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Reykjadalur is one of Iceland’s truly magical sights. Imagine a river whose waters are naturally heated allowing you to bathe all year round. Add in a gorgeous walk up a valley—and the chance to see the northern lights in winter—and you have an unforgettable destination. Explore our tours below to discover the best way to visit Reykjadalur.
A close up picture of a hot spring fumarole in Reykjadalur, Iceland
Best time to visit
All year round
Distance from Reykjavik
48km (29.8mi)
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.

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