The 6 step guide to swimming pools in Iceland

Ever since I wrote this post about Five things to keep in mind for first-time visitors in Iceland, where I touched on the subject of showering naked before entering Icelandic swimming pools, I’ve received a lot of e-mails from confused people that don’t quite understand the swimming pool protocols. I’ve got questions about whether the locker rooms are co-ed, whether we swim naked and whether it’s really true that you need to shower in the buff.

So I thought I’d help all of you confused people out there and put together this handy little how-to-guide on what to do when visiting swimming pools in Iceland.


1) Choose a swimming pool

Swimming pools in Iceland is a serious business. There’s one in every town and Icelandic students can’t graduate from school (theoretically, I’m not sure if this is actually enforced) without learning how to swim. It’s a place where you go when you’re bored, when you need a workout, when the sun is out (tanning session, duh) or when you just need to know what’s going on in the world. Swimming pools are where it’s at.

If you are in a small remote town you probably don’t have a lot of options when it comes to choosing a pool unless you’re willing to drive the distance but in Reykjavík you have a lot of choices. The most popular pools for visitors though are Laugardalslaug, Vesturbæjarlaug and Sundhöllin.

2) Buy Ticket

The public pools in Iceland are relatively cheap with entrance fee for one adult at around 950 ISK (January 2017). If you are staying long term or you plan to go often it might be worth looking into getting a swimming card that will give you a small discount off each entrance. A visit to the pools, as often as you want, is included when you buy the Reykjavík City Card.

A visit to the pools is especially economical for families as children 6-17 years old only pay 150 ISK (January 2017).  And children under 6 don’t pay anything at all.

3) Undress

When you’ve paid and you’ve found a locker you’re going to store your things in you need to get undressed. You are supposed to take everything off and then walk to the showers with your towel and bathing suit along with shampoo and whatever you need for the shower. Don’t bother with putting on your bathing suit at this point as you have to take it off anyway when you shower.

Soap is provided in the showers.

4) Shower

Yes, you have to shower naked. Yes, you have to wash thoroughly. No, there’s no way to avoid this.

In some of the swimming pools they now have special showers with curtains where more timid guests can wash their bits. The only people you ever pay attention to at the pool are the ones that are trying to avoid this so you might as well play along if you don’t want to draw the attention to yourself.

Also, there are shower guards that make sure you wash before you go to the pool and they tell you off if you don’t dry off when you return from it.The locals that are regulars at the pool will also give you an evil eye if you don’t follow the rules so when in Rome and all that.

Obviously, there are male locker rooms and female locker rooms, each with their own showers. We’re obsessed with cleanliness – not naturists.

5) Put on bathing suit

For some reason, this is the step that has confused most of the people that have sent me e-mails. After you shower and wash up you are supposed to put on your bathing suit before you go to the pool. It’s very important not to skip over this step as it could come with consequences. Public nudity always causes a scene.

6) Go to swimming pool

If you have, for whatever reason, ended up naked in the swimming pool area please refer to number 5.

Once everything is clean and you’re ready to go it’s time to enjoy the pool. A few more things to keep in mind: Don’t play in the swimming area, there are usually designated areas for both and you annoy the locals if you’re doing handstands or splashing around in the lanes.And don’t take photos of strangers in the pool – it’s just not very nice.

Spread the word


135 thoughts on “The 6 step guide to swimming pools in Iceland”

  1. Hans says:

    Now this has me confused:

    “they tell you off if you don’t dry off when you return from the pool”

  2. mm Auður says:

    Basically you are supposed to shower after going to the pool and then dry off in a designated drying area before you enter the locker rooms. If you don’t dry and go straight to the locker rooms (leaving a wet trail so you can’t even deny that it was you) the guards will, sometimes politely and sometimes not, show you the error of your ways.

  3. Karen says:

    Swimming was by far our favorite thing to do in Iceland. Made me wish we did this in Canada. All the locals had tan lines in April. At first I thought “wow they all vacation in Mexico?” Then I realized everyone just spent time outside. The rules were no problem after figuring it out and now I wish we did it here, the pools were super clean and I think used less chemicals than the pools at home.

  4. Audrey Knox says:

    The next time I go to Iceland, I am going to endeavour to go to each of the pools—not just 2 as I did last time. They were great, as was the one in Akureyri ; )

  5. Christa says:

    I appreciate this post and still have a few questions . . .

    1. Are locks provided or should we bring our own?

    2. I hope to check out some of the pools in February – so I’m imagining a chilly moment walking in the cold after the shower and before plunging into the pool (especially for the pools that are outside).

    Do people bring a robe to keep them warm on this walk, or simply walk fast?

    3. In my non-Iceland community we have occasional locker-room thefts at pools and gyms (thieves break the lock), so here it’s recommended that you keep any valuables (wallet) with your towel by the pool.

    Where do you keep valuable is Reykjavik – in the locker, or with your towel?


