Laugarvatn is a hamlet of around 200 people, by the lake of the same name. Originally formed around the boarding school there, it is now best known for being a detour on the Golden Circle with a geothermal pool.
It is located in South Iceland, around 93 kilometres (56 miles) from Reykjavík. Laugarvatn is popular as a summer resort and as a stop for travelers, as it is located near many of Iceland’s top attractions, both natural and cultural, such as Gullfoss waterfall and Geysir, and the ancient Skálholt bishop seat.
The environment of Laugarvatn is very pleasant, as the town is surrounded by hills, lava fields, fertile countryside, and a forest has been planted and is ever growing. Brooks and streams further contribute to the scenery.
The beautiful and shallow Lake Laugarvatn is rich in aquatic life, with good char and lake trout fishing, although you need a permit in order to fish here. Boats and gear for watersport can be rented at Laugarvatn in summer when the weather is clear.
As the shores of the lake feature geothermal springs, it was decided to build a spa there.
At the Fontana spa at Laugarvatn you can relax in the excellent geothermal swimming pool and the three steam rooms which sit directly over bubbling hot pots and have near 100 percent humidity.
Photo from Golden Circle Day Tour with Fontana Spa
The spa also features a Finnish-style sauna and three interconnected mineral baths. At the spa you can also enjoy the stone artwork of artist Erla Þórarinsdóttir.
At the Viska hot tub you’ll further have a nice view of the Laugarvatn surroundings.
Compared to other geothermal pools like the Blue Lagoon, the Fontana Spa is smaller, more affordable, and lacks the renowned healing qualities (although most geothermal water is said to have some revitalising properties). It’s unique selling point comes in that it is possible here to wade out into the lake, where tongues of hot water can be felt brushing against your ankles.
Laugarvatn sits almost directly between Þingvellir National Park and the Geysir Geothermal Area, two points of the Golden Circle. The former is a natural wonderland, sitting between two tectonic plates and boasting crystal clear streams, forests, and incredible geology. The latter is home to the geysers of Geysir and Strokkur, as well as dozens of other hot springs and fumaroles.
The final point on the Golden Circle is Gullfoss Waterfall. Almost all travellers will see these three sites, as the route is the most popular sightseeing trail in the country. If driving yourself, Laugarvatn is just one of many popular detours you can take.
While at Laugarvatn, it is also recommended for guests to check out the Gallery Laugarvatn, which features a wide display of Icelandic handicraft and offers bed and breakfast.
Laugarvatn has a boarding school that functions as a popular hotel, Hotel Edda, in the summer. A number of guesthouses, hostels, rental apartments and cottages are also to be found in the area. Laugarvatn offers basic services, with a gas station, shop and restaurants, and is highly popular throughout the year.