Grjotagja hot Spring Cave‬‏

 

If you are a fan of fantasy novels or have watched The Game of Thrones season 3, there is one particular bath in Iceland that might be of interest to you. Grjótagjá did get its 15 minutes of fame when Jon Snow sealed the deal with Ygritte in Game of Thrones Season 3, so if you’re a fan of the show the cave should definitely be on your Iceland Game of Thrones filming locations bucket list.This bath is very hidden and it is rare that you will find it listed as a location on any tour.

Directions

The beautiful natural hot spring is located near Lake Mývatn and has been used as a bathing spot for locals for as long as anyone can remember. The waters in the shimmering cavern are heated by volcanic activity deep in the earth, making it the perfect spot to take a dip in the freezing Icelandic winters. In addition to being a popular bathing spot, the cave served as a redoubt for 18th-century Icelandic outlaw Jón Markússon. In 1975, when one of the nearby volcanoes began to erupt, the water temperature rose to dangerous levels, and while the cave in the fissure could still be visited, people were no longer permitted to bathe in the hot waters.

Lately, the temperature of the waters has begun to fall once again and people are being allowed to jump in the waters once again. However, the status of the pools seems to be a bit tenuous so visitors may want to check with local guides before trying to take a dip. Nevertheless, this serene and secluded location will take your breath away. Looking like merely another rift in the ground and often nearly impossible to find, this natural geothermal spring is blanketed in fog from the surrounding geothermal field or covered with snow, the cave is a magical place that will remain etched in your memory for a long time. Since Icelandic days are so short, the dark arrives very quickly, the entrance to the cave is a little bit icy it is advisable to carry some form of lighting, preferably torchlight or a headlamp. A few of the rocks have snow on them, but mostly the steam kept the cave toasty warm. We quickly undressed and eased ourselves into the hot water. At 43°C or 109°F, it was easy to quickly forget that the wind was howling and it was snowing outside.

Most tourists are a bit apprehensive to enter a cave of volcanic origin for the imminent fear of a volcanic eruption and coupled with the fact that you are smack in the middle of nowhere. But, the steaming hot water will ease your tensions away. Inside the cave is actually quite spacious and it is estimated that probably one hundred people can fit inside this hidden jewel comfortably without it feeling claustrophobic.Once inside the it is not common to find Icelanders chilling in steamy and relaxing waters. The routine commonly applied would be to soak in the medicinal properties of the hot bath while chatting and politicking then after each person swims off to their own rocks, a quick shampoo up, dunk to rinse, and then afterwards relax on the rocks.While nude bathing isn’t very typical in Iceland, the locals that joined us did strip down to their birthday suits. So don’t be surprised if you see locals using it like their bath tub at home.

Quick tips

  • 4×4 or normal car: You can still get there with a regular car, but it’s more and more demanding. The terrain might be challenging to novices but it is navigable
  • Opening hours: It is open throughout the day
  • Lifeguard: There is no need for a lifeguard
  • Prices: It’s free of charge.
  • Parking: is free.
  • Time; The most advisable time and season to visit would be during the summer period which is around sunset and of course when Northern Light activity is high.
  • Food: there are no basic amenities near the pool, but you are free to bring something to eat and drink with you.
  • Visit with children: The the terrain is not very hospitable for little children as the conditions may be rather extreme during the winter.
  • Changing rooms: There are no changing rooms in the area.
  • Showers and toilets: There are no showers and toilets.
  • Footwear: When you are planning to visit.It is advisable that you carry a pair of hiking boots because the journey is very tasking.

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