Hot Water in Iceland: Your Complete Guide

With active volcanoes, bubbling geysers, and hot springs and pools, Iceland sits upon a geothermal world that continues to shape the country’s landscape.

September 1, 2022

Hot Water in Iceland: Your Complete Guide

With active volcanoes, bubbling geysers, and hot springs and pools, Iceland sits upon a geothermal world that continues to shape the country’s landscape.

September 1, 2022

With active volcanoes, bubbling geysers, and hot springs and pools, Iceland sits upon a geothermal world that continues to shape the country’s landscape. However, it’s not just natural wonders that this activity creates. Iceland also relies on this geothermal energy for power.

One of the biggest impacts of this volcanic activity is to power Iceland’s hot water—in homes, hospitality, and industry too. This makes the hot water in Iceland a little smelly (so don’t be alarmed!) as well as incredibly energy efficient.

Read on to learn the magic of Iceland’s hot water system and some of the incredible natural sights that the geothermal world beneath us has created.

Does Iceland have warm water?

It’s a common question that visitors ask when coming to Iceland. And the answer is a simple yes. Although our nation in the North Atlantic can be very cold (with temperatures reaching lows of -30°C, -22°F), there’s always warm water to be enjoyed.

How come? Well, Iceland is one of the most dynamic volcanic areas in the world. Straddling the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Iceland sits on an area where magma is unusually close to the earth’s surface. And, when it’s not heating natural rivers, pools, and hot springs, that volcanic power is used to heat water in people’s homes too.

So, head out into the Icelandic wilderness and enjoy the magic of warm natural streams, such as in Reykjadalur Valley on the south coast of Iceland. Or relax in a geothermal pool, such as the Blue Lagoon.

And then, when you get back home, know that the water in your tap is powered by the same energy that powers those natural springs.

How does Iceland get hot water?

Typically, homes, guesthouses, and businesses in Iceland get their hot water through geothermal energy — sometimes from boreholes dug into the ground. However, that’s not the only way that Iceland gets its hot water.

How Iceland uses water from geothermal energy

If you’re staying in Iceland, you might have noticed an unpleasant smell whenever you turn the tap on. No, there aren’t rotten eggs in your pipes—and no, there’s nothing wrong with the plumbing either.

hotWater

Rather, that smell is the natural smell of hot water in Iceland. It’s the smell of hydrogen sulphide, a chemical that’s produced by Iceland’s geothermal activity. While it’s not good for you if you breathe it in high concentrations, it’s just a normal and natural part of Iceland’s hot water system.

However, not all of the country’s hot water comes from the same geothermal process. Rather, there are two main sources.

Firstly, the hot water often comes directly from underground, already warmed naturally. Alternatively, cold water can be collected and then heated by geothermal energy in a power station. Either way, it’s the same geothermal power of the earth that’s heating it.

Just a word of caution: like water from hot water taps around the world, hot tap water in Iceland is not designed for drinking.

Boreholes in Iceland: Digging deeper for water

While it’s common for cold water to be heated by geothermal power plants, boreholes in Iceland are much more famous. These are where many Icelanders get their hot water: directly from the earth.

It’s a tradition that has continued for centuries. For example, long before domestic washing machines and central heating there’s evidence of women washing clothes directly in the hot springs. Given the temperatures outside for half of the year here, it wouldn’t have been a pleasant task!

These days, the way that we use Iceland’s natural hot water is a little more technological. Like in many parts of the world, Icelanders extract water from underground sources using large drills. The difference here is that the water is hot, naturally warmed by magma.

For example, in the capital city of Reykjavik, about 11% of the hot water is taken directly from boreholes within the city. A further 33% of hot water comes from just beyond the city’s boundaries.

Geothermal energy is a resource that we’re very happy to exploit. Rather than burning fuel for energy, we’re harnessing the natural power of the earth, making Iceland’s hot water system much greener too.

In fact, Iceland is always exploring new ways to harness this energy. The Iceland Deep Drilling Project, for example, continues to work to find new opportunities for ever-deeper boreholes in Iceland. So far, the project has drilled to a depth of over 3.5km (2.1 miles).

Not all hot water in Iceland is geothermal (but most of it is)

90% of the hot water in Iceland is heated by geothermal sources. However, not all our energy is geothermal.

Only about a quarter of Iceland’s electricity comes from geothermal energy. The remainder comes from hydropower. That means that alongside harnessing the power of the earth, we get a lot of energy from rivers too. 100% of Iceland’s electricity production is now from renewable sources.

So, no — not all hot water in Iceland is geothermal. However, the vast majority of it is!

Can you drink hot tap water in Iceland?

