Iceland is well known for its geothermal activity and many hot springs, so much so that people have even made a pastime of it in the form of dipping and relaxing in natural geothermal hot pools. One amazing hot spot (no pun intended), is the Forest Lagoon, located just outside Iceland’s second-largest city, Akureyri. Located in the northern part of the country, Akureyri is known colloquially as the capital of the North of Iceland.
Visitors get to enjoy one of the rarest sights in Iceland in the surroundings of the Forest Lagoon, an actual forest! The tranquil atmosphere, relaxing hot pools, and majestic views of the Icelandic wilderness make for a truly memorable experience.
The convenient location also makes Forest Lagoon easily accessible, from both Akureyri and the famous Ring Road. You can make a day trip to Forest Lagoon or come here to relax at the end of a long day traveling around Iceland. You can also easily spend a weekend or more here exploring the many sights located nearby.
Today, we’ll be telling you everything you need to know about the Forest Lagoon before visiting this magical place. This way, you know what to expect and can make the most out of your trip as it’s ones of the best things to do in Iceland. Iceland is called the land of Fire and Ice and at the Forest Lagoon, you will get a glimpse of just why this is.
All You Need to Know About The Forest Lagoon
Opened in 2022, Forest Lagoon, also previously known as Skógarböð Geothermal Spa, was the result of a happy accident and some resourceful community thinking. During work on the Vaðlaheiðargöng tunnel, a 7.5 km thoroughfare connecting Akureyri to Húsavík, another northern town in Iceland, workers stumbled upon a geothermal water spot deep inside Vaðlaheiði mountain.
While the discovery halted all work, which inevitably cost officials quite a bit of money, it was decided that the geothermal spot would not be compromised and, instead, the hot spring water was redirected from the mountain into what is now the Forest Lagoon.
The facility can comfortably accommodate up to 200 guests at a time and has spacious and convenient changing rooms and showers. In addition to the hot pools, the building boasts an aesthetic relaxation room, a sauna that offers magnificent views of Eyjafjörður Fjord and the surrounding mountains, a cold pool, and a cozy restaurant where diners can enjoy a large central fireplace while enjoying views of the pine tree forests.
Speaking of forests, this is a rare sight in Iceland since the Vikings in their heyday made short work of over 90% of Iceland’s forest lands building boats and weaponry. So, enjoy the idyllic setting of the building in the forest, which blends seamlessly into the surroundings as it also happens to be made of wood, has food furnishings, and, to further highlight the forest theme, has an open-roofed lightwell with a tree at the entrance.
Building the Forest Lagoon
So much focus was put into the building blending with the surroundings that the team even managed to use rocks from the mountain itself to incorporate into the back of the building. As visitors walk from the changing rooms to the pools they get to walk through this area and can appreciate just how much work was put into the design and architecture of the facility.
The beauty of the facility should not come as a surprise as it was designed by Basalt Architects, a firm that has designed and built many famous hot pools around Iceland, including GeoSea and the Blue Lagoon. The team wished to focus on rejuvenation and psychological recovery and the atmosphere they managed to achieve with the finished product does indeed deliver!
How Do You Get to The Forest Lagoon?
Forest Lagoon is less than 5km from Akureyri, which is about a 10-minute drive. If you don’t have your own conveyance, there’s a bus service that runs from Hof, Berjaya Akureyri Hotel, and Hotel KEA that will drop you at the site.
Upon arrival, you will first be treated to the stunning views of the surrounding forest wilderness. To get to the lagoon you need to walk through the forest and up the mountain entrance. It is only once you get close that the main building slowly reveals itself from the mountain face and surrounding foliage.
If you plan on visiting from Reykjavik, it’ll be a long drive. The distance from Reykjavik is more than 240 miles. A route that takes almost five hours of continuous driving, be it through the stunning wilderness of Iceland. Though there are plenty of closer hot springs to Reykjavik, like the Sky Lagoon and Hvammsvik.
From Egilstaðir, the journey is about 150 miles and takes three hours. No matter, where you plan on visiting from, you are assured a scenic drive and at the end of your journey a relaxing spa experience that will rejuvenate and revitalize your body and mind.
If your budget allows, you could also fly from Reykjavik to Akureyri to explore the north for Iceland. Akureyri Airport is an international airport with many visitors flying in directly from places like the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Spain.
How Are the Pools At The Forest Lagoon?
There are two main hot pools at Forest Lagoon.
The large pool is more than 5500 square feet in area, with a temperature that is kept around 98°F (37°C). The large pool has two swim-up bars and an indoor entry right from the changing rooms making it more comfortable for visitors by not having to be exposed to the surrounding cool weather.
