Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach
Along the Ægissíða bike and walk path that lines the capital’s coast, tucked underneath the hill of Öskjuhlíð, is Nauthólsvík—the best place to spend a sunny summer’s day in Reykjavík.
The geothermal beach at Nauthólsvík was opened in 2001 and now attracts over half a million guests each year. It is named after the farmstead Nauthóll, built in 1850, and burned down around the turn of the 20th century during an epidemic of typhoid fever.
During World War II the area was used as a landing spot for amphibious aircrafts, and in the following decades became relatively popular with city residents as a summer outing destination. This was particularly thanks to a warm stream that fell into the bay of Fossvogur. In 1985, however, the stream was closed off by the government for being a health hazard.
Towards the end of the 1990s the idea of converting the inlet to a recreation center gained traction. Massive rock walls were constructed to close the cove off from the ocean and the coast covered with fine-grained yellow sand.
Although sea temperatures around Iceland remain chilly year-round, using run-off water from the hot water tanks atop Öskjuhlíð, the lagoon is warmed up to a comfortable 15-19° C during summer opening hours. Not that the cold stops the dedicated local sea swimmers, many of whom go for a quick dip every day, no matter the weather.
The beach opens for the season on May 15, and closes again on August 15—however the service center and facilities are open for a limited time most days during the off-season.
When the sun comes out, the beach is an excellent place to lounge with a book, splash around in the warm water, and picnic on the sand with friends or family.
In addition to the warm lagoon, the beach boasts a sauna and two pools—a shallow rectangular one up by the service center, ideal for parents to relax with smaller children and toddlers, as well as a circular one at the water’s edge, which becomes partially submerged at high tide.
The City of Reykjavík runs the service center, which offers towel and swim-suit rentals and operates Strandkaffi, where guests can purchase ice cream, hot dogs, fizzy drinks and other refreshments. Use of the changing rooms, showers, pools and sauna is free over the summer months, but a small fee is charged during the off-season.
Siglunes is the adjacent city-operated sailing club, and offers boating workshops for kids aged 9 to 16 throughout June and July.
After enjoying a day at the beach, why not check out the modern Nordic cuisine of nearby environmentally-certified, restaurant Nauthóll—or grab some gelato at Perlan, while taking in the stunning view of Reykjavík from atop the observation platform surrounding the glass dome.