No, it’s not recommended to drink hot tap water in Iceland. Just like in many other countries around the world, the hot tap does not actually meet safe drinking water standards. That’s because it’s not treated in the same way as drinking water from the cold tap.

Further, as we mentioned above, hot water can have that unpleasant eggy smell that may not make drinking it a very attractive idea!

Is Iceland hot water free?

No, hot water in Iceland is not free—however it is very cheap. According to a study from 2016, Reykjavik’s hot water system was the cheapest among the Nordic countries, by a very long way.

Where residents in Helsinki paid over €3,000 for their energy across the year, Reykjavik residents paid only €600 (and residents in Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Oslo paid a little over €2,000).

So, while it’s not completely free, it is very affordable.

Does Iceland have hot water springs?

Iceland’s geothermal activity is not just a benefit for the country’s homes and energy costs. It has also produced some of the most incredible natural phenomena in the world. From hot water springs and naturally heated saunas to geysers and more, Iceland is full of natural wonders that are thanks to the energy beneath our feet.

Read on to discover some of the magical hot springs and pools that Iceland has to offer.

The Blue Lagoon

Among the most famous of Iceland’s hot springs is the so-called Blue Lagoon. Part of its charm is no doubt its colour, a dreamy milky-blue that is incredibly inviting.

hotWater 3

Located on the Reykjanes Peninsula, the Blue Lagoon is not actually a natural pool. Rather, it was produced (by accident) in the 1970s, when engineers released runoff from the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power plant. However, the water wasn’t absorbed as expected, but it created a mineral rich pool that enticed local residents to take a dip.

In fact, people who have swum in the Blue Lagoon swear that it has healing powers, particularly for conditions such as psoriasis. So, it’s not just hot water, but a truly therapeutic spa experience.

Come and experience our geothermal hot water with our Blue Lagoon Comfort Admission & Transfer tour.

The Sky Lagoon

Another popular spa destination is the Sky Lagoon. Built into the rocks above Iceland’s incredible coastline, it’s a place that combines Iceland’s warm water with the splendour of the country’s scenery.

hotWater 4

Completed only in 2021, the Sky Lagoon is a new addition to Iceland’s spa scene. However, it has fast become one of the nation’s favourites. In Kársnes Harbour, just a short distance from downtown Reykjavik, it’s also incredibly convenient from the city.

But that’s not its main draw. Rather, this is one of the very few thermal infinity pools with coastal views in all of Iceland. Suspended over the Atlantic Ocean, you can watch storms in the distance or even glimpse Iceland’s northern lights, all while staying warm in the water.

Experience the Lagoon’s incredible hot waters with our Sky Lagoon Pass and Transfer.

Other hot springs and geothermal pools

While the Sky Lagoon and the Blue Lagoon are probably the most famous spas in Iceland today, they are far from the only ones around. Iceland has an incredible array of spas to choose from.

The Secret Lagoon

Iceland’s oldest thermal spa is the Secret Lagoon, an intensely relaxing and atmospheric place near Flúðir in the heart of the Golden Circle.

Created in 1891, the Secret Lagoon actually fell into disuse until it was discovered once more in the 21st century. Of course, it isn’t really so secret, but it’s a wonderfully tranquil and historic opportunity to unwind.

Laugarvatn Fontana Geothermal Bath

In the Golden Circle is another spa opportunity on the lake of Laugarvatn: Laugarvatn Fontana. Just east of Þingvellir National Park, the site of Iceland’s original parliament, it’s a really historical place.

However, here, it’s not just the waters of the spas that are heated by geothermal energy. Take a short walk to the natural bakery nearby, where bread is cooked with the geothermal energy underground.

Book a complete tour of the Golden Circle and Laugarvatn Fontana.

Geosea

Far from Reykjavik on the distant coast of Northern Iceland, Geosea is perhaps the most scenic spa of all. Another infinity pool, Geosea overlooks Skjálfandi Bay, near the small town of Húsavík, as well as the Arctic Circle far in the distance.

With geothermal energy used to heat seawater, it’s a unique feat of engineering. And equipped with a swim-up bar and the opportunity to see whales in the bay, it promises an incredible experience.

Giljaböð - Húsafell Canyon Baths

There are many incredible locations to experience Iceland’s hot water spas, but there are few that are quite like Giljaböð. Nestled in the mountains to the northeast of Reykjavik, the Húsafell Canyon Baths are a spa adventure in the heart of the Icelandic wilderness.

Hike deep into the canyon before unwinding in the warm pools in the mountains.

Take the adventure to Giljaböð with the Hot Spring Canyon baths and waterfalls tour.

Are there any natural hot springs in Iceland?

