Iceland: Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike

Miss my previous Iceland recaps? Check those out first: Iceland Day 1, Exploring the Glacier Lagoons, and Hiking Skaftafell in Vatnajokull National Park. For this recap, I’m sharing another of our favorite hikes of the trip: the Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike!

Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike

Matt and I did this hike on the second to last day of our trip, after saying goodbye to our friends Melli and Moritz the day before, so it was just the two of us. Thank you to those who recommended we check out this hike – you are the reason we found out about it, and it was well worth the recommendations! Such a cool and unique experience to get to soak in a truly natural hot spring in the middle of the mountains.

Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike

This hike is about 40 minutes outside of Reykjavik, so you can easily do it if you’re staying in the city. We were staying at the Ion Adventure Hotel (affiliate link) for the last few nights of the trip; it’s about 45 minutes outside of Reykjavik in the middle of nowhere. It’s expensive but really nice – definitely recommend it! There are tons of hiking trails right from the hotel, too, which would have been fun to explore if we had more time.

We arrived at the trail head for the hike around 11 with backup clothing layers, packed lunches, and snacks in tow. It started raining right as we arrived, but a little rain wasn’t going to stop us. Let’s do this!

Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike

The main hot spring where you can swim is 3km from the parking area, but it’s all uphill, so be ready!

Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike

See all that steam? It was coming from the streams – that water was HOT! The steam smelled like sulfur, too.

Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike

Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike

Rainy selfie! We were definitely getting tired of the rain by this point in the trip… the path was pretty muddy, too!


The views made up for the rain, though. :) It was so mysterious looking with the clouds and steam!

Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike

Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike

When we were on the little trail offshoot Matt is pictured on above, a huge group of tourists on horses passed us – fail! We decided to stop and eat our lunch while waiting for them to get ahead… didn’t want to be on top of them at the hot springs, or to hike right behind them and get pooped on. :) Being on horseback would be a cool way to do this hike, though!

Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike horseback riding

Lunch time! I packed a smoked salmon, hard boiled egg, and cucumber sandwich. We also shared an apple and some carrots, and had all sorts of snacks throughout the day – mostly trail mix, snack bars, etc. that we brought from home.

hiking lunch smoked salmon egg sandwich

After enjoying our meals and the view, it was onward! I’m glad we stopped for lunch when we did because it ended up getting pretty foggy shortly after this and we lost the view – good thing we enjoyed it while we could!

Don’t think we’ll be hopping into this water anytime soon… so hot!!

Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike

A little while later and we found the main hot spring you can swim in that won’t boil you alive! There’s a boardwalk built by it and some wood walls that you can hide behind when you change. There were a ton of people there when we arrived, so we decided to keep on hiking and hit it on our way back. We wanted to hike farther than just the 6k round trip, anyway!

Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike

If you stay to the left of the hot springs on the trail that goes above them, you can keep hiking on for ages! I highly recommend doing this – it was really beautiful and we were pretty much by ourselves because everyone else usually stops and turns back at the hot springs.

Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike

Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike

We ended up following a smaller trail around towards the right (the other option was to go up, which we did later), and I’m so glad we did because it was gorgeous!

Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike

The trail curved around to the left and dead ended at this gorgeous secret waterfall – how cool!

Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike

Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike

From there, we turned back and headed on the other trail, still going away from the hot springs, that headed up and over the hill.

Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike

This is Matt’s “hey fog: we’re over you” face. It got hard to even see more than 10 feet in front of us as we got higher up!


We probably hiked about another mile or mile and a half past the hot springs before turning back because it got too foggy! It was also starting to get colder – that fog/mist was chilly! Time for some warmth in the form of hot springs. :) It was really cold (low 40’s?), misty, and windy by the time we made it back – so tempting to just say forget it because the idea of stripping down to my bathing suit in that weather was not appealing, but in the end we decided we’d regret it and it would be super lame to not go in. Truth! So glad we did it.

Tip: wear your bathing suit under your hiking clothes so you don’t have to change into it when you want to swim! Then you just need to change once – into dry undies and a sports bra afterwards. Less awkward nudity in front of strangers = yay!

Matt tested it out for us first while I got myself ready for the freezing run to the water in my bikini…


And then we were all in! It was like really warm bathwater – not too hot, so good for pregnancy. :) It felt lovely, especially on my frozen feet and hands, and there were hardly any people around when we were there this time which was nice.


We probably stayed in about 15 or 20 minutes before deciding to drag ourselves out and make the freezing race back to our clothes. Matt was nice and got out first and set up a little changing station for me with my clothes laid out already so it would be faster! :)  That’s another tip – have your change of clothes out (and a towel – we had a quick dry one with us) and ready to go when you get in the water… didn’t think to do that initially!

It was really foggy on the way down so I didn’t get any more pictures, but what a cool day, even with the crummy weather! We ended up spending the entire day out there – we were wiped after from all the uphill hiking!

A fun cucumber and ginger mocktail back at the hotel and some hot and creamy lobster soup, fresh bread, and an unpictured salad really hit the spot when we got back.

ion adventure hotel

ion adventure hotel food

There’s nothing I love more than spending the day in nature with my love. I wish I could go back and do this day again! It was fun reliving it through this post. :)

If you find yourself in Iceland, don’t miss this hike! It was one of the highlights of our trip. I hope you get better weather, but even if you don’t, it was still well worth it and so beautiful. Have fun and don’t skip the hot spring soak even if it’s cold out and stripping down doesn’t sound fun in that moment. :)

Have you ever gone to a natural hot springs in the middle of nowhere? I hit up a really awesome hot springs in the woods off a trail in Oregon with my friend Ashley once, too – it was amazing!


  1. 1

    Looks like it was worth it despite the weather! Love that they had signs that you would literally boil.. oh Iceland… you crazy ;)

  2. 3

    Thanks for the tips! We lucked out with 55 degrees and sunny for our whole trip so this hike was really enjoyable! We spent an hour+ in the hot springs!

  3. 5
    Roadrunner says

    That looks awesome! Neat adventure!

  4. 6

    How beautiful! I definitely want to visit Iceland one day.

  5. 7

    Oh my god that looks like a wonderful hike!! Great you did it even in this weather. That’s definitely a unique experience I think. I also love the secret waterfall – and that you have put the cherry on top of this awesome day with lobster soup!! 😃

  6. 9
    Kristine says

    What a beautiful hike! I can’t believe we missed this one when we were there. I’m definitely putting it on the list for the next trip to Iceland, whenever that might happen again!

    I’ve never been in a natural hot spring, but this winter we were in Fairbanks AK and went to the hot springs there, when it was about -10F out. That was a cold run back inside in a swimsuit! It was a really cool experience though!

    • 10

      Oh man that is seriously cold!! I’m impressed you did that! Alaska is definitely on my bucket list… someday! I hear it’s so amazing and rugged/wild.

  7. 11

    I love hot springs! I’ve taken a dip in natural springs in New Zealand, Canada and Turkey. in NZ there was not a single other person for miles so we stayed in there for ages.

    • 12

      Wow. Apparently I need to put NZ hot springs on my list! I’ve been to NZ, but it was years ago, and we didn’t do any hot springs! Sounds amazing.

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