You should make a visit to a thermal pool – be it a municipal pool in Reykjavik or the Blue Lagoon- at least once during your time spent in Iceland. That being said, Icelanders are very specific and serious about the pre-soak routine. For many North Americans, the routine can be confusing and a bit intimidating, but fear not! The thermal pools are a welcoming environment and part of the Icelandic culture. Follow these steps for thermal pool etiquette and you’ll fit right in!
1. Choose a locker
When you walk into the change room, choose a locker and begin to undress. Place all your belongings in the locker. I had a bracelet with an electronic lock that was specific to my locker, but you may also have a key locker depending on which baths you visit.
You’re ready to hit the showers. Bring your soap, your bathing suit and your towel. No to worry if you didn’t bring soap, there is some in the shower.
This is the part where many people get nervous. Yes, you have to be naked when you shower. Yes, it’s an open shower space meaning that you can see everyone and everyone can see you. But this is normal for Icelanders so they’re busy doing their own thing. No one will be watching you. Also, don’t try to skip this step. There is a shower monitor on hand who will notice if you haven’t showered. Besides, being called out by them is way more embarrassing than showering with strangers.
3. Put on your bathing suit
Once you’ve showered, you can now put on your bathing suit. You can bring your towel with you to the pool area or you can leave it near the showers. That is totally up to you. Though, most Icelanders leave their towel near the showers (with their soap).
4. Pool time!
This is what you’re here for! The pool! Spend as much time as you’d like in the pools. This is a social place for many Icelanders so don’t be shy, say hi! If you want to be on your own, just relax and enjoy the water.
5. Shower – again!
I went in with my bathing suit first this time to rinse it off as I was wearing it, but when it was rinsed I took it off to shower again.
There is a handy bathing suit dryer available before heading to your locker. However, before going to your locker you need to dry off.
6. Dry off
In an effort to keep the changing area dry, you need to dry off before leaving the shower area. It’s somewhat of an unwritten rule (or maybe it’s written), but it’s just convenient when you’re not walking on a wet floor trying to put on dry clothes.
So there you have it! Six easy steps for the thermal baths in Iceland. If you’re a little bit more of a visual person, Iceland Academy recently made this video on how to avoid hot tub awkwardness. Enjoy 🙂
Have you visited the baths in Iceland?