Hot Springs in Iceland: Names, Facts, and Features

Hot Springs in Iceland

Iceland is famous for many things, most of them with the land’s geography and awe-inspiring nature. Because of its unique history and positioning along an area where two tectonic plates meet, the country is host to quite a bit of geothermal activity. 

Geothermal activity can have to do with volcanic eruptions, geysers, and quite a few other heat-producing natural phenomena. One of the most beloved of these is the hot spring. iceland isn’t land flowing with milk and honey but with deliciously warm water.

A hot spring is a spot that contains naturally heated water, most often due to underground volcanic activity. Iceland has more than 45 hot springs that have been discovered across the island. These services have more than 200 swimming pools, many natural and outdoors.

The largest hot spring in Iceland is also the largest and among the most sizzling hot springs in Europe. The hot spring’s name is Deildartunguhver. It is located on a farm in the Western region of Iceland.

You should know that not all hot springs are good swimming spots. Some of them are so hot that they burn your skin in seconds. These scalding spots are often used as geothermal energy sources rather than recreational swimming spots.

If you look for a good spot to go swimming in a hot spring, keep an eye out for their characteristics. For example, because of the heat of the water, there will almost always be steam rising from the spring. 

Because of their mineral-rich waters, there is often a ring around the spring that sustains all kinds of unique microorganisms. Also, because of these minerals, hot springs have been said to have healing powers and can be pretty good for your skin.

Out of the 45 hot springs in Iceland, we will cover the top twenty-one. Those hot springs and their temperatures include:

  • Blue Lagoon: 98-104 °F (36-40 °C)
  • Seljavallalaug: 68-86 °F (20-35 °C)
  • Reykjadalur Steam Valley: 104 ºF (40 ºC)
  • Kvika Geothermal Footbath: 102 ºF (39 ºC)
  • Landbrotalaug: 96-104 °F (35-40°C)
  • Lake Mývatn Nature Bath: 98-104 °F (36-40 °C)
  • Gamla Laugin: 100-104 °F (38-40 °C)
  • Hveravellir: 64-102 ºF (18-39 ºC)
  • Hrunalaug: 104 °F (40 ºC)
  • Deildartunguhver: 207-212 °F (97-100°C)
  • The Great Geysir: 102-109 °F (39-43°C)
  • Kualaug: 100 ºF (38 ºC)
  • Brimketill: 68-86 °F (20-30 °C)
  • Gunnuhver: 570 ºF (300 ºC)
  • Guðrúnarlaug: 100 ºF (38 ºC)
  • Hellulaug: 100 ºF (38 ºC)
  • Pollurinn: 104-113 °F (40-45 ºC)
  • Grjótagjá: +122 ºF (+50 ºC)
  • Hveragerði: +180 °F (+80 °C)
  • Hverir: 176-212 °F (80°-100 °C)
  • Seltún: 93-122 °F (34-50 °C)

We dig deeper into each of Iceland’s top 21 hot springs throughout this article. We give you all the information regarding whether its temperature makes it safe to swim in or not, how to get there, its cultural significance, and settlements close to it. In the end, you will be an expert on the hot springs in Iceland.

1. Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is the most well-known and popular hot spring in Iceland. In Icelandic, its name is Bláa lónið. However, it is no longer just a hot spring but has been transformed into a geothermal resort and spa in the southwestern region of Iceland at 63.8792 degrees North and 22.4495 degrees West.

The Blue Lagoon is 8,700 square meters and holds a whopping 9 million liters of geothermally heated seawater. On average, its depth is only 1.2 meters, but it can get up to 1.6 meters deep. As a result, it only takes 40 hours for the water to cycle through and refill itself completely.

The Blue Lagoon is the easiest hot spring to reach since you can take a bus straight from Keflavik International Airport. The pool is only a 45-minute drive from Reykjavik. The closest settlement to stay in is Grindavik. If you want to take a tour of this hot spring, you are in luck. Most of the most popular tour packages in Iceland will include a visit to the Blue Lagoon.

