The Hottest Valley on the Island
Well, maybe there are hotter places, but the for foreigners unpronounceable town of Hveragerði offers an unforgettable bath in the nearby hot river and more.
You can see the steam from afar before you reach the pretty valley Reykjadalur, about a 40- minute drive east of Reykjavík: the geothermal energy around Hveragerði is particularly high, as the area is part of the system of the central volcano Hengill. The sight is fascinating and mystical at the same time. In the town, you can find restaurants that cook and bake using geothermal energy. Ölverk, for example, not only serves great pizza, but also beer brewed with geothermal energy. Where else in the world could you experience that? You can also visit a geothermal park with boiling hot pools and get fresh strawberries or flowers from the greenhouses, which are heated with geothermal energy. Even bananas grow there!
The small town not only attracts tourists, but also artists who settle here. There is even a walking route called “The Walk of the Artists“ and the LÁ Art Museum (a map with all the routes and sights is available at the Tourist Information Centre). The art museum is well worth a visit and has ongoing exhibitions of modern art. You can also sit on a sun terrace in the nice café.
What many visitors overlook is the really beautiful little waterfall Reykjafoss, which is located on the way to the parking lot that serves as the starting point for the popular hike to the hot river. In the parking lot, you will also find a nice café with a panoramic view and delicious cake. Here, you can decide whether to stay for coffee before or after.
The hiking trail to the hot springs within Ölfus Municipality is about 3.5-kilometers long - one way takes an hour. As the route has become more popular, it is now well developed and signposted.
The route is beautiful - with rushing waterfalls, steaming hot springs and a great view of the mountains, which have extraordinary colors, but it should be said: the way there is steep at the beginning. So you have to earn your relaxing swim in the river. The path ends at the bathing area with wooden footbridges and changing facilities.
Bathing here is a highlight at almost any outdoor temperature, because the river is pleasantly warm, and it is an incredible feeling to sit or lie in the riverbed - while the warm water flows past you. You look out over the lush green hills and almost feel like you're in the Shire of Lord of the Rings .
What you tend to ignore at first, however: After the relaxing bath, of course, you also have to walk back - probably with wet hair. That's why it's always good to have a hat with you - no matter what the season.