Coming to Iceland to “find” yourself is a feeling I believe everyone yearns for whether they realize it or not. Finding yourself completely in tune with nature is a real invigorating feeling that stays with you. Likely you’ll walk away re-focused, energized and ready to conquer the world after a little R&R in the outdoors. Imagine doing a short drive from the main road, park, and hike to a pool nestled in the mountains. Allow us the pleasure of introducing you today to Seljavallalaug mountain pool!
History of Seljavallalaug
Did you know Seljavallalaug is one of Iceland’s oldest pools? To illustrate, in 1923 the local youth society hand built this location to encourage community swim lessons. Later, the pool was crafted in concrete, so it would withstand the test of time and weather.
Nestled within the valley’s beneath Eyjafjallajökull Volcano in South Iceland, you’ll find this 82 x 32 foot mountain pool waiting for you. Hiking to Seljavallalaug is easy and we will outline below. Further, the rugged pool is not the type that comes with amenities (meaning it’s not cleaned often) or a lifeguard. Rather, it is a unique experience for adventure seekers!
Mountain Pool versus Hot Springs or other Pools
If you seek a short hike to warm waters to relax in that are alongside epic views, Seljavallalaug mountain pool is your answer! But do you know the difference between a mountain pool, hot spring, and other pools in Iceland? Allow us to educate you on that interesting topic!
Mountain Pools in Iceland:
- Prepare to hike usually between 15-60 minutes one way depending on the location.
- All of the mountain pools we have come across in Iceland are free of admission.
- Be prepared for an extremely rugged experience (zero amenities).
- Temperature of mountain pools are usually lukewarm, not hot. And even colder when there is heavy rain.
- You do not have to shower before you enter.
- Take as many photos as you wish!
- Drinking alcohol is not allowed specifically at Seljavallalaug because the pool is deep and there is no lifeguard.
- Typically come with EPIC 360 views.
- Don’t be surprised by how slimy the walls of the pool may be and algae will likely be floating around you.
- Require you to be a responsible tourist. Meaning please leave the area better than when you found it (pick up your trash and trash others have left behind).
Iceland Hot Springs:
- Can be found throughout the country.
- Some you can go to in an economy car, park and walk quickly to. Whereas, others require a super jeep and a longer hike that could be up to 1.5-8 hours.
- Showering is required if it is privately operated and owned one (like the Secret Lagoon, Blue Lagoon, Fontana, Myvatn, or Husafell, etc).
- Phones are allowed.
- Alcohol may or may not be allowed, do your research before partaking! However, some locations do sell it on site though!
- Hot springs can be crowded (specifically the commercial ones) but timing is sometimes everything!
- Some hot springs can be flooded with algae and other interesting organisms growing, don’t be shocked.
- Unless visiting a commercial hot spring area, there will likely be ZERO amenities like changing room, hair dryers, etc. Embrace the experience!
Pools in Iceland:
- Easy parking and very accessible.
- Admission fee is required. Can vary between 500-1,500 ISK per person depending on the location.
- Require you to shower naked before you enter.
- No phones are allowed.
- Alcohol is prohibited.
- Offer a selection of different pools (to do laps in) and hot tubs. Sometimes they even have slides!
- You are able to shower and dry your hair after your experience (yes they have hair drying stations).
- 100’s of pools in Iceland can be found throughout Reykjavik and outlining towns.
How to Get to Seljavallalaug
If you’re adventuring through the South of Iceland it would be a great time to visit Seljavallalaug. And our team would love to share with you step by step on how to get there!
- Find your way onto Route 1 (main road) heading towards Vik (if coming from Reykjavik).
- Drive to 242 named Raufarfell, See this map link on Google.
- Follow the road back until you see another sign marked, Seljavellir.
- There is a small car park that you can Google Map to.
- Make sure you grab your backpack with your swimsuit, towel, snacks and water!
- Lock your car and be ready to hike back into the canyon. Additional directions follow below on the actual hike to Seljavallalaug.
Hiking to and Experiencing Seljavallalaug
Everybody loves a short hike, right? Well good news, the hike back to Seljavallalaug is only 15-20 minutes!
Seljavallalaug Mountain Pool Information:
- GPS Coordinates to Seljavallalaug: 63° 33? 58.4? N, 19° 36? 27.3? W
- Google Map of the area.
- Open: Year Round
- Time: 20 minutes (one way)
- Hiking Elevation: 200 feet
- Length: Slightly over 1 mile.
- Terrain: Rocky.
- Special Features: Small Stream Crossing
Furthermore, heading out from the car park you will hike directly back into the valley. You’ll experience a tiny hill and rocky terrain. Depending on the weather, you may jump over a small stream (most likely when it has rained that week). No need for water shoes. But maybe hiking poles if you feel more stable and confident as a hiker. Likewise if you’ve been hiking for 10 minutes and don’t see the pool, don’t freak out. It’s there and you’re likely close but you cannot see it from the parking lot or early on in the hike.
Once there, you’ll bask in the beauty of the Lambaellsheiði and Raufarfellsheiði Mountains around you. Breathe in the fresh air, close your eyes, and marvel in the silence! Next, if you did not put on your bathing suit under your hiking clothes, there are changing rooms but we do not recommend them. Seljavallalaug is location that is kept up by volunteers who come once a year. Unfortunately, many people who visit over the year do not respect the area and leave their trash behind. Please don’t do this. More about this below…
Surprises about Seljavallalaug:
- It’s an extremely rugged experience.
- The water temperature will be lukewarm or less. Somewhere between 68-86 degrees Fahrenheit.
- You will find algae on the walls, floating beside you, and likely things growing on the bottom! Delight in your newly found nature friends 😉
- If you peak your head into the changing rooms, you’ll likely wish you hadn’t. Maybe even plug your nose!
Be a Responsible Tourist in Iceland
Don’t be the person who just takes, be a giver. Give back to the local community and other visitors who will follow in your footsteps. How can you do this? For example, be a responsible tourist in Iceland! Meanwhile, you can also keep the golden rule… Leave the area better than you found it! Here are a few ideas to consider:
- When you arrive at the Seljavallalaug Car Park check the area for trash. Pick it up if you see it, including cigarette buds!
- While on the hike to the mountain pool, be on the lookout for lost items or other trash items.
- Upon arrival to Seljavallalaug, again look for trash around the pool. Most common are wrappers, water bottles, beer cans, etc.
- Before you leave, maybe even scoop some trash items out of the changing rooms too! That is totally a “pay it forward” action in being a responsible tourist but also good karma!
- If others are enjoying the pool alongside of you, keep your voices down and don’t play music unless you respectfully ask the other patrons.
- Do not fly a drone here unless you have asked the other individuals nearby if they are okay with it. Super rude if you don’t!
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