The Blue Lagoon gets most of its hot water from the Svartsengi geothermal plant set up to help stabilize the area of the Reykjanes peninsula. It is a highly active volcanic area. The last eruption was in 1240.

2. Seljavallalaug

Seljavallalaug is a hot spring that has been transformed into an outdoor swimming pool in the Southern region of Iceland. It is about 10 kilometers east of Ásólfsskáli at 63 degrees North and 19 degrees West. It has an area of about 25 meters and is one of the oldest formal outdoor swimming pools in Iceland. It was built in 1923, and its temperature has stayed stable since then. 

The most common way to get a visit to this outdoor swimming pool is through a tour of Iceland’s south coast. There are quite a few day tours where you will stop by the pool. However, if you want to take your time in it, you should book a self-drive package to the pool. It is not very popular with tourists since it is a ways off the beaten track and is typically only frequented by locals.

3. Reykjadalur Steam Valley

Many hot springs are less of a spring and more of a pool or hot pond. The Reykjadalur Steam Valley is in the Southern region of Iceland and is a true spring. It flows through a beautiful part of Iceland, partially thanks to the minerals that liven up its area.

Reykjadalur is just north of the village of Hveragerði. It is very popular to hike to it after you have driven into Hveragerði, only a 40-minute drive from Reykjavik. The hike from the village is three kilometers. It will take anywhere from 40 to 70 minutes to get to the first of the hot pools in the river.

The name ‘Reykjadalur’ translates to Steam Valley. The reason for it will be evident once you have hiked into the valley. Towards the end of the hike, the view opens up to a steaming valley full of warm water and pools along the river.

4. Kvika Geothermal Footbath

This hot spring is called a foot bath because it is only about a meter around facing the ocean. It is just outside of Reykjavik in the Capital Region of Iceland. The foot pool is only deep enough to put your foot into and has a convenient lip to sit on around it, almost like a mini hot tub.

This footpath is close to the Grotta lighthouse in an area that many people go to from the city to hike around outside. Unfortunately, this is not a naturally-occurring hot spring. Instead, it was created for public use in 2005 as a work of art by the Icelandic artist Ólöf Nordal. Its name ‘Kvika’ translates to ‘Magma.’

You don’t need a tour to get here easily. Since it is always open for public access, you can easily get a taxi or public transport to the lighthouse and take a short walk to the footbath.

5. Landbrotalaug

Landbrotalaug is known as one of Iceland’s most romantic hot springs spots. It is easy to drive to and is only a short walk from the parking space. However, the spring is not large, only a couple of square meters, meaning it can only fit two or three people at a time. It is just known as Reykjavik in the Capital region off of the main Route 54. It is located at 64.8331 degrees North and 22.4161 degrees West.

One characteristic that makes Landbrotalaug so romantic is its location on the beautiful Snaefellsnes Peninsula. It is also a pretty hidden spot that makes it feel very personal once you find it. Landbrotalaug has two hot springs in the area. One is about three times the size of the smaller one, better for groups of people.

6. Lake Mývatn Nature Bath

Lake Mývatn is one of the larger, better-known lakes in Iceland. It is only south of the Arctic Circle by about 65 miles. Yet you will barely realize it when you visit the Myvatn Nature Baths. They are at the lake’s edge as man-made pools that take advantage of the area’s geothermal activity.

The pools are pretty large, lagoon-like outdoor baths. They look similar to the waters at the Blue Lagoon, milky blue because of the minerals in the water. The baths are about 54,000 square feet, giving you plenty of space.

These are formal outdoor baths, and you will need to get tickets to visit them. You can also book a tour that will take you around the country from Reykjavik. The baths are in the Northeastern region of the country. Although they are about a six-hour drive from Reykjavik, they are easily accessed if you take the Ring Road or Golden Circle around Iceland.

