Dive into Iceland's best kept secret
I've been having doubts about sharing the Seljavallalaug swimming pool. Although it's very close to the Ring Road where thousands of tourists pass every day towards the nearby Skógarfoss waterfall, nobody seems to know it. Except the locals and a few foreigners. And that's a good thing because the atmosphere around this pool is created by it's solitude. We've had the privilege to enjoy it all by ourselves with the surrounding mountains as our only companion and it wouldn't be the same when crowded. But if nobody told me, we would have missed it for sure so I'm happy to share it with you.
Seljavallalaug is a 25 metre long pool tucked away into a beautiful valley. It's one of the country’s oldest swimming pools and was first constructed with stones in 1923. The pool is situated by a rock wall where the water, which flows from a natural hot spring, seeps out of the rock and is collected in it.
The first time we went there the whole valley was covered in fog and it was raining pretty heavy. That didn't stop us from going skinny dipping and because it was a cold and rainy day the water felt nice and warm. Depending on where you swim (closer to the hot spring) somewhere between 25-35 degrees I guess.
The picture above is taken with the GoPro HERO2.
When we visited Seljavallalaug for the second time it was a bright and sunny day with a clear view of the awe-inspiring scenery around the pool. Since it was a warmer day the water felt colder though.
The pool itself is not regularly maintained, locals clean it once a year during summer. So there can be a lot of algae in it and when we were there the ground was covered with algaes. It has no showering facilities and very modest changing booths. Don't forget to bring a towel!
When consulting the guidebooks like Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide I noticed they only wrote one sentence about this pool. So it's easy to overlook when you're planning your trip. The first time we went there, we ended up at the farm nearby and luckily there was someone who could point us in the right direction or we never would have found it. That's why I've made a little map to show you where Seljavallalaug is located and how to get there.
Click on the map to see it larger.
There's a parking area close to the Seljavellir Farm and from there it's a 20 – 30 minute hike to reach the pool. First you have to cross a field full of lava ashes. In the middle there's a small mountain stream to cross but we could do that in a jump. After a while you'll come near a second river crossing. There you can choose: or you go a little bit upstream and take the risky path over the slippery rocks, or you take your shoes off and wade trough the icecold water to reach the other side. We tried both ways and preferred the risky path, but if you want to play it safe, then make sure you bring some slippers to cross the river the easy way. Then follow the path for ten more minutes until you reach the pool.
The map is made with Google Maps sattelite image of the area.