This trip was planned around two people, but one of those people bailed, so I went alone. The plan was to visit as many hot springs as I could within two weeks. I researched a few places before I flew into Keflavík, but read online of the existence of a hot spring guide that is sold in bookstores in Iceland. The first bookstore I went to was sold out, but the guy working there told me they probably have it at the Eymundsson down the street, he was right. I picked it up for 3,990 Krona which turns out to be about 34 dollars. This book is organized by region and has driving/hiking directions as well as GPS coordinates to all of the hot springs. Be warned though, not all directions are spot on. A few places I had to drive back and forth to find. The guide is called “Thermal Pools in Iceland” by Jón G. Snæland & Þóra Sigurbjörnsdóttir. It looks like this.

I wish I was in Iceland for the whole summer so I could explore all the places in the book, but I only had two weeks, so I quickly got to work on designing my itinerary. I wanted to hitchhike to all these spots, but with lack of time and the large distance between each spot, this seemed unreasonable. So instead I rented a car. I got the cheapest car, a two-door Toyota Yaris. It still cost me $700 for one week, but it came with a GPS which made navigation a little easier. Had I split this price two ways or even better four, it would have been worth it, but I had been in Reykjavík for three days already and was determined to leave. I bit the bullet and forked over the cash.


Day 1 on the road.


I drove about 45 minutes east from the main city to a little town called Hveragerði. Three kilometers from here is the parking lot at Rjúpnabrekkur. I had to ford the Varma river in my tiny Yaris to get there. I parked and began hiking the two miles into the mountains. I can not express how magical this place is; not through words, pictures or video. The whole place seems explosive, kind of like the Long Valley Caldera east of Mammoth or Yellowstone. Like at any moment the earth around me was going to explode like Mt. St Helens. Right near the parking lot are three pools that are fed by the hotspring the flows through the valley. Two of them were too hot for me but the third was just perfect. They are all muddy bottom pools no deeper than 2 feet.

The trail begins in the parking lot south of the Ölkelduhàl ridge and up the slopes of Rjúpnabrekkur. It is around a thousand foot elevation gain up the mountain Dalafell and into the valley of Klambragil. Once you get over the ridge, a hot river runs through the valley floor with many spots dammed up along it to soak. The trail stays about 30 feet above the river but you can descend at any point to take a soak. Many hikers and families were already soaking, but most were leaving because it was 9pm when I arrived. Since night never falls in the summers of Iceland, I had the whole evening to explore this magical place. A few people stayed to camp, but I pretty much had this place to myself. On the other side of the river were a few boiling pots where you would die instantly if you fell in. The line between beauty and death is always very thin.

I stayed for a few hours, soaked, ate dinner then hiked back and slept in the car.

Day 2.

Woke up around 5 am in the car and drove past the town of Flúðir to a little hot spring called Hrunalaug. I got there around 6 am and had the whole place to myself for five hours. An older couple walked up and took a look at the place but drove away shortly after. This place used to be a sheep’s bath. It has a rectangular concrete tub that extends out from a small shack. The shack has a bunch of hooks to hang your clothes up. There is another pool between the shack and the hill. I soaked in both for a few hours. I laid out my towel, stretched out naked and soak up some sun when it popped out between the clouds. Ate some lunch here and took off to check out some other spots.

Gettin some sun.

After I left Hrunalaug I attempted to drive to Landmannalaugar. The book and the road map both said the road, although long and rocky, was passable by passenger car during the summer. I got about 3 kilometers away from the parking area before I got stuck in the mud. I spent the next 2 hours in the rain digging out the undercarriage with a broken piece of bumper I found lying on the ground. I reversed out and drove back defeated. There was no way my tiny Yaris was gonna make it the rest of the way. Instead I drove a hundred something kilometers back down the highlands to check out Geysir.

Geysir is a big tourist spot, basically the Icelandic version of Old Faithful. I stopped to take a few pictures then drove to a couple hot springs about 2 kilometers away. One of the spots called Marteinslaug was too hot to soak, the other spot Kúalaug was soakable. Kúalaug is a little hole dug out from the ground, maybe 99 degrees fahrenheit. I was getting destroyed by bug bites, so I wrapped up my soak and took off back to Reykjavík to resupply and sleep at a friend’s house I met off

Day 3.

I woke up and made some breakfast then drove north a few hours to the Snæfellsnes peninsula. I stopped at a place called Landbrotalaug. When I got here a couple was soaking, so I sat in the car and ate some snacks while waiting for them to get out. Twenty minutes later they did and I went to check it out.

Landbrotalaug is a very small hot spring, it can fit maybe four people, and that’s if you don’t mind someone’s leg all up in your junk. I had it all to myself for three hours. The water was the perfect temperature, I’d say around 102ºF. You have to rock hop across a tiny pond to get to it. The source of the pond is a valve that spouts hot water into a small tub then drains into the pond. You can lie in the tub and let the spout massage your body parts if you’re into that sorta thing. After I soaked here I drove to a spot called Guðrúnarlaug.

I drove a few hours north heading toward the Westfjords. On the way I stopped at a place called Guðrúnarlaug. This pool was kinda hard to find. The directions in the book were not very descriptive. I relied on my GPS to get me close then looked at the picture in the book and tried to find the building with the green roof. Then I found out where the pool was in relation to it.

There is a parking lot right below this pool. You park and walk through a gate into a “Modesty Shack” where you can change into your swimwear. There were many people hiking around this area so I wore my trunks.

The craftsmanship of this pool is amazing. Apparently, the city spent a good amount of money rebuilding this pool because of its historical significance. I don’t know the whole history but it’s probably pretty cool. The water temperature was about 101ºF, I sat in the spot where the water came in and it was a bit warmer there. I soaked here for a few hours then drove up to Flókalundur on the southwest side of the Westfjords.

Once I got to Flókalundur I asked the cute girl working at the visitor center where I could find the hot spring Hellulaug. Again the description in the thermal pool guide was not accurate enough to get me there. The girl knew exactly where it was, pointed me in right direction and I found it less than a minute later.

This pool is off the side of the main road, below a cliff next to the ocean. There was a couple soaking when I got there, but the pool was large enough to accommodate about ten people comfortably so I said “Fuck it,” dropped trou and hopped right in. They hung around for another ten minutes before they got dressed and left. Again I had this whole spot to myself for hours. The pool was around 102ºF but much warmer where the hose shot the water in. I soaked, took some pictures and left to set up my tent at the campground in Flókalundur.