Like many people, we found the photos of the Husafell Canyon Baths on the Internet and it immediately captivated our interest. Here, two idyllic hot springs pools sit at the bottom of a gorgeous canyon. A more perfect location could not be imagined.
On our most recent trip to Iceland, we headed to West Iceland to check out the Husafell hot springs for ourselves. The photos on the Internet look amazing and this is one of Iceland’s most expensive bathing options. But are the Husafell Canyon Baths really worth it? Read on to find out.
Contrary to some information you might read, the Husafell Canyon Baths are not natural hot springs. They were created by drill boreholes and were originally called the Giljaböð Canyon Baths. In this way, they are similar to most of the other hot springs pools and lagoons throughout the country, albeit much smaller.
When you visit Husafell, you’ll see two small pools (about the size of a large hot tub). The lower one is hotter and has large rocks for reclining and soaking up the hot water. But the upper pool was inspired by the famous Snorralaug, one of the most famous Icelandic hot springs (which you can’t bath in, but you can see if you visit the nearby town of Reykholt).
It’s impossible to visit Husafell on your own. You can only visit the baths as part of a specific guided tour that leaves from the activity center at the Hotel Husafell. The two-hour tour includes an overview of the local area, a visit to the canyon baths, a brief hike to see a waterfall, and roundtrip transportation.
The two-hour tour will meet outside the Husafell Activity Center. From here, you will board a gray mini-bus to visit the canyon. The drive takes about 15 minutes each way, during which time your guide/driver will tell you stories of the region.
Once you reach the site, you’ll hike down 64 steps into the canyon. You’ll see several of the test bore holes used to find the hot water as you hike down to the pools. Straight in front of you, you’ll find the small, wooden changing facilities and bathroom. Crossing the bridge over the small creek, you’ll find the two hot springs pools.
After your soak in the geothermal water, you’ll hike back up the 64 steps and drop any excess gear at the mini-bus, before hiking about 250 yards to a viewing platform located in an adjacent canyon.
In front of you, you’ll see the Langifoss waterfall. It has two-tiers – a large drop and then a shorter tumble down below. Depending on water volume, you might be lucky to see the water swirling at the base of the falls.
After enjoying one of Iceland’s waterfalls, you’ll return to the bus and the trip back to the Husafell activity center.
Along the drive, you’ll hear about the owners of Husafell and their parents, who were early pioneers in tourism (long before the tourism boom). They stopped raising sheep, built a swimming pool and campground, and eventually summer cabins on the land. And the rest is history.
The facilities at the canyon baths are limited. On your hike out, you’ll pass through a locked gate with multiple security cameras and descend 64 steps to the canyon floor.
At the springs themselves, you’ll find changing rooms segregated by gender located inside a rustic, wooden building. Inside, there are wooden benches and wooden pegs on the wall to hang your clothes and possessions. Each changing room can comfortably accommodate about 5 people. If your tour is full, you’ll need to stagger people inside otherwise it is too crowded.
There is an outdoor hot shower for bathing before going into the pools or rinsing off after. It is unisex and shared. Finally, there’s a single toilet that is shared between the genders and is located at the end of the building.
The facilities are rustic, which is part of the appeal of the canyon baths.
Since opening in 2019, the Husafell Canyon Baths have become a wildly popular attraction in the west of Iceland. Much of that has come from the amazing photos of the pools on the canyon floor. As well as the scarcity of the admission: only 20 people are allowed at a time, and only 4 timeslots a day during peak season. That means just 80 people a day can experience this.
The reality of Husafell may be one of disappointment. It was for us and it all has to do with how the tours are organized.
The mandatory mini-bus ride is 15 minutes each way. It’s another 15-minute walk down to the springs and another 15 minutes back up. Now, you add another 20-25-minute walk over to look at the waterfall. That leaves a total of 35-40 minutes to change clothes, dip in the springs, and then change back. It’s not a lot of time. And that’s why this is sold as a TOUR, not hot springs admission.