    1. mm Auður says:

      1) Locks are provided, there are different systems in different pools but there’s an electric bracelet kind of system in Lauagardalslaug for example.
      2) No robes, you just walk fast 🙂 (it’s actually not that bad)
      3) You leave the towel next to the showers where everyone can get them so you should definitely not leave them with your towel. I don’t hear about many locker room thefts at the pools but in some pools, like Sundhöllin for example, you can leave your valuables with the person you buy the ticket from. When I go swimming I always just leave my phone and everything in my locker.

      Hope that helps 🙂

      1. Emily says:

        Question. I have the iphone 7 Plus which is waterproof. I’d like to take a few images of my friend and I in a pool. Are people going to look at me weird, or is it prohibited to have a phone in the pool??

        Thank you!!

        1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

          Phones are not allowed at the public swimming pools – people should be able to enjoy the pool without having to worry about someone photographing them in their swimwear. Cameras are allowed at the Blue Lagoon though.

  6. Faduma says:

    I’m quiet happy that I found this webpage and more for finding this post. I’ve lived in Denmark for the past 11 year so I’m used to the naked part and the showering rules. I have a question regarding the bathing suit. s. Is it okay to wear a wet suit at the pools or is it too wired or a unallowed thing to do ? It’s not because i’m scared of the cold weather or something similar. It’s basically because I’m Muslim.

    Thanks !

    1. mm Auður says:

      I have to admit that I’m just not sure about this. I can’t imagine that it would be a problem and I asked my step daughter (who’s at the pool at least 4 times a week) and she thinks she has seen women wearing Muslim swimwear at the pool. As long as you shower I think.

      1. Faduma says:

        Okay Thank you so much for the speedy reply. I’ll try to flash my wet suit at my local pool in the very near future 🙂

        1. Marthiany says:

          Hi Faduma and Auður. I went to Blue Lagoon pool with my muslim bathing suit, which looks like a diving suit and a hood for diving in cold water. No one bothered with it. I noticed most Icelandic people are more respectful about this, compare to (some) people in the United States, where I live. So, yes, no worry.

          1. Sonia says:

            It’s interesting you say this. I’m looking to go to Iceland and I am nervous about wearing an Islamic swimsuit at the blue lagoon so was thinking of avoiding it. I’ll never forget the stares I got when we were in Sorrento at a local beach, so I’m a little nervous about going to new areas in one.

  7. Judith says:

    First of all, I’d like to thank you for your very informative and entertaining homepage! I’m visiting Reykjavik next week, and ot helped me a lot to prepare my trip.
    I’m not comfortable with showering naked, but I understand that it has to be done if I want to visit a pool. What really freaks me out (and when showering naked, I’m on the edge of freaking out, so I can’t stand any more uncomfortable things) is if people stare at me while showering, or if people don’t look where they’re going and accidentially bump into me in the shower. Does this happen in Iceland? Or do people try to respect each other’s privacy, so far as this is posssible while everyone is naked?

    (Yes, I know, I’m kind of weird with the shower thing. Wish it was different, but I can’t change it, it really freaks me out. I’m not proud of it or anything.)


    1. mm Auður says:

      I have never accidentally touched anyone in the shower but I can’t swear that it never happens. It’s not like you all stand there in a huddle under one shower so it should be fine 🙂

      People don’t stare usually. Even though we don’t have a problem with showering naked in front of other people it doesn’t mean we’re going all out having long discussion and braiding each other’s hair 🙂 It’s a necessary evil and you just keep to yourself in the hope that others will do the same. They mostly do 🙂

  8. Jessica says:

    How about flip flops? I usually bring my own to spas, do people wear these? or is it frowned on.

    1. mm Auður says:

      You can wear them. Some do, most don’t.

  9. Lou says:

    First off i really love your page, you are doing an awesome service. Ok, so im not a swimmer by any means. How deep are the pools? Should i get swimming lessons before going? I’m going march 3rd.


    1. mm Auður says:

      I don’t know the exact depth of all the pools but they are not too deep (except Sundhöllinn – the pool there is quite deep). Just stay in the shallow end and the hot tubs and you’ll be fine 🙂

  10. rick says:

    If men and women shower together and are naked, do you really think that they are perverts?

    1. mm Auður says:

      No I don’t. It’s called being silly.

      1. Matthew says:

        I’m glad you said that because I was about to ask the same question. lol Also, as others have said, kudos on your page. It is very informative for those of us who’re contemplating a visit. I appreciate the time & effort you put into it. 😉

      2. Amanda says:

        Hello! May my 6yr old son join me in the women’s locker room & showers? It may be too much for him to navigate the lockers, naked showering (with adult strangers), and the return regimen as well.

        1. mm Auður says:

          I don’t know if there are any official rules on this but the discussions I found about this online suggest that when they’ve started school (at 6) most people agree they should go to their own locker room.

