Iceland is like a winter wonderland which means that deeper you dig the more you end up finding things and places that no one has ever been to before. Even though many parts of Iceland have already been explored by someone or other, most tourists get to visit the ones which have been explored, cleaned, developed and prepared to welcome them. Of course, this applies to place like hot springs and not glaciers or lava caves. There are about 170 different hot springs and geothermal baths in the country. Some of these are located in very convenient locations like the Blue Lagoon and others a bit on the off road side like Guðrúnarlaug hot spring. Some of these hot springs are well known among the locals and the visitors alike for their beauty and exceptional services like spas and sauna while others are known for being located in exotic locations and natural untouched beauty.
The Hidden Treasures – Hidden Hot Springs
Natural and ready-made beauties aside, there is some well-hidden surprises along the road that may leave you in astonishment when you stumble upon them. These surprises are known as the hidden hot springs of Iceland. Hidden, but not a total secret, these hot springs are located out there, in the open and yet a passer-by would simply miss them because they are placed so cunningly – hidden in between or behind big rocks, in the middle of grounds filled with lush green grass, or behind the huge mountains. Because of this, not so many people talk about these hot springs and therefor they are not well known by travelers. But, with a little preparation, some road trips and a few snack-stops away lie some of the most wonderful places to be on the planet – away from most of the eyes, preserved in their raw, natural form.
Some of the Top Hidden Hot Springs in Iceland
Following we have a carefully put together list of the top hidden hot springs in Iceland, the way you can reach these places, and the coordinates to help you get there.
Hákarlavogur Hot Spring
Located on private land, Hákarlavogur hot spring is probably one of the best-hidden gems that Iceland has up its sleeves. It is located near the Gjögur airport, Hákarlavogur is hidden behind some huge cliff in a bay so it is quite hard to notice or catch it off guard. The Hákarlavogur translates to shark’s bay in English which quite suits its existence. The construction site of this pool, Gjögur, was known for being a popular shark fishing place and witnessed around 30 shark fishing trips every year. To reach the destination, you will have to drive past the Gjögur airport in Árneshreppur district, Westfjords, to the end of the runway. The road will have you come to a bay called Akurvík. It is ion the cliffs of this bay where our hot spring is located.
Hákarlavogur is such a thing of beauty that you will instantly fall in love with the moment you lay your eyes upon it. The pool is located amidst a natural cluster of rocks form a spring-like structure on three sides. The fourth side of the pool is held up by a man-made concrete wall. Water that this hot spring gets initially is way hotter than what normally one would prefer for baths in the cold season. But thanks to the ocean nearby, the water cools down from its original 65°C temperature and comes down to a bathing temperature of 38° to 40°C. Still, it is recommended that you check the temperature of the water before stepping into the pool. 6-8 people can fit into the pool at a single time so if you are planning a group trip, this might be it for you. Since the hot spring is located on a private property we recommend that you ask the farmers if it is okay for you to dip into the hot spring.
The coordinates to the spring are:
Skátalaug Hot Spring
This hot spring is a treat for the fans of Man vs Wild. Located on the Reykjanes peninsula, on the southern end of lake Kleifarvatn. Skátalaug is a hot spring which is located in the earth’s crust itself. There is no stone marking to identify the area of spring and it is hidden between the grass and such flora of the area. This is why it is often missed by the passersby as it looks nothing more than a puddle at first glance. But truth be told, this little puddle will turn out to be a puddle of joy if nothing more because it is big enough to let you have a swim across.
This particular hot spring is not very well known and hence you may have it all to yourself even in peak tourism season. The temperature of the water in the spring stays up at around 34°C. It comes from a nearby geothermal area. The water first goes to a nearby smaller pool and then it is transferred into Skátalaug hot spring through iron pipes. The size of the pool is 14 x 5 meters which means that it can fit 35-40 people at once. There is no solid base to the pool so some dirt may get unsettled as you step inside. There are no changing rooms per se in the area so, bring a bag to keep your clothes.
To reach this beautiful, raw piece of nature, drive to Grindavík from the national airport and take route 427 towards the east. Turn on route 42 and drive till you get to the Pink Hill or Bleikhóll which will be visible on your right. Make a turn towards the west which goes to the mountains. Drive for a couple of meters and take a left turn. Then keep driving till you reach the point showing on your GPS. You can use the given coordinates to find the hot spring.
Sturlungalaug Hot Spring
Sturlungalaug the perfect place for anyone wanting to visit a unique natural hot spring in the middle of nowhere, and most likely be able to spend the time alone with nature. The hot spring is located in west Iceland on your way to Snæfellsnes Peninsula and is located in the middle of a grassy field surrounded by mountain views, lava fields and the view of a crater.
