Everything You Need to Know About the Blue Lagoon

a couple under the bridge in the thermal blue lagoon, Iceland

Blue Lagoon

Situated atop a scintillating black lava plain, the milky-cerulean Blue Lagoon is arguably Iceland’s most globally renowned aquatic landmark and an otherworldly attraction that captivates travelers across continents. Despite the abundance of commercial attention it has drawn since its genesis in 1976, the lagoon has retained its unique, almost teal hue, its soothing, healthful properties, and its allure as a place of tranquility and earthly luxury. In other words, the Blue Lagoon continues to be a pure, ethereal place even with its years of visitors and travel market buzz. It’s not just a pretty sight – this attraction is actually good for you!

History of the Lagoon

Natural steam blocking with people walking and relaxing at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland
people are enjoying in a natural steam at the Blue Lagoon, Iceland

The lagoon’s waters are rich in vibrant, nutritious algae, mineral salts, and refined white silica mud, all of which are known to nourish and condition the skin. These properties also lend the lagoon its unique, unearthly colour – a cloudy, undulating blue-green. Developed about forty years ago, the Blue Lagoon is actually the happy consequence of geothermal power plant development. The silvery Svartsengi geothermal plant, which is quite a striking, rather futuristic sight on its own, began to feed into the lagoon’s formation in the late seventies-to-early-eighties. In the years that followed, people began experimenting. After taking a few relaxing dips in the superheated body of water, bathers noticed that they always emerged with baby-soft skin. This pleasant finding, of course, attracted the attention of Icelandic researchers, who were summarily intrigued by the waters’ potential for treating patients with skin conditions or abnormalities.

In the late eighties and early nineties, dermatologists, biologists, and bio-technologists delved into the lagoon’s healing effects in the heart of the Svartsengi Resource Park. During this time, the first bathing facilities situated on the Blue Lagoon were opened to the public, in addition to a special clinic for psoriasis patients. Amazingly, this unique source of geothermal seawater (70% seawater and 30% fresh water, to be exact) drastically improved psoriasis sufferers’ conditions – and continues to be a source of health and healing. Thanks to its curative powers and dramatic beauty, the Blue Lagoon is counted among the great wonders of the world according to National Geographic – and many of its visitors.

Iceland is known overall for harnessing its great quantity of highly unique natural resources for beneficial purposes while maintaining utmost respect for its own environment. The Blue Lagoon is no exception. The Reykjanes Peninsula upon which the lagoon is located boasts an impressive array of amenities for spa-goers who want to take a healthful dip in Iceland’s geothermal waters. There are centers for research and development, press journalism, and skin care all centered on the Blue Lagoon and its benefits. And, of course, there are multiple organized opportunities to tour the lagoon and its surrounding attractions. Iceland is dedicated to taking care of the region’s health and sustainability itself, in addition to the health and well-being of its bathers.

How Does It Work?

The Blue Lagoon is considered an integral part of Iceland’s “Ecocycle,” as described on the Blue Lagoon’s official website. In other words, the high-temperature geothermal body of water came to be as a result of the marriage between man-made science and Iceland’s natural, active volcanic topography. Thus, the Blue Lagoon is operated based on the philosophy that nature and science are meant to coincide for the benefit of Iceland’s inhabitants and visitors with as little environmental impact as possible. Therefore, the Blue Lagoon is powered in conjunction with Svartsengi Resource Park with 100% clean geothermal energy. And we do mean “clean” quite literally – the Blue Lagoon strictly enforces its hygiene rules. Guests are required to shower – with soap, not just a rinse – before entering the water out of respect for other bathers and the site itself.

It is well-known that Iceland is a fascinating place to visit in part because of its unique positioning on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates pull apart from one another at a slow but consistent rate. Due to perpetual, steady tectonic activity, Iceland is an island abundant with active and dormant volcanic systems, powerful, superheated hot springs, and boiling, spouting geysers. Though it is technically a happy man-made accident, the Blue Lagoon enjoys much of its power and unique qualities as a direct result of Iceland’s position straddled across the tectonic ridge. About 2,000 meters beneath Iceland’s surface, sea water, fresh water, and cooling magma merge together, rapidly toasting the resultant mixture and propelling that water back towards the island’s surface. This process results in Iceland’s hot springs – and partially powers the Blue Lagoon.

The Svartsengi power plant then drills deep wells into the Blue Lagoon’s surrounding reservoir, and the 240°C geothermal fluid then provides natural central heating on parts of the Reykjanes Peninsula. It also generates electricity for around 45,000 people! Obviously, the Blue Lagoon is an integral cornerstone in Iceland’s overall economy. It represents an example of resounding success for alternative energy sourcing, and serves as a pillar of Iceland’s status as the world’s leading clean-and-green-energy economy. It’s no small wonder the Blue Lagoon company is so dedicated to caring for this site and its products!

What Can You Do There?

