A Complete Guide to Visiting Seljavallalaug, Iceland's Historic Hot Spring

Dive into tranquility at Seljavallalaug, Iceland's secret thermal pool nestled amid scenic beauty. Our guide leads you through the journey, revealing the allure of this hidden gem.


blog author By Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

Are you itching for an adventure that combines history, relaxation, and stunning natural beauty? Look no further than Seljavallalaug, Iceland's historic hot spring! Nestled in a cozy valley, this hidden gem is not just a place to soak but a journey through Iceland's vibrant history.

In this blog post, we'll dive into everything you need to know about Seljavallalaug, from its steamy waters to the scenic route you'll take to get there. Expect handy tips, essential info on facilities, and a sprinkle of insider advice to make your visit truly unforgettable.

So, grab your swimsuit, and let's get ready to explore the warm embrace of Seljavallalaug together!

What is Seljavallalaug and Why Should You Visit?

Seljavallalaug isn't just any hot spring; it's a slice of Icelandic paradise! Tucked away in a lush valley, it's one of the oldest swimming pools in Iceland, offering more than just a warm dip. Visiting Seljavallalaug is like stepping into a natural wonder, surrounded by breathtaking mountains and the serene sounds of nature.

Why visit? It's the perfect blend of relaxation, scenic beauty, and a touch of history. Imagine soaking in geothermal waters, feeling the stress melt away, all while being enveloped by Iceland's rugged charm. It's an experience that's both rejuvenating and deeply connecting to the spirit of this wild land. If you're curious about more hot springs in Iceland, then read our blog post about The Best Hot Springs in Iceland for more inspiration.


History and Significance of Seljavallalaug

Seljavallalaug swimming pool isn't just a scenic spot; it's a historic treasure and is the oldest swimming pool in Iceland. Constructed in 1923 by Björn Andrésson and others, it was built with a noble purpose: to teach the locals of Seljavellir how to swim.

Measuring 25 meters (82 feet) long and 10 meters (33 feet) wide, with a depth of around 1.8 meters (6 feet), Seljavallalaug offers ample space for a serene soak in its geothermal waters. By 1927, swimming lessons became a mandatory part of education, conducted right in the pool's geothermal embrace.

This commitment to learning and community well-being marks Seljavallalaug as a significant cultural landmark, inviting visitors to experience its warm, historic waters.

How to Get to Seljavallalaug: Detailed Directions and Parking Information

Embarking on a journey to Seljavallalaug in Iceland from Reykjavík opens up a world of stunning Icelandic landscapes. While you can reach the pool by bus, the most convenient and cost-effective method is to rent a car in Reykjavik and drive 150 kilometers or 93 miles yourself.

Start on Route 1, The Ring Road, heading southeast, and enjoy the scenic drive for about 130 kilometers or 80 miles. Then, turn left onto Road 242 and follow the gravel path for 7 kilometers or 4.3 miles, crossing a river to reach the pool nestled in its mountainous embrace.

Upon arrival, you'll find limited parking near the pool, so arriving early is key to securing a spot. If the main area is full, additional parking is usually available a short walk away. 

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Facilities and Amenities at Seljavallalaug: What to Expect

At the Seljavellir geothermal pool, you'll find a quaint, unspoiled setting. Seljavallalaug swimming pool offers basic changing rooms, though it's important to note the lack of toilets and showers.

As a visitor, you'll play a part in preserving its natural beauty by taking your rubbish with you, especially since the pool is lovingly cleaned only once a year by volunteers. The water's natural algae levels can fluctuate, so those with sensitivities should be mindful.

Following the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption, the community rallied to restore its pristine condition. Access to this tranquil retreat is complimentary, allowing you to soak in its warmth at your leisure amidst a backdrop of mossy hills and a nearby river. Just be ready for a scenic 20-minute hike to reach this secluded haven.

Water Temperature and Conditions at Seljavallalaug: What to Bring and Wear

At Seljavallalaug hot springs, the water temperature typically hovers around a cozy 20-30°C (68-86°F), but it can vary. Here's what to bring and wear for a comfortable visit:

  • Swimwear: Essential for soaking in the pool.
  • Towels: Dry off post-dip; there are no rentals.
  • Water Shoes: Protect your feet from the rocky bottom.
  • Warm Clothing: For before and after your swim, as the weather can be unpredictable.
  • Snacks and Water: Keep energized and hydrated.
  • Trash Bag: Pack out what you pack in, keeping the area pristine.
  • Camera: Capture the stunning scenery!

Seljavallalaug pool

Best Time of Year to Visit Seljavallalaug: Factors to Consider

When planning your visit to Seljavallalaug pool, timing is everything. Here's a more detailed look at what to consider for the best experience:

  • Summer (June-August): Enjoy the mildest weather, with temperatures conducive to swimming. The extended daylight hours mean more time to explore and relax in the warm waters.
  • Winter (November-February): Brings a stark, beautiful landscape and the chance to see the Northern Lights. However, prepare for colder water temperatures and potentially challenging road conditions. Access might be restricted due to snow or ice.
  • Spring (March-May) and Fall (September-October): Offer a balance with fewer tourists and milder weather, though conditions can be variable. It's a sweet spot for those seeking tranquility without the deep chill of winter.

Seljavallalaug vs. Other Geothermal Pools in Iceland: Which One is Right for You?

Seljavallalaug hot pool offers a unique, rustic experience compared to other geothermal pools in Iceland. While it boasts historical charm as one of the oldest pools, it's essential to note the changing rooms are in basic condition, and the pool's floor is often slippery due to algae, requiring careful navigation. 

Unlike the well-maintained Blue Lagoon or Secret Lagoon, Seljavallalaug might not be as clean, but it's free and set in a stunning natural landscape. If you prefer more amenities and clearer waters, consider the Secret Lagoon, which offers a more polished yet natural experience, complete with facilities and maintained temperatures, but with an entrance fee. Seljavallalaug is for those who appreciate a wilder, more authentic soak amidst Iceland's rugged beauty.


Frequently Asked Questions About Seljavallalaug

How much does it cost to go to the Seljavallalaug pool?

Seljavallalaug is free to visit.

How deep is Seljavallalaug?

Seljavallalaug is around 1.8 meters (6 feet) at its deepest point.

What is the oldest swimming pool in Iceland?

Seljavallalaug is the oldest swimming pool in Iceland; it was built in 1923. 

Are there any nearby accommodations?

There are several accommodation options within a short driving distance from Seljavallalaug, including guesthouses and campsites.

Is it possible to camp near Seljavallalaug?

Yes, there are camping areas near Seljavallalaug, such as Skógar Campsite and Vik Camping.

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