While the most famous hot spring and spa destinations are those that are artificial, they are not the only places to experience Iceland’s hot water. For those who want an experience that’s a little more natural, there are many options to choose from.

Landmannalaugar hot spring

On the southern side of Iceland’s Highlands, you’ll find the natural thermal baths of Landmannalaugar. Surrounded by mountains and with the sensation that you’re truly in the middle of the wilderness, Landmannalaugar offers a wild and rugged spa experience.

Watch out, though. It’s not accessible all-year round. So before you go, check whether the roads are open. Or take a Highland bus to Landmannalaugar and save yourself the hassle of the journey.

Reykjadalur hot spring

Known in Icelandic as “Steam Valley”, Reykjadalur is one of the most magical places on the south coast of Iceland. Not just a hot pool, the whole river is warmed by geothermal energy. It’s an experience you won’t find in many other places.

hotWater 2

It’s a gentle 3.5km (2.1 miles) hike to the valley. But to take a dip into this warm bubbling stream is well worth every step.

Find out more about Iceland’s warm waters in our guide to hot springs and geothermal pools in Iceland

What temperature are Iceland’s hot springs?

The temperature of Iceland’s springs differs from place to place. However, they typically reach about 40°C (104°F). That means that the waters are perfectly warm enough for you to enjoy a dip no matter the weather. In fact, Icelanders often bathe with snow falling on our heads!

For example, at the Blue Lagoon, temperatures are usually between 38 and 40°C (100-104°F).

Come and experience Iceland’s hot waters with Reykjavik Excursions

As well as being a miracle of renewable and efficient energy, Iceland’s hot waters make the country an incredible destination for visitors too. From scenic spa attractions and unique warm streams, Iceland’s geothermal activity produces an immense array of incredible experiences in Iceland.

At Reykjavik Excursions, we can help you experience Iceland’s hot water to the fullest. With our range of tours to hot springs, spas, and pools in Iceland, you’ll see the best that the country has to offer—in comfort and style.

Check out our full range of tours and activities to start your adventure.

REYKJAVIK EXCURSIONS BLOG

Get inspired! Information and tips and must see places in Iceland, fun facts, customs and more.

Northern Lights in Iceland: Your Guide

In this post, you can discover everything you need to know about seeing the aurora borealis in the land of fire and ice.

Read Blog

Hot Water in Iceland: Your Complete Guide

With active volcanoes, bubbling geysers, and hot springs and pools, Iceland sits upon a geothermal world that continues to shape the country’s landscape.

September 1, 2022

Hot Water in Iceland: Your Complete Guide

With active volcanoes, bubbling geysers, and hot springs and pools, Iceland sits upon a geothermal world that continues to shape the country’s landscape.

September 1, 2022

With active volcanoes, bubbling geysers, and hot springs and pools, Iceland sits upon a geothermal world that continues to shape the country’s landscape. However, it’s not just natural wonders that this activity creates. Iceland also relies on this geothermal energy for power.

One of the biggest impacts of this volcanic activity is to power Iceland’s hot water—in homes, hospitality, and industry too. This makes the hot water in Iceland a little smelly (so don’t be alarmed!) as well as incredibly energy efficient.

Read on to learn the magic of Iceland’s hot water system and some of the incredible natural sights that the geothermal world beneath us has created.

Does Iceland have warm water?

It’s a common question that visitors ask when coming to Iceland. And the answer is a simple yes. Although our nation in the North Atlantic can be very cold (with temperatures reaching lows of -30°C, -22°F), there’s always warm water to be enjoyed.

How come? Well, Iceland is one of the most dynamic volcanic areas in the world. Straddling the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Iceland sits on an area where magma is unusually close to the earth’s surface. And, when it’s not heating natural rivers, pools, and hot springs, that volcanic power is used to heat water in people’s homes too.

So, head out into the Icelandic wilderness and enjoy the magic of warm natural streams, such as in Reykjadalur Valley on the south coast of Iceland. Or relax in a geothermal pool, such as the Blue Lagoon.

And then, when you get back home, know that the water in your tap is powered by the same energy that powers those natural springs.

How does Iceland get hot water?

Typically, homes, guesthouses, and businesses in Iceland get their hot water through geothermal energy — sometimes from boreholes dug into the ground. However, that’s not the only way that Iceland gets its hot water.

How Iceland uses water from geothermal energy

If you’re staying in Iceland, you might have noticed an unpleasant smell whenever you turn the tap on. No, there aren’t rotten eggs in your pipes—and no, there’s nothing wrong with the plumbing either.

hotWater

Rather, that smell is the natural smell of hot water in Iceland. It’s the smell of hydrogen sulphide, a chemical that’s produced by Iceland’s geothermal activity. While it’s not good for you if you breathe it in high concentrations, it’s just a normal and natural part of Iceland’s hot water system.

