Hveravellir

Best Icelandic Hot springs

Best Icelandic Hot springs

The ultimate guide to most beautiful Icelandic hot springs. How to find them, what kind of car do you need, our experience and many tips!

9. REYKJAFJARDARLAUG

Reykjafjarðarlaug hot pool

Reykjafjarðarlaug hot pool

Summary

Distance from car park: 2 minutes
Time spent at: 30-45 minutes
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 2 – great (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

Reykjafjardarlaug is a nice hot spring in the middle of nowhere, right next to the Road 63 in Westfjords.

How to get to Reykjafjardarlaug

In summer, Reykjafjardarlaug is accessible by any 2wd car. Although the road 63 leading there is zig-zag and secluded, it should be alright to reach with a bit of careful driving. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Our experience with Reykjafjardarlaug

We made just a quick stop at the hot spring because we had already visited several of them at that time and headed elsewhere on that day. Reykjafjardarlaug is nevertheless nice and pleasant, just maybe not that exceptional compared to some other ones in Iceland. As someone had put it: “3 out of 5 Icelandic stars, i.e. 5 out of 5 anywhere else in the world”. 

Tips about Reykjafjardarlaug

There are actually 2 places for bathing in here. First one is the man-made artificial pool with regulated water temperature. The second one is the actual source of the hot water itself – a wild hot spring with varying temperature (usually much hotter). This secret Reykjafjardarlaug hot spring lies nearby.

Bathing is free of charge, we didn’t notice any donation box, but there may be one.

8. HVERAVELLIR

Hveravellir hot spring

The only Hveravellir hot spring for bathing. Image: courtesy of hiticeland.com

Summary

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

Hveravellir is a hot spring area in the middle of F35 road with one nice free hot spring available for bathing. 

How to get to Hveravellir

You need a 4wd car to access the Hveravellir area. The road F35 (Kjalvegur) is not hard to drive on, though. You may rent basically any 4wd car to drive it. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Once you leave F35 towards Hveravellir, it’s just a short, easy drive and you will soon find a parking lot in front of a small restaurant.

Our experience with Hveravellir

Almost next to the parking lot lies a nice, public, free hot spring.

Since it is so close to the car park, there’s a high chance someone will be inside most of the time. Nevertheless, the hot spring is big enough and water is pleasantly hot, with some 38°C (according to my professional assessment). On the other hand, air temperature felt really cold, something like 7-8°C even in the middle of August. So again – be prepared for that – you are in the middle of Iceland, in highlands.

I guess my expectations for Hveravellir were too big (read further to find out why). When planning our trip, I had read that there are “several hot springs in the Hveravellir area”. Moreover, seeing pictures like this had instantly made me a Hveravellir enthusiast. Well, the reality was a bit different.

Tips about Hveravellir

There were supposed to be “several hot springs” so let’s go find the other ones, we told ourselves. Hopefully with no people inside

hveravellir trail sheep

Sheep around Hveravellir trail

We were hiking for 1 hour around the entire area, but we haven’t found any hot springs, other than the main one near the parking lot. We don’t have anything against walking, but the entire area was pretty uneventful, with nothing interesting to observe. We said hello to several sheep along the way, but even those didn’t know where the other hot springs were.

We finally also asked the local at the restaurant who just confirmed our realization by saying: “you can bath only in this hot spring, next to the car park. There may be also some other hot springs further away, but you shouldn’t bath there”.

7. LYSUHOLSLAUG

lysuholslaug hot spring

Lýsuhólslaug hot spring

Summary

Distance from car park: 0 minutes 
Time spent at: 0,5 to 2 hours
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 2 – great (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

Lysuholslaug is a nice, man-made and man-maintained hot spring, hidden in the southern part of Snaefellsnes peninsula. 

How to get to Lysuholslaug

Lysuholslaug is easily accessible by any 2wd car. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Don’t get fooled by Google that you have to walk to Lysuholslaug. You don’t have to. There’s a road leading right next to the hot spring area. It’s just not marked on the Google Maps (see below).

Lysuholslaug hot spring map

Lýsuhólslaug hot spring as indicated on Google Maps. The road to it does exist, though.

Our experience with Lysuholslaug

Bathing in Lysuholslaug is definitely a very pleasant activity when the weather sucks. We really enjoyed it, despite the place not being anywhere near as picturesque as Hrunalaug or some other “wilder” hot springs. So, it depends on your preference, weather (and who knows what else), whether it’s worth making a detour for you. For us it definitely was.

Other than us, there was just one other couple using the pools at the time of our visit. We guess the main reason was, once again, Covid pandemic, rather than the place being unpopular.

Tips about Lysuholslaug

There are 2 small hot tubes and 1 bigger pool. All of them are the so-called “sea-weed baths”. That means, they look to be dirty, because of the sea-weeds everywhere. The ground and walls of the pool are also slippery, because of sea-weeds.

The big pool has water with the temperature of around 32°C (according to my professional assessment, i.e. read “just guessing”). Water in the small hot tubes is much hotter, around 36-38°C in the first of them and around 39-41°C in the hottest one. It’s definitely not recommended to stay in the hottest one for too long.

The hot spring is a paid one – 1000ISK/person, i.e. some 6-7eur.

6. BRENNISTEINSALDA

Landmannalaugar hot spring

Landmannalaugar hot spring. Picture taken from https://www.foodiebaker.com/day-4-iceland-travelogue/

Summary

Distance from car park: 5-7 minutes from both car parks (in camp and before camp) 
Time spent at: 20-40 minutes
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little to medium
Interesting index: 1 – amazing (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

Brennisteinsalda hot spring is the only hot spring suitable for bathing in the main Landmannalaugar area.

