Not knowing much about Iceland, we booked only a week there. In retrospect it should have been at least two or three. We had a blast every day, thanking ourselves for getting a car, but the single best thing we did in Iceland was the day we spent hiking up to and sitting/soaking in the Reykjadalur river. Simply heaven.
The walk up was a bit grueling, mentally more than physically due to the constant bugs swarming around our faces. If you make this trip bring an insect net for your face or at least a bandana or scarf to cover your mouth & nose. Physically, although mostly uphill, the walk wasn’t too strenuous. As we were plodding up the well marked trail we were grumpy as heck, being so annoyed, but we noticed almost everyone coming down had this goofy grin on there faces. They were giggling and happy going down as we swatted and swore going up.
The landscape was bizarre and beautiful, bubbling pools of mud and water. Here’s a short video I made for you to get a feel for the steaming ground all around – this being up near the river.
I’ve looked around the web to find some others who have enjoyed the experience as much as we did. Here are some fellow travellers and their day up at Reykjadalur River.
Reykjadalur Hot Springs // A Must See In Iceland
Reykjadalur is a hiking trail just outside of Hveragerði, a short 40 minute drive from Reykjavik. Reykjadalur directly translates to “steam valley” and it holds true to its name with steam floating in the air everywhere on this hike!
It always amazes me how close I live to such beautiful places! The fact that I can go from sitting in my pjs watching tv to taking in this view in just an hour, it makes me fall in love with Iceland all over again!
This hike is not very long, only 3 km back to the hot springs, but there is a lot of beauty packed into this small hike! I quickly realized there is no reason to put your camera down on this hike, around every corner is a stunning view. For example…
Be sure to visit the full post at Unlocking Kiki – she has a ton of beautiful pictures and her post is the main one we used to plan our day before we went.
Reykjadalur Valley – Bathe in a Hot River in South Iceland!
The name of the valley, Reykjadalur, means Steam Valley and you will understand why when the valley opens up after the hike. The valley is filled with hot springs and mud pools and there is even a hot river in which one can bathe!
When we last visited Reykjadalur there were 123 cars on the parking lot so we got a little bit startled! Would it be crowded in the valley and impossible to find a good spot in the river? [Bruce’s note – we had the same feeling but the valley is so large with half the folks walking up, a bunch in the river, and a bunch already coming down, it never felt crowded. A few folks sure but no throngs of tourists.]
The name of this canyon is Djúpagil and the waterfall gets its name from the canyon, Djúpagilsfoss waterfall. I am pretty sure that everybody walking on this path looks down into the gorge to have a look at the waterfall far down in the valley. Not for those of us who are afraid of heights though. The scenery is amazing here, breathtaking would be the right word for it.
All of a sudden the beauty of Reykjadalur appeared. I just love this valley, there is so much to see here, all these boiling hot pools and steam rising up from several places.
I could have stayed there for the whole day, but we arrived late in the day as we had been exploring other areas in South-Iceland during the day. I will for sure arrive earlier next time and just hang out in the valley the whole day and hopefully this spot will be free.
Reykjadalur Hike: A perfect Day Trip in Iceland
What: Reykjadalur (“Smokey Valley”) is a beautiful valley in the south of Iceland, characterized by geothermal activity and famous for its “hot river”, where hikers can bathe surrounded by nature.
Where: Reykjadalur is located right by the town of Hveragerði, an approximately 40-minute drive from Reykjavik.
How: If you have a rental car or a camper van, take advantage of your freedom and just drive to Reykjadalur! If you don’t, there are many tours available, although they will most definitely charge you more than what renting a vehicle will cost you for a whole day. It’s not something I would recommend, but not everybody is like me and some people like traveling in large groups.
When we finally got to Reykjadalur, I was also surprised by the wooden path that had been laid all along the hot river. Apparently this is brand new and wasn’t there last year. Considering how popular this destination has become, I think this is great as it will protect the river banks from erosion. Anyway, we finally got there and could not have been more excited about taking a dip. There is no reason to be shy since there are no changing rooms. We covered each other up with a towel, put our bathing suits on, and looked for the perfect spot. One of the best things about getting into the water is that the steam kept all the little flies away and you could finally breathe without worrying about swallowing them.
We quickly figured out that the more up-river you go, the hotter the water is. We eventually moved a little down-river, for two main reasons. First, the water was super hot and if we were going to be able to enjoy it for more than 10 minutes, we needed to find cooler water. Second, there were a lot of people there. In order to get some privacy and some quiet, we needed to walk off the wooden trail and about 5 minutes down-river.