Which are the best Icelandic hot springs and where to find them
Iceland is full of natural hot springs and many travellers like to go and find the most wild and hidden ones.
Being me a water lover I couldn’t miss the opportunity to go hot springs hunting in Iceland while I was travelling the country and here you can find a guide about the ones I visited, with pictures taken by me and some practical advice 🙂
The first one we found along our route has been Seljavallalaug, an open air manmade swimming pool which collects the hot water naturally coming our of the mountain’s rocks.
It has some changing room facilities that unfortunately have been totally misused by tourists, that every time leave old clothing and trash in there, making it a bit harder to get changed, since this is a quite popular hot spring. What I advise is that you bring flip flops to make the changing easier, thing that we obviously forgot.
To get there you will find a car parking here (link to google maps, https://goo.gl/maps/rvRG9twBE5eT3SR19) and then you will have to walk across the valley in the only possible direction, until you get to the pool.
It is one of the biggest natural hot springs you can find and for this reason the water will not be as hot as the others’, but you can still enjoy some warmth staying next to the rocks where the hot water comes out.
- Grjótagjá Cave
Grjótagjá is a lava cave that used to be visited by locals for bathing in its hot thermal water. This use had to stop after 1970s, when nine eruptions of the close volcano system resulted in new expanses of lava and releases of toxic gases. After that the temperature cooled down again but it is known to increase rapidly and unpredictably due to the liquid rock being just two kilometres under the surface and this makes bathing still forbidden.
To get to the cave (link to Google maps: https://goo.gl/maps/7xAMcnvJLJCUDj3f9) you just have to drive to the Mývatn area and park your car in the adjacent parking and you’ll have to climb down in a hole in the rocks.
What you will find is an amazing corner of paradise for photographers, the water is blue and crystal clear, this is why if you like photography you have to bring with you a tripod and possibly some filters, more specifically a polarising one what will reduce any glare reflected from the water.
- Mývatn Nature Baths
Mývatn Nature Baths are the only paid baths where we have been. The structure is really similar to the more known Blue Lagoon (near Reykjavik), but the price is much cheaper and the place is not so touristic, because it is in the North of Iceland and definitely not a place where you can go and come back in one day from the capital (link to google maps, https://goo.gl/maps/dQxR9qsFAMDA15oR6). To get in it costs £28-£32 depending on the period of the year, but if you are a student you can get a discounted ticket at the price of £19/20.
You can stay in the structure for as much as you wish, beside the mains bath they also have a sauna and a smaller pool with even warmer water.
One thing to remember is that because of the minerals contained in the water (that are supposed to be good if you have any kind of skin condition) it is better to take off your jewels, rings and glasses because they could get ruined. Also one thing I would like to have known before is that they do have showers but the shampoo and conditioner they have for everybody to use is not of the best quality from my point of view and this can be a problem for people with long hair because the water of the lagoon makes them quite dry and frizzy.
Something really interesting they offer here is the homemade bread cooked using the geothermal property of this location, it is prepared mixing molasses, yeast and rye dough and leaving them rest for a day underground.
You can find this bread in quite many b&b and shops in the area, at Mývatn Nature Baths we tried it with smoked trout and from my personal point of view it was a bit too different from anything we are used to and I didn’t really enjoyed the flavour, but it is something to try at least once if you happen to be in this area.
In the same shop you can find souvenirs, swimsuits, t-shirts and every kind of Iceland related item or you can rent a swimsuit, a towel or a bathrobe in case you didn’t bring yours.
- Landbrotalaug Hot Pot
Moving on toward the Snæfellsnes Peninsula you will find what I think is one of the most amazing hot springs you will find in Iceland, a small and extremely hot pot where can fit a maximum of three people.
To get to Landbrotalaug Hot Pot you can easily follow the directions given on google maps but you will have to take quite a lot of attention if you arrive when the sun is already going down, because with the dark we struggled a little to find the pot.
After leaving the car in the park we did the mistake of turning left towards a quite big lake after which you will find a larger (and colder) hot spring, on the contrary, what you have to do is keep walking forward from the direction where you got into the car park, you will find a small path and at some point you will have to go through a small canal by walking on some small rocks, then the pot will be right in front of you.
The view from the pot is amazing and the sunset even better, being there, bathing in a super hot pot in the middle of nowhere is a wonderful experience that I recommend to anyone! The only thing you need to know is that because of how small the pot is it is better to give everybody his own privacy and make sure the pot is free before going there, you just need to look at the car park and maybe take a look at the pot from far away, just wait your turn and you’ll be able to enjoy it in the same freedom and privacy you gave to you preceded you 🙂
Last but not least of our hot spring hunting is Reykjadalur, a hot river not far from Reykjavik. From the car park you’ll have to walk 4 km up on the mountains, it is quite a hard walk but if you take your time the view is simply stunning and the valley itself deserves the hike.
To find the place you will just have to follow the other travellers really, because being close to the capital, this is quite a popular spot especially for young tourists. Along the way you just have to follow the path, you will pass a cage, cross a small bridge and walk surrounded by extremely hot (too hot for bathing!) natural pools. You will understand when you get to the right spot because of the wooden platforms built next to the bridge to allow people to leave their stuff.
On the place there isn’t any proper changing facility but only some dividers that can help you while undressing.
Here the atmosphere is just amazing, you are surrounded by snow, having a bath in the mountains, with hot steam coming up from the whole river. At the beginning the change of temperature will be so strong that it will almost feel like the water is burning you, but you can choose where to get in the river and if you start from the lowers point (the first one you will meet along your way) the water will be colder than on the highest one.
I hope you will find this information helpful and that you will get to visit all the amazing places Iceland has to offer, if you would like to have a more general idea about the hot springs you can find in Iceland here is a list with more choices and their locations.