An In-Depth Guide to Exploring Gunnuhver Hot Spring

Immerse yourself in the otherworldly charm of Gunnuhver Hot Spring, a geothermal gem in Iceland. Uncover the tales behind its bubbling cauldrons, witness the earth's raw power, and discover why this unique hot spring stands as a testament to Iceland's mesmerizing geothermal landscapes.

Gunnuhver Hot Spring

blog authorBy Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

Due to all the volcanic activity here on the island, we have plenty of hot springs. Our underground water supply gets heated up, and people can enjoy a relaxing soak where it reaches the surface and is not too hot. Whenever the hot springs are not easily accessible or a bit too hot, they are used to create geothermal pools or heating homes in the surrounding area. One of our most famous natural geothermal areas with hot springs that are too hot to use is Gunnuhver Hot Spring.

This area has plenty to offer in terms of natural wonders and local folklore. In this article, we tell you why Gunnuhver Hot Spring should be on your trip itinerary and everything you need to know to plan your visit.

Exploring Gunnuhver Hot Spring

Being known as Gunnuhver Hot Spring can be a bit misleading, since this multicolored geothermal area has several natural wonders up its sleeve. The display of colors is due to various minerals in the soil, and unlike most other geothermal sites on the island, Gunnuhver’s groundwater is 100% seawater.

With ground temperatures reaching more than 300 degrees Celsius, it’s also no wonder that all sorts of fluids are boiling here. As part of a UNESCO site (the Reykjanes Global Geopark), you can rest assured that Gunnuhver will leave a lasting impression and renew one’s respect for the power of nature. Here are a few things that you can see at Gunnuhver:

 Gunnuhver hot springs

Mud Pools: A Simmering Symphony of Clay and Minerals

This is not the mud pools you’re used to playing in as a child. These pools look like buried pots in the ground, bubbling with boiling mud, and Gunnuhver boasts one of the biggest, clocking in at a gigantic 20 meters wide.

Fumaroles: Windows into the Earth's Fiery Core

Fumaroles are essentially air vents in the earth releasing steam and other gases such as carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide. This is due to pressure within the earth (very much like pressure cookers). These vents can be a pretty dramatic sight.

Hot Springs: Too Hot to Handle

One visits the Gunnuhver Hot Springs to admire, not to take a dip. These hot springs will have you cooked in a matter of seconds, and the water is used in other ways around the island, for example, the role it plays in the nearby geothermal plants.

gunnuhver geothermal area

Unveiling the Geology of Gunnuhver Hot Spring

Gunnuhver exists as a Geothermal Hot Spot (pun intended) because it is situated on top of the infamous and highly volcanic Mid-Atlantic rift that runs through Iceland. So, Gunnuhver is yet another perfect example of why Iceland is called the Land of Fire and Ice.

Legends and Lore: The Myths and Tales of Gunnuhver Hot Spring

Our history and legends are often intertwined in Iceland, which is also the case at Gunnuhver. According to legend, a lady called Gudrun (a name that Gunna is a common nickname for) had a disagreement with a local farmer called Vilhjalmur. The story gets quite intricate and as legends go, versions differ, but the consensus is that the issue was never resolved, and Gudrun died. Shortly after her funeral, Vilhjalmur was found dead with horrendous injuries.

People’s suspicions soon proved correct, and Gudrun’s ghost terrorized the area. Whether you were human or animal – Gudrun attacked indiscriminately. Desperate locals finally called on a priest, who devised a plan, trapping the benevolent spirit inside the hot spring. This is also the reason why it’s called Gunnuhver Hot Spring.

gunnuhver Iceland

Where is Gunnuhver Hot Spring?

Gunnuhver is in the southwestern part of the Reykjanes Peninsula. It is about 70 kilometers from the capital city of Reykjavík, which equates to a drive of about 1.15 hours.

How to Get to Gunnuhver Hot Spring

You have two options when it comes to reaching Gunnuhver:

Take a Tour

Whether you choose one of their existing tour packages or request a customized private tour, many tour operators and local guides can take you to Gunnuhver Hot Spring.

Take a Drive

One of the best (and most convenient) ways to explore the island is by getting yourself your own transport. This way, you’ll also easily be able to take that day trip to Gunnuhver whenever you want. Driving to Gunnuhver Hot Spring is easy. Take Gardastræti and Sudurgata to Road 49/ Hringbraut.  Take Road 40 and 41 to Road 44/Hafnavegur in Reykjanesbær. Take Road 44/Hafnavegur and Nesvegur to the parking lot of Gunnuhver.

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Essential Tips for a Memorable Visit: Respecting the Environment and Enhancing Your Experience

If this is your first time to Gunnuhver or a geothermal area, the following tips will ensure that you have a safe and memorable visit:

  • Keep your distance when viewing. This means keeping behind barriers (they’re there for a reason) and keeping at least a couple of meters between you and the hot spring. You don’t want to get too close to boiling mud bubbling about and scorching steam rising from the earth.
  • Stick to the designated pathways. This is a geothermal area where one wrong move can get you into hot water (literally). Ed Sheeran can tell you all about it after he burned his foot here in Iceland.
  • You also need to be cautious of trails and pathways since they could be wet and slippery. Wear shoes with proper grip and tread carefully.
  • Leave the drones at home. We understand that it can be tempting when dealing with such an impressive landscape, but no one wants to watch natural wonders to the sweet sounds of a swarm of drones. If drone footage is required for professional or commercial purposes, special permission can be requested from authorities.

Gunnuhver attractions

Other Things to See & Do Near Gunnuhver

You will find plenty more to do and see near Gunnuhver. These are a few things you can look forward to:

  • The Hafnarberg Sea Cliffs
  • Blue Lagoon
  • Sandvik Black Sand Beach
  • Reykjans Lighthouse

Gunnuhver Hot Spring: A Legacy of Geothermal Wonders Well Worth a Visit

With Gunnuhver Hot Spring being a 3-in-1 type of deal when it comes to its incredible natural wonders, one will struggle to find a reason to leave this one out of an Iceland itinerary. And with the site so close to the capital city, there’s no reason why one can’t rent a car in Reykjavík and head out to explore its steamy landscape and interesting surroundings. 

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