There is no way you can travel to Iceland and not experience just a few of the countries best hot springs! Hot springs in Iceland are a right of passage and even the locals regularly use them. Iceland is filled with enough geothermal pools, geothermal spas, and natural hot springs to fill up every day of your Iceland itinerary. This is really only the tip of the Iceberg when it comes to places to soak in Iceland.
Unless you want to want to get pruney and never dry off you won’t have time for them all. Some of these hot springs in Iceland are popular tourist attractions and a few aren’t much more than a hole in the ground. We’ve broken down some of the best hot springs in Iceland, and no there is no mention of the famous Blue Lagoon.
The Best Hot Springs in Iceland
Reykjadalur Hot Spring River
Reykjadalur is one of the more popular hot springs in Iceland given it’s proximity to Reykjavik. Just a 40-minute drive southeast Reykjadalur makes a great spot to come for a day hike and dip. Reykjadalur actually means “steam valley” in Icelandic, and once you get to Reykjadalur you will understand the name.
Steam here is abundant, heavy, and carries a strong smell of sulfur – but you’re in Iceland so embrace it! There is a nice wooden cabin along the river with changing dividers. It’s a bit of a hike (45 minutes) to get here so prepare to take a travel backpack with all your essentials like a water bottle and travel towel.
Gamla Laugin, otherwise known as the Secret Lagoon in Fludir is a natural hot spring in Iceland that is fit to handle many people. In the late 1800’s Gamla Laugin was a place for locals to bathe and learn how to swim. It fell into disrepair in the 1940’s but has since been renovated.
It’s almost comparable to the famous Blue Lagoon, but at 2800 ISK it is a fraction of the price. The water at the Secret Lagoon is always between 38-40 C and there’s even a little geyser nearby that guests can enjoy while relaxing. If you’re here in the winter you may even be able to spot the Northern Lights while soaking up the pure Icelandic air.
Seljavallalaug Hot Mountainside Pool
I’ve discussed the beauty of Seljavallalaug before on this blog, and I truly think it’s one of the best places to visit in all of Iceland. Seljavallalaug itself is a 25-meter pool set deep in a beautiful valley. It was built in 1923, making it the oldest pool in Iceland still in operation. Once you arrive after a bumpy car ride and 15-minute hike you’ll see just how old and majestic this pool remains.
While this pool is fed by hot springs, we found it to be lukewarm when we arrived. There is no maintenance at this pool and it’s said that it is only cleaned once a year, so be prepared for that. Also, arrive with your swimsuits on as the changing rooms are uh…less than desirable. Most people come here for the stunning valley views and Instagram photo.
Gudrunarlaug Natural Hot Pool
Gudrunarlaug is a hidden hot spring in Western Iceland that is tiny, and not really anything fancy. The current pool, which was built in 2009 after a mudslide is shallow and can comfortably fit six to eight people at a time. The area surrounding Gudrunarlaug is considered a Viking area and is where the Vikings from a few Icelandic Sagas actually lived.
This hot spring is set in the great Icelandic nature and isn’t very well worn on the tourist trail. There is no entrance fee and you can still find small changing rooms nearby!
Landbrotalaug Natural Hot Spring
Landbrotalaug is one of those Icelandic hot springs that are a bit harder to find. Landbrotalaug is under a two-hour drive from Reykjavik, right after Eldborg and right before the Snaefellsnes peninsula. Google Maps has the correct position marked for this hot spring even though it is tiny. How tiny? Well, you will be able to fit two people – maybe three if you’re lucky. Landbrotalaug is hidden, and off the main tourist path, but if you time it wrong and you won’t get a chance to enjoy it.
That’s exactly what happened to us when we changed and got ready to go soak up the warm water. When we walked up to the small hole we found a naked couple enjoying their time with no intention to leave. Just be warned that it does not fit many people so it may not be worth a special trip, but rather a stop if you are already driving by.
Stóragjá hot spring is found next to the village of Reykjahlið near Lake Mývatn. It can be hard to find and overlooked by Grótagjá Cave. Because of the journey to get here, it may not be great for everyone. To see the beautiful blue water visitors will have to squeeze through a tight ravine and get into a cave using ropes and steps.