7. Gamla Laugin

Gamla Laugin is inside a small village called Flúðir, located about an hour and a half by car from Reykjavik. Its GPS coordinates are 64.1374 degrees North and 20.3094 degrees West. It is also called the Secret Lagoon since it is small and somewhat hidden. It is only about 1 meter at its deepest.

This is another man-made pool that is fed by a natural hot spring. The hot spring is located at Hverahólmi. It has become the oldest pool in Iceland, initially constructed in 1891. It is pretty impressive that the temperature has not fluctuated since its creation.

Around Gamla Laugin, there are small walking paths, several other geothermal hot spots, and even a small geyser that erupts approximately every five minutes. Watch for signs that denote whether certain pools might be too hot for swimming.

8. Hveravellir

Hveravellir is a stunning find in the central part of the highlands of Iceland. It is called the Oasis of the Highland. It naturally originates from the subglacial volcanic system of Oddnýjarhnjúkur-Langjökull north of the famous Langjökull glacier.

Anywhere in the center of Iceland is more inconvenient to reach than those locations around the island’s perimeter. Nevertheless, you can join tours that incorporate this pearl of the highlands. However, they will range from three to nine days, depending on the tour you choose.

Hveravellir is not just one hot pool but a plain of hot springs. Many hot springs make up this geothermal plane. There are also ruins from when an outlaw camped out at the springs in the 18th century. 

There are huts and shelters in the area you can use without a tour. This area is one of the only locations inhabited year-round in the Icelandic highlands.

9. Hrunalaug

Hrunalaug is a hot spring in the country’s southern area, about an hour and a half away from Reykjavik. It is close to Selfoss if you want an area to stay in after your visit. It is only five minutes off the Golden Circle, making it one of Iceland’s most easily accessible and popular hot springs.

Hrunalaug has built structures made for swimming within the hot spring. It does cost to visit but is based on the honor system for the local farmer who keeps up the beautiful hot spring. It only costs 1,000ISK, roughly $7.50 USD. Keep in mind that you need to pay the fee in cash. 

Hrunalaug has three different pools, which all vary in temperature. However, all of them are swimmable, ranging from lukewarm to toasty, particularly in the cold temperatures of Iceland’s climate.

10. Deildartunguhver

Deildartunguhver is a hot spring within the Reykholtsdaulr Valley, which is all quite steamy because of the site’s significant amount of geothermal activity. It is located about 60 miles from the historic and famous Reykholt village.

This hot spring is beautiful and excellent to visit. However, don’t entertain any ideas of touching it, much less swimming in it. This hot spring is one of Europe’s most powerful and hottest. It is scaldingly hot and will immediately cause burns. However, even the steam can be too much if you get too close.

This hot spring has a rapid flow rate. It pushes about 180 liters of water per second along its bed. This, combined with its heat, makes it a superb source of geothermal energy.

11. The Great Geysir

The Great Geysir has a lot of historical significance. It is a geyser in a geothermally active area. Although the geyser itself is not a hot spring, there are hot springs around it. The Great Geysir was the first geyser to be described in a printed source for Europeans. Unfortunately, the Great Geysir has stopped erupting within the last five years. Now, the neighboring geyser called Strokkur is the area’s main attraction. It erupts every 4 to 10 minutes.

The Great Geysir was named in Icelandic, and it is from the Icelandic word that the word ‘geyser’ comes from in English. You can book many tours around the Golden Circle that incorporate the Great Geysir and surrounding geothermal area.

12. Kualaug

Kualaug is not just one hot spring. Instead, it is a set of two small pools naturally occurring in the area around Bláskógabyggð. There is quite a bit of delicate flora that grows around these ponds, so it is best to take quite a bit of care when getting in and out of the pools.

There aren’t any changing facilities, and there isn’t a setup to make it safer to get in and out of the pools. Be mindful of your footing so you don’t slip on wet grass. Also, there aren’t any tours that take you straight to these hot pools. Instead, you can explore them on a self-driving tour around Iceland.