However, not all of the country’s hot water comes from the same geothermal process. Rather, there are two main sources.

Firstly, the hot water often comes directly from underground, already warmed naturally. Alternatively, cold water can be collected and then heated by geothermal energy in a power station. Either way, it’s the same geothermal power of the earth that’s heating it.

Just a word of caution: like water from hot water taps around the world, hot tap water in Iceland is not designed for drinking.

Boreholes in Iceland: Digging deeper for water

While it’s common for cold water to be heated by geothermal power plants, boreholes in Iceland are much more famous. These are where many Icelanders get their hot water: directly from the earth.

It’s a tradition that has continued for centuries. For example, long before domestic washing machines and central heating there’s evidence of women washing clothes directly in the hot springs. Given the temperatures outside for half of the year here, it wouldn’t have been a pleasant task!

These days, the way that we use Iceland’s natural hot water is a little more technological. Like in many parts of the world, Icelanders extract water from underground sources using large drills. The difference here is that the water is hot, naturally warmed by magma.

For example, in the capital city of Reykjavik, about 11% of the hot water is taken directly from boreholes within the city. A further 33% of hot water comes from just beyond the city’s boundaries.

Geothermal energy is a resource that we’re very happy to exploit. Rather than burning fuel for energy, we’re harnessing the natural power of the earth, making Iceland’s hot water system much greener too.

In fact, Iceland is always exploring new ways to harness this energy. The Iceland Deep Drilling Project, for example, continues to work to find new opportunities for ever-deeper boreholes in Iceland. So far, the project has drilled to a depth of over 3.5km (2.1 miles).

Not all hot water in Iceland is geothermal (but most of it is)

90% of the hot water in Iceland is heated by geothermal sources. However, not all our energy is geothermal.

Only about a quarter of Iceland’s electricity comes from geothermal energy. The remainder comes from hydropower. That means that alongside harnessing the power of the earth, we get a lot of energy from rivers too. 100% of Iceland’s electricity production is now from renewable sources.

So, no — not all hot water in Iceland is geothermal. However, the vast majority of it is!

Can you drink hot tap water in Iceland?

No, it’s not recommended to drink hot tap water in Iceland. Just like in many other countries around the world, the hot tap does not actually meet safe drinking water standards. That’s because it’s not treated in the same way as drinking water from the cold tap.

Further, as we mentioned above, hot water can have that unpleasant eggy smell that may not make drinking it a very attractive idea!

Is Iceland hot water free?

No, hot water in Iceland is not free—however it is very cheap. According to a study from 2016, Reykjavik’s hot water system was the cheapest among the Nordic countries, by a very long way.

Where residents in Helsinki paid over €3,000 for their energy across the year, Reykjavik residents paid only €600 (and residents in Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Oslo paid a little over €2,000).

So, while it’s not completely free, it is very affordable.

Does Iceland have hot water springs?

Iceland’s geothermal activity is not just a benefit for the country’s homes and energy costs. It has also produced some of the most incredible natural phenomena in the world. From hot water springs and naturally heated saunas to geysers and more, Iceland is full of natural wonders that are thanks to the energy beneath our feet.

Read on to discover some of the magical hot springs and pools that Iceland has to offer.

The Blue Lagoon

Among the most famous of Iceland’s hot springs is the so-called Blue Lagoon. Part of its charm is no doubt its colour, a dreamy milky-blue that is incredibly inviting.

hotWater 3

Located on the Reykjanes Peninsula, the Blue Lagoon is not actually a natural pool. Rather, it was produced (by accident) in the 1970s, when engineers released runoff from the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power plant. However, the water wasn’t absorbed as expected, but it created a mineral rich pool that enticed local residents to take a dip.

In fact, people who have swum in the Blue Lagoon swear that it has healing powers, particularly for conditions such as psoriasis. So, it’s not just hot water, but a truly therapeutic spa experience.

Come and experience our geothermal hot water with our Blue Lagoon Comfort Admission & Transfer tour.

The Sky Lagoon

Another popular spa destination is the Sky Lagoon. Built into the rocks above Iceland’s incredible coastline, it’s a place that combines Iceland’s warm water with the splendour of the country’s scenery.

hotWater 4

Completed only in 2021, the Sky Lagoon is a new addition to Iceland’s spa scene. However, it has fast become one of the nation’s favourites. In Kársnes Harbour, just a short distance from downtown Reykjavik, it’s also incredibly convenient from the city.