  11. Bárbara says:

    Thanks for all The info.
    One question : What about hair? Do you wash it also Before THE swim ? Or just a cap is ok? Or cap is mandatory?
    In Portugal we have to shower ( naked is an option) but caps are mandatory for men And women.


    1. mm Auður says:

      You are supposed to but no one really does I think. Most people make do with just getting the hair wet under the shower. Caps are not mandatory but optional.

  12. Vanessa says:

    I’m wondering if I can go to the pool in the morning and then return later that same day without paying the fees again? ie Is the fee per day or per use? Thanks!

    1. mm Auður says:

      No you can’t – you pay for each visit 🙂

  13. Juniper May says:

    I have skin allergies to many soaps and never really know which ones I will be allergic to until after the fact. Is it ok to use your own soap in the showers? Needless to say, a full-body rash is not a risk I’m willing to take to experience the pools!

    1. mm Auður says:

      Yes, I think you can use your own soap.

  14. Tami says:

    I saw information about swimming passbooks (10 passes) for adults and children. Can one passbook be shared by 2 or more people, or are they tied to an individual?
    Thank you!

    1. mm Auður says:

      Last time I knew at least you could share them.

  15. Alice says:

    HI there! This is an amazing site, thank you so much for all this helpful advice!

    If you bring your shampoo, bathing suit and towel with you to the showers and are then expected to put on your bathing suit after and head out to the pools, where do you leave your shampoo/towel? Is there usually an area in the pool area to leave this on?

    1. mm Auður says:

      You can keep it in the shower area – I would maybe not keep very expensive shampoo there but I’ve never had anything stolen from me.

  16. Kristyna says:

    Do you need to bring your own towels, or can you borrow/rent? Thanks for this post! It is super helpful.

    1. mm Auður says:

      I’m pretty sure you can rent the towel in most pools, at least here in Reykjavík. Maybe you can’t count on it all around Iceland though.

  17. Cecilia says:

    I went to Iceland last month and we went to the Myvatn nature baths. Same procedure as with swimming pools, get naked and shower first. You know what? We’re all women (or blokes…), there’s nothing that hasn’t been seen before. Besides, everyone was too busy hiding their own bits to look at anyone else’s! I think the general feeling was that it’s bad enough having to look at your own wobbly bits every single day. So people – relax! It’s ok! You won’t be traumatized for life!

    And another thing – DO NOT hide in the toilet to get changed. At the nature baths there was only one toilet and one of our group used it to get changed in, which meant she held up the toilet for everyone else and people got grumpy.

    The procedure was something like this:

    Rent towel from desk. Leave boots in the boot rack outside the changing room – yes, they will still be there when you come back. Go inside, find a locker, then either a. strip, put on swimsuit, head towards the shower stall with a curtain, hide inside, take off swimsuit, have shower, put on swimsuit. Or b. strip, go to the communal showers, leave towel & swimsuit in the pigeonholes (yes it will still be there when you come back ), have shower, put on swimsuit. Then head outside TAKING YOUR TOWEL WITH YOU, have a moment of total shock when you step outside the door and the freezing cold air hits you, scream “oh my God it’s cold!” to the amusement/embarrassment of the locals, sprint to the pool, before you jump in suddenly remember you still have your towel in your hand, leave your towel on a chair/table/rail (yes it will still be there when you come back), get in the pool, and soak. It is total, utter bliss. Warm, milky blue water, at just the right temperature for the heat to sink right into your bones and warm you up after a very cold few days.

    The walk back out from the pool to the changing room wasn’t so bad as I’d got nicely warm in the pool so I didn’t feel the cold all that much. Inside the changing rooms there was a sign which very clearly marked the point from which you had to be dry – I dried my feet at that point, and did the rest by my locker, as I think did most people. Don’t know what the other pools etc are like but at Myvatn baths they had hairdryers, although I don’t remember seeing soap. We’d all brought our own.

    All in all it was a great experience and I highly recommend it.

  18. Tom says:

    This is an amazing blog – I’m just starting to get into it in preparation for my trip to Iceland next month. Thank you!

    I’m just wondering – which of the pools in Reykjavík are 50-metre pools, and best for swimming laps?

  19. Anne says:

    One question : is it ok to bathe in shorts / trunks? In France, most pools don’t accept them, you have to wear tight swimming suits only. What’s it like in Iceland?

    1. mm Auður says:

      As long as it is clean and decent then you should be fine.

      1. Richard says:


        For a moment I was terrified that I’d be inflicting the sight of my pudgy Canadian physique in speedos/briefs onto the innocent Icelandic population.

        Love your blog by the way.

  20. John says:

    I landed in Reykjavik yesterday on a red eye from Spain and fly out tomorrow, back to NYC — it was a last minute fluke, almost an accident. First time here. Today I swam in Sundhöllin, the oldest pool I hear. It was superb, I loved it. I was hoping to get in another pool too but it didn’t work out.

