Geothermal is a term that has become more and more common in our daily life, in this case, it is mostly related to how cities and villages get their electric power supply. Most of us live in areas where electricity is produced in plants capable of obtaining electrical energy from primary sources. These sources can be either renewable or non-renewable and this have created a global debate…except for Icelanders, they already rely on geothermal renewable energy for most of their electric power supply but also to…have fun! Have you ever heard about Iceland’s geothermal baths? If not, then stick around, you are about to read all you need to know about them.
Iceland is a country where you can find hot spots and geothermal bathing areas almost in every corner. The island originated exactly by this type of energy as it is located right above the mid-Atlantic riff and two divergent tectonic plates. The warmth is used to heat the nation’s housing but in the hot spots, the water is naturally heated.
Back in the old days, The Norseman were the ones to settle on the island. They already had an important bathing culture that was passed on to the Icelanders. It was not hard to keep the tradition alive, as the surroundings and the weather makes geothermal bathing a very relaxing and appealing activity. Nowadays in Iceland, bathing in hot pots, steaming pools, and hot rivers is a fantastic way of socializing, meeting new people and have a relaxing chat. But before diving into the ultimate bathing experience, there are several things you need to keep in mind in order to avoid weird situations or feeling uncomfortable. Here you have the main bathing etiquette rules:
1. In Iceland, there are different types of bathing areas: from heated outdoor pools to natural hot pots. If you are heading to a geothermally heated pool, there is usually a fee to enter and you should bring a towel with you or you can use the towel renting services in the pool facilities.
2. Take off your shoes, people usually leave it at the entrance of the changing rooms. Do not worry about “shoelifting” as this really does not happen in Iceland.
3. Before getting into the water, you need to shower. And by the Icelandic standards, it is not just a quick rinse, it is showering just like you would at home: with soap and just scrub your whole body. Pay special attention to areas where sweat and dirt may accumulate, armpits, head, feet, and groin.
4. Step number two requires showering naked. Yep, as embarrassing as it may sound to many, you need to get in your birthday suit. In Iceland, nudity is not frowned upon when it comes to bathing, so do not be surprised if you see naked people showering right in front of you. In more touristic bathing areas like the Blue Lagoon, you can find individual shower stalls but it is not always possible to have a shower with curtain. There are usually instructions written in several languages in the bathing area and changing rooms so you cannot pretend you did not know the rules…sorry!
5. Dry yourself off before coming out of the changing rooms so the floor does not get wet for those coming in. Safety is also important in Iceland’s Geothermal Baths.
6. Once in the pool area, do not jump or mess around. This is a place to relax, chat with people but not to be wild. That ensures a smooth swimming experience for everyone!
The pool culture in Iceland is huge, so huge that if a town does not have a pool, it is not even considered a town! Icelanders go bathing every single season of the year and they have a completely different point of view on getting naked. They are really used to it when going to a pool and they will not even pay attention to other naked people in the changing areas.
Etiquette Guide to Iceland’s Geothermal Baths
This does not mean you can just skip this step as there is a “shower police”. Yep, Icelanders take their bathing rules quite seriously. Their job is to check that no one has a shower in a bathing suit. Mixed changing rooms are not common at all, so that is one less thing to worry about.
If you are heading to a natural bathing area and not to a man built one, then you can be less strict about this etiquette. Most natural hot pots do not have shower facilities so you can directly dive in.
When coming to Iceland, follow this rules and you will enjoy the whole geothermal bathing experience. Just like an Icelander would do!… A very relaxing and calming experience awaits you!