Where in Iceland are the natural Hot Springs? Amazing natural geothermal springs and pools are found all over the country.

 
Swimming in Iceland is a must-do activity. Iceland is a geothermal wonderland  and it is located above a hot spot in the earth’s mantle and the meeting point of two tectonic plates. The byproduct of all this energy is a wealth of natural hot water bubbling up from beneath. And while a lot of that water is diverted into man made geothermal swimming pools and classy geothermal spas (like the Blue Lagoon or Mývatn Nature Baths), there are also a lot of natural geothermal pools in the country. 
 
There is something special about taking a dip surrounded by nothing but the wild nature of Iceland. You start to feel small against the backdrop of such beauty. There’s a rush of exhilaration, followed by a settling of stillness. This is what travel is all about, and why so many feel a magnetic pull to Iceland long after they’ve returned home. So, pack your bathing suit and mark these natural hot springs down on your itinerary – you won’t regret it.
 
 

What’s the difference between Natural Hot Springs vs. Geothermal Swimming Pools? 

Natural Hot Springs (hydrothermal or geothermal springs) are found across Iceland and are geothermally heated groundwater that rises from the Earth's crust. The temperature in the springs can vary from mildly warm to very hot so you need to be careful where you decide to go for a soak.
 
Geothermal pools are for the most part man-made. The source of heat for these pools comes from geothermal activity as well but the water is cooled to the perfect temperature to bath in, between 34° to 40°C.
 
 
 

List of 10 Best Natural Hot Springs and Nature Pools in Iceland

Are you ready to learn about the best Icelandic Hot Springs? Where are the top best geothermal hot springs located in Iceland?
 
 
Photo credit; ©flickr
 
 
Reykjadalur – the Hot Spring River
One of the most well-known Icelandic hot springs is the river that runs through Reykjadalur (smokey valley). Located in the mountains behind the town of Hveragerði, the entire area is incredibly geothermally active. Spilling out from an unseen source, the river that runs through the valley and mountains goes from boiling hot to freezing cold. But somewhere in the middle, there’s a patch where the temperature is perfect for bathing.
To get there, head out the back of town and you’ll find the trailhead next to a small café. From here, it’s a gentle uphill walk that will take about an hour, the path meandering past steaming fumaroles and electric blue pools (boiling hot – don’t touch!). The bathing area of the river is marked by a few boardwalks for access and partitions that you can get changed behind. Stake out a spot in the river and enjoy a nice long soak as a reward for your efforts.
Looking for some affordable, comfortable and environmentally friendly accommodation? A short drive from Hveragerði is the Selfoss HI Hostel, or if you want to be on the coast, the Eyrarbakki HI Hostel.
 
 
Photo credit; ©Morlion
 
 
Landmannalaugar – Soaking in the Highlands
For anyone with a bucket list of Icelandic destinations to visit on a trip, you’ll usually find Landmannalaugar somewhere up the top. Intense rhyolite mountains show off their colourful minerals, while expansive lava fields add a touch of contrast. Part of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, hikers are drawn here like bees to honey.
Next to the main campsite where everyone stays (it gets very crowded in the summer) is a large hot spring. In fact, it must be one of the largest natural hot springs in the entire country, and usually there’s a large crowd of travellers soaking in it after a long day of hiking the trails. But it doesn’t spoil its beauty. Getting to Landmannalaugar requires a 4x4 vehicle, or else you’ll need to catch a bus. The area is only accessible over the summer, so if you’re in Iceland for a winter trip, you’ll have to return another time. 
 
 
Photo credit; ©Smulli
 
 
Viti, geothermal lake in Askja – Take a Dip in a Volcano
North of the massive glacier Vatnajökull, there’s an expansive volcanic desert. Utterly remote and unforgiving, this region of the highlands is Iceland’s landscapes at their most powerful and raw. Making up part of that landscape is Askja, a 50km² volcanic caldera created when an underground lava chamber collapsed in on itself during an eruption. Taking up a large part of the caldera is the lake Öskjuvatn, Iceland’s deepest lake with a maximum depth of 217 metres. Immediately next to it is the Viti volcanic crater, the bottom of which is filled with the most exciting natural hot spring in the country. Filled with milky blue water reminiscent of the Blue Lagoon on the Reykjanes Peninsula, the water here sits at around 22°C. You’ll quickly forgive the temperature though; the surrounding landscapes are a worthy trade off.
As beautiful as this spot is, it’s perhaps the trickiest hot spring to reach on this list. The mountain roads to the destination are notoriously difficult to tackle, with plenty of river crossings and incredibly rough patches. We recommend basing yourself in Akureyri and taking one of the many day tours that head out to the location. Experienced drivers in super jeeps handle the rivers and roads with ease.
 