But that’s not its main draw. Rather, this is one of the very few thermal infinity pools with coastal views in all of Iceland. Suspended over the Atlantic Ocean, you can watch storms in the distance or even glimpse Iceland’s northern lights, all while staying warm in the water.

Experience the Lagoon’s incredible hot waters with our Sky Lagoon Pass and Transfer.

Other hot springs and geothermal pools

While the Sky Lagoon and the Blue Lagoon are probably the most famous spas in Iceland today, they are far from the only ones around. Iceland has an incredible array of spas to choose from.

The Secret Lagoon

Iceland’s oldest thermal spa is the Secret Lagoon, an intensely relaxing and atmospheric place near Flúðir in the heart of the Golden Circle.

Created in 1891, the Secret Lagoon actually fell into disuse until it was discovered once more in the 21st century. Of course, it isn’t really so secret, but it’s a wonderfully tranquil and historic opportunity to unwind.

Laugarvatn Fontana Geothermal Bath

In the Golden Circle is another spa opportunity on the lake of Laugarvatn: Laugarvatn Fontana. Just east of Þingvellir National Park, the site of Iceland’s original parliament, it’s a really historical place.

However, here, it’s not just the waters of the spas that are heated by geothermal energy. Take a short walk to the natural bakery nearby, where bread is cooked with the geothermal energy underground.

Book a complete tour of the Golden Circle and Laugarvatn Fontana.

Geosea

Far from Reykjavik on the distant coast of Northern Iceland, Geosea is perhaps the most scenic spa of all. Another infinity pool, Geosea overlooks Skjálfandi Bay, near the small town of Húsavík, as well as the Arctic Circle far in the distance.

With geothermal energy used to heat seawater, it’s a unique feat of engineering. And equipped with a swim-up bar and the opportunity to see whales in the bay, it promises an incredible experience.

Giljaböð - Húsafell Canyon Baths

There are many incredible locations to experience Iceland’s hot water spas, but there are few that are quite like Giljaböð. Nestled in the mountains to the northeast of Reykjavik, the Húsafell Canyon Baths are a spa adventure in the heart of the Icelandic wilderness.

Hike deep into the canyon before unwinding in the warm pools in the mountains.

Take the adventure to Giljaböð with the Hot Spring Canyon baths and waterfalls tour.

Are there any natural hot springs in Iceland?

While the most famous hot spring and spa destinations are those that are artificial, they are not the only places to experience Iceland’s hot water. For those who want an experience that’s a little more natural, there are many options to choose from.

Landmannalaugar hot spring

On the southern side of Iceland’s Highlands, you’ll find the natural thermal baths of Landmannalaugar. Surrounded by mountains and with the sensation that you’re truly in the middle of the wilderness, Landmannalaugar offers a wild and rugged spa experience.

Watch out, though. It’s not accessible all-year round. So before you go, check whether the roads are open. Or take a Highland bus to Landmannalaugar and save yourself the hassle of the journey.

Reykjadalur hot spring

Known in Icelandic as “Steam Valley”, Reykjadalur is one of the most magical places on the south coast of Iceland. Not just a hot pool, the whole river is warmed by geothermal energy. It’s an experience you won’t find in many other places.

hotWater 2

It’s a gentle 3.5km (2.1 miles) hike to the valley. But to take a dip into this warm bubbling stream is well worth every step.

Find out more about Iceland’s warm waters in our guide to hot springs and geothermal pools in Iceland

What temperature are Iceland’s hot springs?

The temperature of Iceland’s springs differs from place to place. However, they typically reach about 40°C (104°F). That means that the waters are perfectly warm enough for you to enjoy a dip no matter the weather. In fact, Icelanders often bathe with snow falling on our heads!

For example, at the Blue Lagoon, temperatures are usually between 38 and 40°C (100-104°F).

Come and experience Iceland’s hot waters with Reykjavik Excursions

As well as being a miracle of renewable and efficient energy, Iceland’s hot waters make the country an incredible destination for visitors too. From scenic spa attractions and unique warm streams, Iceland’s geothermal activity produces an immense array of incredible experiences in Iceland.

At Reykjavik Excursions, we can help you experience Iceland’s hot water to the fullest. With our range of tours to hot springs, spas, and pools in Iceland, you’ll see the best that the country has to offer—in comfort and style.

Check out our full range of tours and activities to start your adventure.

REYKJAVIK EXCURSIONS BLOG

Get inspired! Information and tips and must see places in Iceland, fun facts, customs and more.

Northern Lights in Iceland: Your Guide

In this post, you can discover everything you need to know about seeing the aurora borealis in the land of fire and ice.

Read Blog