The Blue Lagoon in Iceland has grown to be the top tourist attraction of the country. Here’s why this attraction and other lagoons here are so enticing for travelers.
The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is a unique pool of mineral rich geothermal water centered right in the middle of a lava field. It’s striking milky turquoise waters make a stunning contrast with Iceland’s gorgeous wild wilderness. This special lagoon is 40 minutes outside of the capital, near Reykjavik’s Keflavik airport.
The Birth of the Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon didn’t exist until a few decades ago. The concept started in the 1970s when the the Svartsengi geothermal plant, which generates heat, was built. The plant’s superheated water vents down from the ground near a lava flow. Note that Iceland is a volcanic land. The lava flow runs turbines that generate electricity. After that, the steam and hot water passes through a heat exchanger to provide heat for a public hot water heating system. What’s left is pumped into what we know today as the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.
This manmade lagoon is a product of a modern geothermal plant. So, how did folks start bathing in the waters? There were rumors circulating about how special the waters were for one’s health so locals started to sneak into the lagoon on their own to test them out. By the 1980s, a modest public bathing facility opened to meet some of the demand. Its fame grew from there.
The Blue Lagoon in Iceland Today
In the 1990s, the Blue Lagoon’s massive spa complex was built to meet the growing boom in international tourists looking to experience the special hot waters. Today the Blue Lagoon is 8,700 square meters (94,000 sq ft). It is filled and renewed every two days with nine million liters of 37 to 39°C hot geothermal seawater. The Blue Lagoon has earned the title as one of Iceland’s most famous landmarks.
The Blue Lagoon in Iceland: Good for Your Health
The Blue Lagoon’s warm and murky yet bright waters are the perfect temperature for a soothing hot dip. Iceland has a strict code of hygiene. Before entering, bathers are instructed to take a shower. Once in the water, many bathers hope to experience the health benefits. The lagoon’s geothermal water is known for its positive effects on the skin, for example. People suffering from skin diseases such as psoriasis visit the lagoon for treatment.
The water’s milky white hue derives from a white silica-mud that layers the lagoon floor. In fact, an essential part of the spa experience is dipping your hands in pails of the white mud provided at the lagoon and to rub the mud on your skin. This kind of spa treatment is said to offer the energy of the geothermal seawater and its active ingredients: minerals, silica and algae. The warm waters themselves are rich in minerals like silica and sulfur.
At the spa complex, guests have access to a sauna with a fantastic view. There’s also a steam bath carved into a lava cave. A little waterfall is perfect for an energizing massage.
The lagoon is very large. There are little pools everywhere, covered bridges, a waterfall and a floating bar.
Tips for Visiting the Blue Lagoon in Iceland:
- It is a very popular tourist attraction, so you should book tickets in advance. There are timed tickets but still be prepared for long lines.
- The base price varies on the time of year you are visiting.
- The minerals are great for your skin but if you are worried about what it can do to your hair it is recommended to wear a shower cap.
- There are Blue Lagoon shops in Reykjavik where you can purchase the skincare products.
Other Blue Lagoons in Iceland
While many travelers plan on visiting the Blue Lagoon, there are many other hot springs and pools in Iceland to consider too.
Another manmade phenomenon in Iceland is the Myvatn Nature Baths. This 5,000-square-meter (54,000 sq ft.) lagoon is filled with 3.5 million liters of soothing hot water. The water temperature stands at 36-40 C. The bottom of the lagoon is made of sand and gravel. These baths opened in 2004 in a region where steam baths have been a tradition for centuries. Much smaller and more off the beaten path than the Blue Lagoon, the Myvatn Baths are another unique lagoon experience to have in Iceland.
In Landmannalaugar, hot pools are set between beautiful hills. Hikers that make it to the stunning blue Viti Crater Lake in Askja love bathing in the lagoon here. However, it is only accessible for a couple of weeks during the summer. Grjotagja is a stunning thermal pool that is inside of a scenic cave. Temperatures vary here according to seismic activity because the pool sits on tectonic plates.
Head to Reykjadallur, near Reykjavik, to enjoy hot springs in the middle of the mountains. There’s also a lovely waterfall nearby. Then there’s the Secret Lagoon which was made 1891 and is the oldest pool in Iceland. A modern swimming pool was built in nearby Fludir. There are many hot springs in the area including one that spouts water in the air every few minutes.
That sums up why the Blue Lagoon in Iceland is so popular and why the hot springs and pools of Iceland are a favorite tourist attraction. Have you ever soaked in geothermal waters during your vacation?