Hidden Hot Pools Around Iceland

Soaking in a hot pool out in the wild nature is one of the biggest luxuries Iceland has to offer. The geothermal heat that allows for warm and toasty houses to live in has also spouted a countless number of hot springs and pools that can be found in even the most remote places in the country. For hot pool enthusiasts that want to explore Iceland beyond the traditional dip into the Blue Lagoon, here are seven hidden hot pool treasures that are worth every effort.

Krosslaug

Krosslaug is a small pool in the middle of Lundarreykjadalur valley that lies between Þingvellir National Park and Borgarfjörður. It is said to have been a christening pool back when Iceland was shifting from Paganism over to Christianity in the year 1.000 A.C. Krosslaug is pretty hot so it’s good to be careful when first going in as it usually sits at above 40°C. The pool is quite hidden within a fenced, wooded area that gives it a nice, secluded feeling. 

Landbrotalaug

In the beautiful landscape of Snæfellsnes, right on the southern edge, is Landbrotalaug, a tiny, two person natural pot, surrounded by calm springs and impressive mountains. Landbrotalaug is rather shallow at 20 cm deep, but is perfect for a nice soak, especially in late summer while watching the stars, or even better, in the fall while catching the Northern Lights.

Grafarlaug

One of the best kept secrets of the West side of Iceland is an obscure, constructed pool in Dalabyggð, not far from Búðardalur. It was built in 1956 and then seemingly abandoned but it does have consistent waterflow that reaches around 30°C. Grafarlaug is located in a valley a good distance from Þjóðvegur 1 highway so there’s almost no traffic through the area, giving visitors a serene and almost eerie “alone in the world” sensation.

Hellulaug

After driving through the first part of the Westfjords down into Vatnsfjörður, travellers are rewarded with a gorgeous natural bath right underneath the highway, a few minutes from Hotel Flókalundur. Hellulaug is situated down at the shore, shielded by a tall rock formation that gives perfect shelter. The pool is quite large so there’s room for a number of people and it’s a blissful place to sit and listen to the crashing waves of the ocean in the fjord.

Hörgshlíð

Also in the Westfjords, in the small fjord Mjóifjörður, south of Ísafjörður, is one of the smallest man made hot baths in Iceland, Hörgshlíð pool. It is situated on private land but visitors are free to use the pool as long as they leave a donation in the small changing hut on site. Hörgshlíð pool is about four meters long and located right by the waterfront so it’s an ideal warm up after a cold dip in the ocean. 

Grettislaug

Maybe the least “hidden” of the natural baths on this list is Grettislaug in Skagafjörður, in the North of Iceland, but it is well worth a visit for the dramatic history behind it and the equally dramatic nature all around. Grettislaug is named after Grettir the Strong, a temperamental figure from the Icelandic Sagas who isolated himself on Drangey Island off the coast of Skagafjörður. At one point Grettir was forced to swim from Drangey to land in order to get more fire for his house on the island and used the hot pools now known as Grettislaug to warm up after the icy waters. Grettislaug has nice changing facilities and a tiny café to hydrate in after a good soak. 

Laugavalladalur

East Iceland has some great hot pool options, most notably Vök Baths, a beautifully designed system of baths set on top of Urriðavatn lake in Egilsstaðir. But off the beaten path is Laugavalladalur pool, a truly hidden wonder of geothermal luxury located north of Kárahnjúkar. A small waterfall flows down into the hot bath, creating an idyllic experience of unadulterated nature.

The Heath

seyðisfjörður jessica auer

Jessica Auer is a Canadian photographer and filmmaker. Through her work, she examines our social, political, and aesthetic attitudes towards places, including historical sites, tourist destinations, and small communities. Jessica received her MFA from Concordia University in Montréal, where she teaches part-time. While in Iceland, Jessica runs Ströndin Studio, an educational and experimental centre for […]

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Parliament Passes Controversial Agricultural Bill Amid Opposition

Alþingi parliament of Iceland

A revised amendment to the agricultural products law (búvörulög) passed yesterday despite opposition from various stakeholders, paving the way for a potential monopoly in the agricultural processing sector. Critics argue the bill goes too far, with concerns that it could lead to higher prices for consumers.

Paving the way to a monopoly

A revised amendment to the law on agricultural products was passed yesterday, after the third debate in Parliament, despite requests for a postponement of the vote from the opposition and warnings from the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (ASÍ), the Consumers’ Association, and other stakeholders, Mbl.is reports.

The revised amendment, proposed by the majority of the Industrial Affairs Committee (atvinnuveganefnd), has been criticised for going further than the original bill, Mbl.is notes. Twenty-six MPs voted in favour of the legislation and nineteen against.

