Gvendarlaug is the name given to a medieval hot pool, hot creek and swimming pool found in Westfjords.
Explore this location in Iceland on a self drive tour.
It is possible for guests to swim both in the hot creek, which has had a small amount of construction done to it to make it more comfortable, and of course the pool, but the medieval hot pool is off-limits. This is because it is considered an archaeological site. Records of it date back to 1237 when it was said to have been blessed by a local bishop.
All three bodies of water given the name Gvendarlaug are fed by water naturally heated by the geothermal forces at work in Iceland. This is quite a unique feature for the Westfjords, as very little volcanic activity goes on here; this is because the Westfjords are the oldest part of Iceland, between ten and sixteen million years old, and have long been pushed away from the rift valley that dissects the country.
Gvendarlaug is in the southern Strandir region of the Westfjords, 20 kilometres north of the village of Drangsnes and 26 kilometres from Hólmavík. Hólmavík is home to the Icelandic Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft, one of the most popular attractions in the area, and part of this museum, the Sorcerer’s Cottage, is located within easy walking distance of the pools.
This turf-roofed, three-room building not only shows visitors what life was like for Icelanders before industrialisation but will introduce them to magic in Iceland, which was largely done through staves carved into wood. These staves would either be used to ward off evil or to curse an enemy. As such, unlike throughout much of the rest of the world, many people in Iceland tried for witchcraft were, in fact, trying to be witches.
Changing facilities are available at the swimming pool of Gvendarlaug, including a shower. The pool boasts excellent views of the seas towards north Iceland, and swimmers may be lucky enough to spot whales, dolphins, seals and seabirds from the water.