Seljavallalaug Pool in Iceland
There is no place better to enjoy a bath than in Seljavallalaug pool; a hidden geothermal swimming pool nestled in a secluded valley with breathtaking mountain views. There are a few hidden gems in Iceland that are only known to a few people. One of those hidden gems is Seljavallalaug, the oldest swimming pool in Iceland. You will find Seljavallalaug hidden in a narrow valley near the town of Seljavellir, under the infamous volcano, Eyjafjallajökull. So, are you ready for a pleasant dip in a natural geothermal pool in the middle of nowhere? Here is everything you need to know before you plan your visit to Seljavallalaug pool.
“This place made me feel like I was in a fairytale”
History of Iceland’s Oldest Seljavallalaug Pool
Seljavallalaug pool is the oldest pool in Iceland built in 1923 close to the fields of Seljavellir. Since many Icelanders made a living from fishing, it was important that they knew how to swim. According to history, this pool, sometimes also called Seljavellir pool was built to help Icelanders learn how to swim. Nowadays, Seljavallalaug pool is becoming more of a popular place for travelers to relax in the most dramatic corner of Iceland.
If you are looking for different and diverse experiences, then Seljavallalaug should definitely be on your list.
How to Get to Seljavallalaug Pool
Getting to Seljavallalaug pool is a real adventure due to its remote location. We discovered this place by accident. We were on our way to Vik when we took a detour from the famous Ring road and ended up discovering this place.
This place is not so far away from the Ring road; however, once you enter the valley surrounded by enchanting mountains, it feels like you are in the middle of nowhere.
Traveling from Vik : If you are traveling from Vik like we did, you will pass the famous waterfall Skogafoss. A few kilometers down from Skogafoss, you will come across a crossroad 242, which is a loop. Don’t turn there yet, continue straight until you come across a second crossroad 242 with a sign named Raufarfell. Turn right and continue straight until the end of the road.
Traveling from Reykjavik : If you are coming from Reykjavik, you will take a left when you see the sign for Raufarfell.
What to Expect when you Get to Seljavallalaug Pool
After you drive down the paved 242, the road turns into a gravel road. We went in late May and didn’t encounter any issues driving on that road. The ride is a little bumpy, with lots of holes, but nothing to worry about. We didn’t rent a 4×4, but we were still able to manage to get to the parking area without any issues. Just remember that this is not a public road, so if you don’t want to take your rental car, you can park it where the paved road ends. The walk from there to the parking area is about 2km.
Trail to Seljavallalaug pool
After you get to the parking area, be prepared to take a short walk to get to the pool. The trail is not marked, but you shouldn’t have any issues finding the path. Just continue to follow the river upwards. The hike from the parking area is pretty easy and takes about 15-20mins. You won’t see the swimming pool until you are almost there; it is well hidden within the mountains.
Water in Seljavallalaug poolThe water’s temperature in the pool is around 34-35 °C, so it is perfect for relaxation. The closer you get to the hot spring, the warmer it gets. The water temperature can drop down to 20 degrees starting early autumn till late spring, which might be too cold for most people. Seljavallalaug pool is on private land, and it is not regularly maintained. The volunteers clean the pool once a year. You may find the water green due to algae, so be prepared. The water in the pool keeps circulating, but no one is checking the quality of the water. However, no one has reported any health problems so far after bathing in the water.
Important things to know Before you Visit
Seljavallalaug pool is open 24 hours a day. Be sure to assess the road conditions before you decide to drive down the road. The total time you will most likely end up spending is close to 1.5 to 2 hours; however, it was very difficult for me to leave this enchanting place. There are no shops and restaurants near the pool. Be sure to bring your own snacks and something to drink. There are no trash cans, so please don’t leave any trash behind.
Remember to bring good hiking shoes with ankle support as there are stones and streams you may have to walk over on the trail. Bring your swimsuit if you are planning to get into the water. Make sure you have warm clothing to change into afterward because it can get very cold and windy even during summer time.
It was 5 °C in late May. I was wearing a dress and flip flops only for the photos. I quickly changed into warm clothes afterward.
There are changing rooms by the pool, but people have turned them into a trash dumping site. I would recommend changing your clothes by the pool.
There are no toilets or shower facility available at the site.
The parking is free, and there is no fee to get into the pool.
Remember this place is in the middle of nowhere surrounded by mountains. There is no lifeguard on duty. The water is 4-6 feet deep depending on which side of the pool you are on.
Map for your Iceland Trip
Are you planning a trip Iceland? I hope these tips are helpful.
Do you have more questions about Iceland’s Seljavallalaug pool?
Let me know in the comments below. Happy Traveling!