Members of the opposition, including Jóhann Páll Jóhannsson of the Social Democratic Alliance, Gísli Rafn Ólafsson of the Pirate Party, and Hanna Katrín Friðriksson of the Reform Party, requested a postponement. To no avail. The amendments include, among other things, an exemption for agricultural processing plants from competition laws, facilitating their consolidation.

“This means we will end up with Agricultural Products Inc. – a single company handling everything, and thus achieving an effective monopoly in Iceland, able to raise prices for us consumers without our ability to do anything about it. The same applies regarding what is paid to farmers, since there will only be one processing plant left,” Gísli Rafn stated in a speech before Parliament, as quoted by Mbl.is.

Competition from abroad

The Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (ASÍ), the Commercial Workers’ Union (VR), the Consumers’ Association, the Federation of Trade and Services (SVÞ), and the Icelandic Federation of Trade have warned against the passage of the bill, stating it goes against public interest. The Chair of the Industrial Affairs Committee, Þórarinn Ingi Pétursson of the Progressive Party, argues, however, that consumers are prioritised in these changes. “There will be no farmers if there aren’t consumers to consume their products.”

Þórarinn stated that if farmers and processing plants cannot offer consumers high-quality goods at competitive prices, there will be no domestic food production anyway: “So, consumers are always a priority when discussing domestic food production, and let’s not forget that we have competition in the food market. It comes from abroad,” Þórarinn observed.

“Unnecessary” changes

Kristrún Frostadóttir, the chairperson of the Social Democratic Alliance, stated that while farmers could not live with the status quo, it appeared that “something has gone seriously wrong in the processing” of the legislation. Instead of revising the bill back within the ministry to grant exemptions to those agricultural sectors most in need, a decision was made to proceed with a flawed bill.

“The result is a blanket exemption that could lead to a single large processing plant for all meat processing in the country, regardless of the type of livestock. This was unnecessary,” Kristún stated, noting that the methodology employed disadvantaged those who needed the changes the most.

Searching for Grettir

fagraskógarfjall william morris

On July 17, 1871, the English poet and artisan William Morris set out from Reykjavík on horseback with three companions, two guides, and fourteen ponies on the first leg of a six-week journey through the heart of western Iceland. In the age of steamships, locomotives, and the telegraph, this mode of travel was medieval by […]

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Iceland’s Post Office Responds to Consumer Shift with Closures

Iceland Post will close ten post offices in June, transitioning to delivery via postal vehicles and post boxes, and introducing home delivery services in select areas, reflecting changes in consumer demand.

Decreased demand for counter services

Changes to postal services at ten locations across the country are planned for the beginning of June. As noted in a press release on the website of Iceland Post (Íslandspóstur), there are plans to close five collaborative post offices and an equal number of independently operated post offices.

After these closures, deliveries will be handled by postal vehicle drivers and through post boxes in the following locations: Hvammstangi in Northwest Iceland; Siglufjörður, Dalvík, and Ólafsfjörður in North Iceland; Búðardalur and Grundarfjörður on the Snæfellsnes peninsula; Fáskrúðsfjörður, Eskifjörður, Breiðdalsvík, and Neskaupstaður in East Iceland.

Post boxes, already installed at most of the aforementioned places, will also be set up next month in Búðardalur, Ólafsfjörður, Breiðdalsvík, and Siglufjörður. Kjartan Flosason, Head of Post Terminal at Iceland Post, emphasises the development of services in line with changing needs and consumer demands.

“There has been a decrease in demand for counter services at post offices. Therefore, we are focused on developing alternative solutions. Our most satisfied customers are those who use post boxes. Customers can now mail items in post boxes. Like always, the post boxes are open all year round, 24 hours a day,” Kjartan is quoted as saying in the press release.

Postal trucks will also be operational in these areas. “Home delivery services will now be offered in Hvammstangi, Dalvík, Breiðdalsvík, and Ólafsfjörður. It’s worth mentioning that this service was not available before these changes,” Kjartan stated.

Discussions have taken place with the staff at the post offices that are set to close, according to Kjartan. “The changes will affect six full-time positions. Several employees have been offered different roles or relocation. I want to thank the excellent staff who are now leaving their positions and wish them success in their next endeavours.”

Reykjanes Peninsula Eruption Shows Signs of Longevity

volcano eruption Geldingadalir Reykjanes

The recent volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes Peninsula is showing signs of longevity and stability similar to the 2021 Fagradalsfjall eruption, differing significantly from the short-lived eruptions earlier in the year. Geophysicist Benedikt Ófeigsson highlights the ongoing eruption’s potential to last for months, with efforts underway to fortify protective barriers against the lava flow towards Grindavík.