The second pool is much smaller, measuring about 570 square feet, and the temperature is kept around 104°F (40°C), but it has the most stunning views, particularly around sunset.
We spent time in both pools, first lounging in the large pool and enjoying a few drinks, before moving to the smaller pool and just soaking in the warmth and quietness. All in all, we spent more than 2.5 hours in the Forest Lagoon facilities, and it was incredibly relaxing.
What’s The Changing Room Situation At The Forest Lagoon?
The Forest Lagoon has a spacious communal changing area separated by sex. Unlike the older established public hot pools, there are also private changing rooms and showers in case you are shy. Showers have shampoo and conditioner. There are limited stalls for those seeking privacy, so be sure to shower and change as fast as possible during busy periods.
Is There Alcohol at the Forest Lagoon?
There are two swim up bars in the pools at the Forest Lagoon. The bars swim all types of drinks ranging between 1500 ISK and 2500 ISK per drink. You’ll be given a bracelet upon entering the pools, and these bracelets are how you will pay for any drinks in the pool. That way you don’t have to worry about cash or credit cards in the hot springs!
What Else Is There to Do at the Forest Lagoon?
For those wanting to enjoy the heat differently, head over to the Finnish Dry Sauna. After our time in the pool, we relaxed and enjoyed the dry heat while taking in the views of Eyjafjörður and the surrounding mountains.
The temperature of the Sauna is around 176°F (80°C) with a humidity of 20%. Also, unlike most saunas where visitors just wrap a towel around their waist, at the Forest Lagoon visitors are required to wear their swimsuits.
There’s also a cold pool, where many of the visitors would take a plunge in the ice cold water after dipping in the hot pool, as combining the two has many health benefits. We love taking cold plunges and spent almost 10 minutes trying to endure the cold before hopping back over to the hot pools.
If you’re visiting Forest Lagoon be sure to try out Forest Bistro, the on-site restaurant, after your pool visit. During our visit, we tried the lamb soup, the Skógur sandwich, and the quinoa and black bean salad. The food was delicious, and the service was excellent, but the atmosphere stood out the most.
The entire area is clad in wood, and the indoor fireplace, views of Eyjafjörður, and pine tree surroundings make for an incredible dining experience.
What Does The Forest Lagoon Cost?
Ticket prices are 6590 ISK or around 50 USD for adults, and 3290 ISK or 25 USD for young ones aged six years to 15 years. Children under five years of age are allowed free entry, but they’ll need to share a locker with their parent/guardian.
Although you can get tickets when you arrive, it would be a good idea to book in advance especially during the summer in Iceland. We booked tickets using the Forest Lagoon website and upon reaching we realized just how good an idea spending a few hours soaking in the pools would be.
The Forest Lagoon is a popular spot with many visitors daily so you can expect a wait time if you show up without booking tickets in advance, and we saw more than a few people waiting until the place cleared out a bit.
What Should You Bring with You to The Forest Lagoon?
The bare minimum you should bring to any hot pool is a swimsuit and your own towel, make sure to put both of these things on your Iceland packing list. Hot pools like the Forest Lagoon usually do offer these things on a rental basis, though we find it’s a lot more hygienic just to bring your own.
The surroundings are just too good not to photograph so you’re bound to have your phone with you. We brought ours around for photos and videos and would recommend investing in a waterproof case or sealable bag to make sure your phone doesn’t get wet. The sealable bag will also come in handy to pack your wet swimsuit after you’re done with your visit as they are not provided at the Forest Lagoon.
To be on the safe side, bring a few swimsuits with you to Iceland since you’ll be hard-pressed to find a drying machine in the Forest Lagoon, or any other hot pool in Iceland for that matter. The weather isn’t favorable either for drying clothes and if you find yourself wanting to go to another hot pool or wanting to visit Forest Lagoon a second time, you’ll be waiting a couple of days before your swimsuit is dry.
Flip flops are also a good idea as they’ll keep your feet clean int the locker rooms. For those rocking long hair, bring some clips as well to keep your hair under control. I also brought all my toiletries to the Forest Lagoon so that after I could head right to our campsite in Iceland and settle in for the night.
Rules and Etiquette At The Forest Lagoon
Even though there are some private stalls in the changing and shower area, be mindful of others who are waiting after you for their turn. And everyone needs to shower before entering the pools in Iceland, which is one of our top Iceland travel tips. Shower and change as fast as you can to ensure the waiting line stays short for everyone.