How to get to Brennisteinsalda

You need a proper 4wd car to reach Landmannalaugar and Brennisteinsalda hot spring. However, there’s a huge difference whether you come from the northern side of F235 or southern side.

Read more about these different routes in our F-road guide. Read also about how we chose our car, as this is essential for your Icelandic trip. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Landmannalaugar Brennisteinsalda campsite

Landmannalaugar Brennisteinsalda campsite on the summer evening

Our experience with Brennisteinsalda

Brennisteinsalda hot spring is the only real natural hot spring (without any human interference) we’ve seen in Iceland so it’s definitely worth trying. It’s basically a stream of some really hot water (>50°C) flowing into the small river and you may bath in this river.

The river actually isn’t so hot, maybe around some 26-30°C which doesn’t feel so fantastic when it’s like 5-10°C outside. But the more you approach the actual hot stream, the warmer it gets. The warmest place is, of course, just near the place where the stream flows into the water. This is the place you want to aim for (but so will all your fellow co-campers). You will probably have to wait some time in a queue to get to that source. There’s also another smaller stream a few meters to the right, so these 2 streams flowing into the river are the hottest spots.

Tips about Brennisteinsalda

The hot spring is free to use. There’s no place to change your clothes, just a wooden structure to put leave your clothes on, which also serves as an entrance to the hot river.

The river is also really shallow, only some 40-70cm deep, so you basically have to lie in it to be covered by water. Nevertheless, it’s definitely worth the experience and it’s a really cool thing to try as Brennisteinsalda hotpot is one of the very few “wild” hot springs not artificially modified by locals.

5. HORGSHLIDARLAUG

Horgshlidarlaug hot spring

Hörgshliðarlaug hot spring in the heart of fjord

 

Summary

Distance from car park: 2 minutes 
Time spent at: 10-30 minutes
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 2 – great (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

Hörgshliðarlaug is a nice remote hot spring hidden in one of the fjords in the northern part of Westfjords.

How to get to Horgshlidarlaug

In summer, Hörgshliðarlaug is accessible by any 2wd car. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Not only tough to pronounce, but also tough to find, that’s Horgshlidarlaug. At the time of our visit, the road 633 was closed, so we had to use northern part of the road 61 and make a detour south (left) right before crossing the Mjóifjörður fjord.

Once we arrived at the point indicated on Google Maps, there were just a few rural settlements with old houses next to them and we didn’t see any hot pot. At one of the settlements, we spotted an old bath-tub, with the big sign “PRIVATE PROPERTY”. Hmm, maybe this is Hörgshliðarlaug? I stepped out of the car and headed towards the bath-tub. On a halfway there a local guy stopped me with a huge smile on his face. I asked whether this is Horgshlidarlaug and he just casually replied that this is his house and the hot spring is another 2 kilometres down the road. I guess we were not the first, nor the last tourists sneaking around his courtyard.

horghslidarlaug map

The actual hot spring Hörgshliðarlaug is 2 kilometres south from the spot indicated by Google Maps

Nevertheless, the guy was right (of course). So, in case it will not be corrected yet on Google Maps (and you couldn’t see any hot spring), just continue 2 kilometres south down the road. You will definitely see it on your right (when coming from the north) or on the left (when coming from the south). There’s no real car park, you have to stop next to the road (but there’s a wider part of the road near hot spring).

Our experience with Horgshlidarlaug

Horgshlidarlaug is a dirty, old, full of seaweed hot spring with true Icelandic atmosphere. It lies right in the heart of the fjord, so you will be able to watch the fjord while soaking in the hot pot. If you are lucky enough, there may even be seals around (we haven’t seen any though).

Horgshlidarlaug westfjords

Horgshlidarlaug hotpot and a changing room

At the time of our visit, there were 2 groups of tourists already bathing in the hot spring. Hence, we waited 10 minutes, and afterwards, the hot spring became empty. Hörgshliðarlaug is definitely an original and picturesque place, nevertheless, we liked some other (see below) hot springs even more.

Tips about Horgshlidarlaug

There’s an old shelter next to the hot spring, which serves as a changing room. If you are into “sauna style” bathing, you may even alternate between bathing in the hot spring and bathing in the ice-cold sea. Water in the hot spring is very pleasant though, having some 36°C (according to my professional, read as „guessed“, assessment).

Hot spring is free to use, I don’t remember a donation box next to it, but there may have been one.

4. HELLULAUG

hellulaug hot spring

Hellulaug hot spring

Summary

Distance from car park: 2-3 minutes 
Time spent at: 15-45 minutes
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 1 – amazing (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

Hellulaug is a nice hot spring situated in one of the fjords in the southern part of Westfjords.

How to get to Hellulaug

In summer, Hellulaug is accessible by any 2wd car. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

You can get to Hellulaug from the main road 60. Just be sure to finally turn on Hellulaugavegur and end up here, because there’s one other (wrong) spot on Google maps. You will leave your car at a small, gravel parking lot. From there you have to descent about 1 minute to reach the pool itself.

hellulaug hotpot

Hellulaug hotpot

Our experience with Hellulaug

At the time of our visit, it had already started to rain. We changed our clothes inside our car and virtually ran in the rain towards the pool. There were two local girls (this time without cocaine) already bathing there (didn’t seem to leave any time soon). 

