Iceland Swimming Pool Etiquette

Iceland Swimming Pool Etiquette

James Taylor James Taylor
3. Dec 2021 ∼ 6 min. read

Iceland swimming pool etiquette is often a source of confusion for campervan travellers in the country. Enjoying the abundance of geothermal water is one of the best things about exploring the country – there’s nothing quite like a good long soak after a day of trekking, driving, or chasing waterfalls. There’s no need to be shy about it either – this article will teach you the dos and don’ts of Iceland’s swimming pools.

Take Off Your Shoes Before Entering the Change Rooms

First things first, if you’re entering a swimming pool, there’s often a place just inside the entrance where you should take off your shoes. If it’s not inside the entrance, it will be inside the locker room (just keep an eye out for where everyone else has left their shoes).

Not taking off your shoes before entering the locker room means you’ll track the mud and dirt you’ve accumulated during your campervan trip – and that’s bad form. This tip only goes for the official swimming pools and not the natural hot springs since most of those don’t have change rooms.

Store Your Gear in a Locker

After you’ve whipped off your shoes and paid for your entrance, it’s time to find a locker. The changerooms inside Iceland swimming pools offer lockers, and most come with a key to lock your gear away safely. At this point, you’ll want to change into your swimming clothes, grab your towel, and lock your things up. Take the key with you – there’s usually a rubber band attached so you can put it on your wrist or ankle to not lose it.

There are a few swimming pools in Iceland that require you to bring your own lock for the lockers. In this case, it’s a good idea to always carry around a small padlock in your bag, just in case. After you’ve stored everything away, next up is the showers.

Shower and Wash Yourself in the Nude

Iceland is famous for its laid-back attitude toward nudity in change rooms. Many visitors are surprised to find Icelanders standing around in the buff, chatting about recent events with their friends while getting changed in the locker rooms. Before and after swimming in the pool, you’ll also need to strip down and shower completely naked, all for hygienic purposes. This is the swimming pool etiquette in Iceland that most travellers have trouble with.

There’s no need to be shy, and if you try to get away without showering properly, nine times out of ten you’ll be told off by a local. The showers are between the locker room and the entrance to the pool. Store your towel on the shelf with the others and jump in the shower naked. Make sure to give yourself a good scrubbing with the soap provided.

Leave Your Towel Inside the Locker Room

After you’ve put your towel on the shelf and showered, leave it there for when you come back inside. Sometimes it might be raining or snowing outside and taking your towel outside to the pool with you is a good way to get it wet before you’ve even had a chance for a swim. Although taking your towel outside isn’t breaking any Iceland swimming pool etiquette, it’s just best to do what the locals do in this case.

Swimsuits Are Mandatory

Many people wonder whether it’s allowed to bathe naked in Icelandic swimming pools. The answer is that people do have to wear swimsuits while bathing, although if you’re at a remote natural hot spring, there’s probably no one that will get you in trouble. Instead, you might just surprise anyone who decides to arrive for a dip.

It’s important to also note that in most places, women are also allowed to bathe without a top if they wish, although there have been some controversies surrounding this with pools asking topless women to cover up.

Respect Other Visitors in the Pool

It goes without saying, but it’s important to respect other visitors when you’re in a pool or hot spring. That means shuffling up to make room if more people want to join, and if there are drinks for sale, keeping things nice and low-key. Icelanders go to the pools to relax and unwind, not get rowdy.

If someone is hopping into a hot pot, make sure that you’re leaving them enough room to get in and find a spot. Also be aware of sitting in front of the entrance; make sure there’s enough room to get in and out. And don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation in the hot pots either – Icelanders are almost always happy to have a chat about the country!

Dry Off Completely Before Heading Back to Your Locker

After you’ve finished your swim, you’ll want to head back into the changeroom for another shower. At the classier hot springs, there’s often a special conditioner provided in the shower for your hair, since the hot water isn’t all that good for it.

After your shower, Iceland swimming pool etiquette requires you to dry off completely before heading back into the locker part of the changeroom. This helps to avoid water covering the floor, possibly making it slippery for others in the changeroom. Again, there’s no need to be shy about drying off in the nude – Iceland is a very relaxed and easy-going place!

Bonus: Free Coffee at Swimming Pools?

At a lot of Iceland swimming pools in the countryside, the employees might set up a free coffee station. If you spy a large coffee pot on a table, feel free to help yourself to a cup of coffee before heading back to your campervan.

As you can see, Iceland swimming pool etiquette isn’t something to be afraid of. And once you’ve gotten into the routine of what to do, visiting the swimming pools will easily become one of the best activities you’ll do on your campervan trip around Iceland!

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