Visiting the local public pools and hot tubs is a very popular pastime in the most lovely city of Reykjavik, Iceland.
Iceland is famous for its naturally occurring geothermal hot springs all over the island. But possibly the most unnatural, the Blue Lagoon, is usually what comes to mind to travelers and tourists. It's actually located way outside of Reykjavik, created by water from a local power station, and, it's not even naturally blue (it's a blue-green algae).
So, locals do not go there. Locals go to their own pools. Do like the locals do.
the popular icelandic pools
There's one in most every neighborhood in Reykjavik. They have swimming pools, saunas, multiple hot tubs of varying degrees, play areas for kids, and more.
It's THE place to go for exercise, relaxation, and socialization. Family-friendly, all ages, all fitness levels, everyone goes, at all times of the day, morning to night. Most have torches and colored neon lights that light up at nighttime so you can stay well into the dark.
steam from the hot tubs illuminated by colored lights at night
how to properly use the pool
The most important thing to know before you go is that Icelanders take cleanliness very seriously. The pools and hot tubs are very minimally chemically treated and nobody wants dirt and germs mixing into the human soup. So, there is a strict etiquette protocol you must follow. Actually, it's the law.
So, what's an outsider to do? Don't worry, I'll tell you. I took one for the team, you guys.
- First, grab your a swimsuit, a towel, and a plastic bag. Then...
- Go to the front desk. Get a waterproof locker key bracelet. Congratulations because this is the easiest step.
- Go to the outer locker room area. Take off your shoes and put them in the shoe rack.
- Go into the locker room. Find an open locker, then...
- Get naked. Take off all your clothes. Yes, ALL of them. Put them in the locker and waive your key bracelet over the scanner to lock it. Carry your swimsuit and towel with you and...
- Go to the shower area. Put your towel in the towel rack. Find an open shower. There are soap dispensers on the wall.
showering naked in a room of strangers
At this point, you are very naked, in a very open, very brightly lit room, with lots of other very naked people. So, what do you do when you're naked in a room full of people staring at you? Wake up from the nightmare? No, you shower in front of them, of course! Manners!
- Shower, thoroughly, with soap, and make sure you get all your bits super duper clean because...
There are attendants watching you to make sure you clean yourself properly and if you don't, they'll make you. Seriously. But, you are a grown-up, right? You should know how to shower. And, just in case you don't, there's a diagram to refer to.
just like a local
- When you are properly clean, then put your swimsuit on. You can dry your hair at the hairdryer station or...
- Go outside to the pool area and do your thing. Hang out. Make friends. Whatever. Then, when you have turned into a prune...
- Go back into the shower area and re-shower. This time, get your towel out of the towel rack and thoroughly dry off before you...
- Go back to your locker in the locker room, waive your key over the scanner to unlock it, get your stuff, get dressed, put your wet swimsuit in your plastic bag, put on your shoes, return your bracelet... and, whew, you're done!
You're now just like the locals! Just kidding. You're not, unless you are a beautiful tall blond Viking. Or maybe you are. I can't see you.
Finally, the obligatory don't-be-a-creeper note: Photography of any kind is obviously not allowed in the lockers, showers, or outside pool areas. I got special permission to take my photos from the lobby.