• hidden places // secret geothermal pools in iceland

 

Our new ‘hidden places’ series of posts will share some of our best kept slow travel secrets, detailing secret places to unwind in some of our favourite destinations. Our first post in the series looks beyond the Blue Lagoon to share some of Iceland’s hidden hot water havens.

The Blue Lagoon may be one of the reasons that tourists are suddenly flocking to Iceland, but there is much more to discover in this small yet majestic country. Geothermal spas, pools, hot pots and springs lurk everywhere, some more accessible than others. Read on to discover our pick of the best places to sit and soak within easy access of the Ring Road.

 

The Secret Lagoon

Located close to Reykjavik, within the Golden Circle area, the Secret Lagoon is perfectly positioned to coincide with visits to Thingvellir, Geysir and Gulfoss. This serene sanctuary falls somewhere in between a swimming pool and a completely natural occurrence, the owner having rebranded the local swimming spot just a couple of years ago. The walls of the pool are built from rough stone and the floor is unpaved; a small geyser spouts every couple of minutes within observing distance. Yet there is an air of rugged elegance about the lagoon that you don’t get at other hot springs. There is a small fee to swim here, that goes towards maintaining the changing room facilities, and we recommend that you visit in the morning or the evening to avoid the afternoon coach tours for a more relaxing swim.

 

the secret lagoon // mahabis journal
 photo: i spy land

 

Seljavallalaug

Iceland’s oldest swimming pool is located in the foothills below the famous Eyjafjallajökull, hidden away from sight of the road. Once you have discovered it, you are highly likely to either have the pool to yourself or only have to share with a handful of locals. To get there, turn off the Ring Road onto Route 242 and drive until you reach a newer pool with a car park. From there it is a 15 minute walk through the wilderness until you stumble upon the pool, nestled up against the mountains with the side of a cliff forming one of its walls. There’s a small changing room, but otherwise it’s very much getting back to nature as you sink into the warm waters and seek out the source of the hot spring to float beside.

 

Seljavallalaug // Mahabis Journal
photo: johannes martin 

 

Hoffell

Driving south from the small fishing village of Hofn, you will find the turn off for Hoffell after about 20 minutes. It’s quite difficult to find the hot tubs once you get onto the gravel roads, but keep your eyes peeled for a metal gate by a small car park and you will have stumbled across one of Iceland’s best kept secrets. There are five hot pots to choose from, all of which are slightly different temperatures varying from lukewarm to piping hot. The stone hot spots are so secluded that you are highly likely to be the only visitors, allowing you to flit between the tubs to experience the change in temperatures.

 

Hoffell Hot Tubs // Mahabis Journal
 photo: james brooks 

 

Jardboðin  Nature Baths

The Blue Lagoon may be becoming crowded and is renowned for being expensive, so why not seek out ‘the Blue Lagoon of the north’, close to Myvatn Lake. At a fraction of the price and with far less queuing involved, you can enjoy a luxurious spa experience in highly active thermal surroundings. During the daylight hours you can admire the otherworldly orange hills rising behind the milky blue water, whilst a dip in winter is likely to be accompanied by an ethereal display of the Northern Lights.

 

myvatn nature baths // mahabis journal
 photo: li-mette

 

Husavik

Husavik is the centre of Iceland’s whale watching tours, where visitors can book onto traditional fishing vessels or speed boats to search the surrounding bay for nature’s giants. When leaving the small town, keep your eyes peeled for steam to the left of the main road. Mere steps away from Route 85, you can find a secret geothermal lake, hidden from view inside a slight incline in the land. The water isn’t as hot as some of Iceland’s other geothermal spots and there’s rumours of goldfish swimming around in amongst the weeds, but time your visit to coincide with the summer sun slowly setting and you will stumble upon one of the most picturesque swimming locations in the country.  

husavik geothermal lake // mahabis journal
photo: emma lavelle
 

Fosslaug

The more remote a hot spring is, the more covetable it becomes. Many of the really secluded spots are in the West Fjords or the Highlands, accessible only with a 4WD and plenty of time on your hands. If you’re looking for somewhere that seems completely off the beaten track, but is actually only 15 minutes away from the Ring Road, seek out Fosslaug in the north-west of the country. To get there, turn off Route 1 onto the 752 at Varmahið and drive for 7km until you cross the river to your left at the sign for Vindheimar. Turn right down a gravel path and look for the small blue sign leading you in the right direction. After passing a powerful waterfall and crossing a small bridge, you’ll find a secluded natural geothermal pool just over the hill beside the river. Reward yourself with a long hot soak, but be wary of the stifling hot water.

fosslaug // mahabis journal
photo: emma lavelle 

hidden places // secret geothermal pools in iceland

 

Our new ‘hidden places’ series of posts will share some of our best kept slow travel secrets, detailing secret places to unwind in some of our favourite destinations. Our first post in the series looks beyond the Blue Lagoon to share some of Iceland’s hidden hot water havens.

