Seljavallalaug: A Guide to the Geothermal Hot Spring


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Seljavallalaug is a hidden swimming pool in Iceland. It is hard to access the geothermal pool built in a secluded valley that is surrounded by magnificent mountains. It is one of the oldest swimming pools in Iceland filled with pleasantly warm water. Situated in an outdoor location, this pool offers you an awe-inspiring view of the mountains and natural beauty. It is nestled in the narrow valley of Eyjafjallajökull, a volcano that erupted in 2010. This is a 25m long and 10m wide pool and was the largest pool in Iceland until 1936. This pool is sure to astound the visitors as they relax in the realms of nature. It is located approximately 10 km east of Ásólfsskáli. Seljavallalaug is naturally fed with hot water. The temperature of the water is 20 to 30oC.

Seljavallalaug swimming pool seen from above

History of the Geothermal Pool

This outdoor swimming pool was built in 1932 by Bjorn Andresson Berjaneskoti and others who wanted to provide the locals of Seljavellir with a place to swim. Before this, though the majority of people made a living from fishing at the beginning of the 20th century, they did not know how to swim. Ever since 1927, swimming lessons are conducted in the pool as a part of mandatory coursework to graduate high school.  

The pool is built next to a rock that acts as one of the four walls. The water comes in from the natural hot spring located nearby. During the Eyjafjallajökull eruptions in 2010, the landscape and the pool were filled with ashes. However, with the dedicated help of volunteers and heavy equipment, the pool was cleaned by next year and open for use again.

Seljavallalaug natural swimming pool in south Iceland

The Temperature Settings

Seljavallalaug is not a hot tub. It is cooler on the shallow end and warmer near where the hot water enters. The water is preferably lukewarm measuring 20 to 35oC depending on the season. In summers, it may feel too warm to swim. But the temperature is comfortable to just float and relax. Between late autumn and early spring, the pool water is usually colder. However, Icelanders still traipse through the snow to take a dip in the pool during peak winter. 

The pool is 4ft. at the shallow end and the deepest point is around 6ft. It is not maintained by any official authority but is cleaned annually by a team of local volunteers.

Seljavallalaug natural swimming pool in south Iceland in winter

How to get there?

Getting to the pool is an adventure in itself. Visitors get to drive close to the secluded valley that homes this geothermal pool. When you drive to the location from Reykjavik, take a ring road (no. 1) into road 242 marked Raufarfell. You pass through Þorvaldseyri. Continue driving until you see a sign reading Seljavellir. From the parking lot, it is a 15 to 20-minute walk towards the bottom of the valley at the end of which you will see the pool behind a corner. The distance is approximately 2 miles round trip. The hike to the location is flat, but it goes a little rocky riverbed so you would need to walk a little slower to keep from twisting your ankle. You hike through the fields of lava ash, dodging little streams running from the valley.

If you are not into hiking, you can follow the dry river or valley back into the mountains, opposite to the road from where you came. What makes the place worth a visit is that there is no admission fee to enter the pool. The moment you arrive at the geothermal pool, you are welcome to hop into the pool.

Seljavallalaug is one of the oldest geothermal pools in the Nordic country and offers a breathtaking view of the landscape. It gives you the perfect opportunity to explore the raw and natural beauty of the mountains and the valley.

Seljavallalaug swimming pool in south Iceland

Seljavallalaug on a map

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