Different from the last three eruptions

The ongoing volcanic eruption in the Reykjanes Peninsula, between Hagafell and Stóra-Skógfell, has begun to resemble previous, longer eruptions in Reykjanes, such as the 2021 eruption in Fagradalsfjall; despite the eruption’s initial intensity, and indications that it could be short-lived, there are currently no signs that the eruption is waning.

Benedikt Ófeigsson, a geophysicist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, told Vísir yesterday that this most recent eruption appeared to be dissimilar from the last three eruptions in the area – which occurred in December 2023, January 2024, and February 2024 – and which did not last for more than three days.

“This eruption is longer, starting very similarly to the other eruptions in this area, but after it decreased, instead of stopping, it stabilised. There has been a relatively steady flow since March 17, very similar to what we’ve seen in previous eruptions near Fagradalsfjall,” Benedikt observed.

When asked if this current eruption could endure as long as the Fagradalsfjall eruption, which lasted for approximately six months, Benedikt replied in the affirmative: “[It could last for ] months even. It’s not out of the question. Currently, we see no measurable signs of it decreasing. It’s very stable, so there are no indications that it’s ending.”

Benedikt did not, however, dismiss the possibility that the eruption could suddenly cease: “We can’t exclude that possibility, but there’s nothing in our measurements that suggests it’s about to end. As long as that’s the case, we can expect it to continue for days, weeks, or even months,” he stated.

Read More: Wall of Fire (On the Construction of Protective Barriers in Reykjanes)

Barriers reinforced and raised

As noted yesterday, the lava has begun pressing against the Grindavík protective barriers, and efforts are being made to reinforce and raise them. Benedikt believes it’s possible to control the eruption with these barriers.

When asked if there was a chance that the lava would reach Grindavík, Benedikt replied that everything was being done to reinforce the barriers.

“I fully believe that attempts can be made to control this. Everything possible is being done to strengthen the barriers, raise them, and direct the lava away from the town,” he remarked. “This process occurs much more slowly when the lava flow is this low, that is, less than during the initial phase of the eruption. Naturally, this gives the authorities more time to try to prevent the lava from heading towards the town. I think everything possible is being done. Let’s just hope for the best,” Benedikt concluded.

 

Iceland Triumphs Over Israel, Eyes Playoff Finals Against Ukraine

Icelandic fans at the World Cup in Russia in 2018

Head coach Åge Hareide has praised Iceland’s team spirit and character in their 4-1 victory over Israel yesterday. The performance secured the team a spot in the UEFA Euro playoff finals against Ukraine on Tuesday.

Excellent team spirit

Åge Hareide, head coach of the men’s national football team, expressed his delight after Iceland’s 4-1 victory over Israel last night, a win that secured Iceland a spot in the final match of the UEFA Euro finals on Tuesday. Iceland will face off against Ukraine, with the winning team advancing to the UEFA European Championship in Germany next summer.

“I’m very pleased,” Hareide told Vísir yesterday. “I thought the boys did well, and they worked hard. Not everything was perfect, but the effort and talent of the players shone through. Luck plays a part, and you earn your luck.”

As noted by Vísir, Hareide was particularly pleased with the team’s character; Israel took the lead shortly after Orri Steinn Óskarsson squandered a golden opportunity.

“The spirit in the team has been good in training. This is a good group of players who stick together. They didn’t hang their heads but continued to work after Orri’s chance and then the penalty against us. Everything seemed against us, but they turned it around, which was very well done. This is good for the team and the morale in the squad.”

Hareide also praised Albert Guðmundsson, who scored a hat-trick in the match.

“He was superb. I’ve seen all his games with Genoa, where he has been doing very well. I knew he would be very important to us if he could play; that was the question. We’re very happy that he could join us and hope everything goes our way in the next game.”

On a less optimistic note, two players, Arnór Ingvi Traustason and Arnór Sigurðsson, were forced off during yesterday’s match with injuries. Team captain Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson was also sidelined ahead of yesterday’s match against an injury, and it remains uncertain whether these three players will be fit to face  Ukraine on Tuesday.

A Powerful Volcanic Eruption and a Heated Presidential Race

Reykjanes peninsula eruptions

In this episode of Iceland News Review, the still-ongoing volcanic eruption on Reykjanes peninsula, a hotly contested presidential race, a bird’s incredible return to East Iceland, and much more.

Iceland News Review brings you all of Iceland’s top stories, every week, with the context and background you need. Be sure to like, follow and subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode!