hruni hot spring

Day 9 – towards Snaefellsnes and hot springs

We decided to finally get some longer sleep after 8 intense days in Iceland, so we woke up a bit late on day number 9. We’d also seen the weather forecast for the day beforehand and it was not very favourable. The rain was supposed to be our company in all of its forms throughout the day – light, normal and heavy. And the weather forecast was right. Weather-wise, this was the worst day of our trip.

We’ve still managed to see some cool places though. You may visit many nice places, even if it rains (check our “weather index”!), and yes, even outside, i.e. not only museums.

Hrunalaug hot spring

9:15-10:15

Distance from car park: 5 minutes 
Time spent at: 20-60 minutes 
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes, definitely
Physical condition needed: little 
Interesting index: 1 – amazing  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)
hrunalaug hot spring

Amazing scenery around Hrunalaug hot spring

Without any overwhelming expectations, we headed out for our first stop for the day – “Hruni” or Hrunalaug hot spring. Weather was rainy as promised by forecast, which is an ideal time to soak up in a hot pot, right? This even lowered our expectations about the place, because we had thought that probably more people think like us and the little pool may get crowded. Usually, that’s right, but not during Covid times, we realized.

I could confidently nominate Hruni hot spring for winning the award of most authentic Icelandic hot spring. It is, without doubt, the best hot spring we’ve ever been to. Thanks to many aspects. Firstly, it’s a place secluded from anything else with no buildings or roads around it. Secondly, the landscape surrounding it is truly peaceful and picturesque. Thirdly, the hot pot itself looks like to be from some kind of fairy-tale. And, importantly, the water (in the main one) is pleasantly hot with some 38°C according to my professional (read amateur) assessment.

How to get to Hrunalaug and how it works

Well, use Google maps. They were quite precise about the location. There’s actually a car park (see attached picture) near the hot spring. From the “car park”, it’s about 3 minutes of walk. You shouldn’t get lost, as far as I can remember there’s even a sign pointing towards hot spring. Once you arrive at the hot pot itself, you will realize there’s also a covered shelter for changing clothes! A very authentic one 🙂 The entire place is maintained by locals and works on a basis of free donation. There’s a donation box next to the hot spring.

hrunalaug car park

Hrunalaug “car park”

There are actually several pools, some of them smaller, some of them bigger. All pools do contain heated water, but each one has a different temperature. The hottest one is also the smallest and is the one right next to the shelter. It’s ideal for 2 people, and if you are OK with some squeezing even for 4.

Once we got in, we really got carried away by the surrounding atmosphere. Just a slowly pouring rain, few sheep, endless grass and besides that just silence. Everything was tranquil, only until the new guest arrived at the hot spring.

Meeting a naked Icelandic teenager possibly under drugs

If you are not into stories, skip this paragraph. For us, it’s the one definitely worth sharing. We were bathing alone in the small hot spring when we saw somebody coming. Another visitor, nothing special right? The guy whose age was quite hard to guess entered a shelter for changing clothes. T-shirt with a big skull and some chains around his waist, not looking very friendly at the first glance. He immediately approached us and asked: “do you have cocaine?”. Well, this question didn’t help us much to cope with the image of the guy. “No”, I naturally replied. Another question followed: “do you want cocaine?”. Same reply from my side.

At that moment, I started to be really careful about our clothes in the shelter and the guy’s movements. “Do you mind if I bath with you naked?” Even by asking this question, he didn’t make us very comfortable. “I mean with my penis out, is that OK for you?”, he added. Not any better. After quickly considering any risks associated with my negative answer I replied: “we prefer not, we can go away if you want to bath here naked”. Now I was curious about his reaction. “And if I bath naked in the hot spring next to you?” That seemed reasonable, why not. “Yes, you can bath anywhere else” I replied. And, so he did – got naked and jumped to the hot spring next to us.

