Seljavallalaug: Iceland’s Hidden Swimming Pool

Dec 19, 2019 0 comments

Tucked in a narrow valley in South Iceland, a short hike away from the Ring Road that encircles the country, is an outdoor swimming—arguably, the most famous one in the country. It is nestled on the hillside, deep in the valley, surrounded by black volcanic sand and moss.

The Seljavallalaug pool was built in 1923 as a place where children could learn swimming. Iceland, despite being a country of fishermen with a deep connection to the sea, swimming was not widely practiced back then. Today, every child is taught it in school as a mandatory requirement.

Seljavallalaug

Image credit: Anna & Michal/Flickr

Seljavallalaug is one of the oldest swimming pool in Iceland. It was also the largest swimming pool until 1936.

Seljavallalaug is located next to a hot spring, the waters of which feeds the pool, although not as often as you would like. According to the website Guide to Iceland, throughout summer the pool is covered with a layer of algae, on the sides and the bottom that makes getting in and out a little bit slippery and risky. There are no lifeguards, or any kind of facilities near the pool, save for a changing room. The pool is basically unmanned.

Only once a year, a team of volunteers will scrub the pool and change the water completely.

Despite the utter lack of hygiene, Seljavallalaug is popular among tourists who go in for a quick deep.

Seljavallalaug

Image credit: Viktorishy/Shutterstock.com

Seljavallalaug

Image credit: Marjorie Anctil/Shutterstock.com

Seljavallalaug

Image credit: Malte H./Flickr

Seljavallalaug

Image credit: Johannes Martin/Flickr

Seljavallalaug

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Seljavallalaug

Image credit: subindie/Flickr

Seljavallalaug

Image credit: subindie/Flickr

Seljavallalaug

Image credit: subindie/Flickr

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