- Not So Secret Hotsprings in Iceland
- -The Blue Lagoon
- -The Secret Lagoon
- -Myvatin Nature Baths
- The Secret Hotsprings In Iceland
- -Reducing Your Impact
- -Seljavallalaug Swimming Pool
- -Reykjadalur - The Hot Spring River
- -Hrunalaug Hot Spring
- -Hellalaug Hot Spring
- -Horgshlidarlaug Hot Pot
- -Drangsnes Hot Pots
- -Gudrunarlaug Hotspring
- -Hvammshofdhi Hotpot
- -Birkimelur Hot Pool
- Iceland's Major Commercial Hotsprings
- Being a Good Tourist & Reducing Impact
- Secret Icelandic Hotsprings
- Playing Detective To Find The Best
Known as a land of fire and ice since man first set foot on the island; Iceland has always had a unique relationship with these two titan forces of nature. Volcanoes and glaciers dot the countryside and when they come together hot springs are born. The hotsprings in Iceland hold special place in the hearts of the locals. In fact, many citizens would argue that Iceland’s hotsprings are a inalienable part of their culture.
Hot pots and hotsprings in Iceland are considered by the locals to be the premiere spot to relax, socialize, and unwind. Getting your soak on at a hot pot in Iceland is an all seasons kind of activity that’s as good for the body as it is for the soul. Slipping into the soothing waters of any of the Iceland hotsprings on a clear, cool night, and watching as the sky dances with aurora is a magical sight you’ll never forget!
Pool hopping is a must do in Iceland and while the first few of these springs are simple and easy to find others may have you playing detective with Google Maps and information gleaned from the locals. Remember, the first rule of hot pot club is that you don’t talk about hot pot club… Lets go check out the best hotsprings in Iceland!
It’s worth the trouble to find these beauties, I promise… Good luck!
Bonus: Not So Secret Hotsprings in Iceland
We’ll get to the good stuff in a minute, honest! But you can’t write an article about the hot springs of Iceland without mentioning the big three. These commercial hot springs see the bulk of Iceland’s tourist traffic so dont expect to have them to yourself, but for a relaxing soak after a day of exploration they hit the spot perfectly!
The Blue Lagoon
We simply can’t talk about hot springs in Iceland without discussing the Blue Lagoon; Arguably the best known of all the Iceland hotsprings. It has been named as one of National Geographic’s 25 wonders of the world, is claimed by its operators to be one of the top hotsprings in Iceland and it’s milky blue waters are a must see when visiting the country.
Today, it’s one of Iceland’s top tourist attractions but it wasn’t always this way. In a country brimming with natural hot springs this simply isn’t one of them. The Blue Lagoon is actually the happy consequence of local geothermal power plant development. The futuristic looking Svartsengi geothermal plant next door extracts scalding hot water from the earth to produce power. Once the majority of the heat is extracted, the water is discharged into the adjacent lava flows forming what we know as the Blue Lagoon.
Offering everything from an onsite restaurant to bar, cafe and even spa the blue lagoon can easily be turned into a luxury experience if you want to spend the money. Vigilant blue lagoon attendants will be at your beck and call if needed and no need to worry about tipping in Iceland, it’s not common or required!
Read More: Welcome to Iceland’s Blue Lagoon!
With the notoriety however comes tourist traffic. In the busy season its almost impossible to gain admission without pre-booked reservations. Luckily for us, our visit the lagoon was relatively quiet with only ~300 people soaking throughout its foggy expanse.
You can even visit the Blue Lagoon as part of a Luxury Airport Transfer & Blue Lagoon Combo!
Cost: 6990ISK and up – Evening admissions cost less.
Water Temp: 32-40°C
Amenities: Spa, Restaurant, Hotel, Changerooms
When to go: Early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the crowds!
The Secret Lagoon
The secret’s out! It Turns out the ‘secret’ lagoon isn’t a secret at all. The little town of Fludir along Iceland’s Golden Circle route plays host to a charming little valley where the lagoon sits flanked a river, the greenest of farmland and even a small geyser.
The pool at today’s Secret Lagoon was originally built around the natural spring in 1891 making it the oldest pool in Iceland. Used and enjoyed by the locals for decades it was eventually eclipsed by the glitz and glory of a newly installed swimming pool in town and fell into disrepair. Recently the owners of the property have invested heavily into reviving the hot spring to its former glory and installing new facilities for visitors.
You can easily take in the secret lagoon as part of a Golden Circle & Secret Lagoon Day Tour!
