Iceland –  a country whose name freely translated means “Land of Ice” gives the impression that it is an eternally cold, even icy place. Due to Iceland’s high volcanic activity, there are numerous geysers and hot water springs on the island with temperatures exceeding  100 °C. It is used to generate electricity, heat homes, greenhouses, swimming pools, in medicine and industry. Icelanders took advantage of their natural springs and as many as 130 outdoor pools have been created. They are all heated and are about 40 degrees Celsius.

Meaning of the swimming pools

Instead of meeting over coffee in a café, a beer in a pub or a glass of wine in a restaurant, Icelanders prefer to make friends by swimming in one of these thermal pools. Public bathing is part of their culture, it is not only for recreation, relaxation or health care, but it is also a place to meet and talk – there is always a group of people who passionately discuss various topics. Parents with newborns, teenagers, adults, seniors, healthy people as well as those suffering from various ailments come to the pool. You can meet crowds of people there, regardless of the weather or season. There is also no division in terms of work; everyone is equal and there is always a place, no matter if you are a translator, a newspaper editor or a cashier from the store.

Pool savoir vivre

You have to put aside our Polish habits and get used to the sight of naked people in the changing room and in the shower – usually there are no locked cabins. In the changing rooms there are also posters with a drawn human figure and marked points, which should be washed thoroughly – in case anyone had any doubts. Additionally, there are translations into other languages.

The most popular hot springs are: the Blue Lagoon, Myvatn Nature Baths, Secret Lagoon, GeoSea Sea Baths and Fontana Geothermal Baths.

While geothermal pool lovers can visit, among others, Seljavallalaug, Grettislaug, Krossneslaug, Gudrunarlaug and Kvika.


Icelandic is considered to be one of the world’s most difficult languages, and such a reputation has been earned in part by the Eyjafjallajökull volcano (pronounced AY-uh-fyat-luh-YOE-kuutl (-uh), that is -ay as in day, -fy as in few, -oe as in French coeur, -uu as in boot, the -tl as in atlas. The (-uh) is “a” as in ago), which during its eruption in 2010 not only caused much trouble for the country’s residents and travellers, but also for journalists from around the world who could not pronounce its name correctly.

Basic expressions

No matter if you are going to Italy, France or Iceland, it is always worth knowing a few basic phrases to communicate with inhabitants. If you are planning to visit hot springs it will be useful to know some strictly pool terminology. Below you will find some vocabulary along with the translation:

Sæll [said̥.l̥] – Hi, Hello

Góðan daginn [ˈkɔuːan ˈtai̯ɪn] – Good morning

Góðan dag [ˈkɔuːan ˈtɛaː] – Good morning

Gott kvöld! – Good evening

 Góða nótt! – Good night

Já -yes

Nei –no

kannski – maybe

ókey – fine/good/okay

takk! – Thank you

Gjörðu svo vel! – Here you go

Fyrirgefðu, … – Sorry…

Ég heiti….. (imię) [jɛɣ ˈheɪ̯tɪ] –  My name is..

Ég er frá …… (kraj) [jɛɣ ‘ɛr frauː] –  I am from…

Handklæði – a towel

Hverir – hot springs

Jarðhitalaugar – geothermal pools

Fatageymsla – changing room

Hárblásari – hair dryer

Skór – shoes

Sundföt – swimwear

The people of Iceland are individualists, and they may seem reticent and shy. This is partly due to their lifestyle – in the provinces the distances between homes are considerable. Nevertheless, Icelanders have their own hot springs, and it’s where conversations are held, business is decided, and the day begins and ends. If you really want to integrate with them, take your chance there. They won’t let you in the house, they won’t invite you in, at least at the beginning of the long period of getting to know each other. You won’t be able to talk at the weekend in Reykjavik either, because Icelanders lose their heads at the bar. If you really want to find out what’s going on, learn the language, learn the culture of this wonderful country, make a habit of standing up early and find your favourite pool in the area.

( translation N.N)

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