Iceland is the land where fire and ice meet. It is a place that is known for its volcanic and geothermal activity paired with freezing temperatures and open unreal wilderness. This clashing of worlds, coupled with the beautiful craggy landscape, sheep running free across the lands, moody skies, and mythical stories make Iceland a magical destination. It’s no wonder more and more tourists travel to Iceland every year.
One attraction that lets you get caught up in the magic is Hvammsvik Hot Springs. While it might mainly be marketed as a geothermal hot spring and spa, it is so much more than that! This place SHOULD be on your Iceland itinerary and if it is not, then add it right away. Not only can you visit the hot springs and thoroughly relax, but visitors can also spend the night on the estate in the most beautiful setting (more on that later).
However, this isn’t like a water park or carnival, where you can keep splashing around and do what you want. Hvammsvik is far from the madding crowd of the Blue Lagoon. Hot springs in Iceland have a certain etiquette that needs to be followed, and being prepared will go a long way.
To get the most out of your trip, and make sure you follow all the rules, read through our Hvammsvik guide below and have everything ready. You’re in for a truly magical experience!
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All About Hvammsvik Hot Springs
Hvammsvik is a 1200-acre private estate located just 50 minutes from Reykjavik, the Icelandic capital, on the edge of the Hvalfjörður fjord. The drive there is very picturesque, with winding roads along the mountains and water.
The moment we walked inside Hvammsvik we were taken by the beautiful contrast of the landscape, with grey ocean water, black beaches, and white snow-capped mountains. These are the views you’re treated to while you’re lounging in the steamy hot pools and enjoying other facilities offered at Hvammsvik.
What can be significantly appreciated is how the facility has been designed to blend into the landscape, to the point of somewhat disappearing into it all. So much so that the design team painted every structure black, as the goal was to highlight the natural beauty of the surroundings and not compromise it with man-made structures.
The estate offers a lot more than beauty though. There’s a fair bit of history here as well, as the site was a Viking settlement a millennium ago, and was also used as Allied barracks during the Second World War. The current owner of the estate, Skúli Mogensen, has put in a lot of time and effort scouring through Icelandic records, both factual and mythical, to learn the estate’s history.
The best part is that you’re allowed to explore the entire area too, which makes Hvammsvik a day trip more than just a dip in a hot pool for some relaxation time. The hot pools can be the perfect way to end the day after hiking and exploring the area and its natural beauty.
What Is The Cost of Admission?
Prices start at 6900 ISK or about $52 on weekdays and at 7900 ISK or $60 on weekends. Busier time slots cost about $10 to $20 more, and there are no discounts for children aged 10 to 17. Also, you should know that children under 10 years of age are not allowed to enter Hvammsvik, and those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
The cost of admission might seem a bit steep, especially if you’re traveling with family, but, compared to other pools where there are similar prices, you get a lot more in return from Hvammsvik. Remember that this is Iceland, and nothing is cheap. We found Hvammsvik to be a far better value than the Blue Lagoon!
There are eight natural hot springs, a steam cave, other facilities, and access to the historic and beautiful grounds of the area.
How To Get To Hvammsvik
Hvammsvik is about 50 minutes north of Reykjavik and the easiest way to get there is by renting a car in Iceland. You can also book a direct transfer from Reykjavik on the Hvammsvik website as well, but you’ll be part of a larger group and it will be quite costly.
We chose to rent a campervan in Iceland because we wanted the freedom to stop to check out different places and take our time, and we’re glad we made that choice (read all about our time with Happy Campers!).
On the way, you’ll see some beautiful sights like Mosfellsdalur Valley, Þórufoss waterfall, and Hvalfjörður, which also holds the honor of a Game of Thrones shooting location. The entire drive is incredibly picturesque and despite the distance, it’s not a tiring journey at all and you have to remember to bring a camera!
About The Hvammsvik Pools and Facilities
Hvammsvik has eight hot springs/pools so you won’t have to worry about finding a place to relax. Hvammsvik asks that you book your tickets in advance, and there is a gate at the entrance to the road leading to Hvammsvik, so you’ll definitely want a reservation.
The 8 pools are spread close together, with boulders marking the boundaries of each pool. The entire setup blends into the landscape, practically becoming a part of it. The temperatures of the pool range from 97°F to 104°F. It might not seem like a big range, but trust me you can feel the temperature differences very well. We started with the lowest temperature and worked our way up to the hottest one, which is the smallest pool and where you will likely only spend a few minutes.
There’s a swim-up bar as well and I treated myself to some prosecco while we lounged in the hot water. It felt pretty good while we took in the most beautiful views of the mountains and sea!