Avoid wearing any jewelry near the pools. You can store any valuables in the locker that will be assigned to you and attached to the waterproof bracelet you will be given.
This is not just because it’s unsafe for everyone in case you break your jewelry and it falls on the floor or in the pools, but also because the mineral content in the water can damage your good jewelry. We do not recommend bringing in any expensive items into the actual pools.
How Does The Forest Lagoon Compare to Other Hot Pools?
While there’s no doubt that other more famous hot pools like Blue Lagoon and Sky Lagoon offer pools close to Reykjavik, which means more amenities and convenience (Blue Lagoon has a 5-star hotel right next to it), what Forest Lagoon offers is the unique tranquil setting in the forest.
As we mentioned, there aren’t many forests in Iceland, and having a hot pool right in the middle of one makes for a unique experience. It’s also much more quiet compared to other hot pools in Iceland, though it’s far from the quietest we visited (that honor would go to Krauma!) Forest Lagoon has more competitive prices in comparison to Sky Lagoon and (especially) the Blue Lagoon.
What Are the Nearby Attractions?
Since Forest Lagoon is located close to both Akureyri and off the famous Ring Road, access to the other amazing attractions of Iceland is made much easier.
Akureyri has much to do in terms of culture, art, and natural beauty. The Akureyri Museum boasts an impressive collection of artifacts where you can learn all about the local culture and history, from early settlement to the present day. There’s also the Motorcycle Museum of Iceland, where you can learn about the country’s rich motorcycle culture in the 5,500-square-foot purpose-built facility.
In terms of natural beauty, wildlife enthusiasts can visit the Akureyri Botanical Garden, with its large collection of floral species.
The surrounding area also has many beautiful waterfalls. Just 20 miles east is Godafoss Waterfall, considered to be Iceland’s most beautiful waterfall. A few miles further, you can see another gorgeous waterfall at Geitafoss. Dettifoss Waterfall is another beautiful location that is worth visiting, but it’s a slightly longer drive, taking almost two hours from Akureyri.
There are more natural attractions like Lake Myvatn, located 50 miles east of Akureyri. Myvatn has a rich bird life, attracting bird watchers from everywhere. It’s also a site of volcanic activity and that added to the serene surroundings, makes for a beautiful and memorable experience.
Is The Forest Lagoon Worth It?
Simply put, YES! Out of more than 10 hot springs we visited in Iceland, Forest Lagoon ranks up there as one of our favorites.
Forest Lagoon’s unique forest setting, accessible location, incredible amenities, and pristine beauty just offer an experience that shouldn’t be missed. Many can argue that there are hot pools with better amenities and luxury, but there are few that can match the natural beauty of Forest Lagoon, along with the access that it provides to all the wonderful nearby attractions in the area.
You should definitely add this place to your itinerary if you’re visiting Iceland!
Other Hot Springs in Iceland
You simply can’t visit Iceland without indulging in some of the finest hot springs the country has to offer. Hot springs are an integral part of the Icelandic experience, and even the locals frequent them – and there are PLENTY of hot springs in Iceland. A few of our favorites are the Vok Baths, Myvatn, and Hvammsvik, but you can see all of our favorites here!
Helpful Iceland Travel Tips
- Icelanders speak Icelandic, but every single person I came across spoke English.
- The local currency is the Icelandic króna (ISK). ATM’s are found throughout the country
- Have I mentioned Iceland is expensive? Well, it is! Save money by eating in and cooking for yourself. Check out our Iceland grocery store guide for all the tips!
- Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world; however, it’s always important to use common sense when walking alone at night.
- Tipping is not customary in Iceland.
- Iceland has strong internet infrastructure and you should be able to easily stay connected.
Plan For Your Trip
- Protect Your Trip: We don’t travel without travel insurance, nor should you. You never know what can happen while traveling, so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.
- Find Cheap Flights: Sign up for Going (formerly Scotts Cheap Flights) to get notified when prices get low.
- Book a Rental Car: We use Discover Car to book all our rental cars! You can also read our top tips for renting a car abroad here.
- Travel Adapter: Make sure you find a good adapter to keep your personal electronics charged. Otherwise, you may be paying for a cheap one once you land. Purchase one here.
- Travel Backpack: We like the Nomatic Travel Backpack for our travels. Check the price here.
- Our Favorite Travel Shoes: Our answer to this question is always ALLBIRDS! Check them out on their site!
- Get a Travel Credit Card: We travel worldwide for free because we have leveraged our spending into points. See why you should get a travel credit card and how you can do the same with our favorite travel credit cards.