Sitting in Reykjadalur Hot Springs

Reykjadalur Hot Springs: Complete Guide + Why You May Want to Skip

Last updated Apr 23, 2022 | Iceland, Outdoor

Who doesn’t want to find that amazing elusive non-touristy gem? When I googled “best hot springs” in Iceland, Reykjadalur hot springs came up as a local favorite. It requires about a 45-minute hike to access. Even better. I love visiting sites that involve a little effort. Weeds out some of the tourists. I had high expectations. Well, here is our experience and the two reasons why we decided this will not be a repeat adventure.

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Quick Overview of Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike

  • Driving time from Reykjavik: 50 minutes
  • Hiking distance to hot springs: 1.9 miles (3 km) one-way
  • Hiking time to hot springs: 45-60 minutes one-way depending on your pace and how often you stop for photos 
  • Difficulty level: Moderate due to the initial steady incline 
  • Amenities: None 
  • Entrance Fee: None

Parking + How to Find the Trailhead to Reykjadalur Hot Springs

The easiest way to find the trailhead is to type in “Reykjadalur Café” in Google maps. Take the road to the end. It’s about 5 minutes from the town of Hveragerði. The cafe will be on your right. Everyone just parks on the side of the road. See the maps below for orientation. 

Hveragerði to Reykjadalur Hot Springs Trailhead Map

Hveragerði to Reykjadalur Hot Springs Trailhead Map

From the Reykjadalur Café, it’s about a 45-60 minute hike to the hot springs.

Reykjadalur Cafe to Reykjadalur Hot Springs Trail

Reykjadalur Cafe to Reykjadalur Hot Springs Trail Map

Do not be intimated by the crazy amounts of cars parked along the side. Once you reach the hot springs, everyone spreads out and there is plenty of room. 

After we parked, we walked across a little wooden bridge over the river to start our hike on the well-marked gravel path.

Reykjadalur Hot Springs Foot Bridge

Foot bridge over the river to start the Reykjadalur Hot Springs hike 

Our Step-By-Step Reykjadalur Hot Springs Experience

Reykjadalur translates to “Steam Valley,” and you’ll quickly see why. As we navigated along the trail, we encountered multiple plumes of steam billowing up into the sky. Be prepared for the strong sulfur smell. 

Many steam vents on Reykjadalur hot springs hike

Many steam vents on Reykjadalur Hot Springs hike

Uphill hike for Reykjadalur Hot Springs

Reykjadalur Hot Springs gravel trail

The initial part of the hike is uphill. Get ready for a StairMaster workout! I love a good workout, but here is the first part of the experience that drove me crazy. 

FLIES. 

Not just a random fly buzzing around here and there, but unrelenting multiple flies whose mission was to make me as miserable as possible. I kept thinking as I hiked along there would be sections that would get better. Nope. Their presence was constant. 

I thought ok, well, I am a mosquito magnet. Maybe it is just my body chemistry that is attracting them. That theory was squashed when I looked over and saw my husband (who rarely attracts insects) had the pleasure of enjoying the same experience as myself. We were batting away nonstop. 

On certain sections of the trail, we passed groups of horseback riders. You can also take tours through the geothermal valley on horseback. The riders were all wearing fly nets around their faces. I promise you I am not embellishing the story. These little flies ruined what could have been a fantastic hiking experience. 

Eventually, I am going to get around to posting my video on our Reykjadalur Hot Springs hike. You will see these little buzzing demons flying in front of the camera every few seconds. 

Annoying buzzing flies on the Reykjadalur Hot Springs hike

Annoying flies on the Reykjadalur Hot Springs hike

I did not have bug repellant on. Maybe I would not have had a problem if I had bathed in bug spray prior to the hike.

I digress and will focus on some of the positives. One of the highlights of this hike was passing by the beautiful Djúpagilsfoss waterfall cascading into tiers down into the valley. 

Djúpagilsfoss waterfall on the Reykjadalur Hot Springs hike

Djúpagilsfoss Waterfall on the Reykjadalur Hot Springs hike

After all of that hard work hiking uphill, eventually the trail levels off as you walk into the beautiful Reykjadalur valley. 

Reykjadalur Hot Springs

Reykjadalur Hot Springs hike

Hiking to Reykjadalur Hot Springs

Hiking to Reykjadalur Hot Springs

There are sections of the trail where the steam vents almost completely obliterate our view. This is certainly one of the more unique hikes we have done. 

Walking through a steam vent on Reykjadalur Hot Springs hike

Walking through a steam vent on Reykjadalur Hot Springs hike

45 minutes later we made it to the hot springs! 

