Taking a break at Seljavallalaug

One of Iceland’s oldest hot spring pools

A travel story by Merlin Kafka.

Seljavallalaug, a water pool built almost 100 years ago and supplied with natural hot water is one of the attractions that are easy to miss along the South Coast of Iceland, as it is along the route between Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss. I had only heard about this place by chance but immediately wanted to visit it due to its scenic surrounding environment and setting. Originally it was built in 1923 to teach Icelanders how to swim, which was an essential skill due to the reliance on fishing back then.

Upon receiving information about it by my host and with the pool just a 10-minute drive away, I made the decision to give it a try.

To reach Seljavallalaug you simply take road 242 off the ring road and follow the signs towards Seljavellir. Upon passing a modern water pool that had been built, later on, you walk deeper into the valley for 10-15 minutes until you reach the spring water pool. It may be useful to note that the water is hottest in the early morning hours – during the daytime, the sun causes the glacier to melt faster than during the night, meaning that less cold water will flow into the pool when it is dark. Another advantage is that you will most likely have the pool to yourself.

The actual swimming pool has a rectangular shape with one of the longer sides being made up by a rock – the water is supplied from a hot spring that is just nearby and enters the pool at a specific point. Seljavallalaug is the ideal place to get a fresh start into the day or relax after a long adventure as it is easy to access and generally not overcrowded.

Taking a break in the pool and enjoying its picturesque surroundings of the valley is undoubtedly a magical experience and I will remember this hidden for my next visit.