Iceland: Hunting for Springs

Hot springs, the key to Iceland’s natural geothermal experience! For the majority of travelers to this tiny volcanic island, you will commonly hear visits to its most famous hot pools: Blue Lagoon, Myvtan, Seljavallalaug and even Landmannalaugar in the highlands. With our lack of having a 4X4 vehicle and sticking to a tight budget, we were in search of “hidden” hot springs found a little more off the grid and unfamiliar to the public. Here’s five of our favorite secret hot pots we hunted down, took a soak in and enjoyed a brew with fellow travelers (like a Spanish family of 10) or sometimes by ourselves!

1. Hellulaug, West Fjords: This little hot pot is situated right on the ocean as you drive around the Vatnsfjörður fjord. The spring isn’t marked from the road, however a parking lot situated above is distinct with a stairway leading down to it. Heated water is fed from a borehole above. The pool fits about 10-15 people, no change rooms, free, water level is around a meter deep, and the temperature is in the 35-38 degree range. A running joke with Hellulaug is, “You’re required to take a dip in the ocean first before enjoying the spring”.

2. Hörgshlíðarlaug, West Fjords: The pool is located down the road from the farm Hörgshlíðarbær. It measures 2.15m x 6.3m x 0.8m, a bench to sit on and both a hot and cold hose (which we found on the other side after finishing our scalding hot 40 degree soak). The spring is free, right on the edge of the fjord and a changing room (green shack). According to the guide lines stated on the rule sheet by the change room door, you’re suppose to inform the farmer in Hörgshlíð before you bath. Luckily no one passed by or saw us during the time we spent soaking in there shhh!


3. Grettislaug, North: Named after “Grettir the strong”, this quaint man-made pool is situated right on the beach by the north ocean waters, and is owned by a young couple running the adjacent hostel/cafe beside it. There is a second smaller pool, change rooms/public bathrooms and a fee of ~700-800 Kroner. The neat feature of this hot spring is the bubbly uprise of the 39 degree geothermal water comes from the sandy bottom of the pool. FYI.. if you ever get a flat and your spare provided is also flat, this is the best place to have that happen! The owner of the hot spring was able to blow up our leaky spare by borrowing his neighbours air compressor, which helped us drive to the closest town (Drangeyjarferðir) also having one of the biggest car/ship mechanic shops. A quick and easy plug fix at 3500 Kroner saved us both time and money the rental company would have overcharged us for.

4. Hoffellsfjall, Southeast: About 15km from the town of Hofn. The hot spring is well marked by a sign from the road and situated right beside the Hoffell guest house. There are five hot pots in total ranging in temperatures increasing from ice cold to a scalding 40 degrees. There is a donation box where you are suppose to pay 400-500 Kroner. We noticed a security camera in the rock face, so we made sure to pay the donation before leaving! You get a nice open view looking out to the ocean and a backdrop of the Vatnajokull glacier.


5. Hrunalaug, South: This was by far the most confusing and hardest hot spring to find. We initially ended up hiking in the dark with our headlamps to check it out first. The 35-38 degree shallow spring is situated beside what appears to be a stream flowing down into the valley. It has a little hut built into a small hill you can change in, and another smaller two person pool in front of it. There’s a 150-300 Kroner donation box, and the parking lot where you start your casual 2-3 minute hike to the area is for daytime use only. I recommend from our experience you’re better off finding elsewhere to spend the night camping, Hruni gives off a bit of a creepy vibe!

Some others hot pots we encountered included: Heydaur, West Fjords; Laugafell, Northeast/Highlands; and Pollurinn, West Fjords. For the majority of remote springs we did find, a second trip to Iceland to continue the hunt is already on the to-do list!

Posted by Marisa

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