Kualaug is off of Road 35 at GPS points 64.3258, -20.2797. It is only an hour and a half drive from Reykjavik through part of Thingvellir, one of the prettiest parts of Iceland.

13. Brimketill

Brimketill is a lava rock pool on the Reykjanes Peninsula. It is a natural pool at the bottom of a cliff along the ocean’s edge. It is a dramatic area, particularly during the winter. Unfortunately, it is a tricky spot to get to since many of the roads around are not maintained, and it isn’t well signposted.

Brimketill is about 10 kilometers away from Grindavik. It has a small car park and has recently had a viewing platform constructed to keep tourists safe from the jagged lava rocks along the coastline. In calm weather and low tide, you can look into Brimketill and see the lava at the bottom of the basin.

14. Gunnuhver

Gunnuhver isn’t the only hot spring. Instead, it is a whole geothermal area close to the road known as ‘the Bridge Across Two Continents.’ It is accessible by vehicle, and there are a couple of parking lots close to the area if you want to do a self-drive tour to get there.

Gunnuhver comprises a range of colorful geothermal mud pools and fumaroles. It is highly active, and you will likely be able to see the steam vents from miles away. The steam alone is almost 600 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can’t get very close to the actual hot spring.

The legend around this hot spring has to do with a woman named ‘Gunna’ who was believed by the locals to be a witch almost 400 years ago. Her cauldron was taken from her, and she ended up starving herself to death. 

Her poltergeist haunted and killed the locals until a priest laid a trap for her and threw her into the hot spring. Since then, it has been unearthly hot. Some people believe the presence of all the steam means her ghost is still hanging onto the edge of the pool instead of being trapped within it.

15. Guðrúnarlaug

Guðrúnarlaug is called a hot tub more frequently than a hot spring. It is in the West region of Iceland, known for its Viking culture. The hot tub and its changing room are very well-maintained by locals. It has an incredibly rich history, and there are signs close by describing it for those who are interested in the Viking families and trials that took place in the area.

This hot spring was covered for 140 after a landslide fell on it. A replica has been remade in style it was believed to have had back in the Viking age. The changing rooms are constructed in the same way. It is one of the only historically accurate hot tubs from a hot spring in Iceland.

16. Hellulaug

Hellulaug is another geothermal hot pool in the Westfjords in Iceland. It is one of the more private hot springs since it is still in a less popular part of Iceland and mostly off the ‘tourist radar.’

Hellulaug is close to the ocean, and you can watch unique birds such as the Oystercatcher on the beach while relaxing in the warmth of the pool. It is only a couple of meters wide and about four meters long, but large enough and clean enough to enjoy with multiple people.

These hot springs are close to Vatnsfjörður on the south coast of the Westfjords. If you need a place to stay, the Hótel Flókalundur is close by. You can take the Ring Road until you get past Bifröst. Then, you turn left onto Road 60 and follow it carefully until you reach the pool.

17. Pollurinn

The Pollurinn hot spring looks like an actual pool. It is one of the few geothermal pools you can find in the Westfjords. Although the pool itself doesn’t hold a lot of natural beauty, it does afford great views into the Westfjords when you are in it.

Pollurinn is known by locals as the Puddle because of the small size of the hot spring. It is just outside of the village of Tálknafjörður. It can only be accessed during the summer because of its location in the Westfjords.

18. Grjótagjá

Most of the hot springs in Iceland are above ground. The subterranean nature of Grjótagjá makes it unique. It is very close to the Myvatn hot springs in the Northern regions of the country. The best time to visit it is in the summer since access can sometimes be limited during the winter.

Grjótagjá is a small lava cave that now holds a geothermal hot spring. It was first discovered in the 18th century by the outlaw Jón Markússon. He could stay here safely since locals believed some trolls lived in the lava caves around the country. 