The entire bathing experience was very nice. The water was pleasantly hot, but not too hot (some 34-36°C). It felt really comfortable to soak in the pool, while the rain poured down. Additionally, view from the hot spring is very nice, because of its location in the fjord. So you’re basically sitting in the hot spring looking at the fjord.

Tips about Hellulaug

Hellulaug is situated right in the heart of the fjord and it’s a man-made hotpot (water is being brought there by a pump). There’s no changing room, nor any shelter, but the hot spring is free of charge.

Well, if it rains, since there’s no shelter, some of your things will probably get wet, unless you cover them with something. We didn’t mind, though, because Hellulaug was probably the last stop of our trip.

3. KROSSNESLAUG

krossneslaug

Krossneslaug

Summary

Distance from car park: 5 minutes 
Time spent at: 30-60 minutes
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 1 – amazing (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

Krossneslaug is a really unique, one-of-its-kind hot spring literally at the end of the world (or at least all Icelandic roads). 

How to get to Krossneslaug

Although officially any 2wd car is allowed in here, I do recommend a 4wd car and some guts to reach Krossneslaug. Road 643 heading towards Krossneslaug could easily be classified as an Icelandic F-road. It doesn’t contain any river crossings but it contains almost everything else an F-road may contain. Potholes, gravel, narrow passages, steep parts, driving on the edge of the cliffs, …

Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Google Maps mark Krossneslaug quite precisely. They just don’t show that the “car park” (or better said the place next to the road where you may leave your car) is tens of meters above the pool. That means, you have to leave your car up, next to the road and you have to walk down the path to Krossneslaug itself. Only the owner of the pool has an access to reach the pool by car.

Our experience with Krossneslaug

Bathing in Krossneslaug is again a once in a lifetime experience. It definitely belongs to Top 3 of our Icelandic hot springs. When we arrived, there was no one else in the pool, only the owner performing maintenance of the place.

krossneslaug hot spring

Views from Krossneslaug

Once in the pool, you will again feel like being in some kind of fairy tale. Just you, hot pool and view of the endless sea. The smaller, hotter bathtub even has a windshield (I guess for cases of severe weather?).

Before our departure, I asked the owner whether it does make economical sense to maintain such a pool at the end of the world. He just smiled and replied that from June till 1st half of August usually hundreds of people come per day. Even during Covid times, just their structure changed to more locals. OK, that surprised me, I guess it makes sense then.

Tips about Krossneslaug

Krossneslaug is a paid (1000ISK, i.e. 6-7Eur/person), man-made, hot water pool, utilising nearby hot spring water. It has a long history (1954) and 2 pools available for bathing. The bigger, rectangular pool with a water temperature of around 34°C and a smaller, more modern hot tub with a temperature of around 38°C. It is well maintained by the owner of the place, who also resides there usually from June until August each year. The entrance fee includes a changing room, toilets and showers, of course.

2. GUDRUNARLAUG

gudrunarlaug hot spring shelter

Shelter for changing clothes and Gudrunarlaug hot spring

Summary

Distance from car park: 5 minutes 
Time spent at: 30-60 minutes
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little
Interesting index: 1 – amazing (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

Guðrúnarlaug is one of the most picturesque hot springs in Iceland. It’s very well accessible.

How to get to Gudrunarlaug

In summer, Guðrúnarlaug is easily accessible by any 2wd car. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

Our experience with Gudrunarlaug

When we arrived at the parking lot, we saw just one couple bathing in the hot spring. We were already spoiled by travelling during Covid pandemic, in the sense that we had been alone at every other place we had visited. So, we decided to wait a bit once the couple finishes its bathing, which took about 5 minutes.

Yep, once again, we were alone in Icelandic hot spring, in August at 4 pm. The rain had already been pouring when we got out of our car. We really enjoyed Gudrunarlaug bathing, even despite (or thanks to?) rain getting heavier. The place with its surroundings is pretty cool and the water is pleasantly hot (some 36-38°C). Definitely worth visiting. It was one of the best hot springs we’ve bathed in.

gudrunarlaug hotpot neighborhood

Neighborhood of the Guðrúnarlaug hot spring

Tips about Gudrunarlaug

Guðrúnarlaug is definitely a bit more touristy compared to, for example, Lýsuhólslaug. The reason for that is its proximity to ring road and to Westfjords, i.e., it’s quite easily accessible. The same is true when it comes to access to the actual hot tube – it’s a 2-minute walk from the car park, which sits right next to it. Google Maps are also quite precise about the location of Gudrunarlaug, so feel free to orientate according to them.

Guðrúnarlaug is located next to the small rural campsite (we didn’t see anyone camping at the time of our visit, during Covid-19 times) and something which looked like a school. There’s an authentic wooden shelter (similar to the one next to Hrunalaug) serving as a changing room, right next to the pool. Hot spring is free to use, I don’t remember a donation box next to it, but there may have been one.

1. HRUNALAUG

hruni hot spring

Tranquil scenery of Hruni hot spring

Summary

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)

How to get to Hrunalaug

Hrunalaug (or Hruni) is easily accessible by any 2wd car. Read about how we chose our car. Or just get free discounts for your Icelandic car rental.

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.

hrunalaug car park

Hrunalaug “car park”

Our experience with Hrunalaug

I can 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. 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.

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. If you are into stories, feel free to read ours about meeting a naked Icelandic teenager possibly under drugs.

hrunalaug bathing

The main and the hottest hot spring in Hrunalaug

Tips about Hrunalaug

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.

There are actually several pools, some of them smaller, some of them bigger. All pools do contain a heated water, but each one has 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.

