Here’s an off-radar place to bookmark for when you’re looking for your next heatwave escape hatch. Iceland’s oldest swimming pool, built into the mountainside in a narrow
valley! It’s been gathering hot water trickling down from Eyjafjallajökull (I can’t pronounce it either) since it was constructed in 1923. Today, it’s abandoned and covered with thick ice throughout the winter until once every summer when a few faithful volunteers clear the waters for the adventurous travellers who care to find it…

Seljavallalaug is Iceland’s best kept secret, promising a breathtaking dip in the middle of the mountains that you’ll never forget. There are changing room facilities here so you can change and keep your belongings in the simple white building by the pool.

It was originally built to provide the locals with a place where they could learn how to swim, because apparently at the beginning of the 20th century, most Icelanders didn’t know how to do it – despite many of them living off fishing.

The protected 25-metre pool is located next to a stream you have to jump over at the bottom of the valley not far from Seljavellir, down an uneven trail that looks like it leads to nowhere.

The colour of the water varies throughout the year, depending on when it was last maintained, but most visitors will vouch for the natural water being completely safe to swim in, and even good for the skin.

Today, you can’t graduate school in Iceland unless you’ve passed a swim test and in 1990, a new modern swimming pool was built for the area somewhat closer to civilisation. But Seljavallalaug is a protected site and more than 90 years after it was built, it remains open for people to go swimming undisturbed in the old pool free of charge– at their own risk of course.

Find the location here


  1. Love that!! Iceland is probably one of the most geographically energetic places I have ever been. Magical at every turn. Love this piece, thank you for telling us about it!

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