    Anyway, Sundhöllin has three rules, 1) Off with your shoes before entering locker room. 2) Take a shower with no clothes on. 3) Get naked and dry off before returning to locker.

    Sorry to say I broke number 3. I didn’t actually see this one until I got outside to the lobby again. I think if the pools really want number 3 followed by one-time tourists, there should be a big sign in the shower room, in English, explaining it. (If such as sign existed, it should be bigger!) I was very focused on rule number 2 because all the writings about the pools seem obsessed with it, so maybe I missed it. I’d also read that soap was required and that it was provided. But I saw no soap and no one else seemed to be using it. (Don’t worry, though, I’d bathed completely in my room only minutes before going to pool.)

    I brought my swim cap. Since I’d heard about the strictness, I assumed they were required. All strict pools in my life have required swim caps (in fact that’s what made them strict!) — but no cap was required. I also brought my padlock, but no padlock was required as my entrance fee provided me with a key and an assigned locker, with a built in lock.

    Anyway, i have a prediction based on what I’ve read in the local rags since I got here (I love to read local rags, and you’ve got some good ones). The number of tourists coming to Iceland is reaching record proportions, and it’s becoming a noticeable problem, i.e. the shitting in the wrong places debacle. For some inexplicable reason, the country’s tourism authority, I also read in one rag, wants to encourage tourists to use the public pools at a higher rate than they do now, even though only a small percentage of tourists seem to arrive with any desire to do so. The other thing I am told is that public pools are a “true” Iceland experience and are filled with “real” and “genuine” local Icelandic people, i.e. it’s not remotely “touristy” — which seems quite accurate based on my tiny bit of experience today.

    Should whoever it is behind it has any success in their “please swim in our pools” campaign, coupled with the sheer rising numbers, the local population is going to start to complain about the foreigners also shitting in their pools, figuratively but perhaps occasionally literally. Rules will get broken, injuries will rise, the wrong things will be said, and, most of all, local people are going to find more bodies in your way when trying to swim or to soak. I don’t know about you, but the very best thing I can say about a visit to a pool is “not crowded.” Don’t Icelanders say that too?

    There is going to be backlash. Residents will want to limit tourist access. There will be demands for higher single access pricing. Demands for restricted times when non-residents can swim. For resident-only designations and resident only hours. There will be calls for of scheduling and pre-booking for tourist swims.

    My advice? Kill the campaign. It’s not like the pools are not mentioned or written about. Pretty much everything ever published about Iceland, the stuff anyone who might be coming here reads —  it all mentions the pools. Hell the only thing I planned to do when I booked my two night layover was swim in the public pools (not the blue lagoon). I had never been here in my life, but I knew all about the pools. They aren’t a huge secret. Leave well enough alone. Those with an aqueous heart will make their way upstream — let the rest stay out, leaving room for your people.

  21. Greta says:

    Hi there! Thanks for all the great information, love the blog!

    One question I have is: do many pools require paying cash to enter? I understand that Iceland mainly uses credit/debit for most transactions, but pools may be an exception. Any advice? Thanks!

    1. mm Auður says:

      It’s possible that some pools around the country side ask for cash but you can pay in all the pools in Reykjavík with card. I would think though that not having a credit card machine is the exception rather than the rule.

      1. Mark says:

        When I swam at Nauthólsvík the machine had trouble accepting my Canadian cards (which I had used earlier in the day).

  22. Sarah A Carpenter says:

    Do all pools have wallowing space? For the non-lap swimmers?

    1. mm Auður says:

      Most of them do – usually there’s at least a children’s pool but there’s also always some hot tubs to enjoy.

  23. susan says:

    hi there, can you tell me please if muslim women can swim with burqini and if you have any kind of rules about swimsuit ??? thanx

    1. mm Auður says:

      Muslim women can swim in a burqini but you will still have to wash before you put it on.

  24. Matt says:

    Just to note I wish to go in the pools in iceland and I am a homosexual. If they insist i shower naked with a bunch of other men, i may experience random erections which i can’t help (not in a perverted way). This is going to suck, is there any way of avoiding this? Will icelanders look at me wierdly? I’m terrified of having to show my body and potentially causing a disaster.

    1. mm Auður says:

      There’s a lot of homosexual men that go to the swimming pools here and they somehow cope so I’m sure you’ll be fine. They even have a gay swimming team and water polo team 🙂

      1. Matt says:

        No seriously, I was forced to do it at school and i *cough* got a hardie. I could not help this. In iceland you are used to being open about nudity but i am from england where talking about bodies is a sensitive area, something a lot of icelanders do not understand. If you ask anyone of the students in my year to shower naked in front of other people, i bet all 150 of them would say “no way, eww go away pervert”. So please have an understanding for foreign visitors, especially brits and americans as we usually have cubicles if there are public showers.

  25. Neha says:

    Thanks for all the detailed information on Iceland. Yours is a wonderful and very informative blog.
    Well, my 10 year old daughter will be accompanying me to Iceland. I don’t think I will be very comfortable with she being an observer to total nude showers in public. So, do we have separate children’s shower area?
    Secondly, is it necessary to wash hair too? Or I can do with wearing the swimming cap?