After the outlaw died, the locals rediscovered the pool and used it as a bathing area until the 1970s. However, geothermal pools aren’t very reliable. After the eruptions in the Krafla volcanic system, the waters became too hot to use. After 1984 when the eruptions stopped, the temperatures cooled but can randomly heat up to boiling temperatures.

For this reason, you can visit the ethereal scene in the cave, but bathing is no longer allowed in Grjótagjá.

19. Hveragerði

Hveragerði is a whole area, not just a hot spring. The Hveragerði hot spring is a river trail that makes up part of the Steam Valley. It is one of the most popular hiking trails in Iceland since you can spend much of your time bathing in the warm water instead of putting in too much effort.

This area is only a couple of hours away from Reykjavik. Many tours take you to this hot spring. There is also a Hot Springs Hotel if you want to stay in the area instead of traveling back to Reykjavik for the night.

20. Hverir

Hverir is in a beautiful location in the Northeast region of Iceland, close to the Lake Myvatn swimming baths. This is a beautiful spot to visit, but it is far too hot to swim in. It is a spot noted for its geothermal activity and fumaroles that emit a lot of sulfuric gas. That is another reason it is not a very hospitable region to stay in for very long.

Hverir has multiple bubbling mud pools throughout the geothermal area. There are also geysers scattered throughout the area and colorful mud springs. It is at the foothill of Namafjall, which has a lookout point if you aren’t interested in getting too much closer. It’s easy to access and free. However, be aware of where you are in relation to the mud pots and geysers. 

21. Seltún

Seltún is an entire geothermal area, not only one hot spring. It looks almost like you can imagine Mars done when looking from certain areas. The area ranges from pools that you can swim into ones that are dangerously hot. People very rarely swim here for that reason.

The geothermal valley is located at 63.5349 degrees North and 22.317 degrees West. There is a boardwalk that is popular for tourists to use. It takes you safely through the geothermal area over many mud pots and fumaroles.

Seltún is part of the Reykjanes Nature Reserve. Some tours will take you through this area from Reykjavik since it is less than an hour away from the city to the south.

What are the facts about Hot Springs in Iceland?

Iceland is loaded with hot water and has some of the most phenomenal hot springs in the world. Interestingly, despite its small territory, Iceland has 45 hots springs. The huge number of hot springs is due to the pronounced geological activity in the area, mainly earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The youngest hot spring in Iceland is located in the northern corner of the country and was formed during the Holohraun eruption in 2014.  

How many Natural Hot Springs are in Iceland?

There are about 45 hot springs in Iceland. Some of these are very small or tributaries from other hot springs. Many of them are portions of geothermal valleys scattered throughout all of Iceland. Most geothermal areas are in Iceland’s Southwest, Northeast, and central highlands.

Which Region of Iceland has the most Hot Springs?

Reykjadalur has the hottest spring region in the southern portion of Iceland. It translates to Smokey Valley and is only a 50-minute drive from Reykjavik. Although it still has a highly active geothermal hub, the area has a currently extinct volcano. There is a main hot spring and dozens of smaller hot baths.

Which City has the most Icelandic Hot Springs?

The town of Hveragerdi of Iceland is only 28 miles from Reykjadalur and is the town most associated with this geothermal area.

What is the biggest Hot Spring in Iceland?

The largest hot spring in Iceland is Deildartunguhver. It is the biggest in Europe, dangerously hot, and incredibly fast. It is the most stunning in the winter because of the steamy contrast in hot water against the cold surroundings.

What is the smallest Hot Spring in Iceland?

Several hot springs are very small in Iceland. One naturally very small hot spring is Landbrotalaug. It is regarded as one of the most romantic hot springs because only one or two people can fit in at a time. It is on the Snaefellsnes peninsula.

The smallest man-made hot spring is the Kvika Geothermal Football. It is only a meter deep and thus can only be used to soak your feet. However, it is just outside Reykjavik, so it’s very easy to visit.

