It was late June when my son and I arrived in Iceland and it was cold — a high of 53 degrees and low of 46 degrees. Arriving from San Diego this was chilly, considering it was officially summer.
Iceland has been on our travel bucket list and we weren’t the only ones planning a trip to “the land of fire and ice”. The number of people traveling to Iceland has more than doubled in the last six years, according to the Icelandic Tourist Board, and that number continues to increase by more than 20% a year.
The ultra low-cost carrier, Wow Airlines, that offers tickets for as low as $100 one-way fare has helped to increase tourism as well as the uber-famous Blue Lagoon.
Iceland is situated on a ‘hot spot’ on the earth, resulting in a lot of geothermal activity. This mixture of geothermal activity, ice and fire, means that there are numerous hot springs and geysers to explore. While the Blue Lagoon may be Iceland’s best-known geothermal hot spring, there are man-made and natural pools and geysers all over the country.
Save Big on Your Iceland Vacation
Check out the Top Tours & Day Trips from Iceland
Read Reviews of the Best Hotels in Iceland on TripAdvisor
The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is located on an 800-year-old lava field on the Reykjanes Peninsula and is so popular reservations are required. The water, a combination of fresh and seawater from the nearby geothermal plant, is about 98 degrees, slightly cooler than your average hot tub.
There are grottoes, steam rooms and an on-site restaurant, so spending at least a half day at the lagoon is recommended. If you are traveling with your family, you can easily spend a full day at the Blue Lagoon with your kids.
Ticket packages range from about $48 to $200. The premium package, about $85, is a great option and includes mud and algae masks, a towel, drink of your choice, bathrobe, slippers and a complimentary glass of sparkling wine at Lava, a restaurant at the Blue Lagoon.
The Secret Lagoon
The Secret Lagoon, created in 1891, is one of the oldest swimming pools in Iceland. It’s a popular stop on the 186-mile Golden Circle tour, which also includes the Geysir geyser, the Gullfoss waterfall and the Kerid Crater Lake. It’s in the small town of Fludir, a little more than an hour’s drive east of Reykjavik.
The lagoon is not as much of a secret as it once was, but it’s wonderful chance to experience Iceland’s natural hot springs. This geothermal pool with a spouting geyser is a much quieter alternative to the infamous Blue Lagoon. Before heading to the pool, stop by the bar to pick up a soda, water or Icelandic beer and enjoy the healing power of the natural hot springs.
The Jökulsárlón lagoon is located next to Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier in southeastern Iceland. Vatnajökull and its surrounding area is Iceland’s largest national park. The blue waters are dotted with icebergs from the surrounding Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier. The big draw here are the icebergs on the beach in winter and are a sight to behold. Another fun adventure in Vatnajökull is the ice cave tour from Jökulsárlón.
Unlike many of lagoons in Iceland, the hot springs in Landmannalaugar* are free. The setting is spectacular and there are some great day hikes as well as the famous Laugavegur trail. After enjoying the epic scenery a dip in the thermal springs is a must.
*Landmannalaugar are only accessible during summertime, and only accessible with a 4WD car (but it’s worth the adventure!).
Myvatn Nature Baths
Myvatn Nature Baths are a mini Blue Lagoon and costs about half as much. They’re not as large and commercial as the Blue Lagoon but that’s their beauty. The entry cost is reasonable and the food and drink prices are very good (by Icelandic standards — because Iceland is expensive in general). The views from the baths are breathtaking. The water supplies for the lagoon run straight from the National Power Company´s bore hole in Bjarnarflag with a temperature of about 130°C. This is an impressive, man-made hot spring.
Traveling To Iceland Soon? Here are a few tips:
How to get there: Iceland is just a 4-hour flight from the East Coast of the US, an 8-hour flight from the West Coast of the US and about 3 hours from the UK. There are multiple airlines that fly there, with Iceland Air and WOW Air being two of the most popular (and often the most affordable). I recommend WOW Air as I have flown with them to both Iceland and Ireland.
What to pack: The temperatures each season vary greatly, but even in summer it can be cold. I visited in June and the high was 68 °F (20 °C ). Heading out of Reykjavik for the Golden Circle Tour, it was must cooler. I was very happy I brought along fleece lined leggings, a light down jacket, warm socks (I love Ice Breaker), a waterproof outer layer and rain jacket, and some hiking boots (I love Keen). If you are visiting in Winter, you’ll want to bring heavy duty layers.
Indispensable Items to Pack for Iceland
- Pick up the Lonely Planet guide to Iceland or the Lonely Planet Pocket Guide to Reykjavik.
- Get a good quality mirrorless camera for getting amazing photos of the many beautiful sites in Iceland. I use the Sony Alpha a6000 .
- Weather is unpredictable, so bring a lightweight umbrella and rain jacket (even in summer you may find areas chilly and rainy).
- Waterproof hiking boots are a must. I love Keen because they are lightweight and super comfortable.
- A great cross body travel bag. Cross body bags prevent theft and are much easier to access.
Day Trips from Iceland Top Tours
I love to do a combination of exploring on my own as well as a few organized tours when I travel. I love to learn about the history and culture in a new location and tours with local experts is a great way to do this. I recommend Get Your Guide because you can cancel most bookings for free up to 24 hours before they start and their customer service is available 24/7 in multiple languages.
A few Top Tours in Iceland
Recommended Travel Resources
- Travel Insurance: World Nomads.
- Transport: AirfareWatchDog and Skyscanner (Best Sites to Research Flight Prices)
- Accommodation: Hotels.com and Orbitz
- Top Iceland Hotel Reviews: TripAdvisor
- How to Pack for 2 Weeks in Europe (in one suitcase)
- Cheap Flights to Europe with Condor Airlines
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