    1. mm Auður says:

      No, there’s not a separate shower for children.

      I don’t think people usually wash their hair – it just has to get wet (or you can use a swim cap).

  26. Janette says:

    Thanks so much for this and all of your other advice. On a somewhat related note, can you talk about sauna/steam room etiquette? In Germany ( where I’m from) you don’t wear anything. You just make sure you have a towel between you and the bench. Sadly in the US (where I live now) people are expected to wear swimsuits in public saunas and steam rooms. How about Iceland?


    1. mm Auður says:

      There’s not a big sauna/steam room culture in Iceland and most of the ones you’ll find are unisex and at the swimming pools where you are supposed to wear swimsuits. There might be some gender divided steam rooms at some gyms or spas where people might not wear anything (I don’t know though, because I haven’t been to one) so just ask before you go anywhere in the buff 🙂

  27. wasserball says:

    Can I bring lots of beer that I bought from the duty free store at the airport and offer them to the locals (in the adult area) to break the ice?

    1. mm Auður says:

      Alcohol is not allowed in the swimming pools.

  28. lala says:

    which swimming pool has private showers?

    1. mm Auður says:

      None. But the ones in Laugardalslaug are probably closest to it.

  29. Karen says:

    One question that I don’t think has been answered yet: Are hair dryers available at the pools (either to borrow or to rent)? I don’t normally travel with a hair dryer, but I’ll look into getting a travel-size one with adapter if it’s necessary, as we’re planning to visit pools at least twice while we’re there — in Reykjavik at the start, the Blue Lagoon before we fly home, and hopefully some others on our travels in between. What do Icelanders do about wet hair when they’re done at the pool and ready to head back out into the world?

    1. mm Auður says:

      There are hair dryers in most pools in Reykjavík at least – you might have to wait a while to use them though but they are there. Also at the Blue Lagoon.

      1. Karen says:

        Thank you — we’ll take our chances, then!

  30. S says:

    You might not know, but how does this all work out for transgender people?

    I have a male-appearing chest, but I have girl parts “downstairs”. Is this something people are even remotely used to seeing? Are there ever unisex or private changing room options available for situations like this? Otherwise, I guess I’d wind up in the women’s changing room, but I’d prefer to wear swim trunks and no shirt to the actual pool (my chest has some obvious surgical scars, however). Any idea how many stares or problems I might get with this?

    1. mm Auður says:

      I have to admit that I just don’t know. It’s not something I’ve ever considered to be completely honest. I’m sure that the nice people at Trans Iceland would be more than happy to help you with this question though:

      Let us know if you go and what your experience was.

  31. Michael says:

    We often take clothing optional vacations. Are there any pools where nudity is allowed?

    1. mm Auður says:

      No, there are no pools where nudity is allowed but in Sundhöllin for example there’s a sunbathing area where clothing is optional. It’s also up to you whether you wear bathing suits in the nature pools but not everyone might like it if you don’t.

  32. Shan says:

    One question! Do most ladies wear one- or two-piece suits?

    1. Mark says:

      When I was there it was a mix. The younger and lighter women tended to wear two-pieces while the elder and heavier women wore one-pieces. All body types were at the beach. Wear whatever you’re comfortable in.

  33. Zuri says:

    I was really looking forward to the Icelandic pools. This website was very informative and while the information wasn’t what I was hoping for, it sure was useful. I recently had a mastectomy and have very disfiguring scars which I am still extremely conscious of. Plus as I would be going to iceland with my 8 year old daughter who doesn’t known the gory details of my operation, it looks like sadly I will have to skip the swimming. Oh well.

  34. Mark says:

    When I was there it was a mix. The younger and lighter women tended to wear two-pieces while the elder and heavier women wore one-pieces. All body types were at the beach. Wear whatever you’re comfortable in.

  35. Sasha M says:

    Sorry, I tried to search and couldn’t find it anywhere. Are there any rules about taking babies (9-month-old) to the pools? Is it something that is commonly done, or will people give us strange looks? Are there separate areas for small children? Do babies have to wear a swim diaper (which we’d be happy to bring)? We loved the pool in Vesturbaer last time we were in Reykjavik (before the baby), and really want to go back.


    1. mm Auður says:

      Babies and pools go together like peanut butter and jelly so march on 🙂 I don’t know if it’s a rule to wear a swim diaper but it seems to be all the rage with babies and toddlers these days 🙂

  36. Des says:

    Most of my bathing suits are rather cheeky. Not completely ‘thong’ underwear looking, they are still made out of thicker than normal bathing suit material and definitely look like a bathing suit, but I admit they do show a decent amount of my behind. Are cheeky bathing suits permissible or frowned upon? I understand this is a family/tourist place, I just grew up in an area where cheeky bottoms were not seen as provocative or sexualized. And I figured since we are all showering naked together anyway, the cheeky bathing suit bottoms wouldn’t matter as much.

