Credit: Wikimedia, Creative Commons, photo by Johannes Martin.
Seljavallalaug is an outdoor swimming pool in South Iceland, roughly ten kilometres (six miles) east of Ásólfsskáli.
History of Seljavallalaug
The pool was built in 1923, making it one of the oldest swimming pools in Iceland. The actual oldest is the Secret Lagoon in Flúðir, which dates all the way back to 1891.
Seljavallalaug is 10 metres (30 feet) in width and 25 metres (82 feet) in length. This made it the largest swimming pool in Iceland until 1936. The largest today is Laugardalslaug in Reykjavík.
Its establishment was designed to be a place for children to learn how to swim. In spite of being a nation of largely fishermen, swimming was not a widely practised skill back then. Nowadays, every child is taught it in school as a mandatory requirement.
Since it was built, Seljavallalaug has experienced few changes. Because of its South Coast location, however, it was affected by the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull glacier. It was entirely filled with ash, making it unusable, until the following summer, when a team of volunteers cleared it out.
Swimming in Seljavallalaug
Credit: Wikimedia, Creative Commons, photo by BiT
Unlike the vast majority of Iceland’s swimming pools, there is no admission fee to enter Seljavallalaug. So long as, when you arrive, there is space for you, you are welcome to hop in.
Please be aware that if you get there before anyone else, you have no claims to the pool, and are required to share.
It should be noted that swimmers enter at their own risk. There are no lifeguards on duty or other measures to ensure you are safe, so take care, particularly if swimming with children.
This is particularly the case considering the algae in the pool. This can cover the sides and bottom throughout summer, making it a little bit slippery.
If this algae is growing excessively, the pool will be dyed a beautiful shade of green.
It should also be noted that Seljavallalaug is only cleaned once a year. This means that those sensitive to bacteria may want to avoid the water, or find out when this is so they can plan a trip straight after.
While unlikely to cause serious harm to those with a decent immune system, the facts that this water is not often cleaned and the flow of water in and out of the pool is minimal, while many people get in and out every day, mean that Seljavallalaug is not the country’s most hygienic place to swim.
Getting to Seljavallalaug
To reach Seljavallalaug from Reykjavík, drive east along the Ring Road that encircles the country for just over an hour and a half, before turning onto Route 242 for the car park. The pool is situated a short hike north.
By driving this route, you will expose yourself to some of the wonderful destinations along the country’s South Coast. Perhaps most notable of these, and best for a stop, is the waterfall Seljalandsfoss, which you can fully encircle for some marvellous views.
Just a few kilometres further along from Seljavallalaug is another waterfall, Skógafoss. Mightily powerful, this feature should not be missed by those in the area.