However, when you reach the crystal clear warm water your efforts will be well rewarded. The temperatures here are technically considered safe for bathing, but it can get very hot so it is discouraged and you must enter at your own risk.
Hoffell Hot Tubs
If you’re traveling around the Ring Road, this place is easily accessible when driving towards east Iceland. Hoffell Hot Tubs are basically natural hot tubs in the middle of “nowhere where you can relax with your friends, or even meet new ones and drink an Icelandic beer together.
It’s a self-service place, and you pay 500 ISK to enter. This money goes to the owner makes make sure everything is clean. There is also a small cabin with a toilet and changing room. You can drive here easily, just put Hoffell Hot Tubs in Google Maps and follow the route. This place is peaceful with just a few hot tubs, making it extremely enjoyable. It’s the perfect place to enjoy Iceland’s hot thermal water with your friends.
-Alex at Swedish Nomad
Fosslaug Hot Pot
Fosslaug is my personal favorite hot spring in all of Iceland. Not only is it 100% natural (unlike the Blue Lagoon, for example), but it is picturesquely located right along the banks of the Húseyjarkvísl River, right next to Reykjafoss. There’s nothing quite like jumping into the freezing cold river and then warming yourself back up in the natural Icelandic hot spring that happens to be just the right temperature!
To reach the well-hidden Fosslaug, first travel to the town of Varmahlíð in the northern part of Iceland. From there, travel to a dirt parking lot located at 65°29’57.2″N, 19°22’47.8″W (65.499222, -19.379944 for easy Google Maps typing). Walk through the pedestrian gate and follow the path towards Reykjafoss and cross the bridge just after the waterfall. Once you crest the small, grassy hill, you’ll be there!
-Tim from Annual Adventure
Mývatn Nature Baths
Mývatn Nature Baths are the North Iceland’s answer to the Blue Lagoon but they are much cheaper, and in my opinion, more beautiful and charming. The place is very quiet and serene – perfect for a relaxing bath in nature. The water temperature is maintained between 36° and 40°C after it’s cooled from its natural temperature of 130°C.
The surroundings are stunning and even more so if you visit in the winter and the place is surrounded by snow. These baths are located in northern Iceland where not so many people travel to, especially during the winter when the weather can be challenging, so enjoy the solitude!
Laugarvatn Fontana Hot Springs
Laugarvatn Fontana is a beautiful geothermal spa in Iceland with a very convenient location! Located between Þingvellir and Geysir on the Golden Circle, it’s the perfect place to relax in the afternoon. There is a beautiful lake you can bathe in, or choose one of the many pools, which are all kept at different temperatures they range from bath water to hot tub temperatures.
I loved being able to choose my favorite pool and switch when I became too hot/cool. There is something for everyone here! There is also a spot to grab a bite to eat here and I definitely recommend trying the traditional rye bread that is buried in the hot sand and baked.
-Jen at Will Save for Travel
Plan Your Trip to Iceland
Book a Camper!
A campervan is the best way to get around Iceland on a budget. While a camper is slightly more expensive than a car, you can sleep and cook in it! Meaning you don’t have to search for any hotels or deal with expensive restaurants in Iceland.
Plus you get to sleep in nature every night and still use a heater if you wish! If you want to travel with a Happy Campers van like we did (and you should they are the BEST!) make sure to read our full review. You can easily book using this link, but make sure to book well in advance during high season.
When is the Best Time to Visit Iceland?
In my opinion, the best times to visit Iceland are June, July, September, October, and December – but it all depends on what you want! June-August is high season, but it is also summer in Iceland and when you will find the most pleasant temperatures.
It’s also when you will experience the most amount of daylight and get the most of our of your trip. December is great because it is winter, you stand a strong chance of seeing the Northern Lights, it’s low season, and the temperatures haven’t gone to complete freezing yet.
However, my personal favorite time to travel Iceland is during the fall months. It’s during September and October where you will see the leaves change vibrant colors around the country. Temperatures are still mild, and tourism is slowing down. You can see the full month by month breakdown for Iceland travel here/a>.
