In the heart of Iceland's scenic landscapes, Reykjadalur Valley is a geothermal wonderland that captivates visitors with its natural hot springs, vibrant green hills, and steamy rivers. This isn't just any valley; it's the "Steam Valley," a geothermal hotspot with more than its fair share of natural beauty.
The hiking trail through Reykjadalur is a visual treat, with each step offering a new, unique view of Iceland's stunning landscapes. But the real magic happens when you reach the geothermal river. It's warm, it's steamy, and it's the perfect spot for a relaxing soak. And the best part? You can enjoy this natural hot tub even when it's snowing!
So, if you're looking for an adventure that offers relaxation and a dash of adrenaline, Reykjadalur Valley is the place to be. Grab your swimsuit, put on your hiking boots, and get ready to explore one of Iceland's most captivating natural wonders.
Reykjadalur Valley is in the heart of South Iceland’s dramatic landscapes. It's conveniently located near Hveragerði and about a 45-minute drive from Reykjavik. GPS coordinates are 64.0336° N, 21.2292° W.
The valley is part of the larger Hengill area, one of Iceland's most active geothermal zones. This vast expanse is a tapestry of vibrant green hills, steamy rivers, and natural hot springs, offering visitors a unique blend of relaxation and adventure.
The nearby town of Hveragerði, often called the 'hot spring town,' is worth visiting. It's known for its geothermal park, where you can see boiling water bubbling up from the ground. The town also has a unique geothermal bakery where traditional Icelandic rye bread is baked in the ground using the area's geothermal heat.
Reykjadalur Valley is also a great starting point for exploring other attractions in the area. The iconic Golden Circle route and the stunning South Coast are both within easy reach, making it possible to soak in a geothermal river in the morning and marvel at a gushing geyser or a majestic waterfall in the afternoon.
Reykjadalur Valley is conveniently located near Reykjavik, making it an easy day trip for those based in the capital. Here are a few ways to get there:
By Car: The most straightforward way to reach Reykjadalur Valley is by car. Take Route 1 (Ring Road) east from Reykjavik and then turn onto Route 35. Follow this road until you reach the town of Hveragerði. From there, signs will guide you to the parking area for the start of the Reykjadalur trail. The drive takes approximately 45 minutes.
By Bus: While public transportation to Reykjadalur Valley is limited, it is possible to take a bus from Reykjavik to Hveragerði. From the Hveragerði bus stop, it's about a 3.5 km walk to the start of the trail. Please note that bus schedules can vary, especially outside of the summer season, so checking the timetable in advance is essential.
By Bike: For the more adventurous, it's also possible to bike to Reykjadalur Valley from Hveragerði. The ride is about 4 km and offers a unique way to enjoy the beautiful Icelandic scenery.
Remember to check the weather forecast before you go regardless of how you get there. The trail to the hot springs can become challenging to navigate in poor weather conditions.
Reykjadalur Valley is a popular hiking destination with a hiking trail that stretches about 3 kilometers. The hike is moderately challenging, making it suitable for most fitness levels. The trail's highlight is the geothermal river, where visitors can bathe in naturally heated waters amidst the stunning Icelandic scenery.
While visiting Reykjadalur Valley, it's important to remember that the geothermal area can be dangerous if not treated with respect. The water in some areas can reach boiling temperatures, so always test the water before entering. Also, stay on marked paths to avoid damaging the delicate ecosystem and to ensure your safety.
When planning your visit to Reykjadalur Valley, it's recommended to bring the following items:
Please note: There are no changing facilities at the hot springs, so visitors are advised to wear their swimsuits under their clothes.
As with all natural attractions in Iceland, it's important to practice responsible tourism in Reykjadalur Valley. This means staying on marked trails, not bathing with soap or shampoo in the hot springs, not leaving any trash behind, and not removing any natural materials from the site.
Reykjadalur Valley is best known for its geothermal activity, particularly the hot springs and steamy river where visitors can bathe. The valley's name, "Steam Valley," is a testament to the geothermal wonders that await visitors.
The hike to the hot springs in Reykjadalur Valley is not just about the destination but also about the journey. Along the way, you'll pass by bubbling mud pools, steaming vents, and small geysers. The trail offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, making the hike a visual treat.
Steeped in geothermal warmth and historical significance, Reykjadalur Valley boasts a past as intriguing as its landscape. The valley's geothermal features have been known and utilized for centuries, with evidence of use dating back to the early settlement of Iceland.
The first settlers in Iceland, having arrived around the 9th century, quickly discovered the benefits of the country's geothermal activity. In Reykjadalur Valley, they found a natural hot water source that was perfect for washing and bathing, a luxury in the harsh Icelandic climate. Over the centuries, the hot springs of Reykjadalur became a communal gathering place where locals would come to bathe, wash clothes, and socialize.
The geothermal activity in Reykjadalur Valley is a result of Iceland's unique geological location on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Here, the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, pulling apart slowly and allowing magma to rise to the surface. This process heats the underground water, creating the hot springs and steamy rivers that Reykjadalur Valley is known for.