If you want to chill inside the steam room for a while, then head to the side of the main building, where, nestled between some large boulders, is what appears to be a small wooden shack. This is the entrance to the steam room, and it’s incredibly cute.
Instead of a dedicated cold plunge like at other hot springs like the Forest Lagoon, visitors are also allowed to walk right into the chilly ocean, and the cold water is just what you need to jolt your system, and that too in the freezing Icelandic climate.
We got together with some other visitors and ventured into the ocean water for a little bit, right from one of the “pools,” and even in the dead of summer, we can assure you it’s cold. There’s also an outdoor cold shower for those who don’t want to risk swimming in the Atlantic.
If you do choose to go into the water, then make sure you’re part of a larger group, as there’s strength in numbers. Keep an eye on everyone and be careful. You’re technically in the outdoors and the surroundings can be rough and rocky in places, so it’s important to know how to swim.
Other Activities Near Hvammsvik Hot Springs
Hvammsvik has more than 1200 acres of land to its name, the vast majority of which is untouched. Hiking enthusiasts and outdoorsmen would have a great time exploring the area.
A lot of group activities also take place at Hvammsvik such as ocean swims and yoga retreats. There is even a ‘Wim Hof Method’ workshop, conducted by a certified instructor, where visitors are introduced to breathwork and gradual cold exposure, all pioneered by the world-famous Wim Hof.
These activities are included in your admission ticket, so you won’t need to pay any extra. Keep in mind these aren’t everyday, so you’ll have to check the Hvammsvik website for their schedule. We took advantage of the opportunity and took part in the Wim Hof Method workshop and walked away feeling amazing.
There are also many things in the area that visitors can be a part of. One of the more famous ones is a tour of The Golden Circle, a reference to historical places and natural sights located around a geographic ring located close to Hvammsvik. After seeing the sights, you’ll be treated to a visit at Hvammsvik, followed by lunch at an authentic Icelandic farm.
What To Bring to Hvammsvik And Iceland Hot Pool Etiquette
It’s an Iceland fact that cleanliness is next to Godliness in Iceland. That should be your mantra whenever you’re visiting any hot pool in Iceland. Always shower thoroughly with soap before you go into the hot pool and make sure you’re wearing a clean swimsuit, if not a fresh one.
Most hot pools in Iceland don’t have private showers and changing rooms, but Hvammsvik does. However, you can’t treat it like your private hotel bathroom. Get done with your shower, change as fast as possible, and move on to the pool as it’s not a large changing room area. Shampoo and body wash are provided, but it’s best to bring your conditioner, lotion, and all your other toiletries with you that you’ll need.
Bring a swimsuit and some towels. Guests can rent towels and swimsuits for 900 ISK, but it’s best to just bring your own. This shouldn’t be taken as a slight against Hvammsvik, as everything was absolutely clean. It just comes down to personal preference at the end of the day.
We recommend bringing a pair of fresh flip-flops or slides. You’ll want to go from one pool to the next, and possibly take a dip in the ocean as well. We went barefoot, but the rocks are cold, and rocky when stepping into the Atlantic! If you want to take photos with your phone, I can’t recommend bringing a phone dry bag enough.
You Can Stay Overnight at Hvammsvík!
One of the unique features of Hvammsvík is that visitors can avail the incredible accommodation options located on the estate. Each accommodation option is more beautiful than the last!
We recommend booking the Hilltop House, a minimalist building atop a hill with gorgeous panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and fjords. The rooms are spacious, each having its own incredible view. The best feature, by far, is the private natural hot spring!
There are three other accommodation options. The Lake House is a cute and rustic lodge with amazing views of the lake, and it accommodates four persons easily. The Club House is a renovated farmhouse with a private hot tub and views of the ocean and mountains, easily accommodating seven people. Finally, there is the oldest building on the property, known as The Farm House, which houses nine people and has its fair share of spectacular ocean views.
The Food Is Incredible
The perfect way to end a day of hiking and hot pool dipping is to get some great food. Hvammsvik’s onsite bistro and bar is called ‘Stormur’ and despite all its simplicity, it packs a whole lot of flavor and character. The brown leather furniture, rope decorations, abstract sculptures, and stoneware dishes provide a brilliant ambiance, while the large windows provide spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.
At the helm of the restaurant is Chef Hinrik Carl Ellertson, who was formerly associated with a Michelin-starred restaurant, and his work with Stormur is nothing short of a Michelin-esque masterpiece. All the dishes are made using local produce and ingredients, most notable of which is the rich seafood found in the waters surrounding Iceland. There’s a good selection of wines, beers, teas, and coffees as well.