Less popular—and less expensive!— than the Blue Lagoon the secret lagoon makes for a great stop on your tour of the Golden Circle or South Icelandic coast. Even better, if you’re driving a Happy Camper like we were you’ll get a 20% discount on your admission fee!
Water Temp: 38-40°C
Amenities: Bar, Snacks, Changeroom
When to go: Morning or late in the evening to avoid the Golden Circle tour crowds!
Myvatin Nature Baths
Living in the Blue Lagoon’s shadow and cashing in on its success from the opposite end of the country, the Myvatin Nature Baths are a North Icelandic landmark and one of the premiere hotsprings in Iceland. Not far from the stunning volcano ringed lake from which they take their name, the Nature Baths are the perfect spot to rest weary bones at the halfway point of your ring-road roadtrip.
The Myvatn Nature baths sit literally on the edge of a volcano—let’s face it, the entire country is a damn volcano—with panoramic views across the geothermal field and into the valley below. Less than a kilometer away—as the crow flies—is Námafjall, a high temperature geothermal area where mud pots bubble away and fumerols belch steam from deep within the earth. It’s understandable why a hot spring was built in this setting, even though it’s man made it just seems right.
Like the Blue Lagoon this man-made hot spring is the result of geothermal power generation in the area. The waters are milky blue, full of minerals and believed by some locals to cure everything from skin irritation to chronic diseases.
Water Temp: 36-40 °C
Amenities: Restaurant, Steam Baths, Change Rooms
When to go: Early or Late avoiding mid-day crowds.
Secret Hotsprings in Iceland
With the big 3 out of the way its time we started talking secret hotsprings. That is why you all clicked this link after all… But bear with me for just a thing or two more before we do.
Finding Hotsprings In Iceland
Hotsprings in Iceland range from fiercely protected secrets to insta-famous soaking spots. Some Iceland hotsprings are easily located with visitor guides and online articles and some can only be found through careful deliberate conversation with the locals. We haven’t listed exact locations for many of these springs due to request from the people who told us about them or due to our concerns about ecological impact to the areas But if you do a little sleuthing you’ll be enjoying hotspring bliss soon enough!
Reducing Your Impact
Iceland is a land of great natural beauty; There’s a reason that over 2 million people visit this tiny island nation every year. Anytime a destination becomes popular, Thailand for example, impact happens. But the burden of nearly 10x the county’s population visiting as tourists (sometimes referred to as “The Insta’Effect”) is straining the country’s infrastructure in ways for which it was never designed. Unfortunately Iceland’s fragile landscape has taken the brunt of the impact.
It only takes one set of footprints for thousands to follow…-Anonymous
I struggled contemplating this blog post, with deciding whether or not to disclose locations, wondering whether I was just adding to the problem. Luckily, educated and informed world citizens, travellers like you, take measures to reduce their impact in an effort to be good tourists.
To help keep Iceland’s pools pristine you can follow these tips:
- If You Pack It In, Pack It Out! I can’t fault anyone for wanting to enjoy a cold beer, crisp cider or smooth glass of wine while they soak. Please respect the springs so they’ll remain open for others to enjoy, pack out your empty cans/bottles and any other rubbish you create!
- Stay on The Path! Iceland’s grasslands and moss are very fragile. A short growing season and difficult winter conditions mean it takes years for even the most minor damage to be repaired. Leaving the path because its rutted, muddy or uneven is a non-starter in Iceland. Wear the appropriate footwear and stay on the paths.
- Leave a Place Better Than you Found it! The idea of something not being your problem because you didn’t create it is short sighted to say the least. Sustainable tourism is about pitching in to help where you can!
- Camp Only in Designated Places! Iceland’s laws have recently been updated to prohibit roadside camping. DO: Camp in designated campgrounds or on private land with the permission of the landowner. DONT: Be the person who set up camp at the entrance to the hot spring using a nearby bush as a toilet!
I really hope you’ll all be stewards of sustainable tourism and with that we’ll get on to the good stuff!
Seljavallalaug Swimming Pool
Seljavallalaug (Seljvavellir pool) sits riverside nestled in a narrow valley below the infamous Eyjafjallajökull Glacier. One of the oldest pools in Iceland It was completed in 1929 by locals with a dream, a dream to offer swimming lessons to the people of Iceland. At the time much of the population depended on the fishery for a living but also couldn’t swim, a bad combination to say the least! Today this visionary’s ideal is commonplace and Icelandic students won’t graduate without having passed a swim test.