Reykjadalur Hot Springs River

Reykjadalur Hot Springs river

PRO TIP: The further up the river, the hotter it gets. You can be like Goldilocks and choose the section that is “just right.” 

We did this hike on a beautiful sunny Saturday, so the river was packed with both tourists and locals. However, everyone was able to spread out and find their own little private nook. 

Sitting our butts down in the Reykjadalur Hot Springs

Sitting in the Reykjadalur Hot Springs River

Reykjadalur Hot Springs

Reykjadalur Hot Springs River

We navigated around the wooden boardwalk and found an unoccupied section of the river. After cautiously stepping down from the embankment onto the rocky awkward bottom, we at last started our hot spring experience. This moment now brings me to the second reason we were a little disappointed. 

VERY SHALLOW RIVER (MORE LIKE A CREEK).

This may seem silly, but I was expecting to be able to at least cover part of my body in the river. Instead, I was lucky to just cover my butt in the river (and I’m a petite girl!) as I sat on the mud-covered rocky bottom. 

I guess there are a few sections along the river that might offer a little more depth like where the rocks are built up marking the end of a section of the river. Judging by the fact everyone else’s body position looked like mine, I’m still not entirely convinced there were better sections. 

Picturesque Reykjadalur Hot Springs River

Picturesque Reykjadalur Hot Springs River

Making the best of Reykjadalur Hot Springs experience

Making the best of the Reykjadalur Hot Springs experience

One saving grace of our natural hot springs experience was there were no flies buzzing right by us while we sat in the river. After about 15 minutes, we were ready to head back. We dried off, stripped off the wet bathing suits, and changed into some dry clothes before making the trek back to the car. 

As soon as we got back on the trail, our lovely insect friends made sure we didn’t forget them. 

Extended Version of Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike 

If you stay on the left side of the river, you can continue hiking past the Hot Springs and the crowds to Klambragil Canyon. You will see a series of steaming pools. Shortly after, the trail ends in a little secret waterfall. 

Where to Stay 

You could do this hike either as … 

  1. Day trip from Reykjavik 
  2. Part of your Golden Circle Tour 
  3. Part of your South Coast Road Trip 

We included the Reykjadalur Hot Springs as a pit stop on our way back to Reykjavik after traveling all over Iceland’s south coast. 

If you are doing this as a day trip from Reykjavik, consider the Reykjavik Konsulat Hotel, Curio Collection By Hilton. We used Hilton points to book and loved it! Great location. 

Alternatively, if you are including this hike as part of your Golden Circle or South Coast tour, we can personally vouch for the lovely Fagrabrekka Guesthouse. Incredibly quiet. Lovely innkeeper. And great breakfast. 

Fagrabrekka Guesthouse in Iceland

Fagrabrekka Guesthouse in Iceland

Tips to Make the Reykjadalur Hot Springs More Enjoyable 

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Wear your bathing suit underneath your hiking clothes since there is nowhere to change. Also, bring one you don’t mind getting muddy.

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Bring something to throw a wet bathing suit in. I always bring a few trash bags when I travel for “wet things” or a dry bag will do.

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Wear bug repellant if you want a fighting chance against the flies. I love the roll-on sticks.

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Bring a mini liquor bottle to enjoy at the springs in case the flies make you grumpy (might have helped my situation).

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Bring a water bottle especially in the summer, You will sweat!

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Wear trail runners. Sandals are not going to cut it on this rocky sometimes muddy terrain.  

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You will need a towel. A small camp towel worked for us.

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Consider water shoes. The river bottom can be sharp and awkward to walk on.

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Maybe bring a fly net for your face.

Final Thoughts 

The Reykjadalur valley is truly beautiful with its babbling river and mysterious steam vents billowing up in the air. The hike required to enjoy this geothermal attraction was unfortunately not so enjoyable. I also wished the Reykjadalur Hot Springs experience allowed you to truly soak your body to heal those tired muscles. Maybe by following my tips your experience will be different than mine. 

It pains me to say this because I almost always enjoy the non-touristy experience over the crowd-infested ones … but I have to say the Blue Lagoon even with all its tourists was 10x better. Each to their own. 

Want to know my favorite things to do in Iceland? Check out my article on 19 Best Things to Do in Iceland

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Any other tips for avoiding the flies? Is there a “fly season?” 

Let me know in the comments below!

2 Comments

  1. Katherine

    Hi there – super helpful post on the directions! Can I ask when your visit was? The weather looks amazing!

    Reply
    • Nichole

      Happy to hear the directions were helpful! Our visit was in early July.

      Reply

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