory problems. This is a totally natural experience and you will have stunning views across the awe-inspiring scenery of North Iceland as you sit in water that has been drawn from depths of up to 2,500 metres.

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And last, but certainly not least, is GeoSea in Husavik, just an hour’s drive from Akureyri. The geothermal water here has been used by North Icelanders for centuries. This water is different in that it is hot sea water, naturally heated to 39 degrees. Again, rich in minerals and known to be good for the skin. This is a truly unique experience, as you are bathing in pools on a cliff edge, overlooking the North Atlantic with the Arctic Circle just on the horizon. If you are lucky, you will be entertained by the light show that is the Northern Lights. You can get here with our Self Drive Package, where you stay at the Fosshotel Husavik. Husavik is located on the easternmost shore of ‘Shaky Bay’, known for its tremendous variety of whales. It is also known for being the site of the first house built in Iceland, way back in the year 860 by a famous Viking named Garðar Svavarsson.

The common theme throughout this guide is Akureyri. In my opinion, the best little town in Northern Iceland.

Experience life in hot water on a trip of a lifetime to Akureyri, North Iceland this year…

 

 

 

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