Hike to Reykjadalur hot river in Hveragerdi to experience a voyage into the heart of Iceland’s captivating scenery. Beyond its breathtaking scenery, this entrancing walk takes hikers to a natural hot spring hidden among undulating hills and steaming vents, a geothermal marvel.
The thought of immersing yourself in the calming warmth of the river fills you as you stroll along the picturesque pathways. In addition to being a physical challenge, the hike reveals Iceland’s remarkable natural features.
Hot thermal river in Hveragerdi
Translating to “Smoky Valley,” Reykjadalur is a one of the best hot springs in Golden circle located in southern Iceland, close to the town of Hveragerdi. Hiking the trek to Reykjadalur reveals a varied environment with steaming fumaroles and bubbling mud pots, providing an insight into Iceland’s active geothermal activity.
Hikers are rewarded with the bizarre sight of a warm river meandering down the valley as soon as they reach their goal.
The hot spring at Reykjadalur is the ideal place to unwind with a soothing dip amidst the unspoiled splendor of the Icelandic countryside, with water temperatures ranging from 38 to 40°C (100 to 104°F).
Encircled by expansive vistas of undulating terrain and far-off peaks, this thermal excursion offers not only an unforgettable experience but also a singular link to the planet’s geothermal pulse.
My hike to hot river in Hveragerdi
We went to this river at the beginning of October, when the weather was still warm. When we left Reykjavík, about 7 o’clock in the evening, it wasn’t too cold and it wasn’t even raining. Unfortunately, after arriving in Hveragerdi it started to rain lightly, so trips in Iceland can never be planned perfectly.
We arrived at the parking lot at about 8 o’clock in the evening. Our equipment was only drinks, baguettes from the Olís petrol station, swimwear and towels. We quickly hit the trail as we knew it would get dark soon.
Finding the trail was easy, from the parking lot there is one main road into the mountains that you stay on until you reach the river, which you can tell by the steaming hot water.
At this time of year the trail was a bit muddy in some places and our white converse sneakers were definitely not the ideal footwear. Around 9 o’clock we finally saw the wooden walkway that goes around the river.
We met only two other tourists at the river, who left the river after about 20 minutes, and we were left completely alone. We found a suitable place where the temperature was about 36 degrees and even though the river was not very deep, it was enough for us to lie down and enjoy relaxing in the pleasant water.
It got completely dark during our stay in the river, so we started back around 11 in the evening, because the batteries in our mobiles were not fully charged and we were worried about having enough power to light our mobiles on the way back.
It turned out to be a good idea because the way back was really dark and we might have gotten lost without our cell phones. Fortunately, our batteries lasted and we made it all the way back to the parking lot without getting lost. There we were greeted by familiar colors in the sky – one of the first auroras we had seen in Iceland.
We enjoyed this wonderful spectacle and started back to Reykjavík around midnight, where we spent the night that day.
Our whole trip took about 5 hours including the round trip from Reykjavík, and our expenses were only gas (about 3000 ISK) and parking fee (about 1000 ISK).
How to get to Reykjadalur valley
- GPS: 64.033993, -21.216209
- Directions on Google maps (parking place where you start your hike)
The hot river in Hveragerdi is among the closest natural thermal springs to Reykjavík. From Reykjavík you can get to the hot river parking lot in about less than one hour and the route is very easy. You have several options to go to the hot river. Probably the most popular and least accessible is driving your own or rented car.
Reykjadalur hot springs on map
Drive with car
You can easily reach the hot river by car. Leave Reykjavík on road number 1 heading south (Selfoss and Vík).
You drive straight the whole time, along one main road, and after going down a steep hill from the mountains, you reach the small town of Hveragerdi. Here you need to take the third exit to the town at the roundabout near the N1 gas station.
Then you continue straight ahead, drive through the entire town and reach an area where you can see the first smoke and steam from geothermal sites. You will arrive at the parking lot where you will park and hike to the river.
Use bus transportation
Every day, a bus departs from Reykjavík, from the Mjódd bus station in the morning and in the evening, which also goes to the town of Hveragerdi. The bus takes you to the mall, from where it’s quite a walk to even get to the starting position where the hot river hike starts. So if you are going to travel to Hveragerdi by bus, you can plan a minimum half-day trip.
Hitchhiking is a very common and popular method of transportation in Iceland, usually you don’t have to wait too long.