In the 20th century, as Iceland became a popular tourist destination, Reykjadalur Valley began to attract visitors from around the world. Today, the valley is not only a place for bathing but also a popular hiking destination, offering visitors a chance to experience Iceland's geothermal activity up close.
Despite its popularity, Reykjadalur Valley remains a place where nature reigns supreme. The valley is a testament to Iceland's geological history and a reminder of the powerful natural forces that shaped this unique island nation.
Reykjadalur Valley is a treasure trove of fascinating facts and features. Here are a few that make this geothermal paradise even more intriguing:
The geothermal river in Reykjadalur Valley isn't uniformly heated. As you move upstream, the water gets warmer. This unique feature allows visitors to find their 'just right' spot for a soak.
Flora and Fauna
Reykjadalur Valley is a haven for various species of flora and fauna. From moss-covered lava fields to vibrant wildflowers, the valley showcases Iceland's botanical diversity. Birdwatchers will also be delighted to spot several bird species, including the Golden Plover and the White Wagtail.
Hengill Geothermal Area
Reykjadalur Valley is part of the Hengill geothermal area, one of the largest and most active geothermal systems in Iceland. This area is a hotspot for volcanic activity, with several volcanoes, hot springs, and fumaroles.
The nearby town of Hveragerði is home to a unique geothermal bakery where traditional Icelandic rye bread is baked in the ground using the area's geothermal heat.
If you visit Reykjadalur Valley in the summer, you might have the chance to experience the phenomenon of the midnight sun. This is when the sun is visible for 24 hours, creating a unique opportunity to hike and bathe in the geothermal river under the midnight sun.
Natural Heat Source
The geothermal heat in Reykjadalur Valley is not just for bathing. In the past, locals used the hot springs for laundry, cooking, and even brewing beer!
Unlike some of Iceland's attractions that are inaccessible during winter, Reykjadalur Valley can be visited year-round. The geothermal activity in the valley prevents the river from freezing, allowing for winter bathing experiences.
Reykjadalur Valley is more than just a geothermal wonderland; it's a playground for nature lovers and adventure seekers. Here's a roundup of activities you can enjoy in and around the valley:
Hiking and Bathing
The main draw of Reykjadalur Valley is the hiking trail leading to the geothermal river. The trail offers stunning views of the surrounding landscapes, and the reward at the end is a relaxing soak in the naturally heated river. The hike to the hot springs is not very challenging and is suitable for most people in decent physical condition. It takes about 60-90 minutes to reach the bathing area from the trailhead.
Remember, the riverbed is rocky, so bring water shoes for a more comfortable experience. And since there are no changing facilities, you might want to wear your swimsuit under your clothes.
Bird Watching and Photography
With its diverse flora and fauna, Reykjadalur Valley is a paradise for bird watchers and photographers. Keep an eye out for various bird species, and take the time to capture the valley's stunning landscapes through your lens.
Horse Riding Tours
For a unique perspective of the valley, consider joining a horse riding tour. It's a fun and traditional way to explore the Icelandic countryside.
Midnight Sun Experience
If you're visiting in the summer, you're in for a treat. The midnight sun, a phenomenon where the sun is visible for 24 hours, offers a unique opportunity to hike and bathe under a sunlit sky, even at midnight!
Geothermal Bakery Visit
Don't miss the chance to visit the geothermal bakery in the nearby town of Hveragerði. Here, traditional Icelandic rye bread is baked underground using the area's geothermal heat. It's a tasty way to appreciate the geothermal activity of the region.
Near the parking lot at the trailhead, there's a small café called Dalakaffi, where you can grab a bite to eat before or after your hike.
Reykjadalur Valley is a year-round destination, with each season offering its unique charm and experiences. However, the best time to visit largely depends on what you want to see and do.
Summer (June to August)
Summer is the most popular time to visit Reykjadalur Valley. The weather is warmer, the trails are clear, and the days are long - thanks to the midnight sun phenomenon. This is the best time for hiking, bird watching, and photography. The geothermal river is particularly inviting during this time, offering a warm respite amidst the cool summer breeze.
Winter (December to February)
Visiting Reykjadalur Valley in winter is a different kind of adventure. The landscape transforms into a winter wonderland, and the contrast of the snow-covered ground with the steamy geothermal river is truly magical. The river remains warm, so you can still enjoy a dip. However, the trail can be icy, so proper hiking boots and caution are necessary.
Spring and Autumn
The shoulder seasons of spring (April to May) and autumn (September to November) can also be great times to visit. These periods offer a balance between milder weather and fewer crowds. The changing foliage in autumn and blooming wildflowers in spring add a splash of color to the valley.
Remember, the weather in Iceland can be unpredictable, so it's always a good idea to check the forecast before heading out. And no matter when you visit, the geothermal wonders of Reykjadalur Valley are sure to leave you spellbound!
There's a range of accommodations near Reykjadalur Valley, mainly in the nearby town of Hveragerði. Here are some options:
Please note: Wild camping is not allowed in Iceland. All campers must use approved campsites.