    1. Richard says:

      From what I saw at Laugardalslaug when I was there back in April, as long as you’re not wearing a thong bikini, you should be okay.

  37. Peggy Giboney says:

    I would love to come to Iceland for an extended vacation and I would love to visit many of the hot pools. I’m hoping you can give me advice about my unique situation. I am a breast cancer survivor, I have had to have both breasts removed. I’m not worried about showering naked before entering pools, but I confess I am concerned about the reactions of other women in the showers. I wear breast forms in my swim suit, so once I put it on, I look okay. Have you ever encountered breast cancer survivors at the pools? Hoping I will just be accepted?

    1. mm Auður says:

      In general I’ve never witness any staring or pointing or anything like that in the pools in Iceland except maybe from curious kids. People are not there to look at other people in the shower, they are just there to wash before they can enter the pool like you are. You should absolutely not feel self-conscious, even if somebody glances at you and notices there something different about you, because you cannot help this and your scars just tell the story of how strong you were beating breast cancer. Hold your head up high and don’t give a damn – whether it’s here in Iceland or elsewhere 🙂

  38. Ben says:

    I will be visiting Iceland in October. Although I enjoy waddling in the pool I also enjoy competitive swimming and swimming laps. Are any of the pools more conducive to swimming for work out purposes. My nephew also will be doing a semester abroad later this year as well. Do you know if there are any competitive swim teams for students? And possibly where they swim? Are there any pools attached to athletic complexes where you can work out and enjoy a nice swim at the same time? Are there routinely saunas and steam rooms in the locker rooms?

    1. mm Auður says:

      You can swim laps in all of the pools. Personally I prefer Laugardalslaug because of their 50m outdoor pool – most of the other one in Reykjavík are 25m. There are special lanes in the pools dedicated to those who are there to swim laps and they will have 1-2 fast lanes. Sport teams in Iceland are usually not connected with schools so your nephew would just have to join a swim team – my stepdaughter swims for Ægir for example which is one of the bigger ones. If your nephew happens to be gay there’s also a gay swim team called Styrmir.

      Laugardalslaug is attached to Laugar gym and if you have a membership at Laugar you also have access to the pool. Many pools will have a steam room but they are no in the locker rooms, they’re just a part of the facilities outside the locker room. They have one in Laugardalur and I believe Laugar gym also has their own sauna or steam room.

      1. Ben says:

        Thanks for the info. At which pool do most of the swim teams swim? Is it crowded during the day when they are using those pools? Are there access to the fast lines when they are practicing? I have found that many times when I swim if there are teams accessing the pool, locker rooms, showers etc at the same time things can get a bit crowded. Or do the swim teams/clubs use separate facilities.

  39. Jeanmarie says:

    A few questions…

    1. Is sunscreen allowed after the shower? I don’t want to dirty the pool, but my super white skin burns in less than an hour when in outdoor pools!

    2. For men: are speedo-type suits required? (rather than trunks, a no no in many European countries)


    1. mm Auður says:

      You are allowed to use sun screen – yes.

      Men can wear whatever kind of swim suits their hearts desire 🙂

  40. acj says:

    Do most showers now have the cubicle/curtain style of showering? Because I am one of the more timid people, as I am a genetic oddball of sorts when it comes to hair… I have rather copious amounts compared to other 17 year olds and since you said that people 6-18 shower in the children’s showers, I would rather not scar some 8 year old kids for life…

    1. mm Auður says:

      Most showers don’t have cubicles or curtains. And there are no children’s showers and people have various amounts of hairs on their bodies so you should be fine.

  41. Laura says:

    Do you think one could get away with some quick dry sporty bra and undies instead of a bathing suit? Or must it be a real swim suit?

    1. mm Auður says:

      It should be a bathing suit. If you don’t have one you can rent it at most swimming pools.

  42. Harmony says:

    Thanks for “baring” it all in this article. ? Appreciate the info.

    I have one question I hope you can answer. My husband and I will be visiting Iceland in under 2 weeks. We will be traveling by camper van and have been told most camper facilities are closed by this time. This leaves us little choice but the public pools to shower. However, we will be following a tight scheduel, so we’d like to just go in and out if possible. Would it be frowned upon to just use the showers and skip the pool? And would the nudity rule still apply if we don’t intend to actually use the pool? Thanks for your time.

    1. mm Auður says:

      If you are using the shower to shower, I mean explicitly for cleaning purposes, doesn’t it require you being naked?

      You can use the pool just for a shower but you will pay the same price.

      1. Francesca says:

        I’ve just come back from Iceland, and I appreciated all of your suggestions.
        About shower and pool, I tried the pool in Kirkjubæjarklaustur and I noticed that it had both the ticket for the pool (600isk) or only the ticket for the shower (350isk) . I didn’t notice if other pools do the same!!
        To be honest, when I read the sign at the entrance, being the first time to the icelandic pool, and with all the rules in my head… I thought that I should have paid for the pool + the shower !!! 🙂 🙂 then I understood!!

