People tend to associate snow and cold weather with Iceland. This comes as no surprise, given our northern latitude and the fact that the word “ice” is in the country’s name. But when preparing for any Iceland travel experience, you’ll be missing out if you don’t pack your swimsuit as well. This is because bathing culture and visiting hot springs are major components of any trip to Iceland. The Reykjadalur hot springs and hot river give travelers the chance to take a dip and get off the beaten path.
Reykjadalur Hot Springs
While planning your Iceland travel itinerary, you’ve no doubt heard the big names like the Golden Circle or the Blue Lagoon. It’s great to visit these more famous locations, but some visitors to Iceland are looking for something a little less mainstream.
For these types of travelers, the Reykjadalur hot springs are the perfect option. Reykjadalur Valley is a beautiful geothermal valley located in South Iceland. The name actually means “steam valley” thanks to all of the hot springs and mud pools in the area. It’s also home to the Reykjadalur hot springs hike, which ends at the hot river in Iceland. Bathers come from all over just to soak in the steaming water this hidden gem.
I highly recommend that you visit Reykjadalur as one of your day trips from Reykjavik. It’s around 50 km (31 miles) away from Iceland’s capital city and takes 45 minutes to an hour to arrive. This makes it the perfect day trip and an ideal way to enjoy the great outdoors and taking some beautiful scenery. So pack your bathing suits and get ready for adventure and Iceland hot springs in Reykjadalur.
Iceland Hot Springs
Our small Nordic country is a volcanic island with over 30 active volcano systems. They have both shaped the landscape and are a part of our collective consciousness. The heat from the magma chambers that flow just beneath the earth’s surface geothermally heats the water. And the results are the Iceland hot springs that you see all over the country. You’ll find them everywhere, and there’s an especially high concentration of them in Landmannalaugar, located in Iceland’s Highlands.
If you’re taking a trip around the Ring Road, I highly recommend exploring the F-roads of the Highlands. You’ll need a 4×4 camper rental to traverse these special unpaved gravel roads, but it’s definitely an adventure worth having.
Reykjadalur Valley: How to Arrive
Once you’ve decided to take a day trip to Reykjadalur valley, it’s quite easy to arrive. it’s also a really nice alternative to the overcrowded Blue Lagoon if you don’t have time to make it all the way to the Lake Mývatn Nature Baths. You can easily get there by car, camper van, or motorhome. Head south out of Reykjavik following Iceland’s Ring Road, also known as Route 1. The river valley is located close to the small town of Hveragerði.
Eventually, you’ll reach the Breiðamörk roundabout, which is well you will turn to go towards Reykjadalur Valley. It’s pretty well signaled and you’ll be turning on to a secondary road. You’re going to continue past Hverasvæðið geothermal park and end up at a small parking lot.
Find a spot for your vehicle and prepare for your hike with a backpack, some snacks, your towel, hiking boots, and a plastic bag for afterward. The last thing we want is a wet swimsuit getting the belongings in your daypack wet. Things in Iceland can take a while to dry out. We want to keep you as warm and dry as possible at all times.
The Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike
The path to get to the hiking trail is clearly marked from the parking lot, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding it. You’ll enjoy the gorgeous scenery and natural landscapes once you start the hike and get closer to the Reykjadalur hot river. Because you’re in a geothermal area, you’ll see steam rising from many places along the Reykjadalur hot springs hike. it’s a really cool day trip and combines the best elements of Iceland travel.
From the parking lot to the valley it’s a 3 km (1.9 mile) hike. This will take you around 45 minutes to an hour each way. it opens up to a breathtaking valley all of the steamy springs, bubbling mud pools, and the hot river. Even though this is an off the beaten path destination, it’s still well-known enough that there will be other people taking a dip. You’ll definitely want to join them so find a good spot and hop on it. Luckily it’s a river rather than a pool, so you’ll probably only have to walk a little way. Then go for it and slide into the geothermally heated waters.
Once you feel refreshed, towel off, put your swimsuit into your waterproof container, and get ready for the hike back. This is one of Iceland’s top hot springs and an experience you don’t want to miss.
The Hot River in Iceland: What’s the Temperature?
When people first hear about a hot river in Iceland, they usually have one question. Just exactly how hot are we talking? Pleasantly warm and slowly causing your skin to wrinkle like a jacuzzi hot? Or boiling alive in a cauldron of volcano water hot? The answer is a Goldilocks-like “somewhere in between”. It’s actually quite manageable.
While there are no thermostats for hot springs in Iceland, the Reykjadalur Hot River has a temperature of about 40 ºC (104 ºF). People say they can usually stay in for around 5 minutes before having to take a break. It’s definitely on the warmer end of the spectrum. You will especially feel this difference if you choose to go during the wintertime when they are around you will be absolutely frigid.
if it gets too hot, you can always get out for a few minutes to take a break.
Icelandic Hot Springs and Reykjadalur Valley
Iceland travel is an unforgettable experience that you will remember for the rest of your life. While volcanoes, glaciers, and waterfalls are a major attraction, so are Icelandic hot springs. Taking a dip is a wonderful way to relax and the hot river is something you won’t find in many places. So what are you waiting for? Grab your swimming trunks and waterproof hiking boots, and head on over.