Many of Iceland's most magnificent treasures lay hidden along the spectacular Diamond Circle route off the Ring Road. This extraordinary collection of a dozen or so natural attractions makes a visit to North East Iceland a must on any traveler's itinerary. The Myvatn Nature Baths are an integral stop on your trip. If you've done any research, you'll know that the Myvatn Baths are a less crowded, more intimate alternative to the famous Blue Lagoon. So let's take a look at all there is to see and do in this geothermal area and nature reserve.
Nestled in the northeast corner of Iceland is the Myvatn area. This zone is known for its birdlife and the body of water that gives the area its name: Lake Myvatn. It's Iceland's fourth-largest lake and the turquoise waters are accentuated by craggy structures of volcanic rock. A diverse range of flora, fauna, and volcanic landscapes are abundant as best evidenced by the lake’s fish-filled waters, bird species, and numerous skerries and islets. This rich and varied zone is protected, as both the lake and surrounding areas are part of the Myvatn nature reserve.
Many visitors bring their car, SUV, or minivan here for the day to hike, explore, go bird-watching, and more. The larger territory includes not just the lake but also the alien-like landscapes of Námafjall Mountain and colorful bubbling mud of the Hverir hot spring area. Game of Thrones fans will also want to stop by Grjótagjá cave, the small geothermally-heated cavern where Jon and Ygritte made their love official. When coming here, start your day at the Reykjahlíð village information center. You can get informed about options to visit a local waterfall, baths or any other activity that interests you.
After you spend some time exploring the area, it's time to make your way east. Now let's discover the Lake Myvatn Nature Baths, Iceland's hot spring and bathing culture at its finest.
The Lake Myvatn Nature Baths
Keeping in mind the fragile and delicate balance of the surrounding nature reserve and its ecosystem, the Myvatn hot springs and nature baths were designed with preservation in mind. Respect for the environment and surrounding areas is paramount.
The simple and beautifully designed complex evokes a completely natural experience. As steam rises from the geothermal water heated by a split deep in the Earth's crust, you realize that the steam baths are not like anything you've ever known. There are two steam baths resting atop a geothermal zone. The steam that comes up through the holes in the floor contains no sulfur and the temperature is usually around 50 °C (122 ºF). When things get too hot it's time to cool off in the outdoor showers.
And if you're a fan of relaxation in a hot tub, just wait until you get into a large outdoor man-made geothermally-heated lagoon. Taking a dip in the Myvatn Nature Bath just make cure whatever ails you. Much like the Blue Lagoon close to Reykjavik, the healing properties of the mineral-rich water are well-known. The high amount of minerals and other elements like sulfur are good for respiratory diseases such as asthma and skin problems like eczema.
About the Lagoon
The lagoon is alkaline, and thanks to its unique chemical composition, undesired bacteria and vegetation tend not to grow out of control. This creates a naturally clean environment within the lagoon, making chloride or any other disinfectant unnecessary. You will need to take a shower before entering the lagoon in order to wash off any dirt, grime, or oil on your skin. With the long hours of driving your Iceland car rental, this will be a welcome release.
The lagoon's chemical makeup is a double-edged sword, however. Be wary of taking jewelry (even gold and silver) into the water as they will become damaged and discolored. You'll also want to wear your hair up and not get it wet unless you're looking to have crunchy tresses that require lots of conditioner afterward.
The water in the lagoon has an average temperature of 36 – 40 °C. (97 - 104 ºF).
Prices at the Myvatn Nature Baths in Iceland
During high season (May through September) the cost of a single entrance ticket for adults is 5300 ISK (around 38€ or $43). The price drops to 4500 ISK (32€ or $36) during the rest of the year. For teenagers 13 to 15 years old, the high season and low season prices are 2200 ISK (16€ or $18) and 1800 (13€ or $14) ISK respectively. For students, senior citizens, and handicapped guests, the cost is 3300 ISK (24€ or $27) and 3000 ISK (22€ or $24) during low season. Children 12 and under have free entrance when accompanied by adults.
You can also rent certain items you may have forgotten at home like a towel or your swimsuit for 850 ISK (6€ or $7). If you like, you can also make it a day of luxury by renting a bathrobe for 1800 ISK (13€ or $14). These are perfect for keeping you warm as you head between the dressing room and the pools or after you've taken a dip.
Adults - High Season: 5300 ISK | Low Season: 4500 ISK
Teenagers 13-15 years - High Season: 2200 ISK | Low Season: 1800 ISK
Students, Senior Citizens, Handicapped - High Season: 3300 ISK | Low Season: 3000 ISK
Children 12 and under: Free when accompanied by adults
Towel: 850 ISK
Swimsuit: 850 ISK
Bathrobe: 1800 ISK
The baths are open every day of the year with the exception of New Year's Day on January 1st. There are also limited hours around the Christmas holidays (12 p.m. to 5 p.m from December 24th to 31st). Due to the seemingly never-ending light of the Midnight Sun in the summer, opening hours are extended. From May 1st to September 30th, the Lake Mývatn Nature Baths are open from 9 a.m. until midnight with the last entry at 11:30 p.m.
If you make your journey here in the wintertime, the baths will be open from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. from October 1st to April 30th, assuming that the weather is good. The last guests are allowed to enter at 9:30 p.m. This is also an excellent time of year to see the Aurora Borealis from the warm comfort of the thermal baths. It's Northern Lights season in Iceland, an exciting time. The secluded location of Jarðböðin gives you an excellent viewpoint from which to see Mother Nature’s spectacle lighting up the nighttime sky.
Make a Day Out of it at the Kvika Café and Restaurant
If you're going to spend time at a geothermal lagoon, you may as well do it in style, right? Make a day out of your visit to the nature baths and enjoy a tasty meal at the lagoon’s stylish restaurant. Not only does it sit right overlooking the water and offer up some spectacular views, but there's also an outdoor terrace which provides seating for around 50. Kvika Café and Restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner and offers a mouth-watering menu.
In between trips to the lagoon, feast on smoked Arctic char and their famous hot spring bread. They also offer a soup of the day, an extensive salad bar, and freshly baked rolls with ham, cheese, or vegetables. You can also get cakes, cookies, soft drinks, alcoholic drinks, and hot beverages.
Lake Myvatn Nature Baths: Relax and Recharge
Although it's located in the northern part of an already frosty country, the zone is blessed with a temperate climate. The long days of summer can surprise you with how warm they are. And winter evenings are perfect for spotting the Aurora Borealis in the Northern Lights Capital of Iceland. The Lake Myvatn hot springs and the beautiful Icelandic nature in the surrounding areas are not to be missed. Be sure to stop here as you make your way between Húsavík, Dettifoss, Godafoss, and the rest of the Diamond Circle.