You can find two hot springs at Sturlungalaug, located almost side by side. The larger pool is 3 x 7 meters and with a temperature of around 40°C and can fit up to 8-10 people.
Sturlungalaug is not one of those clean hot springs since it is made of turf and there is mud in the bottom of the pool.
This hot spring truly is a hidden gem. Not many people know about the hot spring and it can be pretty hard to find – because of that you are likely to have the hot spring all to yourself. When driving to the pool, you should turn of Snæfellsnesvegi 54 to road 55 along Heydalur. When you arrive to Rauðhhálsar to your left, you should turn from the road and take the road north of Eldgígur Crater. The drive on this road to the pool is around 6,3 kilometers. It is a gravel road that is accessible for all vehicles.
When you reach Syðri – Rauðamelur farm, you should turn to Syðri-Rauðamelskúla crater. The pool is located southeast of the crater. A couple of hundred meters from the pool you can find a borehole and a small cabin that you can use to change your clothes. You can also just change your clothes in the car and jump into the pool.
Visiting this pool is a very unique experience. It can be tricky to find it but it will be worth it.
Strútslaug Hot Spring
This is the place to be for all the nature lovers out there. Located in an elusive, lush green landscape, the Strútslaug hot spring finds its home between Torfajökull and the famous Mýrdalsjökull glaciers. It gets its water from a geothermal river and is located on the bank of the same river. This hot spring is not known to most people – not even the ones who are traveling around the country looking explicitly for hot springs. So, you can expect to find little to no people when you get there. Take note that there are no changing facilities nearby so you may have to change out in the open, the old-fashioned way.
You will need a 4×4 vehicle to travel in the nearby area of the hot spring and the road that leads to it. After you have driven to the nearest road of the spring, you will be taking a 1-hour long walk among the glaciers and the valley before you can finally reach the spring. The exact coordinates to the place are given below. Upon arrival, you will find two seemingly big pools by the bank of the geothermal river. The landscape is simply breathtaking with huge moss and grass-covered glacier dominating it. Your efforts will be paid in full at the destination.
Hörgshlíðarlaug Hot Spring
This is a hidden hot spring located on private property in the depths of Mjóifjörður fjords. The view is simply exquisite at this spring, as one would expect of Iceland. Hörgshlíðarlaug hot spring is situated on the shore with high and mighty mountains looking over it – presenting a landscape that anyone would love their baths to have. Unlike many other hidden hot springs in Iceland, Hörgshlíðarlaug has not been left to its natural state. It is well constructed with a concrete pool and a shed-like room on the side which can be used as a changing room when you visit for a soak.
The temperature of the pool water is always around 40°C which is perfect to bathe. The pool is 2×6 meters big and 80 centimeters deep. Take route number 663 to reach the Mjóifjörður fjords and take a short drive of 2 kilometers from there to finally reach the pool which is located by the sea. The owners of the land open the pool free of charge. You are expected to leave the pool clean as a token of gratitude towards the hosts and mother nature itself. The exact coordinates to the pool are:
Heydalur Hot Springs
Heydalur hot springs are a group of 3 hot spring or pools 2 of which are outdoors and one is an indoor pool in a greenhouse. While the indoor pool is quite well-known, the outside pools, especially the original hot spring, are not very popular among the tourist. But they have all the reasons to be. Heydalur is known as the hot spring that was blessed by the pope. Pope Guðmundur góði, who also went by the name Guðmundur the good, blessed the hot spring in the 12th century. The indoor man-made swimming pool has drawn some attention while the outside pools are a bit lesser-known.
The first outdoor pool is man-made with stones. The water is pumped into it from the ground. The second outdoor pool is just a small 2×4 meter hole in the ground, located a short walk away from the farm which has the other two pools. This is the original spring of Heydalur and has been in the same place since the 12th century. The spring is 50 cm deep and can fit about 5 people. The water stays at a temperature of 40°C. There is a small shed nearby where you can change clothes. Below are the coordinates to the pool. You can also find it by asking for directions at the farm.
Laugavallalaug Thermal Pool
A gem among rocks instead of coal, this beautiful spring could be the highlights of East highlands had it not been for the more than just a little tricky to get there. Located deep in the chambers of highlands, Laugarvallalaug Natural hot spring finds home in the Laugavalladalur valley. You can find it north to the Kárahnjúkavirkjun and Vatnajökull Glacier. What makes this spring so special is that it is like an oasis of the east highlands – the only area with some water and flora in the middle of nowhere. But since it is very hard to reach there, given the difficulty level of conquering the highlands, not many travelers know about it.
