The Mývatn Nature Baths are a set of geothermally heated pools and steam baths found in the Lake Mývatn area. They are about two kilometres east of the village of Reykjahlíð, and a fantastic example of Iceland’s hot spring culture.
Opened in 2004, the Mývatn Nature Baths can be considered to be somewhat of a northern equivalent of the world-famous Blue Lagoon Spa, found in Iceland's south-west. It is the only pool of its size in the area and is ever increasing in popularity. It is recommended you book tickets in advance in the summer.
The Mývatn Nature Baths are centred around a large lagoon, which has a temperature of about 36 to 40 degrees Celsius (97 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit). The water here is packed with minerals, particularly sulphur, which is said to be good for respiratory and skin problems.
There are also two steam-baths, sat directly on top of churning geothermal waters. The temperature in these is close to 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit), and humidity is near 100%, so be sure to be well hydrated before going in. The site also has a hot tub and a separate pool for young children, as well as a restaurant.
The price for adult entry is 4,500 ISK for the winter season (until the end of April) and 5000 ISK in summer (until the end of September); 1,800 and 2200 ISK respectively for teenagers aged 13-15; and 3,000 ISK respectively for senior citizens, handicapped customers and students; and free for those 12 and younger with an adult.
The Mývatn region is one of the most diverse in Iceland. You will only have to drive five minutes from the Nature Baths to come across natural geothermal phenomena, such as those at Mount Námaskarð. On this pass, you will find dozens of seething fumaroles and bubbling mud pits, that dye the land vivid colours and fill the air with noxious fumes.
Nearby you will also find geological wonders, such as at Dimmuborgir. This ‘lava fortress’ is unbelievably dramatic, and steeped in folklore; it is said that this is where the thirteen evil Santas of Iceland live. It is no wonder that it was used in Game of Thrones as the setting for Mance Rayder’s Wildling Camp Beyond the Wall.
Another nearby site used in Game of Thrones that combines both geothermal energy and geological beauty is the Grjótagjá hot spring cave. While you cannot bathe here, you can feel the water and see where Jon Snow and his Wildling lover consummated their relationship.
The lake Mývatn itself is beautiful and renowned for its birdlife, with over a dozen species of duck, to say nothing of the other species. Those interested in flora will be interested to know that this is one of the few places in the world where you can see moss balls.