What are the best hot springs in Iceland? Where can you find these hot springs and what makes them so special?
Find here the cheapest rental cars in Iceland to reach them.
Natural Hot Springs in Iceland
Iceland is the land of ice, fire and water, water, WATER! The country is situated on a 'hot spot' on the earth, resulting in a lot of geothermal activity, but there are also glaciers dotted all over the country. This mixture of geothermal activity, ice and fire, means that there are numerous hot springs and geysers all over the country.
Some of the hot springs are boiling hot but other ones have the perfect temperature to bathe in. These hot springs are equally popular with travelers and locals alike.
So the only question is: Which one to pick? Read my top 5 suggestions to get there yourself, or join other travelers on hot spring tours.
1. Reykjadalur - a hot spring near Reykjavik
Reykjadalur (literal translation: 'Steam Valley') is one of the easiest hot spring areas to reach from Reykjavík. A short drive (45 minutes) brings you to the town Hveragerði and from there you can hike up to the warm river that flows down Reykjadalur.
The hike is not very demanding (although it's not recommended for people that are afraid of heights since at one point you'll be hiking along the top of a deep gorge) and you reach the warm river after about 45-90 minutes (depending on how fast you walk and how often you stop to take pictures of the waterfall in the gorge and all the pretty bubbling muddy hot springs on the way). There are no facilities for changing your clothes when you get up there.
You can reach the river on this best value hot spring tour.
2. Seljavallalaug - a geothermal pool
Seljavallalaug is in the south of Iceland. In fact, it is not a natural pool but a man-made 25 meter long and 10 meter wide construction from 1923. The hot water that trickles into it is completely natural though and the pool is constructed into a mountainside in a narrow valley with breathtaking natural surroundings.
The good thing about Seljavallalaug is that there are small rooms for people to leave their clothes in. The water is only cleaned once every summer so it may look a bit dirty but it's worth it for the tranquility and beauty around.
In 2010 Seljavallalaug got completely covered with ash from the big eruption in Eyjafjallajökull.
The pool is a couple of hours drive from Reykjavík. To get there you just need to head south on the main ring road, past Selfoss and Hvolsvöllur. Slow down just before you reach Skógafoss and turn left to go towards 'Seljavellir' on a dirt road.
If you want to go with a tour, this South Coast tour is currently the only one that goes there. In this 14-hour outdoor tour, you will also get to see the deserted DC3 Plane Wreck.
Hrunalaug was on this list but it is unfortunately no longer possible to bathe there. It is close to the village of Flúðir. For a hot spring trip from Reykjavík, the 2 hot springs already mentioned are a better bet - or if you want to venture further into the country, then check out the next 2!
4. Grjotagja - a hot spring cave in North Iceland
Grjótagjá is not close to Reykjavík. If you happen to be traveling in the North of Iceland, staying in Akureyri and want to explore the stunning nature around Mývatn, then you're not far away from Grjótagjá.
The temperature of the water in Grjótagjá varies and became too hot to bathe in in the late 1970's (about 50°C). It's been cooling down since but may still be too hot to bathe in, depending on days. Because of the heat of the water and loose rocks in the cave it is now forbidden to bathe in the water. Just seeing it because of its spectacular beauty is well worth it though! If you do go to check it out, be extra careful!
To get there: Drive east from the village Reykjahlíð (ringroad), for a couple of kilometers, then turn right just before you reach the road to Mývatn Nature Baths.
5. Viti - a volcanic hot spring
The one hot spring I can't leave out though, even though I've never been there myself (because it's hard to get to and far from Reykjavík) is Víti in Askja, not to be confused with Víti in Krafla. The literal meaning of Víti is Hell.
It has been a dream for a long time to go there, and I'm certain that if I'd ever been there myself; Víti would have been on the top of my list!
The temperature of the water varies from 20°C to 60°C and the bottom is muddy. The volcanic crater is dangerous because in some places the mud is scolding hot (east part of the crater) and there is also a lot of sulfur in the water, sulfuric steam may cause people to faint. But the place has been described as one of the most awesome and magnificent place in Iceland and whoever stands on the edge of this crater will never forget the experience! You might say that Víti lives up to its name!