I started to think, that maybe it would be a good idea to use a golden rule, which works anywhere around the world with anyone, – no matter what do you think about the person, try to be a friend with him. So, while (let’s call him HR) HR had been undressing, we exchanged a few basic questions about our names, where are we from and our age. We realized he was actually only 17 (looked much older) and he was a local. Once we told him we are 30, he followed by “oh I just fucked a 30 years old woman a few hours ago”. HR definitely had his unique style of getting people around him uncomfortable and he seemed to enjoy it.

hrunalaug bathing

The main and the hottest hot spring in Hrunalaug

Then he started talking about how he hates Iceland because of huge taxes and the country being totally boring. So, to be on the same level as him we complained about our country being boring too, that’s why we decided to travel. He continued by telling us that the only thing you can do in Iceland is taking cocaine and that he had a lot of cocaine a few hours ago and again asked whether we are sure we don’t want any. We assured him again with the negative answer. The golden rule seemed to pay off because he soon called us “very nice people”. Then he told us that Icelanders love to drive completely drunk or under drugs and that he drove here under drugs too. I don’t know whether this is only slightly true or not, but since that moment I definitely started to be more careful while driving.

What do you do for a living?”, he asked as next. My girlfriend replied she’s a lawyer – “oh I need a lawyer! I have like 13 cases going against me”. Oh really? We wouldn’t tell, we thought for ourselves. “Did you know that it’s illegal in Iceland to beat a police officer? Complete non-sense!”. We gave him a strange look at this one. “No, I’m kidding, I know I shouldn’t do it. But still, it sucks”. Then he actually gave us some recommendations about the nice places to see, mostly in Westfjords, which seemed to be his favourite part of Iceland. “There’s this beautiful house in Selárdalur” he told us. “It’s usually locked, but if you have a screwdriver you can get in. Just go inside, take a look and don’t steal anything. It’s OK.

After a while, a woman with a child approached the hot spring, so we said hello to them. They entered a shelter and started to change their clothes. We decided to leave at that moment. We’d already been there for almost an hour. We told HR about our departure, “wait, before you go, what about having a threesome?” We gave him a strange look again, “no, I was just kidding. But anyway, if you would like to, tell me.” We thanked him for his proposal and left the hot spring.

The woman with the child, apparently already having heard part of our conversation, better opted for a hot spring located few metres away. They seemed to be quite scared of HR. Just before we left, HR asked us “do you think they are afraid of me?”, we smiled and replied: “yes I think they are afraid”. “Oh great!”, he replied and jumped to their hot spring immediately (naked of course).

We don’t have any idea what followed, because we left the place, but HR didn’t seem to be dangerous, so we felt fine about leaving. He just definitely had some dry sense of humour. And the entire experience was, without doubt, the most memorable experience we’ve ever had with an Icelander.

Long drive towards Snaefellsness peninsula

10:15-14:45

Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes, totally safe
Interesting index: 3 – nice (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

Meanwhile, the rain got stronger. One of the best ways to spend your Icelandic time when it rains heavily is transfers. You may still drive, even when the weather sucks and by doing that you may save time for seeing other distant places during better weather. I had already planned to make a 1-day trip around Snæfellsnes, so we headed that way. And it was a long drive, especially in the rain.

We took a southern route via roads 30, ring road 1 and road 54. Length and duration of this southern route should be about the same as the northern route of roads 359, 35, 37, 365 and 36. We chose the southern one, because of the better infrastructure (we wanted to have a hot lunch and do some shopping along the way). All of the roads we drove on were high-quality paved roads, so nothing to point out about them.

Landbrotalaug hot springs

14:45-15:10

Distance from car park: 5-10 minutes 
Time spent at: 5 minutes 
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes, definitely
Physical condition needed: little 
Interesting index: 2 – great  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)
landbrotalaug hot spring

Closed Landbrotalaug hot spring, resembling a mud hole

The rain was not getting any better, so we decided to make our first non-shopping and non-eating stop as far as at the border of Snaefellsnes peninsula. When it rains, it’s very enjoyable to jump into hot spring, so why not go for another one? The closest (and accessible by car) one on our list of the coolest hot pots was Landbrotalaug hot spring. We arrived at the place marked on Google maps only to realize that the hot spring is closed (now Google correctly marks it as closed).