Near the abandoned farm of Laugavellir, there flows a small geothermal stream that meets a small waterfall. The waterfall falls straight into a pool that you can dive into and enjoy a nice hot bath with water at 40°C. There is another pool above the waterfall but the water in it is at about 70°C. It cools down to bathing temperature when it gets mixed with another stream of cold water. To access the pool, you will need a sturdy 4×4 car. Take the route to Kárahnjúkar which goes from Egilsstaðir. After that, it is about a 7-kilometer long ride to the bath on a gravel road. Just a few minutes away there is a campsite which can be accessed either on foot or in a 4×4 by crossing a creek. You can follow the given coordinates to get to the spring as well.
Djúpavogskörin Thermal Baths
Djúpavogskörin hot springs is another little piece of heaven in East Iceland. It is located right off the ring road but since it is behind a rock, it is not visible to the passersby. The pool was put up by the locals to enjoy the thermal baths. There is a small deck made along with the pool. When you finally get there, you will find that there is nothing but the pool for miles along. A small trail from the road will lead you to the bath. There are no changing facilities in the near surroundings. You can enjoy the wondrous view of the fjords while bathing and forget your worries. When you are on the ring road moving towards the stream, look for a lush green area as that will be your cue to the trail. There you will find the trail that leads to the bath. The following are the coordinates to help you get to the destination.
Nauteyrarlaug Hot Spring & Hot Tub
A beauty located in the Westfjords, Nauteyrarlaug hot spring is a spring made of stone and rocks. It is a spring with very clean water which is always at bathing temperature and since the spring is not very well-known among the travelers, it is almost free of people. The water is always at 40-42°C which comes to form a nearby borehole – the source of the spring water. Take road number 653 takes you to the spring. Follow the given coordinates below to get close to the spring. When you see yourself close to the pin on GPS, make a right turn and you will get to the spring after driving for only 100-200 meters.
When you are at it, visit the Nauteyrarlaug hot tub as well. It is pretty close to the spring and well-worth your time. The pool measures 1.5 x 1.5 meters. Take road 635 and drive past Nauteyrarkirkja church till you reach a salmon farm. Take the first left turn after the farm and you will reach the hot tub after 20-30 meters only.
Less of a spring and more of a man-made swimming pool, Reykjafjarðarlaug is one of the most beautiful bathing spaces in Iceland which are located out in the open. There are two pools in the vicinity – one large and the other one smaller. The larger one was built in 1975 and used to be the site for swimming lessons for kids in Bíldudalur. It measures 16 x 10 meters and is 1.2 – 1.8 meters deep. The water stays at a temperature of 32°C and the pool is always in good shape. There is a changing room next to it as well.
Upon the hill, a bit far away from the concrete pool, you can find the other smaller contemporary of the larger pool. It is a natural pool and is accompanied by another, dry and empty pool made of turf. The one with water measures 6x 4 meters and is 50 cm deep. The water is at a bathing temperature of 45°C. The following are the GPS coordinates to help you get there. The pool is located right off the road so it won’t be difficult to find it.
Reykjafoss Hot Waterfall
Reykjafoss is a small waterfall on river Varmá that runs through the town of Hveragerði. Hveragerði is better known as the hot spring capital of the country because of the many hot springs that can be found here. River Varmá is popular because of the temperature that the water flaunts. On any normal day, it is somewhere around 17°C but on a bright sunny day, the river flows at a temperature of 20-25° C. People of Hveragerði often bath in the river in the summer season. It is also a popular sport to jump off the cliff into the waterfall for fun here. The waterfall is 3-meter high and 15-meter wide. Located in the heart of the village, it is very easy to find the waterfall. Travel the small bridge on the river Varmá and then follow the stream to get to the waterfall. When you are in the area, you can choose to visit some of the hot springs as well, if you feel like it. The coordinates to get to the waterfall are:
While exploring a place like Iceland is always a joy, it gets even better when you discover the hidden treasure of a glorious country like this. The best part is that since almost all the top hidden hot springs in Iceland are located off the beaten track, you will get to have a dose of thrill when traveling to them. So, in literal terms, the ride will begin with excitement, followed by thrill and end in a true state of relaxation with you soaking, soothing waters. If you have a thing for treasure hunts and soaking your troubles away then you have got your treasure map in this guide to the hidden springs of Iceland. So, pack the backpack and get set on the trail – happy exploring the little known!