What would you say if I told you could visit one of the best hot springs in Iceland for free AND it offers a great opportunity for hiking near Reykjavik at the same time? Let me introduce the Reykjadalur hot springs, which are a local favourite but an off-the-beaten path sight for foreign tourists.
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Table of Contents
- 1 Why Visit Hveragerði Hot Springs?
- 2 Reykjadalur Hveragerði Location Information
- 3 What You Should Know about Safety When Hiking in Iceland
- 4 Should You Stay in Hveragerði?
- 5 What is the Best Time to Visit the Reykjadalur Hot Springs?
Why Visit Hveragerði Hot Springs?
Since Iceland is a volcanic island and there still is a lot of geothermal activity happening, there are quite a few hot springs near Reykjavik alone. This is especially godo to know when you visit Iceland in winter.
One of the most popular is located in the Hengill Iceland area and fittingly called Steam Valley (Reykjadalur). Locals flock here throughout the entire year and it can get quite cosy. But it’s still worth it! And yes, no matter if it’s a sunny or overcast day.
Reykjadalur Hveragerði Location Information
Where is the Hveragerdi in Iceland?
The Hveragerði geothermal park is located in Reykjadalur valley, which is only a short walk away from Hveragerði town, which is only 45 km off of Reykjavík. Definitely add comfortable or hiking boots for this to your Iceland packing list.
What Else is There to See in Reykjadalur?
Along your walk from the parking lot to the Reykjadalur hot steam valley, you can gaze at amazingly hot hot springs and mud pools bubbling and steaming. Respect the signs and don’t get too close. A particular great specimen is the Queen’s borehole (Drottningarhola). Please stay away from non-designated dipping pool areas. They are too hot!
How to Get from Reykjavik to Hveragerdi
Since a ride from Reykjavik to Hveragerði takes around half an hour, you don’t want to hire a taxi. That would cost way too much. Instead, you could rent a car or take the bus. Bus tickets need to be purchased in advance from either the tourist information or at the coach station in Mjódd. You need six tickets for a return trip. From Mjódd station, take bus 51 or 52 and get off at Hveragerði/Shell.
How to Get from Hveragerdi to Reykjadalur
To get to Reykjadalur from Hveragerði, you can take a taxi, which takes roughly 6 minutes. There are no taxis waiting around the bus stop, so you would need to call one or have one waiting for you. Alternatively, you can follow the hiking trails along the river on either side to the parking lot and then steam valley, which takes around 2 hours if you walk slowly and take a gazillion photos of the beautiful landscapes.
From the bus stop, walk towards petrol station, past the ruins with graffiti and turn right. The hike up until the petrol station is very pleasant and mostly level. It seamlessly melds into the Hveragerði hot spring hike but the path gets somewhat steep albeit not difficult afterwards. Follow the signs to get to the Hveragerdi hot spring river trail. (It’s 3km away.)
What You Should Know about Safety When Hiking in Iceland
In general, you should always stick to the designated Iceland hiking trails. First, it will help protect nature and the beautiful landscapes. (Offroading is totally off-limits for a reason.) Second, especially near geothermal pools in Iceland, you really need to be careful. Hot thermal pools are usually boiling and can be detected thanks to their steam. But that’s not always the case. New ones can open up or you could be unlucky enough to be the cause of that. Don’t be toast!
What Should You Bring to the Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike?
First and foremost, if you come by public bus, don’t forget your tickets. Second, wear sturdy hiking shoes. The terrain is not terribly tricky to walk but it’s in nature and there is gravel and grass. You don’t want to slip into the wrong part of the hot river in Hveragerdi or the mud pools!
Definitely bring a rain poncho and outdoor jacket with you. The weather can change quite fast in Iceland and you want to be prepared for the occasional rain showers. Don’t forget a towel and set of dry clothes. You might want to bring a bin bag to protect your belongings from the weather. Wear your bathing suit so you don’t have to change on site. There are no changing rooms (only half open privacy screens), it’s right in nature!
Even though it isn’t the longest hike, bring a water bottle and snacks with you. There is a kiosk by the parking lot in case you need refreshments, but you might as well save on the extra costs.
If you bring a camera along, I’d invest in a protective lens to keep the rain, potential steam and flying sand away from your lens. For sunny days, bring a polarizing filter to really get the blues in the sky and thermal pools out. It makes for a great contrast.
Should You Stay in Hveragerði?
Hveragerði isn’t far from Reykjavik but if you prefer to stay away from the capital and experience a quiet and small town, you might want to consider it. Despite its size, there are quite a few hotels and holiday homes around but they come with steep prices, between 100-200€ per night! They certainly are quite close to the free Hveragerði swimming pool. It’s up to you if that’s worth it. A fun place to stay is Skyr Guesthouse though. If you come here, you can say you stayed at a former skyr factory. The interior design is classic minimalist Scandinavian and super instagrammable.
In case you are planning more day trips from Reykjavik, why not stay in Iceland’s capital? Besides the Hveragerði hot river hike, you could visit mountain Esja or wander the nature reserve Rauðhólar. Getting a Reykjavik hotel totally makes sense. If you are watching your budget, why not check out the quaint Sif Apartments, which is just a stroll away from the famous Hallgrímskirkja Church. In case you want to feel right at home, try the 22 Hill Hotel, which includes a breakfast buffet.
What is the Best Time to Visit the Reykjadalur Hot Springs?
Since the river is natural, you can visit any time of the year. It makes most sense during colder months when the hot steams will totally make your day. In autumn, you can catch the wonderful Icelandic landscapes turn a warm gold and brown. In winter, everything is covered in snow and you get to sit in hot water. In spring until early summer, you can admire colourful flowers.
Even though the weather in Iceland can be fickle, try to watch the weather forecast and avoid rainy and stormy days. You need to be waterproof for that even if you want to soak your bones at the free hot springs near Reykjavik.