For many years Seljavallalaug was a secret spot known only by the locals. The information about the pool located in such an intriguing location rather did not spread that far.Recently this truly unique place has started to attract thousands of travelers. In the summertime, especially on sunny days the pool often gets completely full. For the thrill-seeking traveler it is usually better at night, around midnight or even later. This is because from mid-May till mid-August it’s bright all the time, that’s the season of the midnight sun. If you aren’t a night owl though, you can visit the pool early in the morning or in the winter.
Built in 1923, Seljavallalaug may be the oldest swimming pool in the entire country. It was created as a place where locals could learn to swim. Though many of them subsisted off the fishing industry, there was no formal place for them to develop their swimming skills. In modern Iceland, swimming training is mandatory in public schools, a trend that began with facilities such as Seljavallalaug.The 82-foot-long pool is built right into the rocks, in a shallow valley created by a pair of verdant, craggy hills. Until 1936, the remote swimming hole was the largest pool in Iceland. It is fed by a nearby hot spring that usually keeps the water at a temperature above freezing, although in the winter, ice still forms on the surface. On the far end of the pool is a small changing room that provides some privacy. It is basic–don’t expect showers–but does the job for those of a more modest nature.
You will reach the trailhead by turning off of the Ring Road 1 onto road 242. From there road signs will guide you to Seljavellir. You will drive straight on this unpaved road until you reach a parking lot for an abandoned pool. From here it is only a 15-20 min walk along the rocky mountain valley. The hike will feature beautiful mountains, Icelandic sheep, and a small river coming down off of the Eyjafjallajökull Glacier.
Getting to the pool is an adventure in itself. Visitors can drive fairly close to the secluded valley that holds the Seljavallalaug, but they must eventually park and set out on foot. The trek to the pool takes you through fields of lava ash, dodging little streams running out of the valley. Seljavallalaug is not maintained in any official capacity but is cleaned once a year by a team of local volunteers. The waters are often covered in algae, and after the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, ash. Yet no matter what is floating in the historic waters of the pool, its natural beauty makes even ash and algae easy to ignore. But remember that the water in the pool is circulating all the time.
Hot spring goes in from one side, and the water goes out from the other side. Also, the hidden pool is so incredibly popular that if anyone ever had any health problems after bathing, then the information about it would spread all around the country immediately. Nevertheless, everyone with any dermatological problems should think twice before jumping into the water. We also don’t recommend bathing in Seljavallalaug to little children.
The water in Seljavallalaug hidden pool has a pleasant temperature of around 34-35 °C. That’s the average temperature of the water. The closer to the hot spring, the warmer it gets. At the opposite corner of the swimming pool (next to the changing rooms), the water might be colder than 30 degrees. Keep in mind that from late autumn to early spring the water is usually colder. Sometimes it has just over 20 degrees, which for most people is too low to enjoy it.
- How to get to the pool: To reach the hidden pool, turn from the Ring Road to road no. 242 (Raufarfellsvegur). Read our detailed directions above.
- 4×4 or normal car: You can still get there with a regular car, but it’s more and more demanding. Read our in-depth explanation above.
- Opening hours: The pool is a wild attraction so you don’t have to bother with opening hours. It is open 24 hours a day.
- Lifeguard: The pool is wild, so there is no lifeguard.
- Prices: It’s free.
- Parking: Parking at Seljavallalaug is free.
- Time: We recommend spending here around 1.5 or 2 hours (the walk included).
- Food: There is no store near the pool. Remember to bring something to eat and drink with you.
- Visit with children: The stream crossing shouldn’t be difficult for children, of course, if you help them. When it comes to the cleanliness of water, read the part above.
- Changing rooms: There are changing rooms, but it’s not a good idea to use them.It’s much better to change your clothes behind the building or somewhere else.
- Showers and toilets: There are no showers and toilets.
- Footwear: When you are planning to visit Seljavallalaug swimming pool, remember to bring good hiking shoes.