For us, the problem was further compounded by the fact that the tour was completely full and two hotel guests were running 10 minutes late…so they held the entire group to wait for them. Instead of 40 minutes at the hot springs, we got less than 30 minutes. We expected more from our visit. Given that this is one of Iceland’s most expensive hot springs, 25-30 minutes isn’t much of a visit.
There’s a lot of marketing hype about these pools. You’ll see it described as a “hidden gem” and “natural hot springs.” It really isn’t. It’s a lovely hot springs, but only accessible via a very over-priced tour and you get limited time in this idyllic setting. If your objective is a quick dip on a slightly rushed tour with enough time to take a selfie photo for social media, it should be fine. If you are packing it into a day with a bunch of other things, you might not mind being rushed along.
But if you are looking for a quality experience on your Icelandic vacation, you’ll likely be disappointed. Given the number of truly excellent hot springs in Iceland, this is not worth it.
The admission fee is essentially the cost of the guided tour. For the fee, you get the round-trip bus ride, a brief dip in the springs (around 30 minutes if things go according to plan), and use of a towel.
As previously mentioned, the Husafell Baths are one of the most expensive hot springs in the country. The 30-minute dip will cost you about $80 (9900 ISK). For comparison, that’s nearly double the price of an unlimited timed visit to the Krauma Spa or Hvammsvik Sea Baths (weekday price), which are both nearby.
You can book directly on the Husafell website. Or you can book via a third-party provider. I’ve noticed that the prices are a little lower on GetYourGuide and Viator than booking directly from the Husafell website (perhaps a function of exchange rates, but worth checking).
Your two-hour guided tour will begin and end at the Husafell Activity Center, located on the property of the Husafell Hotel. The address is 320 Husafell and the GPS coordinates are: 64.699288, -20.868410. The mandatory mini-bus ride will depart from the area near the gas pump.
Husafell is 82 miles/132 km from downtown Reykjavik and the drive should take a over 2 hours for the drive. (Reminder: there are numerous speed cameras along the drive, particularly in the tunnel!). We’d allow about 2 1/2 hours just to make sure we made it in time (stops at the tunnel are not unheard of).
You will need to pre-book your experience in advance. We booked a few weeks before our visit and there were still openings at nearly all time slots, however as the date approached, nearly all slots were booked.
The tours are offered at 10:00am, 1:00pm, 3:00pm, and 5:00pm. The 1:00pm timeslot has a slight advantage in that there’s a 1-hour break immediately before, so there’s less risk of them running late and short-changing you on your limited time.
If you don’t have a rental car and are staying in Reykjavik, you can visit the canyon baths as a part of the Silver Circle Tour. It’s a pricey 10-hour jaunt from Reykjavik that lets you explore West Iceland and includes a very brief dip in the springs.
Tips for Visiting
Food. The Húsafell Bistro, located at the Hótel Húsafell, and the launching point for the tour is one of the few restaurants in the valley. They have an excellent lunch buffet with salad, pizza, Icelandic lamb soup and other delights. It’s a good stop before or after your canyon bath tour.
Swimsuit. Given that you are allowed very little time at the pools themselves, come dressed in your swimsuit. Being prepared will allow you to squeak another precious minute out of your limited visit time.
Water shoes. There are submerged rocks in the pools and uneven ground. Water shoes are very helpful! But remember, you’ll want to wear hiking boots up and down the steps.
Timing. Try to visit during the week. The weekends tend to have more people on day trips from Reykjavik. But remember, you absolutely must have a reservation for one of the timed tours.
Lance Longwell is a travel writer and photographer who has published Travel Addicts since 2008, making it one of the oldest travel blogs. He is a life-long traveler, having visited all 50 of the United States by the time he graduated high school. Lance has continued his adventures by visiting 70 countries on 5 continents – all in search of the world’s perfect sausage. He’s a passionate foodie and enjoys hot springs and cultural oddities. When he’s not traveling (or writing about travel), you’ll find him photographing his hometown of Philadelphia.