Iceland's Hot River in Reykjadalur Valley

Icelands hot river in Reykjadalur Valley

blog authorBy Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

    If you're looking for a popular Reykjavik day trip that gets off the beaten path, I have a suggestion for you. Visiting Iceland hot springs in the geothermal Reykjadalur valley with your Campervan Iceland rental is a great option. You get the benefit of escaping the crowds of the Blue Lagoon but also get to partake in the country’s bathing culture. Iceland's hot river is a great destination at any time of year for outdoor lovers and thermal spring seekers.

    So toss your bathing suit into your backpack and get ready to do the Reykjadalur hot springs hike.

    Iceland's hot river

    One of the coolest things in our small country is that it is alive with volcanic activity. There are over 30 active volcanoes systems in Iceland. This means that just beneath our feet, there is geothermal activity warming the Earth's crust. It also heats the water and the results are the hundreds of thousands of Icelandic hot springs you'll find scattered across our beautiful landscapes and terrains.

    While there is a high concentration of them in Landmannalaugar and the Highlands, you'll also find hot springs in South Iceland. You can experience this wonder at Iceland’s hot river. The Reykjadalur hot springs are a pretty great way to spend the day and you can enjoy gorgeous views from the warmth of the heated river.

    Just how hot is the hot river?

    Iceland is a wild, untamed, unpredictable country, and geothermally heated hot springs don't exactly have a thermostat. That being said, the temperature of this particular spring hovers around 40 ºC (104 ºF). So it's definitely not lukewarm but it's not scalding either. Although it might feel that way at the beginning if you're coming from really cold air outside.

    If you feel yourself starting to wrinkle beyond recognition or simply get overwhelmed by the temperature, obviously get out of the water. Your comfort is what's most important. In general, people can stand it for about 5 minutes at a time. No one likes to feel like they're being boiled alive and you might catch the volcano-heated water on a particularly hot day.

    You’ll naturally see steam rising from the water, especially on colder days. It's quite nice to get warmed up when it's chilly outside. And in a country where summer temperatures usually don't go past 15.5 ºC (60 ºF), this tends to be most days.

    Hiker doing the hot springs hike in Reykjadalur Valley

    Doing the Reykjadalur hot springs hike

    In order to bathe in Iceland’s hot river, you'll have to get there first. It's actually quite a nice route and you'll enjoy all of the scenery you take along the way. This breathtaking zone is nestled in the Reykjadalur geothermal valley in South Iceland. Reykjadalur translates to “steam valley” in Icelandic thanks to all of the steaming hot springs and constantly bubbling mud pools. You'll find it near Hveragerði, a small town located around 45 km (28 miles) from Iceland’s capital.

    This makes it the perfect distance for a day trip from Reykjavik. Make sure you pack your swimsuit and a good sturdy pair of hiking boots for your expedition. You'll also want to pack a plastic bag or waterproof holder for storing your bathing suit afterwards. We don't want your backpack or belongings getting damp. You're now ready to make your way to one of the top Iceland hot springs.

    There's a parking lot for you to leave your car and the path to the trail is well-marked. Then it's around a 3 km (1.9 mile) hike to get to your destination. It takes most people 45 minutes to an hour to make the trek. As you near the end of the hot springs hike, gorgeous valley opens up and you are greeted with spectacular scenery. In addition to lush terrain, there are also the mud pools, hot springs, and other travelers taking a dip in Iceland's famous hot river. Find a nice spot with fewer people and hop on in.

    Woman in Icelands hot river in the winter

    How to get to Reykjadalur valley

    It's quite easy to get here from Reykjavik, which is most likely your point of departure. Head out of the capital on the Ring Road (Route 1) go southeast. You'll continue on Iceland's main highway until you arrive at the Breiðamörk roundabout. Everything is clearly signaled and this is where you turn onto a secondary road. Take this past Hverasvæðið’s geothermal park and you'll get to a small parking area. From there it's time to begin the Reykjadalur valley hot springs hike.

    Iceland's Reykjadalur valley

    During your trip to Iceland, you absolutely have to partake in a visit to a hot spring, hot pot, or geothermal bathing area. while many people opt for the Blue Lagoon or the Myvatn Nature Baths, there are other options for those looking to Get away from the masses. Visiting Iceland's hot river in Reykjadalur valley combines the best of both worlds. You're not only off the beaten path, but are also enjoying the Great Outdoors. This is what Iceland is known for, so you should experience it and enjoy it to the fullest.

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