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Guide to Kerlingarfjöll and Hveravellir

Guide to Kerlingarfjöll and Hveravellir

Kerlingarfjoll – from the south or the north?

Well, it all depends on what your other plans are. Technically, from the south of F35, it’s a shorter route. But again, it doesn’t matter much which way you choose to start from – north or south. What matters more is, what you plan to do before and after your Kerlingarfjöll trip.

What we chose and why

For us, Kerlingarfjöll trip was day 8 of our Icelandic journey. We were doing the trip around entire Iceland with many detours. On day 7 we explored the area around Krafla and Hverir. That means, we already came from the north.

Our plan for the day was to drive the long F35 from north to south with several stops. The first highlight should have been Hveravellir hot spring area. The biggest highlight was, naturally, supposed to be Kerlingarfjöll. Finally, we wanted to finish our day on the south end of F35 in any campsite nearby. And if we had enough time, to see Gullfoss and Strokkur as well.

Just to add, the night before this trip we camped at Varmahlíð campsite. So, this was our starting point.

ring road varmahlid svinavatn

Ring road no. 1 between Varmahlíð and Svínavatn

F35 towards Hveravellir

Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes (not pleasant but should be ok to drive)
Interesting index: 3 – nice  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

f35 north end

North end of the F35 road, also called Kjalvegur

F35 is a long gravel road connecting north and south Iceland. Somewhere around the halfway through it lies the detour towards Hveravellir area and a bit further towards south lies a detour towards Kerlingarfjöll. There are better parts of F35 and there are worse parts of F35. Better parts mean you may drive quite fast (me around 100km/h). Worse parts mean a lot of potholes and turns, i.e. you have to drive slowly. Importantly, there are no river crossings on F35, only very small ponds doable even by 2wd car.

Having already seen roads like breath-taking F208 south of Landmannalaugar, out of this world F235 towards Langisjór or moon-like F905 and F910 near Askja, F35 was just an ordinary gravel road with nothing special to observe around. Bear in mind – it’s still Iceland folks – so surroundings will be nice anyway, just not that amazing compared to the best ones.

f35 kjalvegur

F35, aka Kjalvegur, near Hveravellir

We’ve also met probably the biggest number of cars on F35 (read as “tourists”). This may be a bit annoying because some of them are too slow, some of them are too fast and, you know, Icelandic F-roads are not ideal for overtaking cars.

Hveravellir

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

I guess my expectations for Hveravellir were too big. When planning our trip, I had read that there are “several hot springs in the Hveravellir area”. Moreover, seeing pictures like this had instantly made me a Hveravellir enthusiast. Well, the reality was a bit different.

hveravellir trail

Hveravellir hiking trail. Pretty dull landscapes compared to other ones in Iceland

Once you leave F35 towards Hveravellir, it’s just a short, easy drive and you will soon find a parking lot in front of a small restaurant. Almost next to the parking lot lies a nice, public, free hot spring.

Since it is so close to the car park, there’s a high chance someone will be inside most of the time. Nevertheless, the hot spring is big enough and water is pleasantly hot, with some 38°C (according to my professional assessment). On the other hand, air temperature felt really cold, something like 7-8°C even in the middle of august. So again – be prepared for that – you are in the middle of Iceland, in highlands.

Hveravellir hiking trails and hot springs

As there were already several people bathing in the hot spring even during Covid-19 times, we decided to be more adventurous. There were supposed to be “several hot springs” so let’s go find the other ones, we told ourselves. Hopefully with no people inside. We took one of the two hiking trails, which were fairly easy ones because they were just straight paths leading through grass fields. We were able to see quite far in the distance because there were no hills, but we were not able to observe any steam nor hot spring. Thus, we continued to walk for 5 minutes, for 10 minutes, for 20 minutes and… still nothing!

hveravellir trail sheep

Sheep around Hveravellir trail

We don’t have anything against walking, but the entire area was pretty uneventful, with nothing interesting to observe. We said hello to several sheep along the way, but even those didn’t know where the other hot springs were. Finally, we reached a small hill, where I was able to climb up and observe the surroundings. As far as my eye could see there was no hot spring.

So, we turned back and chose a slightly different way back on one of the crossroads along the trail. We arrived back via the 2nd hiking trail and still no hot spring anywhere. Well, the hot spring picture I had seen on the internet looked incredibly beautiful, so I still felt determined at least to find out where it is. Hence, I tried my last option – went into the restaurant and asked the personnel. The guy at the desk replied “You can bath only in this hot spring, next to the car park. There may be also some other hot springs further away, but you shouldn’t bath there.” Ok, my enthusiasm ended at this point and we bathed at least in this first and only one.

Again, don’t get me wrong, it’s Iceland, so everything is beautiful (Hveravellir as well). We just had different expectations and were not that impressed at the end of the day.

How to get to Kerlingarfjoll – F347

Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes (not pleasant but should be ok to drive)
Interesting index: 2 – great  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

F347 between F35 and Kerlingarfjoll

The beginning of F347 between F35 and Kerlingarfjoll

Weather was so-so, cloudy with occasional little rain, and the visibility seemed to be so-so as well. We just hoped for good visibility in Kerlingarfjöll, please not like the one on Sveinstindur. F347 also doesn’t have any river crossings and is pretty similar to F35. The closer you approach Kerlingarfjöll Mountain Resort, the more the road starts getting more mountainous and more interesting.

