Reykjadalur hot springs can be a highlight of your trip to Iceland. A bath in a hot river hidden in a magical valley offers unforgettable experience. Add it to your bucket list!
Reykjadalur valley: fabulous hot springs near Reykjavik
What would you say about having a bath in a wonderfully warm river surrounded by picturesque mountains and sub-arctic flora? Sounds like a dream? Just head to Reykjadalur hot springs.
The hot springs are located in a scenic valley called Reykjadalur. It’s just around 45 min drive from Reykjavik (43 km). Reykjadalur literally means Steam Valley and it’s a perfect name for this geothermal area. In many places, steam just rises up from the ground.
Reykjadalur valley is a part of the Hengill geothermal area. Hengill is a volcanic system which covers an area of around 100 km². It still shows quite a big activity even though last time it erupted around 2000 years ago. This place plays a very important role, as it provides most of Reykjavik’s hot water and electricity.
Icelanders can call themselves a lucky nation – Mother Earth provides them with free energy. Apart from its practical dimension, Reykjadalur gives them also a huge portion of joy.
On the way to the hot springs you will see many examples of geothermal activity. Apart from steaming vents, you will come across some mud cauldrons. It all looks an if the trolls left all their boiling pots right in the middle of preparing a dinner. They must have been scared by the tourists.
Now you know why they call it the Valley of Steam.
On the way to Reykjadalur hot springs you will see many examples of geothermal activity. We found the mud cauldron particularly fascinating. Remember not to come too close – it has 100 °C.
A cloud of steam coming from the underground.
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How to get to Reykjadalur hot springs
Reykjadalur valley is located only 43 km from Reykjavik. To get here, take the Ring Road and head to the town called Hveragerði. Reykjadalur hot springs are also sometimes called Hveragerdi hot spring, as they are located very close to this town. When you get to the main roundabout in Hveragerði, take the road called Breiðamörk and head to the north. On the way, you will see a few signs, which will direct you to Reykjadalur.
At the end of the road you will find a parking area. Well, it’s not a regular parking area – everyone just leaves their cars along the road. In the middle of the summer, it can be quite difficult to find a spot. When we came here in the beginning of July we barely found a place to park our car. But it was a sunny Sunday, and it looked like half of Reykjavik came to relax here. Hveragerdi hot river is very popular among travellers and Icelanders, so definitely it can get crowded in the summer.
Reykjadalur hot spring trailhead is situated at the end of the road next to the small café. Have a look at the Reykjadalur valley map below – and you will have no problem with getting there.
Reykjadalur hot springs map
You can enlarge the Reykjadalur map by clicking the small square in the upper right corner. We hope that this map will help you to quickly find your bearings in the area. The starting point is marked with a pink puffin and the hot river with a yellow one. Reykjadalur hiking trail is marked as well.
Reykjadalur hike is quite easy and scenic.
Some prefer to get there by bike. We recommend other less crowded trails for biking.
We told you that it was going to be scenic!
Fantastic Reykjadalur hike
Before you can jump into the river, a delightful hike is waiting for you. The fact that the hot river is located away from the main road, in the wilderness, only adds more charm to the entire trip. The trail is very well marked, so it’s not possible to get lost. And remember that there will be lots of other people walking with you.
Reykjadalur hike is 3,5 km long and there is around 170 m of ascension. To complete the hike you will need around 45 min. Just a little warning: the hike is very scenic, so if you like taking pictures, you will stop here and there on the way, all the time. In this case, add around thirty minutes more.
If you are in a good shape, it’s a relatively easy hike. Just remember that the trail gets pretty narrow at one point, and when it rains it can be quite slippery. Be careful not to fall down. There are some parts where it’s also a little bit steep, but nothing of the extreme.
On our way to Reykjadalur valley we even met two cyclists. But don’t try to go there on a bike unless you are a very experienced mountain biker. And even if you are, we wouldn’t recommend this trail for a mountain bike – there are simply too many people walking and you would have to stop all the time.
And if you aren’t that outdoorsy kind of a person, we can tell you that this exhilarating bath is worth every step upward.