What is the hottest Hot Spring in Iceland?

The hottest hot spring in Iceland is also Deildartunguhver. It is 207-212°F (97°C -100°C) and pumps an incredible amount of water through the spring in a matter of seconds. Because of this heat and speed, it makes a great source of geothermal electricity. Unfortunately, it is not suitable for swimming since it is so hot that it will burn fast enough to drown even strong swimmers.

What is the oldest Hot Spring in Iceland?

Gamla Laugin is the oldest man-made swimming pool in the country. It was built back in 1891 for locals from Flúðir. In 1909, the first swimming lessons were held in the pool. Unfortunately, it went into a state of neglect for a while when a new pool was built in the village in 1947. However, it has since bounced back in popularity.

What is the prominence of Hot Springs for Iceland Geography?

Hot springs have long been influential across all of Iceland’s geography. There are numerous myths, legends, and stories about them throughout Viking culture. These started shortly after discovering hot springs in Iceland after the settlement of the Norsemen around 900 AD.

One of the reasons they are so important is the cold climate of the island year-round. However, many hot springs have changed over the past millennia due to eruptions in the various volcanic regions across Iceland.

How are Hot Springs Occured in Iceland?

Thanks to its location between two tectonic plates, the hot springs are scattered throughout Iceland. However, this location gives it a lot of volcanic and geothermal activity. It is lava interacting through only a few layers of rock with underground streams that eventually bubble up to the surface, creating hot springs.

Which Iceland Rivers are Hot Springs?

The most well-known actual river that doubles as a hot spring are Reykjadalur. The name actually translates to Steam Valley. However, this area incorporates a small river filled with swimming and bathing pools.

What is the effect of Hot Springs on Iceland Economy?

Tourism is one of the primary industries for Iceland’s economy. Much of the tourism is based on the unique nature you can find in Iceland, which incorporates the hot springs in geothermal areas. Hot springs are a significant draw for tourism. The Blue Lagoon alone receives about 2.3 million tourists each year.

What are the Hot Spring Tours in Iceland?

There are many hot spring tours in Iceland and more that incorporate hot springs into the overall tour. Therefore, the tour you take will depend on the hot spring you want to visit. 

What are the Prices of Hot Spring Tours in Iceland?

The prices of hot spring tours in Iceland vary dramatically. Some of them are free to access, but a tour to it might cost you several hundred American dollars. Like tours to the Myvatn Baths, some involve trekking across the country and cost more than $2,000. However, there are some more budget-friendly hot spring tours starting at $50. It all depends on the length of the tour and other factors such as transportation method, sleeping arrangements, and whether there is any additional sightseeing included. 

What are the Best Hot Springs for Tourists?

The best hot springs for tourists in Iceland are the Sky Lagoon, the Secret Lagoon, and the Blue Lagoon. Each has a resort-style setup where you can easily stay after taking a long dip in the hot spring.

The Sky Lagoon is a newer pool only 15 minutes from the center of Reykjavik. The Blue Lagoon has long been one of Iceland’s most popular places to visit. It welcomes about 2.3 million people each year. Each day, about 6,000 people visit the lagoon.

What are the Hotels and Resorts to Stay near Iceland Hot Springs?

Each of the most popular hot springs in Iceland has resorts and hotels very near to facilitate tourism. For example, the Blue Lagoon has The Retreat at Blue Lagoon, the Silica Hotel, and the Northern Light Inn for those that want to stay close. In addition, since the Sky Lagoon is so close to Reykjavik, you can easily stay in the city while visiting the hot spring.

Are the Northern Lights visible from Icelandic Hot Springs?

Yes. The Northern Lights can be seen from many of the hot springs in Iceland since they are visible over most of Iceland. The Northern Lights are phenomena where stunning spirals of blue, purple, and green lights can be seen flickering in the sky. Many say that the best hot spring to watch the Northern Lights is Seljavallalaug.