Seljavallalaug swimming pool is one and a half hours east of Reykjavik along the Iceland‘s Route 1 ring road that encircles the country. From there, follow Route 242 to the small car park that is used by visitors to the pool and located just to the south of it. This fairytale location can be found between Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls, which are a 15- and 10-minute drive respectively.
Built in 1923 by a local man in order to teach Icelanders how to swim, Seljavallalaug swimming pool is one the oldest swimming pools in Iceland, but pre-dated by the Secret Lagoon in Flúðir which dates back to 1891. It is 25 metres long and 10 metres wide, which means it was the largest swimming pool in Iceland until 1936. It has experienced few changes since its construction 100 years ago; it was filled with volcanic ash after the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption, making it unusable for a brief period until volunteers cleared it out the following year.
Hidden away in the mountains of south Iceland, it’s popular with Instagrammers for its iconic location but often overlooked in favour of other attractions in the area such as the aforementioned waterfalls and the plane wreck, all of which are very close.
From the Seljavallalaug car park, it is just a 20-minute walk to the swimming pool. The route is fairly obvious, helped in part by following other people taking the same route.
If it helps, here’s my Strava recording of our walk to the pool:
It’s just under two kilometres one way and mostly on the flat. If you are feeling unsure on your route, note that you will not see the swimming pool until you get to the every end of the walk.
The only slightly tricky part of the walk is a rocky stream that you’ll need to cross. Depending on the time of year, this could be icy overfoot in Winter, or wider than normal in Summer.
The pool is fed naturally by geothermally heated water is in a magical setting on private land but there is no admission fee. You enter the pool at your own risk and there are no lifeguards.
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Just before you reach the pool, you’ll see a tank and pipe on the left which feeds geothermally heated water into the pool at its deepest point.
The mountain forms one side of the swimming pool and the water is contained by the other three constructed sides. Although heated geothermally, the water is not that hot like some of Iceland’s pools – around 20° to 30°C or 68 to 86°F, that’s all. We had come armed with swimming things and towels with the intention of taking a dip. The water looked full of algae, though, and less than clean (despite a handful of people bathing in it), with minimal fresh water flowing in and out of it, so in the end we chose not to swim. We had a peek inside the changing rooms and they were best avoided completely… certainly NOT what you would call luxury! The luxury here is in the unique and picturesque landscape that surrounds the pool, and sadly not the facilities themselves. The pool and the changing rooms are cleaned just once a year and unfortunately not looked after by what is probably a minority of tourists. If you do visit, please be sure to leave no trace – bring all your things and any litter back with you so that the pool can be enjoyed by others.
Planning a trip to Iceland yourself? You can watch a video from our trip to Iceland here:
Disclosure: Our trip to Iceland was also sponsored by Helly Hansen.