Iceland's Newest Tourist Attraction: Holuhraun Natural Baths
Photo by: Einar Gudmann
What is on your list of must-see attractions for your trip to Iceland? The Blue Lagoon? Whale watching? The Maelifell volcano? How about a trip to Holuhraun natural baths?
Just north of Vatnajokull glacier − the largest ice cap in Europe − in the north-east of the country, a giant natural hot pool has been discovered and is quickly becoming a tourist attraction.
Technically, this natural bath does not have a name yet − it was formed after the 2014 Holuhraun eruption, which produced the largest lava flow Iceland has seen in more than 200 years. During the eruption, a 1,600-metre-long fissure opened in the volcano, erupting with enough lava to cover 85 square kilometres of land.
The new natural baths, which can be found towards the north end of the lava field, are truly huge, covering 400-500 square metres. The water temperature here ranges from 35° to 40°, perfect for some alfresco bathing, and the water is 40cm deep in places.
After its discovery in summer 2015, the baths quickly became popular with visitors to the area. The water here is naturally filtered and heated, flowing from the south of the lava field and mixing with cold water on the northern edge, resulting in remarkably clear water for bathing.
The baths are also beautifully sheltered due to the high surrounding walls of lava, making them the perfect place to relax and unwind. Don't turn up without footwear, as the lava can be sharp in some areas when you are wading into the baths.
If you want to check out the baths for yourself, you’d better be quick - it is not known how long they will last. Already they are proving a popular tourist attraction and the journey to get here is beautiful in itself, across a remote corner of Iceland with a history of volcanic activity.
Once this area was only popular with seasoned hikers, outdoors enthusiasts and backpackers − it was even used as a training ground for Apollo astronauts to prepare for their moon landings.
The discovery of the natural baths is bringing more holidaymakers to the area, so make sure you get the chance to see this natural wonder for yourself.
There are a number of holiday companies running tours to the area surrounding the baths. These include Saga Travel, which runs jeep tours, and Icelandic bus company SBA, which run day coach tours.