Blue Lagoon is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland. It’s so famous that locals simply call it… a tourist trap. They say that it’s not worth overpaying to go there when there are so many cheap Blue Lagoon alternatives available throughout the country.
While there is something special about these famous pools, the locals are right. It’s so much better to travel somewhere where you don’t need to beat the crowds. Where you can simply go, without the necessity to book tickets weeks in advance.
With the help of my blogging friends, I’ve created a list of the best Blue Lagoon alternatives in Iceland that are either cheap or completely free. Most of them are located in the south of the country, however, there are some places in the North as well.
Here’s a map of the Blue Lagoon alternatives that you can find in this post:
Thermal Pools In Reykjavik
No matter where you are coming from, you will probably be landing in Keflavik airport that is located a short ride from Reykjavik.
The capital and the biggest town of Iceland is definitely worth visiting, especially that you can find 7 (!) public thermal pools there.
They are open all year round and if you are visiting Iceland with kids, they will probably love them. The entrance fee is as low as 1030 ISK ($8) which is… 11 times cheaper than the cheapest entrance ticket for the Blue Lagoon!
The Secret Lagoon
A great alternative to the Blue Lagoon that is not only cheaper but easy to get to, is the Secret Lagoon. You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to hot springs in Iceland but lots of them are off the beaten path, requiring some serious travel to get there.
With the Secret Lagoon, however, you can visit as part of your trip around the Golden Circle. Admittedly, this does mean that it can get busy (the Lagoon is really not so ‘secret’ after all) but it’s an excellent place to have a thermal pool experience without breaking the bank.
What’s more, it’s a genuine, natural pool and the oldest in Iceland. It’s known to locals as ‘mla Laugin’, meaning ‘The Old Pool’.
Located near the village of Flúðir, in South Iceland, the Secret Lagoon is a spring-fed pool with waters that stay at a steady temperature of 38° to 40°C. The area around the pool is green and filled with wildflowers in the summer, making it a lovely place to take a dip no matter the season.
The Secret Lagoon is approximately 100km from the capital, Reykjavik. Entrance to the Secret Lagoon costs around 22 Euros per adult. Children under 14 are free with their parents.
Skip the lines and book your Secret Lagoon tickets online—> here.
The Hot River
As most of us know, Blue Lagoon is not for all the pockets plus it can be very crowded with tourists. Luckily, Iceland is full of great spots that can be a cheap alternative to Blue Lagoon.
Have you ever heard about the Hot River? Its real name is Reykjadalur hot spring thermal river, but Hot River is definitely easier to remember for non-locals. This Hot Spring Thermal River is located in Reykjadalur Valley, a beautiful area near the town of Hveragerði, in Southwest Iceland. This is a highly active geothermal area filled with hot springs, mud pools, and the mentioned hot river.
The access to the Reykjadalur hot spring thermal river is totally free and it does not see the crowds of the Blue Lagoon, especially if you arrive early in the morning. It is reached through a 3km hike (one way) that starts in the parking lot of a restaurant named Dalakaffi.
During the hike, there are bubbling mud holes, hot springs and on the left side, there is a small canyon with a beautiful waterfall cascading down into the valley. The hike ends at the hot river where you can enjoy your most than deserved hot bath.
The best way to visit the Reykjadalur hot spring thermal river is with your own car. It is also possible to go by bus, but this involves changing buses plus a 3.5km walk to the trailhead.
Landbrotalaug Secret Hot Springs
If you’re looking for a beautiful day trip out of Reykjavik that includes some hot springs then head over to the Snaefellsness Peninsula. This stunning area is home to some of Iceland’s best gems, including the Landbrotalaug Secret Hot Springs.
To reach the hot springs leave Reykjavik via highway one, the main road that goes around Iceland. After about an hour of driving, you’ll reach the town of Borgarnes where you turn left onto Highway 54. Just half an hour down the road you’ll come across the thermal baths which are parked on the road by ‘Landbrotalaug’. Turn left onto the dirt road and a few minutes later you’ll find a small parking lot with toilets. Across the street at the hot springs!
Although much smaller, the Landbrotalaug Hot Springs are a great alternative to the blue lagoon because there are few, if any, other people there. When I visited, I had the springs completely to myself. It was magical to soak in them surrounded by Iceland’s wildlife beauty. Plus, it’s completely free!