In addition, there are a lot of cars on the route from Reykjavík to Hveragerdi and back almost all day, so this route is almost one of the best for hitchhiking.
Once you get to Hveragerdi, the route is the same as from the bus stop – you have to get outside the town, from where the hike into the mountains to the hot Reykjadalur valley begins.
Take a tour
If you don’t feel confident enough to go to the hot river on your own, a guide can go there.
Tours to hot Reykjadalur thermal river
On Getyourguide.com we found one hike with a pickup in Reykjavík where the guide takes you directly to Hveragerdi to the hot river.
You will only need towels, swimwear, food and snacks with you, your guide will take care of the rest. We would recommend a tour with a guide especially in bad weather, when you are not sure whether the ride or the hike to the hot river would be safe for you.
What to take with you and how to prepare
What to Take:
- Hiking Gear: Wear sturdy, comfortable hiking boots and dress in layers suitable for unpredictable Icelandic weather.
- Swimsuit and Towel: Essential for taking a dip in the hot river. A quick-dry towel can be convenient.
- Backpack: Carry a small backpack for personal belongings and to keep your hands free during the hike.
- Water and Snacks: Stay hydrated with plenty of water and pack some energy-boosting snacks.
- Weather Protection: Bring a waterproof jacket, hat, and gloves, as the weather can change rapidly.
How much does Reykjadalur hike cost?
The entrance to hot geothermal river is free.
Parking Fee: If arriving by car, there is a parking fee. For every hour of parking your car on the parking lot next at the start of hike, you must pay 200 ISK (roughly 8 dolars/euros).
- Trail Etiquette: Stay on marked paths to preserve the delicate ecosystem. Respect local guidelines and regulations.
- Leave No Trace: Carry out all your trash and respect nature.
- Time Management: The hike and soak can take several hours. Plan accordingly, considering daylight hours and weather conditions.
Trail and hike to river
During our trips to the geothermal river in Reykjadalur, we had the opportunity to try this hike in different weather, whether it was rainy or a little muddy in the fall or on a snowy path in one of the winter months.
The hike is not too difficult, but it is not one of the easiest either.
The first steep hill can take you by surprise, which will take the breath away of even the most experienced hikers. Then the following smaller or larger hills, on an unpaved path, with occasional gravel or the need to jump over small rivers.
The most frequently quoted trip time to Reykjadalur hot springs is 1 hour. This time is on average correct, in the summer months and with a faster walking pace, you can get from the parking lot to the river even faster, on the other hand, in winter, in the rain or after dark, the journey can take an hour and half to two hours, one way.
The length of the hike to Reykjadalur hot river is 3 kilometers. But in hilly terrain and bad weather, even 3 kilometers often seem like a much longer distance.
As for the changing rooms at this hot spring – there are no covered rooms or facilities. This has always been a bit of a disadvantage for us because you only have a few places to change here with wooden partitions where you get a bit of privacy.
This in itself wouldn’t be a problem until it starts to rain or freeze, as then all your gear and towels can get wet and once you’ve finished your bath in the hot river, you’ll be changing into wet or wet clothes and the walk back to the car park is much less pleasant.
For me and my friends, the temperature in the river was always pleasant and that’s because we were usually there when there weren’t many people there. The temperature of the river is not constant, but changes depending on which part of the river you are in.
Hot river Reykjadalur near Hveragerdi
The problem can arise if you go to Reykjadalur in the summer, when there are many tourists and the best spots are taken, leaving you with a free part of the river that is either too hot or colder.
According to our experience, we can say that the best parts of the thermal river in Hveragerdi have a temperature between 35-40°C. If you are further from the spring, the temperature is between 15 and 25°C.
Best time to visit Reykjadalur hot springs
I would recommend a trip to the hot river in Hveragerdi to anyone, almost anytime. Of course, there is also the best time of year and day to enjoy your trip as much as possible.
Best time is in summer
Summer days are some of the best to visit this river. On the one hand, you will have a chance of very good weather, the roads will not be soggy, and you will be happy with the lower temperature of the river, if the suitable places are occupied.
In Iceland, however, the days are also longer during the summer months, so you can take a trip to the river even at midnight and stick to the path will not be a problem.
Less suitable months to visit Reykjadalur are, for example, April, May, October or November. In these months, you can expect many rainy days in Iceland, and in April or November even freezing weather, which can complicate the journey along the trail.
