The hot water waterfall of Laugarvellir is one of the hidden gems of eastern Iceland. The country has an incredible number of hot springs, but Laugarvellir is among the most famous, because while a hot pool sounds impressive, a hot waterfall sounds just divine.
Lost in the remote highlands between Askja and Egilsstaðir, the hot waterfall of Laugarvellir is an oasis in the desert...
Laugarvellir's hot spring is located 100 km from the town of Egilsstaðir in central east Iceland. From Egilsstaðir you drive west along Lögurinn lake via the 931 to reach Laugarvellir.
The road connects with the 910 heading towards central Iceland, Mount Snaefell, and the famous Kárahnjúkar Dam. Stay on this road until you reach the expansive man-made lake named Hálslón and pass the dam. When you leave the Hálslón dam, Road 910 becomes off-road trail F910 and is no longer paved.
Keep going for 7.5 km precisely when you'll see an intersection where you have to turn left.
The intersection is marked with a cross on the map above. You shouldn't have trouble finding it, look for signs indicating “Hafrahvammgljúfur” going eastbut you will be taking the other direction, west, for 2 km until you reach the hot spring.
The trail climbs a small hill with on the other side a river and parking lot. Years back, you could cross the river by car (a ford about 30 cm deep), but this has since been forbidden, so just take the footbridge across.
From the car park and small wooden footbridge, walk along a small path about 600 meters to the waterfall, which you'll be seeing from the top.
Laugarvellir is rarely crowded, and the car park is often empty, even in summer, as the site is rather isolated and far from traditional tourist routes.
In winter, the site is accessible up to the dam, most of the time, before the 910 turns into the F910. So to reach Laugarvellir visitors will have to leave their vehicle and walk the F trail on foot.
Laugarvellir best in the summer and you'll need a 4x4 vehicle to handle the F trail which is forbidden to conventional vehicles.
Near the car park, you'll find a cabin with a sign with some local facts. The site was inhabited until the beginning of the last century, which may seem surprising for somewhere so remote. A couple of farmers attempted to settle there in 1900 but only stayed for a few years, until 1906 most of their sheep flock died in a storm.
The region is hostile to say the least and there is nothing for miles around, the area is truly deserted except for this oasis.
From the car park you'll start to see the vegetation, the bright green moss carpet, and steam from the hot springs rising over the horizon. Not far there is a wooden cabin with changing rooms so you can get ready before going down to the hot spring.
The first thing you see is a river, but this one is cold, keep going until you find the pool with the waterfall flowing without much power, but still enough for a spa experience!
Check the temperature of the water under the waterfall, as this is not a regulated temperature, it can get very hot, going just above 40 °C. The waterfall flows into a basin floored with large stones, totalling about 20 m² and 50 cm deep.
Downstream, two other pools with a slightly cooler temperature can give you that hot/cold nordic spa experience. This difference is due to the cold stream that mixes with the hot spring, and it can get icy! Tourists love to dip in the cold after warming up in the hot thermal waters of Laugarvellir.
The different pools of Laugarvellir
The other two pools are also large enough to accommodate quite a few people and their temperature varies between 32 and 38 °C.
The Laugarvellir hot spring is a small corner of paradise, truly remote, quiet and peaceful, such that you'll never want to leave... The place is often deserted, but if you want to make sure to be alone in Laugarvellir, go there in the mid-morning or in the evening, and skip the midday rush.