The Blue Lagoon may be one of the reasons that tourists are suddenly flocking to Iceland, but there is much more to discover in this small yet majestic country. Geothermal spas, pools, hot pots and springs lurk everywhere, some more accessible than others. Read on to discover our pick of the best places to sit and soak within easy access of the Ring Road.

 

The Secret Lagoon

Located close to Reykjavik, within the Golden Circle area, the Secret Lagoon is perfectly positioned to coincide with visits to Thingvellir, Geysir and Gulfoss. This serene sanctuary falls somewhere in between a swimming pool and a completely natural occurrence, the owner having rebranded the local swimming spot just a couple of years ago. The walls of the pool are built from rough stone and the floor is unpaved; a small geyser spouts every couple of minutes within observing distance. Yet there is an air of rugged elegance about the lagoon that you don’t get at other hot springs. There is a small fee to swim here, that goes towards maintaining the changing room facilities, and we recommend that you visit in the morning or the evening to avoid the afternoon coach tours for a more relaxing swim.

 

the secret lagoon // mahabis journal
 photo: i spy land

 

Seljavallalaug

Iceland’s oldest swimming pool is located in the foothills below the famous Eyjafjallajökull, hidden away from sight of the road. Once you have discovered it, you are highly likely to either have the pool to yourself or only have to share with a handful of locals. To get there, turn off the Ring Road onto Route 242 and drive until you reach a newer pool with a car park. From there it is a 15 minute walk through the wilderness until you stumble upon the pool, nestled up against the mountains with the side of a cliff forming one of its walls. There’s a small changing room, but otherwise it’s very much getting back to nature as you sink into the warm waters and seek out the source of the hot spring to float beside.

 

Seljavallalaug // Mahabis Journal
photo: johannes martin 

 

Hoffell

Driving south from the small fishing village of Hofn, you will find the turn off for Hoffell after about 20 minutes. It’s quite difficult to find the hot tubs once you get onto the gravel roads, but keep your eyes peeled for a metal gate by a small car park and you will have stumbled across one of Iceland’s best kept secrets. There are five hot pots to choose from, all of which are slightly different temperatures varying from lukewarm to piping hot. The stone hot spots are so secluded that you are highly likely to be the only visitors, allowing you to flit between the tubs to experience the change in temperatures.

 

Hoffell Hot Tubs // Mahabis Journal
 photo: james brooks 

 

Jardboðin  Nature Baths

The Blue Lagoon may be becoming crowded and is renowned for being expensive, so why not seek out ‘the Blue Lagoon of the north’, close to Myvatn Lake. At a fraction of the price and with far less queuing involved, you can enjoy a luxurious spa experience in highly active thermal surroundings. During the daylight hours you can admire the otherworldly orange hills rising behind the milky blue water, whilst a dip in winter is likely to be accompanied by an ethereal display of the Northern Lights.

 

myvatn nature baths // mahabis journal
 photo: li-mette

 

Husavik

Husavik is the centre of Iceland’s whale watching tours, where visitors can book onto traditional fishing vessels or speed boats to search the surrounding bay for nature’s giants. When leaving the small town, keep your eyes peeled for steam to the left of the main road. Mere steps away from Route 85, you can find a secret geothermal lake, hidden from view inside a slight incline in the land. The water isn’t as hot as some of Iceland’s other geothermal spots and there’s rumours of goldfish swimming around in amongst the weeds, but time your visit to coincide with the summer sun slowly setting and you will stumble upon one of the most picturesque swimming locations in the country.  

husavik geothermal lake // mahabis journal
photo: emma lavelle
 

Fosslaug

The more remote a hot spring is, the more covetable it becomes. Many of the really secluded spots are in the West Fjords or the Highlands, accessible only with a 4WD and plenty of time on your hands. If you’re looking for somewhere that seems completely off the beaten track, but is actually only 15 minutes away from the Ring Road, seek out Fosslaug in the north-west of the country. To get there, turn off Route 1 onto the 752 at Varmahið and drive for 7km until you cross the river to your left at the sign for Vindheimar. Turn right down a gravel path and look for the small blue sign leading you in the right direction. After passing a powerful waterfall and crossing a small bridge, you’ll find a secluded natural geothermal pool just over the hill beside the river. Reward yourself with a long hot soak, but be wary of the stifling hot water.

fosslaug // mahabis journal
photo: emma lavelle 
  • Emma Lavelle
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