- Best time to visit
- All year round
- Distance from Reykjavik
- 32 km
- 64.0413622242329, -21.181786278147815
What to know about Reykjadalur, Iceland’s “Steam Valley”
What is Reykjadalur?
Reykjadalur translates as “steam valley”. When you visit, it’ll become pretty obvious why it took that name.
The valley of Reykjadalur is home to a river whose waters are warm all year round. Even in the winter, when snow is lying on the ground in the valley, you can take a dip in the river’s waters. You should try it. It’s a completely magical experience.
The river’s waters are at a minimum temperature of about 15°C (59°F), but they can get a lot warmer than this. One particular pool reaches about 30°C (86°F), making it the perfect temperature to unwind.
All of the water is heated completely naturally, thanks to geothermal power. You’ve heard of hot springs, where hot water bubbles up from underground where it’s heated by volcanic processes. But there are few places in the world where you can find a thermal river. The water ultimately flows over a waterfall into the Varmá river before flowing out to sea.
Running up the valley is a footpath that takes you from the town of Hveragerði. It’s an hour-long hike up the gorgeous valley before you reach the bathing area. There, you’ll find screens behind which you can get changed, as well as a range of pools for you to bathe in.
Don’t miss Reykjadalur if you’re in the area. It’s one of the most remarkable sights on the south coast of Iceland.
How to visit the Reykjadalur thermal bathing pools
Reykjadalur is just outside the town of Hveragerði in the southwest of Iceland. It’s only a short distance from the capital city of Reykjavík.
If you’re driving from the city, follow route 1 to the east. After about 45 kilometres (28 miles)—that’s about 45 minutes in the car—you’ll reach Hveragerði. From there, drive through town towards the Reykjadalur parking and cafe, where you can leave your car. There is a fee for the parking, but entrance to the valley is free. At that point, it’s time to lace up your shoes and start the hike to the Reykjadalur thermal river.
If you don’t want to drive, why not join a tour to Reykjadalur? At Icelandia, we can pick you up in Reykjavík and take you to the thermal valley. It’s a completely different experience with a local guide, who can give you insights you won’t find in the guide books.
What’s more, with a guide, you don’t need to worry about navigating—simply sit back and enjoy the view. It’s a great way to meet fellow travellers too.
Whichever way you decide to make the journey from Reykjavík, you can only reach the river itself by foot. From the carpark in Hveragerði, the river is 3 kilometres (1.9 miles) away along a hiking trail. While it’s an easy path, there is a bit of ascent. Most people complete the journey in 45 minutes to an hour.
It’s worth thinking a little carefully about what to pack when visiting Reykjadalur too. Of course, you’ll want your swimming costume and a towel. But you’ll also need walking gear for the hike in and out. For example, sturdy shoes are a must. And, if you’re visiting in winter, you’ll want lots of layers to keep you warm before you get into the water.
Many people also bring a picnic or drinks too, so they can enjoy a snack while they’re bathing in the pools. Or you can grab some refreshments in the cafe at the start of the hike.
Other sights in the area
Reykjadalur is in the heart of one of the most scenic areas in Iceland. If you’re visiting Reykjadalur for the day from Reykjavík or you’re touring the south coast, there are many things you shouldn’t miss.
For example, Reykjadalur is a short distance from the Golden Circle, Iceland’s best-known travel itinerary. Including Þingvellir National Park, Geysir, and Gullfoss waterfall, it’s an extraordinary day out just a moment from Reykjadalur.
Alternatively, there’s the Reykjanes peninsula. Known as one of the most volcanically active areas on the planet, Reykjanes is home to live volcanoes, hot springs, steam vents, and lava fields. In fact, Reykjadalur is powered by the same forces that you’ll see there.
And don’t skip the town of Hveragerði itself. While many visitors to Iceland rush off for the more famous sights, there are many things to see here. For example, it has its own geothermal area in the centre of town where you can see geysers and even bake bread in the geothermal heat.
