Laugarvatn Fontana Geothermal Baths is located in the center of the Golden Circle, making it an excellent tourist stop for those visiting Þingvellir National Park, Geysir, and Gullfoss. Like many locations in Iceland, Laugarvatn is a hot zone where boiling waters erupt into hot springs. Temperatures of the water typically vary between 40°C (104°F) and 50°C (122°F) depending on the geothermal activity and the weather. It’s only about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Reykjavik, and it hosts a diverse set of facilities that aim to heal and relax visiting guests.
Fontana opened in the summer of 2011 to take advantage of this natural phenomenon and offer a unique experience for visitors to the region. There are steam room cabins with grid floors where guests can hear and smell the naturally boiling hot water beneath their feet. Next door, there is a Finnish-style sauna, called Ylur, with a large window facing the lake that has a temperature that fluctuates between 80°C (176°F) and 90°C (194°F). There are also three mineral baths called Lauga, Sæla, and Viska that vary in depth and size for relaxing and some playing. Viska sits a little higher than the other two baths and has a wonderful panoramic view of the surroundings. If at any point you’re looking for a quick cool down, there is a dock out to Lake Laugarvatn, where you can take a dip in the refreshing Icelandic lake. Stone artworks made by Icelandic artist Erla Þórarinsdóttir contribute to the natural ambience.
There is a long tradition of the community using these mineral-rich waters for religious practice and restoration of the body and soul. According to legend, when Iceland converted to Christianity in the year 1000 AD, some chieftains did not want to be baptized in the ice-cold water of Lake Þingvellir (about 20 kilometers away) and instead chose these warm springs off of the lake. One of the fountains historically used is called Vigdalaug, located just 200 meters from the facility. In 1929, the locals built a small cabin over the stream for steam bathing.
The first settlers around Laugarvatn also used the geothermal energy for cooking, and Fontana still carries out this tradition. You can experience this first hand and try their geothermal baked bread! Each day their geothermal bakery is active at 11:30 hours and 14:30 hours as they dig out a pot of fresh rye bread from hot black sand. Guests are offered a taste of the bread with some delicious Icelandic butter. It’s a short walk from the reception and a truly unique experience!
Laugarvatn Fontana is open all year round, but the opening hours can change during holidays and special events. Check their website for more information before you visit.