One of the most popular activities to do while visiting Northeast Iceland is to spend some time in the Lake Mývatn area. The zone is considered part of the Diamond Circle route, and there are plenty of cool things to see and do. This area is considered part of the Krafla volcanic system. As such, it is populated by calderas like Askja and Viti, the Krafla lava fields, many different hot springs, and the bubbling mud pools and hissing fumaroles of Hverir geothermal area. Mývatn itself is a stunning, volcanic lake known for its piercing turquoise hue and shallow waters. A nature reserve surrounds the entire area, so outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers will enjoy hiking and exploring.
Getting to Lake Mývatn
Driving north along Iceland’s Ring Road, it takes around six to seven hours to arrive (when the weather cooperates). We recommend booking accommodation either in Húsavík or Lake Mývatn and staying for a few days. There’s a lot to see in the Diamond Circle, and you don’t want to miss any of it. Those visiting the lake will first want to stop at the northeast corner of its shores in order to pass by the small village of Reykjahlíð. From here, you can visit the tourist information center. You also find a gas station to fill up your car, a small supermarket, and a bank. Spend a day exploring Iceland’s fourth largest lake and its surrounding wetlands. When you’re ready, it’s time to head to the Lake Mývatn’s famous geothermal nature baths, also known by its original Icelandic name: Jarðböðin.
Mývatn Nature Baths (Jarðböðin)
One of the things that most surprises first-time visitors to Iceland is the prevalence of the country’s bathing culture. It’s a cold, Nordic island close to the Arctic Circle. So wouldn’t most people spend all of their time trying to stay as warm as possible? Going swimming is usually the last thing on someone’s mind and the dead of winter. But because of the abundance of geothermal activity and hot springs all around the island, it’s actually quite easy to take a dip any time of year. Not only that, but the tradition dates back centuries. As anyone who has visited the Blue Lagoon or the Mývatn Nature Baths can tell you, there’s nothing quite so lovely as sitting in a lagoon of geothermally-heated, element-rich, alkaline water. You feel your stress melting away as you watch the steam rise from the milky surface.
The Jarðböðin baths are open all year long, which means you can enjoy them regardless of when you decide to visit Iceland. If your dream is to soak in the waters while observing the Northern Lights, you’re in luck. They close at 10 p.m. from October to April, so if the skies are clear and conditions are favorable, you’ll have a pretty cool experience to write home about. They also stay open until midnight during the summer, so take advantage of the Midnight Sun and go bathe.
The Lagoon at the Mývatn Nature Baths
Like the Blue Lagoon close to Reykjavik, the Mývatn Nature Baths are also man-made. As is customary with Icelandic bathing etiquette, you’re expected to take a shower and thoroughly clean your body before entering the lagoon. In order to maintain the delicate balance of naturally occurring elements such as silica, sulfur, and microorganisms, they do not add chlorine to the water. They do, however, constantly replenish the water to cleanse and purify it.
Prices to Access the Nature Baths
The entrance fees to the Mývatn Nature Baths are as follows:
- Adult ticket
- July 2nd to September 30th: 5000 ISK ($43 USD or 38€)
- October 1st to December 31st: 4200 ISK ($36 USD or 32€)
- Teenagers, 13-15 years of age
- May 1st to September 30th: 2000 ISK ($17 USD or 15€)
- October 1st to December 31st: 1600 ISK ($14 USD or 12€)
- Handicapped, Senior citizens, Students
- May 1st to September 30th: 3000 ISK ($26 USD or 23€)
- October 1st to December 31st: 2700 ISK ($23 USD or 20€)
Children 12 and under get in free when accompanied by their parents.
If you didn’t come prepared for a day of swimming, you can also rent the necessary items at the facilities.
- Towel: 850 ISK ($8 USD or 7€)
- Swimsuit: 850 ISK ($8 USD or 7€)
- Bathrobe: 1800 ISK ($16 USD or 14€)
Other Activities In and Around The Jarðböðin Nature Baths at Lake Mývatn
The baths aren’t all there is to enjoy during your visit. The entire Lake Mývatn zone Is known for the abundance of nature and rich collection of flora and fauna. Ornithologists are especially drawn to the area due to the large amount of birdlife and the wide variety of species found here.
The steam baths are housed directly above a geothermal area. There are holes in the floor which allow the heated water to pass straight through. Temperatures can feel close to boiling, so be sure you take breaks and don’t stay in too long. It’s also extremely important to hydrate.
Be sure to stop by the Kvika restaurant while you’re here. This modern dining experience is open for both lunch and dinner. If the weather’s nice, you can sit outside on their terrace and relax enjoying a delicious meal of soup and salad or have something to drink.
Other Stops on the Diamond Circle Route:
Lake Mývatn and Jarðböðin Nature Baths
Dimmuborgir Lava Formations
Hverir Geothermal Area
Krafla Volcanic Fields and Viti Crater
The Tjörnes Peninsula
The Diamond Circle: Lake Mývatn and Jarðböðin Nature Baths
Hopefully, you’ve decided to spend a few days in Northeast Iceland. Lake Mývatn and its surrounding areas hold something special for everyone. Come relax and take your time exploring this hidden gem in northeast Iceland.