Camping in Kerlingarfjoll

One little note. In the first version of our Icelandic itinerary, we had planned to camp here, in Kerlingarfjoll. You can definitely do that. Just bear in mind, that on the 8th August, 3 pm in the afternoon (i.e. probably one of the warmest times possible) the temperature climbed to tropical 5°C. And the strong wind didn’t help it at all, making everything feel even some 5°C colder. Now doing the math that nights are additional 5°C-7°C colder compared to daytime temperatures, you’re going to be freezing for sure.

f347 near kerlingarfjoll

F347 near Kerlingarfjöll mountain resort

Kerlingarfjöll mountain resort is one of the coldest places in Iceland available for camping, so be prepared for that mentally, physically and with all your equipment. Given that my girlfriend had already been freezing during the past (much warmer) nights I decided to change our plans and not to camp here (and I’m satisfied with this decision).

Kerlingarfjöll mountain resort

Once you reach the mountain resort, the entire scenery gets really picturesque. There’s a map of Kerlingarfjoll area next to the resort. Also, if you plan to sleep in one of the mountain huts or just in the only campsite in here, the mountain resort reception is the place to go and ask for details, like key codes of the huts.

kerlingarfjoll mountain resort

Kerlingarfjöll mountain resort campsite

Now coming back to the crux of the trip. As always, we wanted to see the best of Kerlingarfjöll and do it in a reasonable amount of time. I.e. we were not looking for a day-long hike, but rather for something like a few hours long trip. That’s why we decided to continue as close as possible to the epicentre of the area by car. That meant, to continue driving the steepest part of F347 to the end of the road, or, Hveradalir area.

F347 towards Kerlingarfjoll main area – Hveradalir

Worth visiting even with bad weather: no (the ascent may be really dangerous)
Interesting index: 2 – great  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

f347 near hveradalir

F347 road next to Hveradalir hot spring area in Kerlingarfjoll

This part of the road is the most challenging one and probably the steepest we drove on in Iceland. Again, there are no river crossings, just the road is really bumpy and towards the end quite steep. However, in good weather (read – no snow, no heavy rain) it’s definitely doable by any medium-sized SUV and better, like our Dacia Duster. If you feel unsafe, go slowly, turn 4×4 on or watch someone else go first in front of you.

Once you reach the end of the road, you will find yourself at the car park. This is the closest point to the central Hveradalir area reachable by car.

Kerlingarfjöll

Distance from car park: 2 minutes 
Time spent at: 1-3 hours (or more according to your hiking passion) 
Worth visiting even with bad weather: no, probably
Physical condition needed: medium to advanced 
Interesting index: 1 – amazing  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

kerlingarfjoll hveradalir stairs

Clay staircase in Hveradalir area of Kerlingarfjöll

Kerlingarfjoll hiking options

Once in Kerlingarfjöll, you have numerous hiking options. You may for example hike the red loop trail (see the Kerlingarfjoll area map), getting to all of the biggest summits around the area, sleeping over at mountain huts. This is a very challenging hike, where you will be going to need very good gear (e.g. crampons) and be in a very good physical condition. And it will take you about 3 days. Nevertheless, the two most popular options to explore the area are the following.

The most popular hiking option

An option we chose – to arrive at Hveradalir geothermal area by car (steepest part of F347, past mountain resort) and to explore it from there. You may hike around the area as long as you want and as far as you want and turn back at any moment. I.e., you’re going to be returning the same way you came there. This is the most time-efficient option and allows you to see one of the most beautiful views of Kerlingarfjoll in quite a short amount of time.

kerlingarfjoll hveradalir trail

One of the numerous trails in Hveradalir area of Kerlingarfjoll

Another popular option is to start at Kerlingarfjöll Mountain Resort and hike to Hveradalir yourself. It will take you around an hour to reach Hveradalir area and you may enjoy some additional nice views on top of that of Hveradalir. You have to come back the same way you arrived in here (unless you are doing a big 3-day loop with sleepovers). The big advantage of this trail is a hot spring somewhere around the first third of the trail, where you may bath. The disadvantage is the time aspect, as you will be spending additional 2 hours just getting to and from Hveradalir.

Hveradalir hike

Hveradalir area is one of the most beautiful and breath-taking places I’ve ever been to in my life – together with Askja, Landmannalaugar and the F-roads south of Landmannalaugar. You literally feel like you’re on a different planet. This time it’s not rainbow mountains, no black sand, no green moss. This time, it’s orange mountains mixed with wild sulphuric hot springs and snow. A lot of snow. And cold. And the wind. Welcome to Hveradalir.

The ground is covered with clay (or something like clay) and with every step of yours it sticks to your shoes like glue. That means either take some shoes you don’t like that much or be prepared for some thorough cleaning. Hikes in here are not dangerous. At least not under normal wind conditions. And if you don’t go as far as snow-covered trails are. Then, they may be dangerous.

kerlingarfjoll hveradalir hike

One of the summits of the several smaller hills around the Hveradalir in Kerlingarfjöll

There are several smaller hills and there are also smaller wooden stairs-like steps almost on each of them to help you with the ascent. And I do understand why. If it weren’t for them, every 10th visitor would have slipped on the clay and injured or killed himself. The views and the atmosphere of the place is truly amazing. Hot springs with hot sulphuric steam are everywhere and they help create an occasional feeling of warmth. There are, however, no hot springs to bath in Hveradalir area. This is contrary to Google maps calling the location “hot springs” or “geothermal area”.

