The forgotten swimming pool in a hidden valley
If you’re in Iceland for it’s untouched nature, purity and hidden valleys, don’t miss this abandoned swimming pool far from civilization.
This hidden gem in the south of Iceland is called Seljavallalaug (good luck pronouncing it), built in 1923 it’s Icelands first and oldest 25 meter swimming pool. You’ll be surprised by it’s location and it makes you wonder how in the world they managed to make a swimming pool this size out of concrete, so far in to a valley that it’s still today only accessible by foot. The pool is located right underneath the infamous Eyjafjallajökull and during the eruption of 2010 it got filled with ash and not possible to swim in. In the early summer of 2011 a group of volunteers cleaned it up, but had to bring a lot of equipment to the remote pool to clean it.
Seljavallalaug is one of the places that has been high in my list of places to visit in Iceland for some time. When we were on a camping trip in the beginning of September this year we were in the area and finally saw the opportunity to go. We were heading towards the town of Vík where we would pitch our tent that evening and decided to take this detour for a refreshing swim.
Let me try to describe how to get there.
When you drive the south coast on ring road 1 from Reykjavík you will reach the town of Hvolsvöllur. You drive through town and keep heading east and eventually you will reach Seljalandsfoss waterfall (a highly recommended stop), keep driving and you will pass a museum about the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption on your right and the farm Þorvaldseyri on your left. After Þorvaldseyri you take the first next turn to your left on to road 242. This is a quite bumpy gravel road so be careful! You will pass hotel Edinborg and drive until the road ends where there is a small parking lot. From here you will have to walk.!
So take on a decent pair of shoes (during the summer you might not need hiking boots) and start walking in to the valley. Follow the path and the river for about 20 minutes. Be careful, there is a lot of rocks and especially when you come to a small river to cross, it might be a bit slippery. The river shouldn’t cause much problems as there is plenty of rocks to step on to get over without getting wet.
Once you get there I’m sure, like me you will be amazed by the location of the swimming pool and how it’s beautifully carved in to the mountain side. There are three changing rooms and it all seems like it’s unisex, no marks on the doors. But hey, you’re in the middle of nowhere so what does it matter?
If you haven’t already I hope you all get a chance to visit Iceland and Seljavallalaug. It’s truly an amazing place and a hidden gem in the Icelandic landscape.