Getting to Seljavallalaug is simple, and with being so well known it’s likely you won’t find yourself alone. After parking beside the river at the end of the valley a short, level hike will deliver you to to the pool. In the spring when water levels are high you’ll have to get your feet wet or play high-stakes hopscotch to cross some portions of the hike.
At 10mx25m its a large pool with room for many to enjoy. Fed sparingly by a nearby geothermal well the pool isn’t hot by any means, but in the corner where the water enters its enjoyably warm. Basic changing facilitates are available but many opt to change outside on the rocks. As with most “natural” pools in Iceland we found some algae growth but nothing that made us uncomfortable.
If the water isn’t hot or clear, the location is well-known and anything but exclusive, why should even you go? I think It’s worth the hike up to Seljavallalaug if for no other reason than to simply experience the amazing scene!
Reykjadalur – The Hot Spring River
Located on the southern edge of Iceland’s famous Golden Circle route the steam shrouded Reykjadalur valley holds a secret. Reykjadalur translates literally as “Smokey Valley” and the name couldn’t be more fitting, as you’ll probably agree after the 3km hike opens into a verdant, geothermal valley of boiling mud pots, steam vents and its world renown “Hot River”.
Unfortunately on our trip Reykjadalur was closed to visitors. The spring melt and heavy traffic had caused huge amounts of erosion and the Icelandic Environmental Agency had restricted access until such time as the soil dried up enough to support the amount of visitors it was going to be getting.
From the parking lot the steep, loose trails head upwards into the hills. The trail meanders past several small springs and mud pools before getting narrower along the edge of the steep hills. In high season we’re told that horses & guided horse tours can cause havoc on the trail, especially in these narrow spots. Passing a beautiful cascade of waterfalls you’ll soon arrive at your destination.
The star of the show, Reykjadalur’s Hot River, is flanked by a new’ish boardwalk complete with ‘changewalls’ and offers a variety of spots to take a dip. Though busy in the high season, Reykjadalur’s long length ensures it never seems too crowded.
Although I didn’t get to visit personally the feedback from our readers and Icelandic locals earned it a place on this list! There’s always next trip!
Hrunalaug Hot Spring
Nestled in the hills above Fludir, just past the small local church, the Hrunalaug hot spring is a relatively unknown gem along the Golden Circle. There are two pools here that at one time were used for bathing the local farm’s sheep. Lucky for us they’ve long disappeared and left this treasure for us to enjoy! All in all this spring would seat maybe 15 people and runs quite warm but not hot, perhaps 36-37°C.
Because of its location this hotspring is naturally shielded from local light pollution and it would be a perfect spot to star watch with your better half or even catch a showing of the northern lights on a crisp, clear winter night.
The peaceful and quiet location—at least when we were there—however is under threat. A 2015 article, interviewing the daughter of the landowner describes the over-tourism and vandalism affecting the site and their consideration of “bulldozing it over” to save it. That said, please use the upmost care and consideration when visiting, stay on the trail and be sure to leave the area better than you found it!
Hellalaug Hot Spring
Boasting a stunning view of the sea Hellalaug is definitely a stop worth making if you’re going to venture into the Westfjords. Signage for the hot spring isn’t great and we actually drove past it only to be turned around by some friendly locals when we inquired about its location 5km down the road.
Built into the edge of a cliff, seaside, this stunner is well used but meticulously kept by the local residents. A small windbreak near the pool and a small donation box are the only facilities so you’re either going buck wild and changing there in the breeze or change in your car before the trek down to the beach.
Hellalaug was one of my top Iceland Hotsprings. It could be due to the location, the view, or maybe the fact that we were the only ones there enjoying it for hours on end. Regardless, Hellulaug—and the Westfijords—are well worth your time and if you haven’t planned to include this area in your trip it’s time to rethink your Icelandic itinerary!
Horgshlidarlaug Hot Pot
Along the desolate Mjóifjörður in northwestern Iceland you’ll find the stunning Horgshlidarlaug pool. Even if you can’t pronounce it you’ve likely seen it before. It’s a location that’s had its heyday on social media, and for good reason! This picturesque pool was located just down the road from the Heydalur Guesthouse where we’d stayed the evening before so a pre-roadtrip visit was absolutely in our cards!