We hiked around the area for around 90 minutes and enjoyed every moment of it. Except for the cold windy weather. With regards to visibility, clouds of fog were being replaced by the somewhat clearer sky, and vice versa, every 5 minutes. So be patient, and you may get better scenery for pictures. Or be lucky and come when the weather is clear. We hiked about 4-5 smaller hills and turned back from each one either at the end of the trail or if the trail started to be covered by deep snow, or reached high enough to be completely covered by fog.

Hot springs

Well, if you put “Hveradalir” in the Google maps, the place with no road pops up, quite far from the car park. However, Hveradalir area starts right next to the parking lot so this data point is slightly mistaken. The second confusing thing is if you are looking for hot springs to bath in. You will not find them in Hveradalir. Although Google is saying Hveradalir is a hot spring area, yes, it is, but you can’t bath in any.

And it’s not easy to find where the hot spring available for bathing actually is. We’ve accomplished that by asking a receptionist at Kerlingarfjoll mountain resort. She told us that the only hot spring with the bathing option is roughly in the one-third of the trail from mountain resort towards Hveradalir. I.e. after some 20 minutes of walking. Well, we already had enough and the weather started to get foggy and rainy, so we decided to go on with our journey. But firstly, we had to clean our shoes for at least 15 minutes to get off the Kerlingarfjoll clay.

Where to head next?

During our journey, we still had some spare time on day 8 of our trip. Coming from the north and ending in the south, there a few logical options to opt for, once you leave F35. Of course, I mean famous and touristy waterfall Gullfoss and probably the most famous spot in entire Iceland – Strokkur geyser.

You may read about our visit to Gullfoss and Strokkur here.

Posted by epiciceland in Guide, 0 comments
Day 8 – Across central Highlands: Hveravellir and Kerlingarfjöll

Day 8 – Across central Highlands: Hveravellir and Kerlingarfjöll


Our plan for this day was to drive the long F35 from north to south with several stops. The first highlight should have been Hveravellir hot spring area – only our 2nd hot spring bathing in 7 days. The biggest one was, naturally, supposed to be Kerlingarfjöll. Finally, we wanted to finish our day on the south end of F35 in any campsite nearby. And if we had enough time, to see Gullfoss and Strokkur as well. Weather was cloudy, but it didn’t rain, so – good Icelandic weather, I suppose.

ring road varmahlid svinavatn

Ring road no. 1 between Varmahlíð and Svínavatn

F35 towards Hveravellir

9:00-11:00

Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes (not pleasant but should be ok to drive)
Interesting index: 3 – nice  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

f35 north end

North end of the F35 road, also called Kjalvegur

F35 is a long gravel road connecting north and south Iceland. Somewhere around the halfway through it lies the detour towards Hveravellir area and a bit further towards south lies a detour towards Kerlingarfjöll. There are better parts of F35 and there are worse parts of F35. Better parts mean you may drive quite fast (me around 100km/h). Worse parts mean a lot of potholes and turns, i.e. you have to drive slowly. Importantly, there are no river crossings on F35, only very small ponds doable even by 2wd car.

Having already seen roads like breath-taking F208 south of Landmannalaugar, out of this world F235 towards Langisjór or moon-like F905 and F910 near Askja, F35 was just an ordinary gravel road with nothing special to observe around. Bear in mind – it’s still Iceland folks – so surroundings will be nice anyway, just not that amazing compared to the best ones.

f35 kjalvegur

F35, aka Kjalvegur, near Hveravellir

We’ve also met probably the biggest number of cars on this F-road (read as “tourists”). This may be a bit annoying because some of them are too slow, some of them are too fast and, you know, Icelandic F-roads are not ideal for overtaking cars.

Hveravellir

11:00-12:30

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

I guess my expectations for Hveravellir were too big. When planning our trip, I had read that there are “several hot springs in the Hveravellir area”. Moreover, seeing pictures like this had instantly made me a Hveravellir enthusiast. Well, the reality was a bit different.

hveravellir trail

Hveravellir hiking trail. Pretty dull landscapes compared to other ones in Iceland

Once you leave F35 towards Hveravellir, it’s just a short, easy drive and you will soon find a parking lot in front of a small restaurant. Almost next to the parking lot lies a nice, public, free hot spring.

Since it is so close to the car park, there’s a high chance someone will be inside most of the time. Nevertheless, the hot spring is big enough and water is pleasantly hot, with some 38°C (according to my professional assessment). On the other hand, air temperature felt really cold, something like 7-8°C even in the middle of august. So again – be prepared for that – you are in the middle of Iceland, in highlands.

As there were already several people bathing in the hot spring even during Covid-19 times, we decided to be more adventurous. There were supposed to be “several hot springs” so let’s go find the other ones, we told ourselves. Hopefully with no people inside. We took one of the two hiking trails, which were fairly easy ones because they were just straight paths leading through grass fields. We were able to see quite far in the distance because there were no hills, but we were not able to observe any steam or hot spring. Thus, we continued to walk for 5 minutes, for 10 minutes, for 20 minutes and… still nothing!

hveravellir trail sheep

Sheep around Hveravellir trail

We don’t have anything against walking, but the entire area was pretty uneventful, with nothing interesting to observe. We said hello to several sheep along the way, but even those didn’t know where the other hot springs were. Finally, we reached a small hill, where I was able to climb up and observe the surroundings. As far as my eye could see there was no hot spring.