Landmannalaugar, in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve in southwest Iceland, is known for dramatically colored mountains and atmospheric steaming sulphur vents. It’s a photographer’s hot-spot and a beautiful place to appreciate Iceland’s dramatic scenery.
But, while many come here to hike, there’s another reason to visit this weird broiling landscape. Tucked away behind the visitor’s center – at the end of a long narrow boardwalk surrounded by a flower-covered meadow – you’ll find the Landmannalaugar geothermal pools. It’s a thoroughly under-visited spot, and an excellent way to experience nature in Iceland.
Untouched by any human intervention, the Landmannalaugar pool is a completely natural phenomenon. Both hot and cold water from the nearby Laugahraun lava field, flow into the pool allowing you to find just the right temperature. If you’re feeling a bit hot after climbing the mountains, head for the cool stream. If the muscles are a bit sore, follow the steam and inch closer to the bubbling hot flow. Sitting in the warm pools and looking up at rainbow color mountains is a classic Icelandic experience.
Being completely free, the Landmannalaugar geothermal pool is an excellent alternative to the Blue Lagoon. There are minimal facilities – just a small space where you can hang your clothes – making the whole experience feel very natural.
Landmannalaugar can only be accessed via Iceland’s mountain roads (f-roads) in a 4×4 vehicle over the summer months. It’s around 3.5 hours’ drive from Reykjavík.
Myvatn Nature Baths
Myvatn Nature Baths is a great alternative to the Blue Lagoon. Like their more famous counterpart, they are man-made, the water is a milky blue and the temperature is nice and hot. However, that’s where the similarities end.
Myvatn Nature Baths is first and foremost located on the opposite side of the island. That is great if you want to squeeze in a few extra visits to different hot springs on your Iceland itinerary.
The geographical distance alone means you’ll get a more intimate experience compared to the Blue Lagoon. Here there are no busy tourists on layovers, and you may actually get to spot a local Icelander. Yet, Myvatn Nature Baths are easy to get to, just a short drive from the large town of Akureyri and even closer to the scenic Lake Myvatn from which the baths have gotten their name.
From the water, you’ll get to enjoy that pretty landscape and it’s especially the volcanic dome of Hverfjall that stands out. You can enjoy that epic view, immersed in the hot water with an ice-cold refreshment in your hand. What more do you really need in life?
Overlooking the open expanse of Skjálfandi Bay across to snow-capped mountains and the Artic Circle on the horizon, not many geothermal pools in Iceland can compete with Geosea in Húsavík for its incredible natural setting. It’s an absolute must for a North Iceland itinerary, and if you peer very closely over the edge of the cliff, you might even see some whales also enjoying a swim. In fact, a visit to Geosea combines nicely with a morning whale watching tour.
It may not have the silky blue waters of the Blue Lagoon, but it certainly beats it for views, crowds and definitely price! Plus, there’s more of a local feel here.
Drilling for hot water here in the mid-20th century revealed water that turned out to be hot seawater, too rich in minerals to be suitable for heating houses. Instead of letting this hot water go to waste, an old cheese barrel was installed for Húsavík residents to enjoy the health benefits of bathing in hot seawater.
The water in the GeoSea sea baths comes from two drill holes. One located by the cheese barrel and the other by Húsavík harbor. There is no need to use any cleaning agents or equipment, as the steady flow of water from the drill holes, between the three main pools and into the sea ensures that the water stays clean and hygienic.
Hveragardi Geothermal Park
On a family Southern Iceland vacation a couple of years ago, we planned to visit the Blue Lagoon but our brilliant teenage daughter mentioned that we can save over 300 Euros by going instead to some public hot springs.
That got my attention and as we looked into the hike to Reykjadalur Hot Spring Thermal River in Hveragerði (Hveragerdi), I loved the idea more and more. The public parking area is a mere 45-minute drive from Reykjavik at which you will likely see dozens of other intrepid and smart, fun, and cool people (just like you).
The 3.5 km hike is steep at first, then levels off and passes some bubbling volcanic pools (do not touch or even breathe) and magnificent views that might be the highlight of your Iceland trip.
The reward for your hiking effort though will definitely be a trip highlight. A rustic boardwalk and wooden deck along the river (and the people soaking in the water) signify you have arrived, but note that the further you continue, the hotter the water will be.
Primitive structures allow you to change clothes and provide a little protection from the wind (but not much from people but hey, part of the experience!). Allow at least a couple of hours to fully enjoy the hike and soaking experience and be sure to bring food and a bottle of your favorite beverage.
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