Horgshlidarlaug is private property, please respect that! If you’re in the area and want to enjoy it you’ll need to continue down the road to get permission from the landowners on the farm before jumping in to enjoy it. Knocking on a stranger’s door, unannounced and asking to take a bath seemed unusual at first, but Finnbogi our host, ensured there was nothing to be shy about. “Yes, go ahead, enjoy it, but be careful—its quite hot”. He wasn’t lying, and we absolutely did enjoy our soak in the characteristic solitude and quiet of the Icelandic fjords.
Drangsnes Hot Pots
The tiny fishing port of Drangsnes in north-western Iceland may be conveniently located near the fishing grounds but it isn’t somewhere a traveler would typically find themselves without reason. If you’re exploring the West Fjords and have a little time to spare however, it makes for a gorgeous out and back drive with a rewarding seaside soak at its finish.
The pools at Drangsnes are pretty hard to miss sitting between the seas and the one road in town. Cascading from hot to pretty warm to bathwater these three pools offer something for everyone. An adventurous soaker—don’t look at me—might even jump in the ocean to cool off! With a location and view to die for the pools were rumored to be quite busy but were serenely quiet and empty when we arrived. To be fair, it was April and the high season tourist surge hadn’t yet spilled over to these small, remote locations.
Directly across the street from the hot spring roadside parking lot, below what looks to be the local football pitch you’ll find a change room and shower. Be polite, follow Icelandic hot spring etiquette and rinse off before enjoying your soak.
According to the Icelandic Saga Laxdaela, Gudrun, the main character, renown for her beauty lived near this hot pot in western Iceland, hence its name Gudrunarlaug (Gudrun’s Pool). Unless you know what you’re looking for, this small pool hidden behind the Hotel Edda in Laugar, is simple to miss. In fact, most tourists don’t know its here at all and drive right past on route 60 en-route to the west fjords. Simply make your way to the Hotel Edda, park in the lot and walk uphill to the spring.
A small ‘modesty hut’ or change room is available uphill from the small 10′ diameter pool. If you’re touring the country by camper van or car camping there is a nice looking campsite below the hotel with good facilities and of course great evening/morning access to soaking in the springs!
Hvammshofdhi Peninsula Hotpot
With a little exploration and luck on your way to or from Glymur—one of Iceland’s tallest waterfalls—you might find this man made, beach side hotpot. See the map at the top of this post for a general location and then do some exploration!
We were told this pool’s existence by locals and asked not to reveal its exact location (sorry). Access to the pool is on private land—which someone has gone through efforts recently to restrict vehicle access to—however, the pool itself is on the beach which we are told is public property. If you find this pool please be respectful! We weren’t bothered but your mileage may vary.
When you find the pool, one of the best hotsprings in Iceland, you’ll see a sign claiming that use of the pool is not advised because the water temperature cannot be controlled, heed this warning! The pool is HOT! We’re talking 42-44°C, hot enough to cause immersion burns given enough time! There are no facilities here, simply a bench and the pool. I suggest removing the water feed hose when you arrive, allowing the pool to cool some as you explore the beach, take photos or change.
Birkimelur Hot Pool
This small towns beach side swimming pool includes a “natural style” hotpot. Filled with warm—but not HOT—water it’s worth a stop if you’re in the area and need somewhere to take the edge off after a long day driving. On a clear day you should be able to glimpse the Snaefellsjokull Glacier across the fjord on the Snaefellsness Peninsula.
We stopped on our way through to explore the area but unfortunately we were running from weather and didn’t take the time to enjoy a soak.
Hotsprings in Iceland – Video
I was focused on photography this trip and only really got a few cell phone videos of these hotsprings… So, here’s a video about some of the Iceland hotsprings we featured here with a totally not click-bait’y thumbnail that you should watch:
Take Away – Best Hotsprings in Iceland
Iceland is full of surprises just waiting to be discovered. It’s an exercise in human relationships—something most of us could use these days—to track down the best of these springs, but when you do it will be so more more worth it!
Every local we met was helpful in our quest to find the best hot springs in Iceland. They always pointed out at least a general area when asked, so we’re doing the same. Many of the locations on the map above aren’t 100% accurate. They’ll get you to the general area but leave the discovery for you to make by whatever means you’re willing to employ! Honestly it’s like a treasure hunt for adults… 😉
Read More: Diving in Iceland: Underwater Adventures
Have you been somewhere you think should be on this list? Have some updated info? Just wanna say hey? Think Courtney’s a bombshell model? Drop a comment below or hit us up on our social media channels We’re always happy to hear from you!