So, we turned back and chose a slightly different way back on one of the crossroads along the trail. We arrived back via the 2nd hiking trail and still no hot spring anywhere. Well, the hot spring picture I had seen on the internet looked incredibly beautiful, so I still felt determined at least to find out where it is. Hence, I tried my last option – went into the restaurant and asked the personnel. The guy at the desk replied “You can bath only in this hot spring, next to the car park. There may be also some other hot springs further away, but you shouldn’t bath there.” Ok, my enthusiasm ended at this point and we bathed at least in this first and only one.

Again, don’t get me wrong, it’s Iceland, so everything is beautiful (Hveravellir as well). We just had different expectations and were not that impressed at the end of the day.

F347 towards Kerlingarfjöll Mountain Resort

12:30-14:00

Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes (not pleasant but should be ok to drive)
Interesting index: 2 – great  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

F347 between F35 and Kerlingarfjoll

The beginning of F347 between F35 and Kerlingarfjoll

Weather was so-so, cloudy with occasional little rain, and the visibility seemed to be so-so as well. We just hoped for good visibility in Kerlingarfjöll, please not like the one on Sveinstindur. F347 also doesn’t have any river crossings and is pretty similar to F35. The closer you approach Kerlingarfjöll Mountain Resort, the more the road starts getting more mountainous and more interesting.

f347 near kerlingarfjoll

F347 near Kerlingarfjöll mountain resort

Once you reach the mountain resort, the entire scenery gets really picturesque. There’s a map of the area next to the resort (this map). Also, if you plan to sleep in one of the mountain huts or just in the only campsite in here, mountain resort reception is the place to go and ask for details, like key codes of the huts.

f347 near kerlingarfjoll mountain resort

F347 near Kerlingarfjöll mountain resort

Oh, and one little note. In the first version of our Icelandic itinerary, we had planned to camp here, in Kerlingarfjoll. You can definitely do that. Just bear in mind, that on the 8th August, 3 pm in the afternoon (i.e. probably one of the warmest times possible) the temperature climbed to tropical 5°C. And the strong wind didn’t help it at all, making everything feel even some 5°C colder. Now doing the math that nights are additional 5°C-7°C colder compared to daytime temperatures, you’re going to be freezing for sure.

This is one of the coldest places in Iceland available for camping, so be prepared for that mentally, physically and with all your equipment. Given that my girlfriend had already been freezing during the past (much warmer) nights I decided to change our plans and not to camp here (and I’m satisfied with this decision).

kerlingarfjoll mountain resort

Kerlingarfjöll mountain resort campsite

Now coming back to the crux of the trip. As always, we wanted to see the best of Kerlingarfjöll and do it in a reasonable amount of time. I.e. we were not looking for a day-long hike, but rather for something like a few hours long trip. That’s why we decided to continue as close as possible to the epicentre of the area by car. That meant, to continue driving the steepest part of F347 to the end of the road, or, Hveradalir area.

F347 towards Kerlingarfjoll main area – Hveradalir

14:20-14:40

Worth visiting even with bad weather: no (the ascent may be really dangerous)
Interesting index: 2 – great  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

f347 near hveradalir

F347 road next to Hveradalir hot spring area in Kerlingarfjoll

This part of the road is the most challenging one and probably the steepest we drove on in Iceland. Again, there are no river crossings, just the road is really bumpy and towards the end quite steep. However, in good weather (read – no snow, no heavy rain) it’s definitely doable by any medium-sized SUV and better, like our Dacia Duster. If you feel unsafe, go slowly, turn 4×4 on or watch someone else go first in front of you.

Once you reach the end of the road, you will find yourself at the car park. This is the closest point to the central Hveradalir area reachable by car.

Kerlingarfjöll

14:40-16:20

Distance from car park: 2 minutes 
Time spent at: 1-3 hours (or more according to your hiking passion) 
Worth visiting even with bad weather: no, probably
Physical condition needed: medium to advanced 
Interesting index: 1 – amazing  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

kerlingarfjoll hveradalir stairs

Clay staircase in Hveradalir area of Kerlingarfjöll

Kerlingarfjoll hiking options

Once in Kerlingarfjöll, you have numerous hiking options. You may for example hike the red loop trail, getting to all of the biggest summits around the area, sleeping over at mountain huts. This is a very challenging hike, where you will be going to need very good gear (e.g. crampons) and be in a very good physical condition. And it will take you about 3 days. Nevertheless, the two most popular options to explore the area are the following.

The most popular hiking option

An option we chose – to arrive at Hveradalir geothermal area by car (steepest part of F347, past mountain resort) and to explore it from there. You may hike around the area as long as you want and as far as you want and turn back at any moment. I.e., you’re going to be returning the same way you came there. This is the most time-efficient option and allows you to see one of the most beautiful views of Kerlingarfjoll in quite a short amount of time.

kerlingarfjoll hveradalir trail

One of the numerous trails in Hveradalir area of Kerlingarfjoll

Another popular option is to start at Kerlingarfjöll Mountain Resort and hike to Hveradalir yourself. It will take you around an hour to reach Hveradalir area and you may enjoy some additional nice views on top of that of Hveradalir. You have to come back the same way you arrived in here (unless you are doing a big 3-day loop with sleepovers). The big advantage of this trail is a hot spring somewhere around the first third of the trail, where you may bath. The disadvantage is the time aspect, as you will be spending additional 2 hours just getting to and from Hveradalir.

Hveradalir hike

14:40-16:20

Hveradalir area is one of the most beautiful and breath-taking places I’ve ever been to in my life – together with Askja, Landmannalaugar and the F-roads south of Landmannalaugar. You literally feel like you’re on a different planet. This time it’s not rainbow mountains, no black sand, no green moss. This time, it’s orange mountains mixed with wild sulphuric hot springs and snow. A lot of snow. And cold. And the wind. Welcome to Hveradalir.

