The Great Icelandic Soak-Off: A Potted Guide To Wild Pools

The Great Icelandic Soak-Off: A Potted Guide To Wild Pools

Timothée Lambrecq
Photos by
Timothée Lambrecq

Iceland is dotted with wild, natural geothermal hot pots. They’re diverse and eccentric in nature—each one is different, whether a converted sheep bath with piped-in water, a warm river, or a naturally occurring pot for two. You should be prepared to use your GPS to locate them, as many aren’t signposted; remember to respect the environment by leaving them as you found them, and show sensitivity to the privacy of others if there’s another car in the parking lot. Also, please don’t lose your shit in the comments section because we’re not “giving anything away”, all of these pots are well documented in books, magazines and websites. With that in mind, let the hot pot hunt commence…

Grótta
Directions: Park at Grótta lighthouse; it’s on the right behind a wooden house
GPS Coordinates: N64°09’44.0 W22°00’26.7
Temperature: 36°
Facilities/Fee: None / Free
Who was there? Go late/early if you want to be alone
This small circular hotpot is easy to reach: it’s in Seltjarnarnes, Reykjavik’s western extreme. It’s a footbath, and three or four people can dip their feet into the warm water whilst enjoying an incredible mountain view.

Krosslaug
Directions: Head for Borgarnes, then take Routes 85 then 854
GPS: N64°29′40.42 W21°10′32.06
Temperature: 42°C
Facilities/Fee: None
Who was there? Two people
Krosslaug is a mossy, natural hot pot in a small wood. It’s signposted, and has an easy 50m path and a parking lot. It’s muddy around the pool, but you can change in the car or in the woods, and if it’s full, there’s a trail to a nearby waterfall to kill some time.

Landbrótalaug
Directions: After Borgarnes, take Route 54. After the intersection with Route 55, take a small gravel road on the left
GPS: N64°49.933 W22°19.110
Temperature: 36-42°
Facilities/Fee: None
Who was there? Four people
This wild spot on the Snæfellsnes peninsula has two different hotpots. The first is a small, intimate pot that’s perfect for two people—it’s deep enough to submerge yourself, and protected from the wind. The larger pool is not as deep, but can fit four people. You can warm it up manually by opening a valve.

Sturlungalaug
Directions: On Route 55 look for the sign “Syðri-rauðimelur.” After 6km, open the gate, then enter a second gate on the right. Drive towards the crater to reach the parking lot
GPS: N64°52’10.6 W22°17’01.6
Temperature: 35°
Facilities/Fee: None
Who was there? Four tourists
Located in the middle of a wet, grassy field, Sturlungalaug is a quite large pool surrounded by lava, a crater and mountains in the background. It can comfortably accommodate eight to ten people, meaning different groups can share it while maintaining some intimacy. It’s hard to find, so maybe you’ll have it to yourself.

Guðrúnarlaug
Directions: It’s on grounds of Hotel Edda Laugar in Saelingsdalur
GPS: N65°14’50.4 W21°48’25.9
Temperature: 37°
Facilities/Fee: Changing room/Free
Who was there? Hotel guests—go after checkout to be alone
Guðrúnarlaug can fit about five people. It’s on top of a small hill, so the view of the mountains is splendid. The water is clear, with a little bit of algae that feels good for your skin.

Fosslaug
Directions: From Route One, take Routes 752 & 753, cross two bridges, go up and then right through a gate
GPS: N65°29’44.6 W19°22’55.6
Temperature: 40°
Facilities/Fee: None
Who was there? Ten people
Located right next to a river (you could even dip in it for a refreshing break), Fosslaug is a spacious hotpot just a few metres away from a waterfall. Ten people were bathing when we visited, but it could fit more. Some parts of the hot pot are warmer than others, so you can pick the temperature that is right for you.

Stóragjá
Directions: At the intersection of Route One and Route 848, find the small parking lot
GPS: N65º38.300 W16º54.597
Temperature: 29°
Facilities/Fee: None
Who was there? A couple
The Stóragjá pool is in a cave, so accessing it is quite something—you have to climb down using a rope and let yourself fall in. The water is crystal clear, with a very nice view from inside. Because the water is slow-running, it might contain bacteria—dip at your own risk.

Grettislaug
Directions: Drive to the end of Route 748, continue down the gravel track
GPS: N65º52.934 W19º44.171
Temperature: 42-43°
Facilities/Cost: Changing & WC / 1000ISK
Who was there? Nine people
These two amazing hotpots are close to the sea and surrounded by mountains. Both pots are a good temperature. There’s a campsite, and a local café with a friendly owner. A perfect spot to enjoy the sunset.

Getting Around
Hire A Camper Van With Reykjavík Viking