 
Photo credit; ©westfjords.is
 
 
Hellulaug – Natural Beauty of the Westfjords
The Westfjords still remain Iceland’s least visited destinations; more people travel to the highlands for the few months they’re accessible than this region. But that’s part of its charm. It takes a hefty detour from Route 1 to get here, but the rewards are great. It’s where the extremes of Iceland all come together. Huge mountains dive down into sparkling fjords; dirt tracks wind up over perilous mountain passes; and tiny fishing villages cling to the coasts, with miniscule populations.
As you drive into the southern area of the Westfjords, you’ll come across one of the region’s best natural hot springs: Hellulaug. Tucked away below the main road to the east of Flókalundur Hotel, this natural pool enjoys beautiful views over the fjord. The area is part of the Vatnsfjörður Nature Reserve, known for its gorgeous rivers, mountain heaths and varied birdlife.
 
 
Photo credit; ©Lisa
 
 
Landbrotalaug hot spring – One at a Time
The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is nicknamed ‘Iceland in miniature’ for good reason. Packed together on this long stretch of country is everything you’ll find around the rest of the country. From windswept black sand beaches to rushing waterfalls and even an icy glacier, it’s all here. There are also plenty of hot springs; some diverted into pools, others left as natural as can be.
Landbrotalaug is one of the more natural pools on the peninsula. It’s a tiny but deep hot spring, with room enough for just one (or two, if you’re feeling friendly) person at a time. It’s also very deep – the water will come up to most people’s chests, sometimes even your neck. But the views out towards the beautiful coast are wonderful.
 
 
Photo credit; ©East.is
 
 
Laugarvellir – the Hot Spring Waterfall - Laugavallalaug
Still very much off the radar of most travellers in Iceland is the Laugarvellir hot spring in East Iceland. Located in the eastern fringes of the highland region, it remains quite difficult to reach, requiring a 4x4 to tackle the F-road and cross rivers. But the experience of soaking underneath a hot waterfall is one that you won’t soon forget.
As stated above, access is tricky. Travellers need to make their way to the Kárahnjúkar Dam at the end of Route 910. After you’ve passed it though, the road turns into an F-Road (F910), where it’s illegal to take regular vehicles. Follow the road for about 5km, take the left fork in the road and continue until you see the parking area. There are a few rivers to cross along the way, and the track is very rough. For those without a 4x4, it is possible to leave your car at the dam and hike the 20km to the area.
 
 
Photo credit; ©jbdodane
 
 
Hveravellir – The Highland Oasis
Strike north from Gullfoss (the final stop along the Golden Circle) along Route F35 and you’ll eventually come across the Hveravellir geothermal area. This nature reserve situated between Langjökull and Hofsjökull is a geothermal wonderland; beautiful colours caused by minerals in the earth, volcanic fissures, craters and vents, and steaming fumaroles are all here. It’s one of the prettiest in Iceland. And with it all comes a gorgeous hot spring as well. Comfortably able to fit 20 people at a time, you’ll have no trouble finding a spot to sit and soak for a while. 
 
 
 
Gvendarlaug – Steaming on the Strandir Coast
The Strandir Coast in the Westfjords is a remote stretch of wild landscapes, remote communities and rich folklore (mostly to do with witches). It’s also the site of many a fantastic swimming pool, with many swimmers making the long drive to the end of the road where the famous Krossneslaug sits. But there’s also a beautiful natural hot spring in this area, hidden within plain sight and overlooked by most: Gvendarlaug.
The name refers to three different swimming areas. The first and most important is the neat circlular hot pool, with grey stones bordering it in. While it’s very tempting, swimming in this one is prohibited as it’s classified as an archeological site. There’s a large manmade swimming pool as well, but right next to that is the creek from where the hot water flows. Jump in the small swimming area for your dose of something more natural. As a spooky bonus, peek through the windows of the nearby Sorcerer’s Cottage, once a part of the Icelandic Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft.
 
 
Photo credit; ©Una
 
 
Strútslaug Geothermal pool
Strútslaug is very remote and it is located between two glaciers Torfajökull and Mýrdalsjökull. The pool is where a geothermal river and a glacial river converge to create this natural hot spring in the remote Highlands. 
You need to have a 4x4 wheel jeep to get there and it is about an hour walk from the road. There are no changing facilities, so be prepared to get naked in the wild.
 
 
Photo credit; ©Heydalur.is
 
 
Heydalur Geothermal Hot Pot
Heydalur hot pool is a perfect natural, hole in the ground, right next to the running river. The water is about 40 degrees. Actually, there are three pools in the area to choose from: one small indoor pool, a man-made rocky pool and a tiny natural hot spring.
 
 
 

James Taylor is a travel journalist from Australia who lived in Iceland for three years.

Falling in love with the country, he began to write about his travels for magazines and websites in Australia, Europe and the U.S.A.