  43. Stacy says:


    I love all of the expert advice in your blog, as it has been very helpful when planning my first trip to iceland coming in just a few short days!
    One question I do have is – If I do not plan on getting my hair wet in the pool ( for example: going under water, splashing and playing, etc..) do I still have to wash it ( or, even to just get it wet?)? I would keep it in a high, tight bun and definitely out of the water. I am very picky and particular when it comes to my hair, and would honestly just rather not bother with my hair, to save time, if it is acceptable.
    Thank you! 🙂

    1. mm Auður says:

      You still need to wash. And if you are not going get your hair wet you need to have a swimming cap.

  44. Tom says:

    Do men need to retract their foreskin and wash underneath? This all seems very hygiene focused and most European men are uncircumcised. I have quite a tight foreskin so it would be an issue for me if this is a stipulation.

    1. mm Auður says:

      You know what, I just don’t know 🙂 This is just beyond my scope 🙂

  45. FB says:

    Hi. Great blog
    We are visiting Iceland next week and taking a single use waterproof camera for a bit of fun. Will we be able to use it at one of the pools, or is it frowned upon?

    1. mm Auður says:

      I would definitely give you the stink eye if you were taking photos underwater if I was in the picture 🙂 People expect a certain level of privacy at the pool. I’m not sure if cameras are allowed at the Reykjavík pools but you can definitely use them at the Blue Lagoon and the Secret Lagoon and such.

    2. Marthi says:

      My experience is maybe similar, so I am gonna share here. I took my cheap camera with plastic casing at the Blue Lagoon, it was allowed by the pool staff, and nobody frowned, everybody was just busy enjoying their own good time, a lot of people bring many kind of camera/phone inside the pool so I guess you will be alright, too! 🙂

      1. mm Auður says:

        Yes, Blue Lagoon is fine.

        There’s just a difference between the public pools in Reykjavík (or all around Iceland), a somewhat sacred (not the right word but still close to the feeling people have towards them) place for the locals where they unwind and mingle and they expect that they won’t become the subjects of someone’s holiday photos, and then the Blue Lagoon which is a tourist destination.

        1. Marthi says:

          Thanks for the info! We plan to try local pool that is not so ‘touristy’ next year we visit Iceland. Sometimes even when we don’t break any rule, but there is some local, common courtesy that is not written by rules or anything and we don’t want to cause problem or inconvenient to locals. So your recommendations is no, even tough we only taking picture of ourselves and not other people? Appreciate your point of view

  46. MissLusciousL says:

    Great Page! This is only my second blog that I am reading, hoping to read them all tonight. My trip is the second week of December I am so excited!

  47. alisa says:

    Hello, my friend and I will visit Iceland and its next month (December.) Will it be too cold to wear a 2-piece swimsuit? What are most women wearing in winter?
    Many thanks.

    1. alisa says:

      ^…and its pools^

    2. mm Auður says:

      Women wear two piece swimsuit all year round but those who go to the pools to actually swim mostly wear 1 pieces.

      1. alisa says:

        Great. Thank you.

  48. Joy says:

    Thank you for all your helpful information! I was wondering, if I am planning on going to one of the swimming pools with a group of people, could we buy the 10x admissions card and use it once for 10 people or are the cards only supposed to be used 10 times by one person?

    1. mm Auður says:

      Technically it’s for the owner of card and any family members. But I’m not sure if it’s enforced.

  49. Betsy McDonald says:

    I read with interest these posts. I have a new question. I wear glasses all the time and without them, I cannot see much. I am used to swimming without them but when navigating the lockers, showers, drying and putting on swimsuits, I need them. I would like to take them into the pool area to get my bearings, then can take them off to swim. Is there a safe place to leave them?

    1. mm Auður says:

      I guess it depends on the pool but I don’t remember there being any area that would be safe.

  50. Karen says:

    Great blog! Afriend has alopecia and wears wigs. She doesn’t plan on dunking her head in the pool but won’t want to take the wig off to get her scalp wet in the shower. Should she put a swim cap on in private before showering?

    Thank you!

    1. mm Auður says:

      I do believe she would be OK putting the cap on in the bathroom for example and then showering.

  51. Joanne says:

    We are going to Iceland in 3days and I am so grateful for the information on your blog, it has answered alot of things that I was concerned about. Thank you for talking the time to do this.

    1. mm Auður says:

      Happy to hear you find it helpful.

  52. Tiffany says:

    This is very helpful, thank you so much!

    Just to make sure, after showering, you put on your bathing suit before you go out to the pool? So is the shower area usually a separate part of the locker room and pool?

    1. mm Hrannar - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Hi Tiffany

      Yes. The locker/shower rooms are gender segregated and you put on your swimsuit after washing yourself in the shower.

