I shall never forget my first al-fresco, geothermal hot spring bathe. It took place some years ago in one of the several rivers that snake down through the green, copper-tinted mountains that lie behind my home in the town of Hveragerði, Iceland. I took the plunge in the ‘safe section’ of the river where the water temperature is known to be just right for bathing – all thanks to a nearby volcano and the perfect blend of natural hot and cold water from the springs that feed the river.
I distinctly remember how humbled and spiritually content I felt at the end of that wonderful day. You see, it’s not just about the bathing. It’s also about the breathtaking views that accompany you as you hike upwards along the sweeping mountain trail, gulping in lungfuls of fresh Icelandic air and stopping to drink from the fresh-water springs along the way, it’s also about the ‘natural high’ that accompanies physical exercise – and of course yes, it’s about the exceptionally cool experience of bathing in an Icelandic natural hot water river.
Add all of this together, and you have a very powerful wellness moment!
It is of little wonder that so many visitors to Iceland come in search of similar holistic, wellness experiences.
In fact, ‘Recharge my body and soul in an Icelandic hot spring’ is probably on the top of the to-do lists of most visitors to Iceland. No doubt followed closely by ‘explore volcanoes, craters and lunar landscapes’ and ‘hike amongst spectacular natural surroundings’.
So, with this in mind, and speaking as a licensed tour guide with 16 years experience, I say to you – Look north and head to Akureyri!
Akureyri is exceptionally well placed for all sorts of wellness and thermal spa options and outings.
Take for example the beautiful Lake Mývatn area (about 1,5 hrs drive from Akureyri), with it’s seemingly endless supply of well marked hiking trails that wind their way through lava fields, along crater rims and past active, steam belching thermal fields. This spectacular scenery is also home to the Mývatn Nature Baths.
The Mývatn Nature Baths draw on a centuries-old local tradition of geothermal bathing and the tastefully designed complex offers bathers a completely natural experience. Starting with a relaxing steam bath amidst the clouds of steam that rise up from a fissure, deep in the Earth’s surface – and ending with a luxurious bathe in a pool of geothermal water drawn from depths of up to 2,500 m.
For a full-blown wellness extravaganza, I recommend combining a hike through this volcanic wonderland with a visit to the Mývatn Nature Baths. You will feel utterly amazing – physically, mentally and spiritually.
Insider’s Tip: Look out for nearby Grjótagjá (a MUST for Game of Thrones fans) located close to Reykjahlið village and well signposted from the main road. Please note that the water is too hot for bathing, but fun to peep inside though!
Exciting News just in that, according to Iceland Monitor, ‘work has just started on a brand-new spa resort near the North Iceland town of Húsavík, which is expected to welcome 40,000 visitors in its first year of operations.
The resort will be called Sjóböð (meaning ‘sea baths’) and the pool will be filled with hot sea-water from drill holes in the area. Work on Sjóböð is fully funded and the new resort is expected to open its doors to the public in the first half of 2018′.
Another new (and very funky!) spa is also set to open it’s doors in the spring of 2017. The microbrewery ‘Kaldi’ is about to jump into the hot tub business with a new ‘Beer Spa Resort’. Iceland Monitor reports ‘it will feature seven two-man tubs filled with a special blend of beer. The beer is heated to 38°C (100°F) and contains yeast and hops which are said to be beneficial to the hair and skin. There will also be outdoor beer ‘hot tubs’ for larger groups.’ Cheers!
The Shorexpert jury is still out on this one. I’ll report back when I have actually tried it.
These new Spa additions will mean that in the near future visitors to Akureyri will have an even greater choice of natural bathing experiences located close to the town and port!
Looking for a wellness experience in the town of Akureyri itself? Then why not check out this list of hiking trails located close to Akureyri here. Follow up with a well earned soak in one of the hot tubs at the highly recommended local Thermal Baths.
And why not add an hour of quiet contemplation and meditation in the Botanical Gardens…
These outdoor wellness options and geothermal spa experiences are available to visitors all year around – though cruise passengers might be a little restricted as a majority of cruise visits take place during the bright summer months. This is changing though, and 2018 sees Cruise & Maritime Voyages leading the charge as early as March so as to add Northern Light viewing to the experience.
A seriously recommended addition to the ‘things I want to do in Iceland’ bucket-list. Repeat after me,
‘Treat my body and soul to the ultimate geothermal wellness experience and visit Akureyri’
Just make sure its number one on your list. You’re so worth it you know!
Image thanks to duetramonti