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October 23, 2021

The Ultimate Guide to Icelandic Swim Culture in Vogue magazine

As a frequent flier to Iceland, my arrival routine and advice to visitors is always the same: deplane and get yourself in the water—immediately. It can be at the popular Blue Lagoon, the Bond-worthy Retreat spa, the new Sky Lagoon, or one of the many public pools.

There are several hundred to choose from, which the country’s population of 366,000 consider both a health necessity and social hub. Everything you need to know about Iceland, and Icelanders, will reveal itself while having a soak.

This is a bathing culture unlike any other. There are a host of unspoken intricacies, rituals, and specific rules around hygiene and etiquette, which are refreshingly strict around shoe removal, use of electronic devices, and a soapy shower sans swimsuit prior to entering the water.

In order to do Iceland’s swim culture justice, I fully submerged myself in the assignment, exercising in the warm geothermal waters, chatting with locals in the hot tubs, and enduring the cold plunge daily for weeks straight, every morning, accompanied by my 86-year-old father-in-law. For the first time in a year, my chronic neck pain paused and his bad knee stopped bugging him. We both felt reborn, never wanting this aquatic saga to end. Ready to dive in?

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