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5 Hot Springs in Iceland That Aren’t the Blue Lagoon


Early on a Sunday morning in July, two brothers from Boston sat on Reykjavik’s rocky coast, with their faces turned toward the chilly waters of the bay and their feet soaking in what felt like a warm bath. Ben and Lucas Zheng had landed around 4:30 a.m. at Iceland’s international airport, and didn’t have too many early-morning options for how to spend the start of their eight-hour layover before flying on to Venice. So, taking advantage of the season’s round-the-clock daylight, they walked 40 minutes from the city center toward the northwestern tip of the Seltjarnarnes peninsula. There on the stony beach, they rolled up their pants and sat for a couple of hours, their legs submerged in the naturally warm Kvika pool, which, at 12 inches deep, is more foot bath than hot tub.

The Zheng brothers had stumbled onto the most Icelandic of experiences. With more than 600 natural hot springs, the volcanic island gets the better part of its heat and energy from geothermal sources. But it has also incorporated that bounty of warm water into its culture, turning bathing in public pools into a sociable national pastime that is, according to some, the secret to its citizens’ happiness.

Of course, visitors like a good soak as well, a predilection that has helped make the milky turquoise waters of the Blue Lagoon, near the Keflavik airport, Iceland’s most popular tourist attraction. It’s so popular, in fact, that between the parking lot jammed with tour buses and the tightly regimented time slots, a bath there can be not very relaxing at all. Luckily, there are numerous other outdoor geothermal pools in the neighborhood. All of these are within an hour or so by car from Reykjavik, and each has its own personality.


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