The Naturally Heated Hot Tubs of Iceland


Pinkly Perfect contributor Maureen Devenny dishes on winter swimming arrangements she saw on her recent visit to Iceland.

Those looking for a good dip in the winter don’t have so many options–hot tubs, indoor pools, and bubble baths are pretty much the way to go (not that those options aren’t great!). But there really is nothing like being able to swim with only the sky above you. Well, did you know this is possible, even in the coldest of weathers? We visit Iceland again for this miraculous cure for winter swimming blues.


Let’s talk about science for a hot (heh) second. Iceland is a center of geological activity, which is why the land is dotted with mountains, rift valleys, volcanoes, and dramatic cliffs. We know that the energy that created these features also creates heat (remember, the Earth’s core is molten!). This heat energy is released through fissures in the Earth’s surface, which heat up water contained in the ground. So, what does this mean to would-be mermaids?


It means there are hundreds of naturally-created hot tubs all across the country! My favorite iteration of this phenomenon was a hot river near the town of┬áHveragardi, reached by an hour’s hike on winding trails through beautiful mountain peaks.


As you approach the trail, you can see plumes of steam emitted by the river, so you know you’re on the right path!


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“Follow the steam!”


After the challenging hike in the wilderness, you come to a relatively flat part of the river, where the temperature is safe to swim. (As you hike, you pass other parts of the river that are too hot! Some are even close to boiling.) The Icelandic national parks service maintains docks and changing areas at the river–it’s pretty funny to be in the wilderness and then stumble upon signs of civilization like that!


This hot river is but one example of the incredible winter swimming possibilities in Iceland. A better-known example of Iceland’s geothermal swimming options is the Blue Lagoon, a huge hot tub heated by Mother Nature herself. Its opaque teal color comes from minerals that are present in the water, and said to have healing properties. A small geyser along the side of this vast pool (the size of several Olympic swimming pools) keeps the water hot. It is like a naturally-occurring spa!


Looks like Justin Bieber could use some time in a hot tub, after his cold dip in this vid. Does that glacier lagoon look familiar?


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