DAY SEVEN: The most secluded hot pool in all of Iceland.
Reaching halfway through our Icelandic adventure, we decided to actually set aside some time to explore Akureryi properly, with two main attractions drawing us in. Cue, the Botanic Gardens and the super unique Christmas shop.
After eating a quick breakfast at the campsite and recharging out batteries, we headed to the Akureryri Christmas Shop. Yep, I know what you’re thinking. It’s only September, and there’s a Christmas shop?! This beauty runs all year round, and is truly a magical place.
Only a 10 minute drive from the centre of Akureyri lies Jolagurdurinn, or Christmas Garden as most tourists call it. It’s almost impossible to miss as the fire-engine red house stands out as a fairtytale location from the road. When you enter, the fire is crackling, Icelandic Christmas tunes are cranking and you’re instantly hit with the luring scent of gingerbread and all things sweet and spicy.
The house itself is a two story house, and everywhere you look you’re instantly transported to your childhood Christmas. It’s decorated with Christmas ornaments from around the world, as well as traditional Icelandic adornments that are handmade. Most things are for sale, and we had a splendid time making our way through the magical house.
The Icelandic love their sweets, and the Christmas Garden was LOADED with them. Freshly baked cookies, lollies of every flavour and coloured candy canes were strewn across the counters, making them basically impossible to resist.
After we bought some decorations and sweets, we headed outside to the Fairytale Tower House, where the world’s largest advent calendar is kept. It’s super cute and each opening tells a different story about the Icelandic Christmas. Don’t miss this beauty, just follow the signs or ask for directions and you’ll be heavily rewarded for it.
When we had been at Jolagurdurinn for almost two hours (times flies when it’s Christmas!), we drove to our next location; the Akureyri Botanical Gardens. Free entry and loads of things to look at, these gardens really blew us away
They’re some of the most northern botanical gardens in the world, and are hugely popular with both locals and tourists alike. The sun was shining as we made our way through the beautiful gardens, and stopped almost every 5 seconds to take a photo of a big bumble bee or a particularly unique flower.
I have to say, if you love coffee like I do, then we had the BEST (real) coffee in the Akureyri Botanical Gardens café. It was absolutely divine, really creamy and perfect. I didn’t catch the baristas name, but she was super lovely and made the best coffee EVER.
Next on the list was to get to Saeburg to camp, which meant covering a lot of ground in the van. To break it up, I decided to look up if there were any amazing natural hot springs on the way to Saeburg. BINGO! There was a super unique one called Fosslaug that was apparently only 18 minutes away. All we had were the GPS coordinates, as the map didn’t recognise it and nor did anything else.
We excitedly drove towards the coordinates, which led us to a really random road that didn’t add up. We knew the bath was somewhere near a waterfall, but that looked to be on the other side of a river that was to our left. Turns out, we totally missed a turn and had to backtrack just to get on the right road.
I’ve noticed on the internet that there are no clear guides to Fosslaug Hot Springs, and to keep that mystery going I won’t give direct directions. However, please take the below photos as major hints on how to get there – if you follow these hints in order you WILL get there. Remember to go through all the gates and get ready to get warm!
The springs are 100% natural, so the water is muddy, there is seaweed on the floor and where the water is being pumped in is REALLY hot. It also means no entry fee, no need to worry what others are thinking about you and offers a chance to really connect with your surroundings.
When we arrived, there were around 6 people in the bath, and for miles around us there was no one else. We spoke with these lovely people for a solid hour about our travels, and it was really special. No one was looking down at their phone or trying to not connect; we were all there in that moment, revelling in the beauty of Mother Nature and enjoying life to the fullest.
I truly hope you do find these hot springs, because they were my favourite on the entire trip and well worth a visit. To find the coordinates, use the website hotpoticeland.com for some extra help.
After our divine natural bath, we drove to Saeburg Campground and were super surprised; our campground had it’s own private hot tubs! BOO YAH! We hopped in straight away, and once again enjoyed the serenity of total quietness. There’s something other-worldly about sitting in a super hot bath while the outside temperature is freezing cold.
The campground doesn’t have wifi (though the neighbouring hostel does), but it has showers, bathrooms, hot tub and a warm communal kitchen area. It was 1500ISK to camp here, and one of my favourite places we camped.
If you’re up for it, the next day was one of the most physically challenging we had on our entire trip. Think self-guided hike to a glacier that looks a LOT closer, and also visiting the world of witchcraft and sorcery. Click HERE to read all about it.