Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach is a local swimming and bathing paradise on the coast of Reykjavik. The beach, named Ylströnd, is extremely popular throughout the year and hosts almost 500,000 Icelandic and foreign visitors annually.
Hot water, heated by the natural volcanic activity in this region, feeds into the bay from water tanks atop Öskjuhlíð, the nearby hill, at an average water temperature of about 4° to 6°C in the winter and 15°to 19°C in the summer. (The sea temperature has been known to drop around -1.9°C during the coldest months.) There is also a large hot tub that typically has a temperature between 38° and 39°C and a steam bath that can get up to 47°C. Admission to the beach, hot tub, changing rooms, and toilets is free during the summertime, but the admission is 600 ISK in wintertime, when it is also very active (even when the temperature falls below freezing). Towels and swimsuits are also available for rent. Check their website for the most recent hours and pricing information.
Children under the age of 10 must be accompanied by a confident swimmer who is 15 years or older. There is security on the beach, but no child care. Smoking and consumption of alcohol is not allowed on site. Dogs, bicycle traffic, and motor vehicles are also prohibited.
In case of an emergency, dial 112. The staff cannot ensure the safety of the guests while in the sea, so please adhere to the following advice for safe bathing:
Next to the beach there is a sailing club called Siglunes that has boats available for rent. The club is operated for children between 10 and 16 years old. There are also courses available for children between nine and 12 years of age. Over a dozen staff members operate the club in a vigorous and creative manner emphasizing sailing skill development and first aid training.
Nauthólsvík is named after the farmstead Nauthóll (built circa 1850), which 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 aircraft due to its warm water runoff. In 2000, fine-grained yellow sand was brought in to fill the area, and the seawalls were built to create the beach and increase the diversity of outdoor activities in the bay. That following year, the service center opened with changing rooms, showers, and a snack bar (Strandkaffi). When the sun comes out, the beach is an excellent place to picnic with the family or sunbathe with a book. There is plenty of space to splash around and a volleyball court to play games.
The Ægissíða bike and walking path that lines Reykjavik’s coast goes right by Nauthólsvík, and there are city bike rentals just outside the entrance. Nearby, there is the environmentally-certified Nordic restaurant called Nauthóll. You can also walk to Perlan, where you can explore an artificial ice cave, grab a snack at the restaurant in its giant glass dome, and view Reykjavík from atop the observation platform.