The ground is covered with clay (or something like clay) and with every step of yours it sticks to your shoes like glue. That means either take some shoes you don’t like that much or be prepared for some thorough cleaning. Hikes in here are not dangerous. At least not under normal wind conditions. And if you don’t go as far as snow-covered trails are. Then, they may be dangerous.

kerlingarfjoll hveradalir hike

One of the summits of the several smaller hills around the Hveradalir in Kerlingarfjöll

There are several smaller hills and there are also smaller wooden stairs-like steps almost on each of them to help you with the ascent. And I do understand why. If it weren’t for them, every 10th visitor would have slipped on the clay and injured or killed himself. The views and the atmosphere of the place is truly amazing. Hot springs with hot sulphuric steam are everywhere and they help create an occasional feeling of warmth. There are, however, no hot springs to bath in Hveradalir area. This is contrary to Google maps calling the location “hot springs” or “geothermal area”.

We hiked around the area for around 90 minutes and enjoyed every moment of it. Except for the cold windy weather. With regards to visibility, clouds of fog were being replaced by the somewhat clearer sky, and vice versa, every 5 minutes. So be patient, and you may get better scenery for pictures. Or be lucky and come when the weather is clear. We hiked about 4-5 smaller hills and turned back from each one either at the end of the trail or if the trail started to be covered by deep snow, or reached high enough to be completely covered by fog.

Hot springs

Well, if you put “Hveradalir” in the Google maps, the place with no road pops up, quite far from the car park. However, Hveradalir area starts right next to the parking lot so this data point is slightly mistaken. The second confusing thing is if you are looking for hot springs to bath in. You will not find them in Hveradalir. Although Google is saying this is a hot spring area, yes, it is, but you can’t bath in any.

And it’s not easy to find it where the hot spring available for bathing actually is. We’ve accomplished that by asking a receptionist at Kerlingarfjoll mountain resort. She told us that the only hot spring with the bathing option is roughly in the one-third of the trail from mountain resort towards Hveradalir. I.e. after some 20 minutes of walking. Well, we already had enough and the weather started to get foggy and rainy, so we decided to go on with our journey. But firstly, we had to clean our shoes for at least 15 minutes to get off the Kerlingarfjoll clay.

Gullfoss

18:55-19:15

Distance from car park: 5 minutes 
Time spent at: 10-20 minutes 
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little 
Interesting index: 2 – great  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

gullfoss in the evening

Gullfoss at the time of our visit, i.e. 7 pm

The rest of the F35 towards the south, starting in Kerlingarfjoll is about the same as the northern part of F35. That means no river crossings, a lot of potholes and countless acres of deserted highlands. The logical option when arriving at the south end of F35 is the famous Gullfoss waterfall. And we followed this logical option.

Despite being tired already, we decided to go for 2 last sights. First of them was Gullfoss, or typically one of the most touristy places. You’re going to notice it once you arrive at the gigantic car park next to the restaurant and souvenir shop. However, we arrived in the evening during Covid-19 times. This meant an empty car park and a closed restaurant with a souvenir shop. And also – almost no tourists.

The waterfall is very easily accessible, which probably explains why it’s usually so touristy. It’s also very picturesque. It wasn’t one of our favourites, though. We were already spoiled enough with all of the places we had seen already at that time. As someone on the Google maps had put it “3/5 Icelandic stars, that is 5/5 stars anywhere else”.

Strokkur

19:30-20:00

Distance from car park: 5 minutes 
Time spent at: 10-40 minutes 
Worth visiting even with bad weather: yes
Physical condition needed: little 
Interesting index: 2 – great  (1-amazing, 2-great, 3-nice)

Being encouraged by the low number of tourists at the time of our visit, we decided to continue to our last point of interest on that day. Again, a logical choice, just a few minutes of drive from Gullfoss – legendary Strokkur. This time, we aimed for the undeniable number one in the ranking of touristy places. We arrived at this parking place and there were only 2 other cars. Maybe we are wrong? Too far away from the actual geyser? No, we were right.

Yes, at the time of our visit there were 6 other people than us near Strokkur. Now comes a little trivia window again. There are two geysers at this place. The old one – “Geysir” and the new one – “Strokkur”. The trick is, Geysir only erupts very rarely (if ever), whereas Strokkur erupts every 2 to 10 minutes. So better don’t wait for the Geysir to erupt.

What’s there to add? Watch the eruptions as many times as you’d like to and you’re good to go.

Flúðir camping

21:30-

I was planning to bath in the Hruni hot spring, the next day in the morning so I picked a Flúðir campsite for us, right next to Hruni. Well, the campsite was very simple and belongs to the worse ones from all of those we’ve been to in Iceland. Nevertheless, at least it had showers. I don’t remember any kitchen area though. Luckily, this day we had our only restaurant dinner, so no need for the kitchen.

Skipped places

• Fosslaug hot spring
• Secret Lagoon Hot Spring

Although Fosslaug hot spring seemed like a very cool place to soak in, we decided to skip it. Fosslaug is located near Varmahlid and would be a detour on our way to Kerlingarfjoll. And Kerlingarfjoll was our priority for that day, so we decided to go for more hot springs in the following days.

The same holds for the Secret Lagoon Hot Spring, with little addition of being touristy as well. We definitely preferred an experience of wild hot springs, rather than organized and touristy ones.

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Posted by epiciceland in Our Journey, 0 comments