Every Icelandic town, no matter how small, has its own pool. It might be hard to believe that a nation with a population of 340.000 has over 170 swimming pools. Bathing in thermal baths is an Icelandic tradition dating back to the settlement. Snorri Sturluson, the famous twelfth century historian and author had his own thermal pool built so he could soak in hot water. The tradition of public bathing has become deeply rooted in the local culture.
What is it that makes it so popular to go for a swim all year around – on wam sunny days and cold winter nights? One of the reason is that it is very relaxing and rejuvenating but it also has a big social purpose. Sitting in the hot tub is like sitting on a bench at your local park or at the square in your neighborhood chatting or enjoying others company in silence. All around Iceland people show up daily at the same time, take a swim (or not) and sit in the hot tub chatting about every day life, catching up on the news of the day and so on. The early birds show up 6.30 in the morning and then there are those who have the 8 o’clock routine and 9 o’clock routine. Those who tend to show up later most likely does not want company but to enjoy the silence. In the afternoon and evening the socializing starts again but the crowd is different. Families having quality time, people relaxing after a busy day and love birds holding hands.
Did you know?
The well known Icelandic band Sigur Ros has its recording studio in an old abandoned swimming pool in the town Mosfellsbaer. Much of the photography and artwork for their various projects was taken there.
- Most of the swimming pools are outdoors and open all year around.
- If you are packing for a trip to Iceland – bring your swimming suit. But don’t worry if you forget it because it´s available for renting in all public pools.
- Rules of hygiene are taken seriously and all visitors are required to shower thoroughly without a swimsuit before entering the water. The pools are only lightly chlorinated and to keep the pools and hot tubs clean this is necessary. If it´s new to you – it sounds more scary than it is.
- You can find all opening hours of most swimming pools in Iceland on www.sundlaugar.is
- Enjoy the fresh air and relax – it is the secret to the nation’s happiness!
Great article in New York about the water in Iceland: