The Blue Lagoon in Iceland is a modern wonder of the world tucked away in a jet-black lava field. The geothermally heated waters of this famous spa are renowned for their skin healing properties. Wispy plumes of steam rise off its milky-blue waters as mountains tower on the horizon, giving it a supernatural feeling. If you visit in winter, you might be able to enjoy the flickering colors of the Northern Lights above you as you replenish your body and soul.
The Blue Lagoon is a manmade geothermally heated spa, which is located on the Reykjanes Peninsula – around 50 minutes from Reykjavik. It was founded in 1981 and quickly became one of Iceland's most popular tourist attraction. The lagoon’s milky waters are rich in minerals and help soothe skin conditions. Set in the heart of an 800-year-old lava field – it's a starkly beautiful place that was named one of the 25 modern wonders of the world by National Geographic. No visit to Iceland would be complete without a trip to the Blue Lagoon!
The Blue Lagoon began as a pool of wastewater from the Svartsengi geothermal plant in 1976. Few Icelanders, if any, had any desire to bathe in it, as the idea of bathing in wastewater from any kind of power plant was considered crazy.
This all changed in 1981 when an employee of the plant called Valur Margeirsson asked for permission to bathe in the pool. He had a skin condition, known as psoriasis which prevented him from bathing in Iceland's famous hot springs with others. Initially, he was met with resistance, and it seems very unlikely that he would have been allowed to do it today, but he kept asking his bosses and was eventually given permission to bathe in the pool.
Remarkably, bathing in the lagoon didn’t do him any harm and he quickly noticed that his skin condition miraculously improved after the swim. News of the lagoon’s healing powers quickly spread, leading the Icelandic authorities to open public bathing facilities aimed at people with skin conditions in 1987.
The Lagoon’s popularity skyrocketed in the next few years, with thousands of Icelanders flocking to it each year. Its stylishness meant that the facilities were constantly upgraded, transforming it from the original wastewater pool into the world-class spa facility that everyone knows and loves today.
The short answer is no – the long answer is sort of. The Blue Lagoon is created by runoff from the nearby Svartsengi Geothermal Plant. Although that might sound a bit unpleasant, rest assured, it most definitely isn’t!
Svartsengi creates energy by pumping water deep into the ground, which is then geothermally heated and used to turn on turbines that create electricity. Once it has created totally eco-friendly energy, the water is then pumped into the Blue Lagoon.
The Geothermal Plant is located in the center of a lava field, giving it easy access to the subterranean geothermal lava flows needed to create power. The porous lava rock acts like a filter, removing impurities from the water and filling it with minerals such as silica and sulfur.
There is no definite, scientifically proven explanation as to why the water in the Blue Lagoon is good for your skin. However, there’s a massive amount of evidence that suggests it.
The Blue Lagoon’s potential curative properties were first noticed by a few Icelandic visitors with psoriasis. It was then used as a dedicated healing facility for people with the same condition and was so successful that doctors in Iceland regularly prescribe it. So, although the skin healing properties of the lagoon are not 100% certain, the overwhelming evidence seems to point to the benefits.
People theorize that its waters are good for our skin, because of the dissolved minerals in the water, the blue-green algae that live in the water and a type of bacteria that has only been found in the lagoon.
Yes, the waters in the Blue Lagoon are refreshed every 48-hours and every visitor is required to shower naked (in a private stall) before entering.
The Blue Lagoon is Iceland’s most popular tourist attraction – meaning that it’s busy throughout the year. It’s busiest between May and September, with numbers peaking in July and August. It’s much quieter in winter, with December and January tending to be much less busy. The Blue Lagoon is generally more packed in the morning, between 10:00 and 2:00 p.m. (14:00). By 3-4 p.m. (15:00-16:00) the crowds have usually cleared out. The lagoon stays open until 10 p.m. (22:00) in winter and 11 p.m. (23:00) in summer, leaving plenty of time for a peaceful soak.
Yes, the water in the Blue Lagoon is geothermally heated to a temperature of 100°F (38°C), and you can soak there in all weather conditions. If you’re lucky then the Northern Lights might illuminate the sky at night – making for a truly special experience.
Children must be over the age of 2 to enter the Blue Lagoon. While children between 2-8 are required to wear armbands or flotation devices. Children 13 and younger can enter free of charge, while teenagers can enter for a reduced fee. The maximum depth of the Blue Lagoon is 5.2ft (1.6m), meaning that children who can swim should be fairly comfortable there.
The Blue Lagoon is located in the southwest of Iceland, within the UNESCO Reykjanes Peninsula. It’s approximately12 miles (20km) from Keflavik International Airport and around 30 miles (50km) from Reykjavik.
The Blue Lagoon can be reached via the road that connects Keflavík International Airport with Reykjavik. Simply take Highway 41 until you reach Highway 43 and then follow the clearly marked signs to the Blue Lagoon. Parking is free at the lagoon. The journey from Reykjavik takes around 50-minutes, while the journey from Keflavik takes around 15-minutes.
Regular bus services run from both Reykjavik and Keflavik International Airport to the lagoon. The buses run hourly from each destination, allowing you to reach the Blue Lagoon with comfort and ease.
The Blue Lagoon hosts three high-quality restaurants, where visitors can enjoy a relaxing drink or eat some of the finest Icelandic cuisine.
Moss Restaurant – A trailblazing new fine-dining restaurant that offers stunning views over the Blue Lagoon. It was recommended in the 2019 Michelin Guide and offers a revolutionary take on Icelandic cuisine.
Lava Restaurant – A gourmet restaurant, perched on the western shore of the lagoon – it uses fresh local ingredients to produce modern takes on traditional Icelandic cuisine.
Spa Restaurant – A relaxed café-style restaurant serving delicious Icelandic cuisine in front of a sensational backdrop.
Where to stay in the Blue Lagoon?
The Blue Lagoon hosts two high-end hotels that offer luxury and comfort for guests who want the total Blue Lagoon experience.
The Retreat Hotel – A luxurious hotel that is located in the heart of the Blue Lagoon. It has its own private geothermal spa, among many other incredible amenities too numerous to list here.
The Silica Hotel – A chilled-out hotel that features stunning views of the Blue Lagoon, it offers good value for people who want to stay next to one of the modern wonders of the world.