Parking at Reykjadalur hot river
If you go to the hot river with your own car, it is best to park at the cafe where the hike to this hot spring begins. However, this parking lot started to be paid for years ago, just like many other tourist-frequented places in Iceland.
You can pay for parking at Reykjadalur easily thanks to the machine that you will find right next to the parking lot. It is paid only after leaving the parking lot. Just enter your vehicle number plate into the machine, confirm the time, pay and then you have 15 minutes to leave the car park. Cameras automatically detect all cars entering and leaving the premises and record your arrival.
If you use local apps to pay for parking in Iceland, you can also use the Parka apps to pay with your mobile.
After hike: Refresh yourself a nearby café
If you want to refresh yourself, before or after your hike to the hot river, you can visit the Reykjadalur café, which is just next to the parking lot in Reykjadalur. This place is open from 12:00 to 17:00 every day of the week and offers a variety of drinks and snacks in a very cozy atmosphere.
What else to do nearby
For those, who don’t have any other plans than a visit of Reykjadalur hot river, I would recommend exploring the Golden circle. It’s an area in South Iceland, where you can find one of the most famous waterfalls, an active geyser, a lake in the volcano crater and much more.
Kerid crater is one of the top must see in the Golden circle and it’s not very far away from Hveragerdi. You can explore a small lake in the crater, go around and into the crater and enjoy the various colors of Icelandic nature there.
As many of the visitors of Iceland know, this country produces a large part of the energy from renewable resources. In the nearby geothermal plant Hellisheiði, you can find out, how it works in real and see, how the geothermal energy helps Iceland to produce cheap and green energy.
Are you looking for something more adventurous? In that case, the 3-hour rafting tour is something for you. They will provide you with everything you need and after this compare your powers with the strength of the river Hvítá, which goes from Gullfoss waterfall.
Where to stay nearby
There are plenty of hotels or guesthouses in the town of Hveragerdi and nearby. But our handpicked ones would definitely be these:
One of the most favorite places to stay near Reykjadalur thermal springs is the Frost and fire hotel. This place is located a bit outside of the town, in very beautiful are next to the river – you can even find a small waterfall there. You can relax here in the warm hot tub, enjoy the pool just next to the hotel and eat their delicious food in the Varma restaurant.
For all the fans of horseback riding, we must definitely recommend the Eldhestar hotel. This place has plenty of rooms to accommodate many guests even in the season, has great reviews on Booking.com and offers rooms for a reasonable price in Iceland.
Outside of the town Hveragerdi you can find cheap, but very quiet place cald hotel Vatnsholt. Surrounded by rolling hills, lush farmland, and close proximity to the iconic Hekla volcano, this hotel offers a tranquil retreat for nature lovers.
The rooms are cozy and well-appointed, providing a comfortable haven after a day of exploration. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant, which often features local Icelandic ingredients, adding a touch of authenticity to the dining experience
Where to eat nearby
As we already mentioned, great choice for a breakfast or dinner is restaurant Varmá at Frost and fire hotel.
In the Hveragerdi, you can another very popular restaurant called Ingólfsskáli. The restaurant is made in the old viking style and its will amaze you not just by the look of the restaurant, but also with quality and tasty meals.
Other recommended hot springs
As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, the hot river in Hveragerdi is one of the closest geothermal springs to Reykjavík. There aren’t many other similar places in the same area, but you’ll find a few alternatives in the Golden Circle area.
Here you can visit, for example, the oldest pool in Iceland called Secret lagoon. It is a man-made bath in a geothermal area, but even so, the pool itself and the area look very natural.
Another alternative, not far from Secret lagoon is Hrunalaug hot spring. It is a smaller hot spring, which has a really limited number of places, but is definitely worth a visit. It is located in the middle of nature, in a small hidden valley, and it looks completely natural. Here you will find three small pools that can fit about 20 people. Of all the alternatives mentioned, this hot spring is the cheapest, the entrance fee is only 2000 ISK (roughly 15 dollars).
About 40 minutes from the town of Hveragerdi is another popular, but less natural alternative. In the town of Laugarvatn, you can visit the thermal baths or pools called Fontana baths. There are several pools and hot baths, a sauna, and those who like to cool off can go directly from the pools to the local lake.
The last and newest alternative if you are looking for hot springs near Reykjavík is the Hvammsvík baths. These are smaller, newly built swimming pools in one of the Icelandic fjords, about 40 minutes from Reykjavík.