Things to Do in Iceland
There are literally so many things to do in Iceland I could write a book about it. Unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of time so I’m showing you the ultimate Iceland bucket list here. Some things that are a must do are go to an Iceland swimming pool, soak in a natural hot spring, stand under a waterfall, and see the Northern Lights.
Photography Gear for Iceland
A high-quality camera is an important packing item for Iceland if you want some great shots while on your vacation. We travel with our Fujifilm Camera and 200mm telephoto lens. Drones have sort of taken Iceland by storm, and can capture fantastic footage as well. We had our DJI Mavic in Iceland, but make sure to use your drone responsibly as many locals are getting increasingly annoyed at the sight of them.
Whatever you do do not forget a tripod for Iceland – especially if you plan on photographing the Northern Lights. You’ll need one for the long exposures.
Is Iceland Expensive?
Iceland is mega expensive. One of the most expensive countries in the entire world actually. Make sure that you plan accordingly and in line with your budget. It’s certainly possible to do Iceland on a budget of less than $100 if you are camping, cooking all your own basic meals, and traveling by public transport or score a good deal on a rental. The good news is that nature is free, and you’ll be able to see Iceland’s beauty without paying for it. So yes – it’s completely doable to have an affordable Iceland vacation.
If you plan on drinking be sure to pick yo duty free alcohol before you leave the airport. A pint of beer can easily run you $15-$20!
Other items to pack for Iceland
No matter what you should definitely throw the following items in your Iceland packing list.
- Reusable Bags: We don’t ever travel without our reusable bags that we can take grocery shopping. And this is no different for grocery shopping in Iceland. We love to save the world from yet another plastic bag – please consider picking some up!
- A good jacket: Surprise! It gets cold in Iceland, even in the summer. I learned this the hard way when I went hiking there in the middle of July without a proper jacket. I love my Patagonia nano puff jacket because it’s one of the best packable down jackets on the market. This should be on any Iceland packing list no matter the season.
- Ear Muffs: I love wearing ear muffs so I don’t mess up my hair. I also wear my hair in a ponytail a lot so ear muffs ensure that I can keep my pony! If you wear your hair down then consider a nice knit hat.
- Flannel: No matter what climate I am traveling to I bring my Patagonia flannel everywhere and it has never let me know.
- Swimsuits: I decided to skip the Blue Lagoon and went to the local hot springs instead. If you plan on doing you will want to bring a swimsuit unless you want to go naked.
- Hiking Shoes: If you plan on doing any short hikes I would bring a good pair of hiking shoes. I personally travel everywhere with my Merrell Moab Ventilators.
- Adaptor: Remember that Iceland uses the Europlug. Make sure you find a good adapter like the one I have to keep you charged. Otherwise, you may be paying for a cheap one once you land.
- Waterbottle: We found the water in Iceland amazing to drink, if you want extra assurance then we love traveling with our Grayl.
- Towel: Unless you are only staying at hotels you will need a towel in Iceland. If you are camping or in a campervan, a lightweight travel towel is best. The Icelandic pools will also charge you to rent a towel so it never hurts to have a good one in your luggage.
- Backpack: I would suggest bringing a backpack to Iceland if you are going to be in a camper or are backpacking, they are much less of pain to travel with. Read more about our favorite backpacks here.
More helpful Iceland travel tips
- Icelanders speak Icelandic, but every single person I came across spoke English.
- The local currency is the Icelandic króna (ISK). ATM’s are found throughout the country
- Have I mentioned Iceland is expensive as hell? Well, it is! Save money by eating in and cooking for yourself. Check out our Iceland grocery store guide for all the tips!
- Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world; however, it’s always important to use common sense when walking alone at night.
- Tipping is not customary in Iceland.
- Iceland has a strong internet network and you should be able to easily stay connected.
- To feel more at home we use Airbnb you can check out some tips and read more about getting an Airbnb coupon code here. Or just take this coupon for your first stay!
- Sometimes it’s nice just to have a real book in your hands when traveling. We recommend Lonely Planet to get you through those wireless nights.
- Don’t Forget Travel Insurance: We never travel without travel insurance with World Nomads. We ALWAYS travel with travel insurance. Natasha is a bit of a worry wart and would rather stay safe than sorry. World Nomads offers incredible flexible and great plans!
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