We had heard rave reviews about the seafood soup, which is a specialty here, and we just had to try it. The soup is made using whatever seafood is in season and it was simply delicious. Another specialty is the algae-ginger shot. We were a bit squeamish at first after hearing ‘algae’ but were pleasantly surprised at how tasty and refreshing it was.
The rest of the menu comprises sandwiches, some finger food, and cakes. The menu is simple, but rustic and very delicious. The restaurant caters to all tastes as there are a lot of vegetarian and vegan options as well.
For Iceland and the quality of the food and the incredible ambiance, the prices are pretty reasonable. We each had soups, sandwiches, and a slice of cake, and the total bill came to almost 16000 ISK or $120.
When is the Best Time to Visit Hvammsvik?
For the best experience we recommend visiting early in the morning, or in the evening. This is when the crowds die down, and you’ll have a more relaxing experience. We booked in for three hours before closing time, and were the last in the pools. We thoroughly enjoyed ending our evening in Iceland at Hvammsvik!
How Long Do You Need at the Hvammsvik Hot Springs?
We spent two hours in the actual pools of Hvammsvik, and 30 minutes in the changing rooms getting ready, and about 45 minutes grabbing a bite at the bistro. If you want the full experience, we recommend allocating 4 hours to Hvammsvik.
However if you don’t plan on going to the bistro, don’t plan on spending long in the pools, and are a man who doesn’t take long to get ready, you could easily spend just 2 hours at Hvammsvik.
The disappearing pool
Hvammsvik Hot Springs are conveniently located along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. The water levels and temperatures of certain natural pools here vary in sync with the tides, offering an ever-changing and distinctive bathing encounter, assuring you an unparalleled and exclusive experience on every visit.
One of the main pools sits right in the ocean, and depending on the tides, you’ll either see the 8th pool or it may completely disappear in front of your eyes. The Hvammsvik website lists the high tide every day, and this is when you can expect only to see seven pools.
What are the Hvammsvik Hours?
Operating every day from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM, the final admission is granted at 8:30 PM. To secure a spot in the hot springs, it is advised to procure tickets in advance.
Is Hvammsvik Worth It?
While there might be other hot springs that rival the quality, experience, price point, and beauty of Hvammsvik, there isn’t any hot spring that comes with its very own 1200-acre private estate. That, paired with the exceptional natural beauty of the area and abundant wilderness, makes this place a must-visit.
Another thing that stands out about Hvammsvik is the entire experience. After a day exploring the incredibly beautiful sights, you can relax at the pools, and end the day with Michelin star-esque quality food.
There are very few restaurants in Iceland that have their very own signature dish and that group gets smaller when you take restaurants at hot springs into account. After some great food, you could head on over to one of the most beautifully set accommodations you’ve ever seen. It’ll surely be a memorable experience.
We visited over ten hot springs in Iceland, including the famous Blue Lagoon, Sky Lagoon, Vok Baths, Krauma, and Forest Lagoon, and Hvammsvik was both of our favorites in Iceland. It was one of the quietest hot springs we visited in Iceland, especially in comparison to the Blue Lagoon. At less than an hour from the capital, we would urge all visitors in debate to head here over the Blue Lagoon!
Get Around Iceland
One of the best ways to get around Iceland is with a campervan. This allows you to explore on your own terms. Cook when you want, sleep when you’re tired, and take in the views all at once. A campervan is your car rental, accommodation, and kitchen! We always rent with Happy Campers when we travel Iceland, as they provide some of the most comfortable campers in Iceland!
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? 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 strong internet infrastructure and you should be able to easily stay connected.
Plan For Your Trip
- Protect Your Trip: We don’t travel without travel insurance, nor should you. You never know what can happen while traveling, so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.
- Find Cheap Flights: Sign up for Going (formerly Scotts Cheap Flights) to get notified when prices get low.
- Book a Rental Car: We use Discover Car to book all our rental cars! You can also read our top tips for renting a car abroad here.
- Travel Adapter: Make sure you find a good adapter to keep your personal electronics charged. Otherwise, you may be paying for a cheap one once you land. Purchase one here.
- Travel Backpack: We like the Nomatic Travel Backpack for our travels. Check the price here.
- Our Favorite Travel Shoes: Our answer to this question is always ALLBIRDS! Check them out on their site!
- Get a Travel Credit Card: We travel worldwide for free because we have leveraged our spending into points. See why you should get a travel credit card and how you can do the same with our favorite travel credit cards.