Swimming in Iceland’s Seljavallalaug Geothermal Hot Spring Pool:
The Land of Fire and Ice
and has many hidden gems that it’s so hard to pick a favourite. All I know is while planning the trip to Iceland, I knew that there was no way I wanted to leave without swimming in Iceland’s hot spring pools, namely Seljavallaug pool that is nestled in the mountains. Seljavallalaug pool was built in 1923 and may just be Iceland’s oldest pool. It was used to teach swimming to many Icelanders, but now so many Iceland hot spring thermal pools
have sprung up in and around Iceland, but Seljavallaug pool remains one of the most popular geothermal pool in the country and is mainly frequented by tourists. Those that can actually find it. Having read that a few people failed to find it, I was a little anxious about not being able to find it and leaving Iceland without swimming it. Finding Seljavallaug pool was actually not that hard. It really was a matter of preparation and research as to what to look out for.
When we arrived for our swim it was just after 10pm, in the summer, days are long so it doesn’t get dark until about 1am. We had been out exploring and wanted to end out the day of exploring with a visit to the popular Iceland thermal pool that brings many from around the world to take a dip. Clouds were low, it was raining lightly but the temperature in Seljavallalaug pool was such a treat for the wet and mildly cold day. As cold droplets fell from the sky you would dip your entire body in the pool and suddenly you were nice and toasty from the warmth of the famous Iceland hot spring thermal pool filled with water from the hot spring nearby.
It’s built right on the rocks. The floor of the 82-foot-long pool is covered in slippery algae, which makes standing or walking in the pool rather difficult at times. The weird sensation of the slippery algae is quickly overshadowed by the calming and relaxing feeling, a result from the beautiful and tranquil scenery of cascading waterfalls, and mountains views that surround the pool and it’s all free! Iceland is expensive but there are many sights around the country that are free. The expense comes in when you talk about getting to them and where to stay in Iceland.This hidden gem is filled with hot spring what from Eyjafjallajokull. If that name looks familiar is because that’s the name of the volcano that erupted in 2010 and sent all the flights in Europe and around the world into a tailspin as the ash cloud from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano caused flights to be cancelled due to safety. Also blame that volcano for a lot of changes in travel insurance coverage too as insurance companies added a clause about cancellations due to natural disasters. Eyjafjallajokull volcano is now covered by an ice cap. Seljavallalaug thermal pool is now a protected site and maintained by volunteers who clean the pool a handful of times a year to ensure it’s free from the ice after winter as well as cleaning the algae from the floor of the pool from time to time.
What to pack for a visit to Seljavallalaug hot spring pool:
There are no other facilities on site by Iceland’s popular Seljavallalaug hot spring pool on a mountainside. Bring your swimsuit obviously. Pack a towel and some flip-flops. Depending on the season you come, it can sometimes be cold. I have seen some people bring woolly hats into the pool, which are perfect if you are just chilling in the pool and want to keep your head warm while the whole body is dipped in warm water. Also, pack some snacks, drinks or water as there are no shops or any facilities. Pack some forehead torches, especially if coming here during the winter months when it gets dark early in the day. There are no lights in the changing rooms or in the surrounding area so you will walk back in darkest if you don’t come prepared, which is not recommended.Also, ensure you come with warm clothes to change into as well as waterproof jackets too. I tend to bring my GoreTex Pro Jacket. It’s super light and keeps the heat in. The weather in Iceland can change dramatically with not so much warning. We took these pictures in the summer! Some of the terrains can also be slippery, especially when it’s been raining so wear suitable walking shoes.
Are there changing rooms at Seljavallalaug pool:
Before I could attempt to embrace my inner diva and demand my dressing room be bathed in natural light and filled with fresh and fragrant flowers, I was presented with changing rooms that are more basic than BASIC! Yes, there are changing rooms but they are basically concrete walls to protect your modesty and that’s about it! Also, not designated by the sex, so people can randomly walk in and change in whichever one is available. The good thing is, people are respectful and do give you an opportunity to change in private if they find you in an already compromised position. There are no showers on site or toilets to try answer nature’s call before coming to the pool. The changing rooms by the Seljavallalaug thermal pool is at one end of the pool and simply provide some privacy to change into swimsuits.
Iceland tours that Include Seljavallalaug hot spring pool:
The trek to Seljavallalaug swimming pool:
Pat yourself on the back once you find the car park but once parked you still have to locate the pool. Having prepared with a lot of research and mental images stored in my head about what the surrounding looked like I knew to look out for the cascading waterfalls. Once you see those you know you are in the right place. The walk from the car park to the pool is about 15-20 minutes. The trail is somewhat obvious and easy to follow. Just walk in the direction of the waterfalls. During heavy rainfall, you may find that the river next to the pool can look a bit rough so take care not walk too close as the current looked quite powerful. If you are lucky you may also be in good company by way of a lovely dog that is usually walking around here from the nearby farms. I am scared shitless of dogs but this is one friendly pup that will guide to or from the pool depending on the direction you are walking in. It walked us back to the car park. Barking along as if to direct us on the path to walk.
How to get to Seljavallalaug Pool | Directions to Iceland’s Mountain Hot Spring Pool:
Google is a little sketchy in these parts so you will have to do a little research in terms of that names of the road to look out for and signage. Exploring the Ring Road is by way of road 1. If you are driving from Reykjavik you will drive towards the direction of Vik but once you get to Porvaldseyri(Icelandic Eruption exhibition), drive a little further and look out for signs for Seljavellir which lead you to road 242 marked by Raufarfell. The road takes you all the way to the parking spot, which is not clearly marked but will be quite obvious. There is a small farm and a couple of houses just near the parking spot. Once you park your car, you will notice you are in a deep valley with a river running right by it. The trail isn’t far from the car park. A few minutes into your walk you will see the changing rooms peaking out. The pool is right at the bottom of the changing rooms.If the directions above still leave you lost and google maps isn’t helping then try the Seljavallalaug coordinates: 63.5656° N, 19.6076° W
For a list and directions of Iceland natural hot springs and pools check out the ultimate guide to Iceland’s Hot Springs Map.
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