As we began heading south and east from the Westfjords to the “mainland”, intrepid assistant photographer Katharina Volgger told us there was a natural hot spring for bathing on a farm nearby. Now, hot bathing springs are all over the country, and some of them are located on private property. In other words, if you want to try them, you might have to roll on up to the landowner’s home and ask permission to bathe there.
Knocking on the door of a private home, completely unannounced, and casually asking if you can take a bath in a hot spring on their property might seem a little intimidating to the average tourist, as it did for me at first, but I can safely assure you there’s nothing to be shy about.
The farm is located on Route 633, which takes you out of Ísafjörður eastwards, a winding road that goes in and out of several fjords. Once you reach Mjóifjörður, look for the sign pointing to Hörgshlíðarlaug. Pulling to a stop beside the tiny house by the road that we guessed to be the owner’s house, I was democratically chosen to knock on the door and ask permission.
It was a pleasant, clear day, and the area was imbued with the characteristic silence of the Icelandic countryside. Cautiously, I knocked on the door. It was answered seconds later by a giant of a man with wild hair and a barrel chest, wearing coveralls and rubber boots. The kind of guy you imagine breaking entire trees over his knee for his fireplace, or maybe heaving boulders at terrified villagers. Despite all appearances, Finnbogi was a soft-spoken and gracious host, and when I asked if we could use his hot spring, answered immediately, “Yeah, yeah, enjoy it. Just be careful, it’s pretty hot”.
The spring is fed by three sources—two for hot water, and one for cold—that empty into a stone enclosure beside a modest changing shed. Situated mere metres from the shore of the fjord, flanked on both sides by mountains, it is indeed quite the spot for relaxing in naturally heated water. Having forgotten to bring a swimsuit and not willing to go au naturel, I chose to stand by while photographer Maroesjka Lavigne and Katharina went in instead, and they testified that the water was indeed pretty hot, but not overpoweringly so. If you’re on a long drive through the Westfjords, you must stop here.
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