Europe Iceland

Fontana Geothermal Spa – Rye Bread Baked in Black Sand

What led us to Fontana had less to do with soaking and more to do with our stomachs. When we pulled up and caught our first sight, the view immediately impressed us. They have several pools to choose from, all open air looking onto a serene lake. There are also saunas, and a steam bath heated from the floorboards with steam directly from the source.

Researching before our trip, I read about a special rye bread, nicknamed Thunder. This bread is a year round specialty in Iceland. What makes this bread so special is that they bake it underground, using geothermal heat. After the bread is mixed, it is placed in a pot and buried in hot black sand for 24 hours. If you arrive before 11:30 am or 2:30 pm you can join in a walk to dig out the bread, before sampling it fresh with butter. The cost is about $12 for anyone over 12 years of age, and they accept reservations online. 

Our schedule didn’t permit us to join them for digging up the bread. Instead we arrived for an evening visit to the spa that included a buffet diner, and all the bread we could eat. Dining in Iceland cannot be described as cheap, however this night we got one of our best deals with this combo ticket. Adults cost $31, children ages 7-12 are $12, anyone 7 and under is free. This price includes unlimited access to the geothermal pools and lake. 

Fontana’s buffet included a salad bar with local fresh vegetables. This was a pleasant surprise, since it is more difficult to get fresh vegetables in Iceland. Entree options include local trout, chicken, pasta, a variety of sides, soup, and finally the glorious fresh rye bread. My family of foodies consider themselves fresh bread connoisseurs. This was the best rye bread, and one of the best breads anywhere we have had. If you have any room left after all that food, for dessert a selection of gourmet ice cream bars is included in the buffet price. 

When we arrived tired and hungry our traveling companion discovered most of their family’s suits missing. Enter the rental bathing suit. Now I know you probably had some instant thoughts about a used rental bathing suit. But since our house was over an hour away, we were grateful for the option. The kids declared they didn’t  care at all and they would wear a rented suit. I was very proud of my traveling companion for deciding to dismiss her initial feeling that she could never wear a rented suit. She donned the rental suit, and jumped into the water with the kids. Because we were in this magical place, it was a spa that we could enjoy with our family, and she wasn’t going to let a piece of clothing get in her way.

Tip Time: Rental bathing suits are a thing in Iceland. Even the idea of putting on a clean but used bathing suit may scare some people, but if you don’t have a suit and can’t get one, a rental suit could be a trip saver!

Once the bathing suit dilemma was sorted out, we separated into male and female locker rooms. This was one of the times that the moms felt a little bad, that we only have boys, husbands were on duty solo to process them.

Fontana has several in ground hot pools to choose from, with varying temperatures. Situated on a large deck overlooking a lake. The hottest pool is built into an elevated section, which provides panoramic views of the amazing landscape. You can also swim in the lake, but even in July it was a very frigid dip. Icelanders consider cold dips in between hot treatments beneficial to health. They also have several saunas, and a steam room, where you can hear the boiling water right beneath you. Also with views of the lake and black sand beach. 

Fontana spa is convenient to any Golden Circle tour.  Only 25 miles from Gullfoss Falls, one of Iceland’s major attractions. I recommend checking it out, especially in the Summer when the sun doesn’t really set. Soup with the fresh baked bread is served all day from 12-9. Lunch buffet is available 12-2, diner buffet is offered from 6-9pm. Other than for certain holidays, Fontana is open until 10 pm, weather permitted.

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