One of the coolest aspects of Iceland is the insane amount of volcanic activity happening on the island. It is often called the land of fire and ice due to the more than 30 active volcanoes as well as the many glaciers dotting the landscape.
As one of the most active volcanic regions in the world, it is not surprising that it also has a great deal of geothermal activity. From geysers to hot springs and boiling sand pits; Iceland has so much happening under the ground! This hydrothermal activity is one of the ways that help make Iceland habitable. They have been able to harness this amazing power of the earth by generating 30% of its electricity from geothermal water.
The popular tourist circuit, the Golden Circle is largely centered around the different geothermal and hydrothermal properties that Iceland is known for. In this region, visitors can see a geyser erupt, soak in hot springs as well as see the awe-inspiring and powerful Gulfoss waterfall.
An additional sight on the Golden Circle worth stopping at is Laugarvatn, which is a town that lies on a hot spot, aka an active geothermal area. In the village and on the lake, boiling water erupts into several hot springs. The hot springs have been used for cooking, bathing and house heating since 1929. Even today, the entire town gets all of its electricity from the hot springs.
There are a multitude of amazing things to do in Iceland with kids, but every itinerary should include a visit to Laugarvatn. This unique stop on the Golden Circle allows visitors the chance to soak in beautiful thermal hot springs as well as see and taste Icelandic rye bread baked in the ground in hot boiling”lava” sand.
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Icelandic Rye Bread – Geothermal Baking
Fontana Laugarvatn is a fun family friendly stop for the entire family for many reasons, one of which is the ability to see traditional Icelandic rye bread baked in bubbling hot sand on the edge of a lake. There aren’t many places that you can experience this in the world!
The Geothermal Bakery tour is not a long tour at all, but it is a wonderful learning opportunity and unique experience everyone will remember.
The short tour begins at the Fontana cafe at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. daily. A short walk down to the “bakery” aka the sandy shores of the lake is followed by a quick introduction about the process of the bread baking.
The tour guide will let the guests see the entire process, how it’s wrapped and cooked, which is quite interesting when you really think about it!
It’s relatively sweet, so most kids will enjoy it. Yum!
Recipe for Icelandic Rye Bread
If you happen to have a hot spring in your backyard and are interested in trying your own Icelandic rye bread at home, the recipe that was used at Fontana is provided below. I have no idea how this would work in an oven, but it might be fun to try to figure it out!
5 cups rye
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 liter milk
Put the mixture in a bowl and mix together.
Grease a pot with butter so the bread won’t stick to the sides.
Put the dough in the pot and wrap the pot so the hot spring water will not leak in (skip if you are trying this in your oven!)
Dig a hole in the boiling sand and leave the pot overnight.
Geothermal Hot Springs at Fontana
The springs have man made pools of varying temperatures and depths making it perfect for everyone. Families with small kids will enjoy the very shallow section that even includes a basket of toys and floaties!
In addition to the shallow family friendly pool, there are 2 deeper hotter pools as well as a warm deep pool for cooling down in. For the brave, you can also pop down into the frigid lake water to dig your feet in boiling hot sand. I was not brave enough for that, so if you do it, let me know how it feels.
In addition to the springs there are also several saunas that are heated by boiling waters bubbling beneath them. If this isn’t your thing, there is one traditional Finnish dry sauna to experience.
If you have worked off your bread tasting by sweating in the hot springs, you are probably ready for some food. The Fontana Cafe offers simple, fresh soups and salad options that are perfect for the whole family – including picky eaters! Considering the prices in Iceland the Fontana Cafe is quite reasonable at approximately $25 for all you can eat soup and salad. There is also free WiFi which is always a bonus while on the road.
On your next visit to Iceland, you must make time to check out lava baked Icelandic rye bread if you are nearby on the Golden Circle.
Have you been? Have you tried Icelandic rye bread? Let us know what you think!
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