Iceland is positioned in one of the most geothermal regions in the world. The movement of divergent tectonic plates beneath the island bring magma and heat closer to the surface. This energy combined with large amounts of water around the island creates hundreds of natural hot springs and geysers.
I’ve put together this list of my favorite hot springs that are free to enter, but there are also a couple around Iceland that charge entry. The two most popular ones are The Blue Lagoon and Myvatn Nature Baths. They are well designed with changing rooms, shower facilities, and bars. Some guesthouses around the island also have their own private hot spring tub. Our guesthouse in Laugar had a beautiful cement outdoor hot tub that was fed by a natural hot spring on their property.
1. Reykjadalur Hot Spring River
Reykjadalur isn’t a hot spring pool – it’s an entire river! This was my favorite hot spring in Iceland because it requires a 1 hour hike. Along the trail you’ll encounter a martian landscape with steam rising from cracks in the ground and the smell of sulfur filling your nostrils. Near the end of the trail you’ll start to see the wooden walkways that have been built alongside the bathing area. Each section of the river varies in temperature and it is typically hottest near the top. We brought a bottle of wine and some snacks to make the experience even better. Make sure to bring a rain jacket – the weather in Iceland changes rapidly. We got pummeled by hail on our hike back out.
It’s about 45 minutes east of Reykjavik. You’ll drive through the town of Hveragerdi on your way. There’s a parking lot and everything is free.
2. Seljavallalaug Hot Spring Pool
The Seljavallalaug pool is in southern Iceland not far from the Skogafoss waterfall. It’s a shallow, mad-made pool perched above a narrow river. Surrounded by snow capped peaks and a black-rock valley – it makes for some awesome photos. The water is warm, definitely not as hot as the other hot springs we visited. On a cold day it still feels refreshing. We were more impressed by the landscape nearby the pool than the pool itself. Hike about 5 minutes past the pool along the riverbank and you’ll get views of some massive waterfalls. If you have a drone this is a perfect place to fly it.
From Rt. 1, take Rt. 242 inland and drive to the end of the road. There’s a small gravel parking lot across from a farm. Grab your stuff and walk straight into the valley along the black rock. You’ll arrive at the pool after about 10 minutes.
3. Hoffell Hot Pots
We stopped at the Hoffell hot pots on our way to our hotel in Höfn. The outdoor hot tubs are fed by a natural hot spring and have a spectacular view of the surrounding valley and glacier. Each tub varies slightly in temperature so you can find a comfortable soaking level. They’re located on private property next to the Hoffell Guesthouse. Across the road from the tubs is a pasture with some free grazing Icelandic horses. After our soak, we walked over and fed them some apples!
Turn off Rt. 1 at the sign for Hoffell and drive along the dirt road. After about 1 mile you’ll see a metal gate and a small parking lot. There are changing rooms in the wooden building on the far side of the tubs.
4. Grjótagjá Hot Spring Cave
This hot spring cave is in the north of Iceland near Lake Myvatn. We visited while staying nearby in Laugar. A few scenes from the Game of Thrones series were inspired by this cave. The temperature of the water varies depending on recent geothermal activity so it’s forbidden to bathe in the hot spring. However, we sat on the rocks and soaked our feet and found it was a fairly comfortable temperature.
Along the ring road (Rt. 1) turn left on Rt. 860 shortly before reaching Reykjahlíð. There will be a sign and a parking lot on your right.
5. Fosslaug Hot Spring
This is a lesser known hot spring – and one of the more remote. Fosslaug hot spring pool is located right above the powerful Reykjafoss waterfall in the northern part of Iceland. It was built with a combination of sod and rock to regulate the flow of hot water from the spring and cold water from the river. It’s the perfect temperature for soaking and you’ll be amazed by the views from the valley.
From Rt. 1, turn left on Rt. 752 right after Varmahlíð. Then, turn left again on Rt. 753. You’ll see a small parking area and a gate. Follow the road that goes past the gate for about 15 minutes and cross the wooden bridge. The hot spring is along the river just above the waterfall.