Explore our tours to see how you can combine a trip to Reykjadalur with some of the other top sights in the region.
Frequently asked questions
Everyone is welcome at Reykjadalur and it makes an awesome day out for the whole family. Just be aware that there is an hour’s walk to reach the hot springs—although it is quite easy.
The Reykjadalur hot springs thermal river is just outside the town of Hveragerði in the southwest of Iceland. Hveragerði is about 45 kilometres (28 miles) southeast of Reykjavík. The journey from the city takes about 45 minutes in the car.
From Hveragerði, drive for about 5 minutes to reach the start of the Reykjadalur valley. From there, the thermal river is about 3 kilometres (1.8 miles) away and will take you about 45 minutes to an hour on foot. It’s a lovely walk—just make sure you bring some sturdy, waterproof shoes.
The amazing thing about the Reykjadalur thermal river is that it’s warm all year round. Hike up through the frozen landscape and take a dip in the warm waters—even with snow all around you.
In winter, it can be a great place to see the northern lights. Just make sure you pack a torch to reach the springs in the dark.
Like many of the place names in Iceland, Reykjadalur can be a little difficult to pronounce. But don’t worry too much—Icelanders will understand you even if you don’t get it perfectly accurate.
Note that the first two syllables are the same as in Reykjavík. So, start with Rey-kja- and then add da- and lur, exactly how they might be pronounced in English.
Unless you’re staying for less than 15 minutes, you do have to pay for parking at Reykjadalur. At the parking lot, you’ll pay 200 ISK for the first hour and then 250 ISK per hour after that. Note that payment can be made through an app, by card, or by cash.
There are no separate changing rooms at Reykjadalur. There are only very minimal screens behind which to get changed. So, don’t expect total privacy.
The northern lights are often visible from Reykjadalur. It’s a really secluded location, far from the closest town, which means that the view of the aurora borealis is spectacular. You just need to head there on a night when the skies are clear and the forecast is favourable.
Reykjadalur is also just an awesome place to see the northern lights from. Enjoy your dip in a thermal river while watching the colours dance above your head.
Reykjadalur is a great place to take your kids. The walk is easy and beautiful, while the hot springs themselves are a truly special place. It’s an experience they’ll never forget!
Just be aware though that the water can be quite warm in places. Before your kids jump in, make sure you check that it’s comfortable for them.
You don’t need to book at all to see the Reykjadalur hot springs. Instead, simply head to the car park, tie up your hiking boots, and walk up the valley.
If you want to join a tour of Reykjadalur, however, it’s always best to book in advance. Guided tours of the area and the wider south coast are very popular and do sell out.
The best way to visit Reykjadalur is on foot.
If you’re driving, park your car at the Reykjadalur car park just five minutes outside of Hveragerði and walk the 3 kilometres (1.9 miles) to the hot springs.
Alternatively, you can take a tour from Reykjavík. It’s a great option if you don’t want to hire a car. We can pick you up from the city centre and show you the highlights of the south coast of Iceland—including the fascinating place that is Reykjadalur.
There are different pools at Reykjadalur with different temperatures. For example, there’s an artificially heated hot tub that reaches about 30°C (86°F). There’s also a naturally heated pool that reaches 40°C (104°F). And then there’s the river itself, which is about 15°C (59°F) all year round.
Reykjadalur means “steam valley”, an appropriate name for a thermal river!
The Reykjadalur steam valley is just outside the town of Hveragerði, about 45 kilometres (28 miles) from the city of Reykjavík. The town is really conveniently located on route 1, the road that’s known as the “Ring Road”.
You’ll need to walk the 3 kilometres (1.9 miles) from the Reykjadalur car park and cafe. The steam valley is north of the town.
To reach the thermal river, you’ll need to follow the path up the valley for 3 kilometres (1.9 miles). It usually takes people about an hour to get there.
You’ll follow a path that travels in parallel with the Reykjadalsá river—the famed thermal river—which isn’t very long. The thermal part of the river is only a few kilometres in length.