The hike takes you through fantastic mountains with lots of lush greenery. You will pass a beautiful canyon called Djúpagil, where Djúpagilfoss cascades. And don’t forget about all the geothermal attractions. We guess that it doesn’t happen that often that you can observe the inner life of Earth so close. At times really close – just before you reach your destination, you will have to walk through dense steam. That’s an interesting experience!
Another boling mud.
We were lucky with the weather this day. It was sunny and very warm.
A divine bath in Reykjadalur valley
When we got to Reykjadalur hot springs, we were fascinated with the beauty of the valley, but at the same time, the whole place appeared a little too crowded. It looked like a waterpark or a family festival with lots of running children, barbecue and so on. We prefer to experience nature on our own. That’s why we love Iceland so much – there are still so many wild places. This one is not one of them, but if you change your attitude and accept it, you can still really enjoy this place, a lot. Just treat it more like a visit to Icelandic swimming pool, a one of a kind, natural swimming pool, we have to admit.
Even though there were lots of people, we didn’t have any problems with finding a secluded part of the river, where we were almost alone. It’s not just a couple of meters, where you can bathe. There are around 200 m of the hot river, so there is space for everyone. Even when there are more than one hundred cars parked at the starting point.
The water was so pleasant and the whole experience so relaxing, that we spent more than an hour lying in the river and observing the sunset. The valley looked gorgeous in this warm evening light.
The river isn’t very deep – max 50 cm at some parts, usually less – around 30 cm. The farther up the valley you go, the warmer the water. We ended up in a spot, where the water had around 34 °C. In its upper part, it can have more than 40, which is way too much for us.
Recently wooden pathways have been built along the bank of the river. Some people are complaining that this convenience has destroyed the whole naturalness of this place. We agree that it would look much better without the pathways, but in fact, they were built to protect the vulnerable nature. There are so many people, who want to relax in the river. Without any protection, this area would be devastated pretty soon.
Put the bath in Reykadalur hot springs on your bucket list – you won’t regret it. Highly recommended!
Relaxing, isn’t it? We had no difficulties with finding an almost private part of the river.
Some people were working on a perfect selfie in the river 😉
Recently wooden pathways have been built along the bank of the river.
Reykjadalur travel tips:
Trip duration: The trip to Reykjadalur valley is a perfect one day trip from Reykjavik. You need at least 4-5 hours, assuming that you want to stay for around one hour by the river. And if you aren’t staying in Reykjavik, but travelling around Iceland, you won’t have to drive far to get to Reykjadalur. It’s located just a few kilometres from the Ring Road. You will need at least two hours and a half for this stop. We suggest planning around 3-4 hours in your itinerary in order to fully enjoy this place.
Clothes: As we said, the hike isn’t very difficult, but you will need hiking shoes. Remember to take something warm and waterproof even if the weather is great because it can change very quickly. Of course, you can’t forget about swimming suit and towels.
Food: Make sure to bring some snacks and something to drink. Bathing in Reykadalur is so addictive that it’s hard to jump out and you can get hungry. You can get some snacks at the Dalakaffi café situated next to the parking area. And of course in Hveragerdi, where you can find Bonus grocery store and a bakery.
Kids: If you would like to visit Reykjadalur with kids, they will love it. The hike is not very demanding, with kids it would take just a little more time. On the way, we saw many people with kids and they looked very happy and excited.
Changing rooms: It’s still quite a wild place, even though there are some wooden pathways. There are no changing rooms, but there are a few of wooden screens.
Toilets: There are no toilets in the valley. If you need to use the toilet, stop by Bonus store in Hveragerdi or use the toilets in the café, which you can find at the starting point of the trail.
Bath in the winter: The trail isn’t difficult, but you should know that winter can change it into something much more demanding. Moody Icelandic weather can be very tricky for travellers. If you’re planning to visit Reykjadalur in this season be prepared very well. The trail can be very slippery or completely covered in deep snow. Apart from that, the water in the river isn’t as warm as in the summer.
Price: You don’t have to pay an entry fee, it’s a totally free fun and open 24 hours a day, seven days a week 🙂
It can get crowded in Reykjadalur hot springs, but there is space for everyone.
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