Laugarvatn, Iceland

Laugarvatn is a small scenic town in the south of Iceland, west of Þingvellir. It is situated within the popular tourist trail – the Golden Circle – and has a population of around 200 people. Laugarvatn shares its name with a lake – Laugarvatn lake – with the town lying mostly along the lake’s west side and, for those who like the water, there is another slightly larger lake nearby called Apavatn.

The area of Laugarvatn is a popular summer holiday spot for Icelanders and foreign tourists. It is a great base for anyone touring the Golden Circle. The town is renowned since medieval times for the hot spring Vígðalaug. There is also a geothermal spring beneath the lake’s surface, which makes it a popular swimming place, not least because there are some warm spots along the length of the shore all year round. The town has a small hostel and two large schools, which double as hotels during the summer. Visitors can also rent a boat to take out onto the lake or take the short hike up to Hringsjá, a viewing point located between the lake and the Laugarvatnsfjall Mountain. The surrounding landscape is decorated by an ever-growing forest, and there are streams and brooks dotted around everywhere. Other popular attractions nearby are the Geysir area, the Golden Waterfall, and Skalholt, an ancient bishopric. Essentially, those who like the outdoors are well catered for here because there are some excellent hiking options in the woods north of the lake, and there are some great camping sites in the area. Laugarvatn is also the site of early Christian baptisms.

The town of Laugarvatn began developing around the lake in 1928 when the first of several schools was built. Further growth resulted from the abundance of thermal activity, and a number of summer houses were constructed. A house was erected on top of one of the hot springs near the lake to create a steam bath.