When planning our trip to Iceland I knew Zach and I would have to get in at least one natural hot spring. Naturally, I began to scour the internet looking for any information I could! A great resource for finding hot springs (and more!) is HotPot Iceland.
HotPot does a great job showing you where hots springs are (which is obviously important if you’re going to try and go to one), but what Zach and I learned is that seeing one on a map is one thing, getting there (and in) is another.
I chose Landbrotalaug hot spring for two reasons; it’s proximity to our already planned driving route, and it’s intimacy — stretch your arms out to your side and that’s the hot spring. So here is how to get there!
Getting to Landbrotalaug
Landbrotalaug hot spring is located on Snæfellsnes Peninsula. If you’re leaving from Reykjavik, it’s about a two hour drive north. There’s plenty to do on Snæfellsnes Peninsula, and I highly recommend you take a day trip there when you’re in Iceland. The fact that Landbrotalaug hot spring is conveniently located off of Route 1 makes it all the more appealing to leave from Reykjavik in the morning, explore Snæfellsnes Peninsula, and then stop at Landbrotalaug all in one afternoon!
You’ll follow Route 1 from Reykjavik until you reach Route 54 (after the tunnel). You’ll stay on Route 54 for about a half hour until you see a road called Stóra Hraun. Watch for this closely, it has just recently been named and is not on Google Maps.
After a bit of driving on this road you’ll come across a small, abandoned building. Generally in life, I try to avoid small, abandoned buildings, but in this case, that means you are going the right direction! Continue to follow the road and you should see this sign. Turn left and you’ll reach a parking lot (sort of). In front of you, you should see a walking path that you’ll follow next.
During our recent trip, I discovered there are two hot springs at Landbrotalaug! When we arrived there was a couple in the smaller one, so we waited our turn and explored. If you take the path to the left, there is actually a much larger hot spring (less intimate, but great for a group of friends!)
After the other couple left we made our way over to the smaller hot spring. If you follow the path straight from the parking lot you will reach a small body of water where you will step on the rocks to get across. Landbrotalaug is right across this, surrounded by a mound of stones.
Once you’ve made it, relax and enjoy. We were in awe of the scenery, warmth of the spring (somewhere around 90 degrees fahrenheit), and the fact that we’d made it! Enjoy this natural wonder, and remember to leave nothing behind other than your footsteps.
What is a Hot Spring and How is it Formed?
While we were sitting in Landbrotalaug, we couldn’t help but laugh. Neither one of us had any idea what made the hot spring hot. So later that night when we got back to our hotel , we researched it, and laughed even more.
Because it’s on top of a volcano. And that is not a joke.
Iceland is known as the land of fire and ice, and the nickname stems from the its extensive geothermal activity. The country is home to about 130 volcanic mountains (don’t worry, only 30 are considered active), and that means there are lots of hot springs to find and explore.
In these volcanic areas the groundwater is being heated by shallow intrusions of magma, this is what makes the water warm. In Landbrotalaug’s case, the cause is Eldborg crater, which you can also visit! In the past, eruptions happened frequently here, but that 12,000 years ago, so as you’re relaxing in the hot spring you don’t have much of anything to worry about.