Fortunately for a country with mild summers and cold winters, Iceland contains easily accessible hot water in abundance. You never have to worry about your shower unexpectedly turning cold, with the constant geothermal activity taking place directly underneath your feet. Additionally, wherever you are in the island, you are never far from one of the many natural hot springs in Iceland.
The locals have capitalized on this abundance and created several geothermal spas around the country. These spas take the naturally occurring hot spring water and combine it with luxury and immersion in nature, giving you the ultimate Iceland experience. Many feel that a visit to Iceland is not complete with a visit to the Blue Lagoon, the most famous Icelandic geothermal spa of them all.
Where is the Blue Lagoon in Iceland?
The Blue Lagoon is located in a lava field, in the Reykjanes Peninsula in the south-west of Iceland, and south-west of the capital, Reykjavík. This popular destination is actually man-made, and the water in the Blue Lagoon is supplied by the nearby Svartsengi power station, a geothermal power plant which provides the heating system for the area. After the plant was opened and locals noticed that the runoff water which collected nearby alleviated certain skin conditions, the Blue Lagoon facility was established. The water gets its milky blue color from its high silica content, and it’s also full of natural algae. More on this later.
How to reach the Blue Lagoon?
Getting to the Blue Lagoon is such a straightforward journey, anyone can get there in more or less 45 minutes departing from the capital. Pick up your rental car in Reykjavik, jump on Route 40 heading south out of the city, then keep following it until it becomes Route 41. Follow that road until you see the turn-off for Route 43, then head down that to reach the Blue Lagoon.
The Lagoon itself also offers transport to its facilities, via the Destination Blue Lagoon coach which can pick you up from and drop you off to your hotel. Alternatively, you can book with an excursion company, as some of their day tours from Reykjavik include the Blue Lagoon in a package with other destinations, such as a Golden Circle tour.
What’s at the Blue Lagoon?
This geothermal spa is one of the most popular attractions in the country, It checks all the boxes to be on the Top 30 Things to do in Iceland! Many tourists who have visited Iceland claim it as their highlight, and it’s certainly an unforgettable part of an Iceland trip. It’s not everywhere that you can bathe in a geothermal pool.
The Lagoon is freshwater mixed with geothermal seawater, heated to extreme temperatures underground, reaching a comfortable 37–39 °C (99–102 °F) by the time it rises to the surface.
The Lagoon professes that the water’s healing, nourishing properties are due to the silica, algae, and minerals that are naturally found in it. Due to its popularity, the Lagoon has expanded over the years to include much more than just the standard bathing process. Let’s take a look at all that’s on offer.
The Blue Lagoon
This is the main pool on-site, and there are two options available for its use. There’s the Comfort package, which includes entrance to the Blue Lagoon, a silica mud mask, towel rental, and one drink of your choosing. The Premium package includes all of those plus the use of slippers and a bathrobe, a second face mask of your choosing, a table reservation at the Lava Restaurant, and one glass of sparkling wine at the Lava Restaurant. Both packages also provide access to the on-site sauna and steam room.
Pre-booking is required for the Lagoon, and the price differs depending on what time of the day you book to arrive. The best time to visit is probably late evening when there is a chance you’ll see the northern lights from the Lagoon in the winter. Some who have visited the Blue Lagoon say that it is too crowded- that’s where the Retreat Spa comes in.
The Retreat Spa
This is a more exclusive, luxurious area within the facility, and so is consequently much more expensive. You’ll have four hours of access to both the Blue Lagoon and the Retreat Lagoon, a more private pool where you can float through lava cliff canyons. You’ll have access to a private changing room and some extra chambers where you can partake in the Blue Lagoon Ritual— a skincare routine consisting of silica, algae, and minerals.
The Lava Cove
Hidden within the Retreat Spa is an even more exclusive area, the Lava Cove. You’ll have your own Lagoon, kitchen, dining area, butler, and wood-burning fireplace in an Italian furnished sanctuary. They call this ‘a spa within a spa’ and it’s all for you. You can even add on a guided yoga session.
The Blue Lagoon has a host of culinary options. There is the Moss Restaurant and Lava Restaurant, accessible to all. The Spa Restaurant, inside the Retreat Spa, is only accessible for those who have paid to use that exclusive area. If you’re hungry but not in the mood for fine dining, there’s a café on-site with a more relaxed atmosphere. The café offers great views of the Blue Lagoon, so you can people watch while you eat.
The Hotel and Optional Extras
There are two on-site hotels, the Silica Hotel and the Retreat Hotel. If you enjoy your Lagoon experience so much that you don’t want to leave, consider a stay at one of these fine establishments, offering comfort, luxury, and sophistication in a serene area of Iceland. To enhance your spa experience further, consider booking an in-water massage. You have the choice between a 30, 60- or 120-minute treatment, and they take place in a private area of the Lagoon, reserved only for people who are receiving treatments.
The Blue Lagoon company has also developed a skincare range, based on the materials found in geothermal seawater such as that at the Lagoon. There are three branches: one at the Blue Lagoon, one in Reykjavík city center, on the main shopping street Laugavegur, and one at Keflavík Airport.
Other Geothermal Spas
Although it is by far the most famous, the Blue Lagoon is by no means the only geothermal spa in Iceland. The magical geothermal water that flows there flows everywhere in the country, so you have many options available to you as you travel around. There is the Secret Lagoon, the oldest swimming pool in Iceland, located within the Golden Circle. The Laugarvatn Fontana is also found in the Golden Circle.
The Myvatn Nature Baths, in the north of Iceland, are particularly well regarded. Also in north Iceland is GeoSea, offering spectacular views of the mountains and ocean. You could take a week's road trip around Iceland just visiting all the hot springs you can fit in, and you’d still miss some. Each one is different, as Iceland itself is incredibly diverse, so head out there and explore what the country has to offer. There's nothing better than enjoying the warmth of the water to fight the typical weather in Iceland: cold and windy.
Samuel Hogarth, Reykjavik Cars.