Known as the land of fire and ice, Iceland is, in geological terms, a young country. It also lies on the divergent boundary between two tectonic plates – the Eurasian and the North American – directly above a hotspot known as the Iceland plume.
Seismic activity at this boundary around 16 to 18 million years ago is believed to have caused the creation of Iceland’s land mass, which is characterised by numerous volcanoes and hot springs. These springs are dotted throughout the landscape, so whether you are exploring the coast or venturing inland towards the highlands, you will never be far from a relaxing, hot soak.
Some of these springs we’ve listed are in remote locations and therefore have WG54 coordinates rather than addresses. To locate these on a map just copy/paste them into Google Maps or similar digital mapping service.
Here’s a starter list of six special places for a soak, brought to you by Ben Love, author of Wild Guide Scandinavia:
Mývatn Nature Baths
The spa was developed in 2004, along the lines of the better-known Blue Lagoon but smaller and set against a backdrop of ochre-coloured hills. It lies on the lower slopes of Dalfjall, home to Iceland’s first geothermal power station. The distinctive blue hue is due to sulphur, so remove any copper or silver jewellery before bathing as it can cause discolouration. The milky-blue water comes from up to 25m underground, at a very comfortable 38–40 ̊C. There are numerous claims about the health benefits of the water, but regardless of whether these have any credence, it is the perfect spot to soak legs tired from hiking. Saunas are available and there is a great café.
+354 464 4411
Fairy-tale hot spring at the bottom of a steaming lava fissure. Currently the temperature is safe for bathing, but it is not recommended due to algae growth. Take time to read the signs and decide whether to swim based on the most recent advice.
→ Coordinates: 65.638563, -16.909893
Leave you vehicle by the road at the junction of Route 1 and Route 848 in Reykjahlið and follow the obvious marked path.
Hot stream running through the lush green Reykjadalur, which means “steamy valley.” As you walk upstream, the water gets hotter and you can soak in the numerous pools people have created with small rock dams. At the point where the path crosses the stream there are some vivid turquoise pools, but these are too hot for bathing. A truly other-worldly experience.
→ Coordinates: 64.032083, -21.215594
Turn off the R1 at Hverager∂i and follow the Brei∂amörk road until the car park at the end. Park here and follow the obvious path for approx 3km to Reykjadalur.
Built in 1891, this is a large pool that once served as the local baths and where local women would wash clothes. Filled from a geothermal spring it has a perfect temperature of 38–40 ̊C. Between 1909–1947 regular swimming lessons were held here until a new pool was built close by in Flúðir. The old pool was then largely forgotten until very recently when it was restored. Retaining a natural feel, it even has a small geyser that erupts every five minutes. Modern but discreet changing rooms with showers and an eating area have been addedt. Its English name is the “Secret Lagoon”. Located 0.5 km from the village of Flú∂ir.
Hvammsvegur 845 Flú∂ir
+354 861 0237
Nestled in a narrow valley in the shadow of the infamous Eyjafjallajökull volcano, this is the oldest swimming pool in Iceland. It was built by members of a youth movement in 1923 as a teaching pool at a time when the majority of Icelanders worked in the fishing industry but left school without ever learning to swim. Set into the side of a mountain, it is fed by both hot water seeping from the rock face and a pipe from a nearby spring. It is 25m by 10m, has a very basic changing room and is run by volunteers. There is no charge. Swim lengths or just soak and enjoy the rugged landscape.
→ Coordinates: 63.559243, -19.622395
Turn off the R1 onto the R242 signposted Raufarfell. Keep driving until the end of the road to find a parking area. Ignore the sign for Seljavellir. From the parking area walk on a rough path for approx 20 mins towards the bottom of the valley and the pool will come into view.
See header image!
A natural hot tub hidden among the rocks on the foreshore about 500m from Hótel Flókalundur. At high tide you can cool off by jumping into the sea. To the west of Hellulaug below the ruined farm of Hella is another pool built from turf that has been recently restored. The water temperature is around 38°C. Great sea views.
→ Coordinates: 65.57256, -23.17208
Approx 2km SW of the village of Flókalundur, just off the R62, on the shore on the opposite side of the river to the settlement.
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Have another secret hot spring you want to share? Let us know in the comments!