I later read that they closed it because of over-tourism and gradual devastation of the place. At the time of our visit, we didn’t know why it was closed though. Because of closure, we just examined the place and took some pictures. Well, the place looks a bit like a mud hole, so definitely not such beautiful scenery as with hot springs in Landmannalaugar or Hrunalaug.

Nevertheless, if it wasn’t forbidden I would take a bath anyway. On top of that, there was no place to leave your clothes and it rained quite heavily. I didn’t want to have everything wet while being at the hot spring, so I decided to turn back, get into the car and leave. Never mind, maybe next time. Some other tourists coming after us didn’t seem to care much about the “it’s forbidden to enter” sign and they took a bath anyway. I don’t regret not taking it though.

Road 54 – north or south?

15:15-18:00

Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes, safe
Interesting index: 3 – nice (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

For our next stop, we were planning to see Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss. As I already mentioned, this was our worst day of the trip when it came to weather. The rain was still intense, even in the afternoon, around entire Snaefellsnes and the forecast for later hours looked pretty much the same. We also knew we needed at least 2 entire days for our planned Westfjords trip. Thus, we decided to do at least a road trip around Snaefellsnes and see it mostly from inside our car.

Google Maps advised that the quickest way from Landbrotalaug to Kirkjufell is road 54 in the south. We, however, decided to take road 54 in the north. The reason was, that we had enough time and the road seemed to be more interesting in terms of surrounding landscapes. Well, we didn’t see much of it, because of the cloudy and foggy weather. The little pieces we saw, however, seemed to be really picturesque, so we are planning to come back one day during better weather.

Kirkjufellsfoss, Kirkjufell

18:00-18:10

Distance from car park: 10/0 minutes
Time spent at: 10-20 minutes each
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes, probably
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 2 – great  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)
kirkjufell in rain

Kirkjufell on a rainy, foggy summer day

Legendary Kirkjufell is a really picturesque mountain. We saw only its silhouette, though, thanks to rain and fog. Kirkjufellsfoss is situated a few minutes of walking from Kirkjufell. We decided to skip seeing it, because of already having seen many beautiful waterfalls and because of unpleasant weather.

Hellissandur camping

19:45-

For the next day, we were planning horse riding on the beach and a long drive towards Drangsnes in Westfjords. On the other hand, we haven’t seen much of the Snaefellsness yet, because of the rain and fog. Hence, I decided to adjust our plans, so that we can see at least some of the Snaefellsness peninsula the next day in better weather. That’s why we decided to camp in Hellissandur.

hellissandur campsite

Hellissandur campsite on a foggy, rainy evening

Hellissandur camping is the westernmost campsite in Snaefellsness peninsula, slightly more to the north. That means we were still able to drive a big part of Snaefellssness the next day, via Útnesvegur in Snæfellsjökull National Park and southern part of the road 54.

hellissandur road Útnesvegur

Útnesvegur road near Hellissandur

Apart from having a convenient location, Hellissandur campsite is a nice little campsite located literally in the middle of the lava field. So, it’s a pretty cool place to stay at. Facilities in the camping are simple with a small kitchen and, luckily, also showers. Nevertheless, during Covid-19 times this was just enough for us. Its proximity to the sea is a nice bonus as well.

Skipped places

  • Grundarfoss

We decided to skip Grundarfoss for the same reason as Kirkjufellsfoss – the bad weather and already having seen several magnificent waterfalls.

There are also some beautiful Virtual Reality tours of Snaefellsnes to help you find more beautiful places and to have an idea of how Snaefellsnes looks like from a bird’s eye view!

Posted by epiciceland

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