  53. CJC says:

    Can we buy a ticket the day before so we don’t have to bring money that day (for religious reasons — not engaging in commerce on the sabbath)? Don’t need a pass as we’ll ll probably only go once. Thanks!

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      I’m not sure you can do that but you could buy a Reykjavík City Card and use that for the pools (they’re valid for 24 hours)

  54. kobey says:

    My wife and I would like to visit pools in Reykj. that allow nudity. Are there any? Can you suggest some? Or other places to enjoy skinnydipping? Anybody else have suggestions? Thanks so much!

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      There are no pools in Iceland that allow complete nudity. Women can go topless but it’s not something that is normally done so you’d get a lot of stares probably. It’s quite common that people skinny dip in the natural pools though.

  55. Jessica says:

    How are tattoos received in Iceland? I have large tattoos on my shoulders and torso so they’re mostly covered by normal clothing but they couldn’t be hidden at a pool.

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Nobody cares if you have a tattoo or not – if it’s extra cool you might get some compliments but other than that you should be fine 🙂

  56. anne says:

    I also wear a wig and I don’t want to take it off in front of everybody to wash my hair. it’s not that I don’t want to wash it, it’s that I don’t feel comfortable without my wig and my friends don’t know I wear one. I don’t intend to get my hair wet in the pool. Is it possible to wear a cap then and have a shower with the cap?

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      The rules are that you are supposed to wash your hair – regardless of whether you wear a cap or not. But if you go to Laugardalslaug for example, they have modesty stalls there so you could wash your hair and put the cap on without anyone seeing.

  57. Tina says:

    Isn‘t the towel wet after the pre-pool shower? Do people have 2 towels? I wonder how one wants to get dry with a damp/wet towel, especially if you have really thick long hair. Just like when you dry off before going in the locker room after the pool. My daughter’s hair leaves a wet path no matter how many times she dries her hair with a towel. Will that bring on a stink eye?

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      You don’t dry off after the shower before you enter the pool because you’re going straight to the pool! She can leave all the wet patches she wants once she enters the shower area. It’s just on the way out of the pool again, when she showers after the pool visit, that she’ll need a towel and dry off before she enters the dressing room again.

      1. Tina says:

        Thank you so much for the swift reply! I was thinking that one would have to dry off in order to get into a dry bathing suit, therefore the towel would be wet and then not dry when finished with the pool. I will make sure after the pool and in the drying off area—that she squeezes as much water out of her hair before going to the changing back to clothes area.

        1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

          No, your bathing suit is wet and you put it on in the shower.

        2. Dave says:

          There are plenty of Icelandic women with long hair, and some men too. How does she keep from tracking water all over the floor at home? She probably wraps her hair in her towel (and so only part of the towel gets wet). Because if she tracks water onto the dry path, someone will say something, either the attendant or one of the locals.

  58. Elke says:

    Thanks so much for your blog. We’re heading to Iceland tomorrow and hope to hit a few pools.
    My big question – do they have blowdryers in most locker rooms? Do people with long hair bring their own?
    I’m hoping to avoid running around with wet hair and a cold head afterward.

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Most pools in Reykjavík have at least one blow dryer – don’t know about how it is in all the pools outside of Reykjavík.

      1. teejaykay says:

        It was really no big deal to have a woman in the men’s shower room watching me wash up and shower! I’m OK with that.

        1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

          I don’t understand this comment 🙂 Why was there a woman in the men’s room?

  59. willo says:

    Here’s something I haven’t seen addressed yet, and I’ve read a dozen or so internet posts about “how to shower and visit a pool in Iceland.” I’ve learned that the Blue Lagoon is very accessible for wheelchair users, but don’t see any information about public pools.

    Are there handicap/disabled shower fittings in most public pools? I have an autoimmune disease/arthritis, and sometimes can not bend to reach my feet to wash them. Stress and fatigue trigger my arthritis, exactly what I hoped to ease at a pool after our flight lands in Keflavik and before we can check in to our hotel.

    At home, I use a long brush for washing when my joints are less flexible, but I wouldn’t normally travel with it.

    Are there grab rails mounted on the walls for those who need help to balance? Are there shower benches so the less able bodied can wash safely?

    Gyms and public pools where I live usually offer at least one handicapped accessible stall, often with a waterproof bench that folds down from the wall and a shower nozzle that can be adjusted lower for seated use.

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      There is actually a post on the blog where I discuss traveling with disabilities and mention the pools:

      There are a few pools in Reykjavík that can offer these facilities but in general the public pools in the countryside are very small (many of them serve very small communities) so they don’t have the same facilities.

  60. Ellen says:

    Silly question- are there outlets for hairdryers?
    I will be coming from the states so I am planning on bringing a converter.

    May just go to the pool in Grindavik after my plane arrives in the morning.

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Most of the pools have a hairdryer you can use. I’m not sure about outlets though.

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