Laugarvatn Town Guide: Caves, Ecotourism & Lakeside Bathing

Laugarvatn Town Guide: Caves, Ecotourism & Lakeside Bathing

Photo by
Timothée Lambrecq

The small, calm village of Laugarvatn lies on the shores of a lake that goes by the same name. It’s right on the Golden Circle route, so many people pass through Laugarvatn each day on their way from Þingvellir to Geysír, but few of them take the time to enjoy its picturesque tranquillity. Here are a few reasons why you should.

Stay: Héraðsskólin
The biggest building in town is the impressive Héraðsskólin, a former school designed by the same architect who was behind Hallgrímskirkja. Today, the school has become a charming and bustling boutique hostel that has kept many objects and artefacts from the building’s former life. There’s a restaurant serving local lamb, fish, and reindeer meatballs, as well as a relaxing library. Rural accommodation doesn’t get much better.

Eat: Lundin
If you’re staying for a couple of nights, Lundin is a nice change of scenery from the Héraðsskólin café. They have a casual bistro area with a concise menu, and a restaurant with more options. We can heartily recommend trying the reindeer burger with Ísbúi cheese, although there were many other equally tempting options.

Bathe: Laugarvatn Fontana
This clean and modern geothermal bathing spot is located right on the shore of Lake Laugarvatn. It has hot pots of various styles and temperatures, searing steam rooms, and a sauna with a view over the lake. There’s also a health food buffet. It’s the perfect end to a day of driving around the Golden Circle, or the green one, for that matter. Speaking of which…

Road Trip: The Green Circle
The Golden Circle is a well-known loop around some of South Reykjavík’s natural wonders. The Green Circle is the alternate eco-friendly day out in the same area. You can stop off at the Sólheimar ecovillage for a snack, and pick up some handmade wares from the residents. Have lunch at the nearby Fríðheimar geothermal greenhouse, where you can eat soup made from the tomatoes growing on the vines around you. Finish with a dip in Flúðir’s geothermal Secret Lagoon.

Drink: Gallerí
This family-run café, guesthouse and store sells locally made artwork, clothing and handicrafts, as well as good strong coffee and sweet treats in a comfortable, airy space. If you want an Icelandic present for a little one, there are shelves of plush toys on display, handmade by the owners’ daughter.

Visit: The Cave People
Just outside of Laugarvatn, this newly developed attraction is at the site of Laugarvatnshellir, a cave that was inhabited by two different couples until as recently as 100 years ago. It was recently restored from being a raw, open cavern populated only by a few resting sheep—today, it’s a replica of how it was as a home, so you can see how “the cave people” lived first-hand.

Read more town guides here.

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