People bathing in the Blue Lagoon geothermal bath resort, Iceland
People bathing in the Blue Lagoon geothermal bath resort, Power plant behind it!

Many who visit the Blue Lagoon come to take a dip, reap the healthful benefits of its milky waters and hydrating steam, and move along with their trip. However, you could really spend a whole day at the Blue Lagoon – in fact, you can even stay overnight! There is an onsite spa offering a variety of lagoon-themed amenities and treatments, as well as a restaurant, café, and bar, and a lagoon hotel and conference center.

Spa Amenities and In-Water Treatments

The Blue Lagoon’s spa amenities originated that exfoliating white silica mud mask that you’ve most likely seen bathers sporting in photographs. At the Blue Lagoon’s spa, there is actually a Silica bar, where you can slather the white stuff on as much as you’d like. If you forget to grab a handful, don’t despair, for there is typically staff wading through the steamy waters with trays full of fresh silica mud. You can also request in-water treatment; you have the option of either a simple, relaxing massage or a complete two-hour massage package including a scrub and wrap. Before or after you take your dip in the lagoon, you can relax in one of the saunas/steam rooms that no spa is complete without. As expected, the Blue Lagoon takes the sauna up a notch, however – these facilities are actually carved into the surrounding lava rock in order to take full advantage of the region’s rugged landscape.

The staff at the Blue Lagoon will likely recommend that you take regular breaks from the 40° C geothermal waters in order to stay alert and hydrated. Fortunately, the Blue Lagoon has bathers covered – its relaxation chambers come complete with luxurious reclining chairs, fluffy robes, and gentle music to decompress to.

Separate from the relaxation chambers is the Blue Lagoon’s exclusive lounge, a one-or-two-person luxury rental, which includes, of course, privacy, complementary towels, robes, and comfy slippers, a la carte options from LAVA Restaurant’s light menu, eight complementary skin care products, and a dedicated, personal staff attendant. General admission to the Exclusive Lounge offers three hours to enjoy in these luxurious amenities, with extra hours available upon individual request.

Event and Conference Centers and Dining Options

People often rightly associate the Blue Lagoon with its relaxing spa amenities and in-water luxury services… but their facilities also boast a long history of event-hosting and planning. The event and conference center reflects the rocky, magma-laden landscape of the island’s countryside in a unique, characteristically Icelandic design. The rugged walls and rustic colouring in juxtaposition with elegant, modern furniture have popularized the Blue Lagoon’s event venues – now, people hold concerts, weddings, parties, receptions, and many more right by the lagoon!

During lunchtime or in the evening, you can enjoy contemporary dishes made with traditional Icelandic ingredients at the Blue Lagoon’s LAVA Restaurant, which is open daily, all year round. LAVA, which is aptly-named given its positioning as essentially part of a robust lava cliff, has an outstanding team of chefs and a varied four-course menu (a la carte, main course, dessert, and children’s option). LAVA is also known for its stylish wine options. The restaurant’s impressive breadth of red and white options come from Spain, France, the United States, Chile, Italy, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. A variety of lagoon-themed cocktails are also available, with rather appropriate, charming titles such as “Into the Blue,” “LAVA Explosion,” and “Silica Dream” (other classic cocktails are also available upon request).

You can also enjoy the café during your breaks from bathing. Blue Café offers a series of fruity, delicious smoothies and light meals made from scratch every morning. You can even get daily-made sushi!

Silica Hotel

The Silica Hotel is situated just ten minutes (on foot) from the Blue Lagoon, and is known for exuding an aura of therapeutic calm similar to the lagoon itself. In fact, the hotel actually offers its own private bathing lagoon. Its thirty-five residential rooms contain private verandas exhibiting extraordinary views of the surrounding lava fields. You can also enjoy a complimentary breakfast, access to gym facilities, free Wi-Fi, and premium admission to the Blue Lagoon during your stay.

The Guided Tour

Iceland certainly does not suffer a dearth of guided tour options, and the Blue Lagoon is no exception. The classic Blue Lagoon tour takes place over a period of forty minutes, and guides visitors through the lagoon’s indoor and outdoor amenities. If you’d like to see the lagoon but aren’t too keen on bathing in it for whatever reason, the tour has options for visitors like you as well. On tour, you’ll hear about the Blue Lagoon’s incredible story, starting from the volcanic eruption that crafted the lagoon’s surrounding landscape around 800 years previous. Included in the walking tour are delicious Icelandic canapés from LAVA Restaurant, a famous thematic cocktail from LAVA’s bar, and a quick, relevant science lesson in the Blue Lagoon’s exciting laboratories. You’ll also walk away with a surprise gift…but we won’t spoil it for you.

Skin Care Products

Did you know that the Blue Lagoon has its own line of skin care products based on the therapeutic properties of its geothermal waters? You can browse skin care products in the Blue Lagoon’s associated shops, but you can also preview these items online and even order them if you’re feeling eager to sample them.

Their best-sellers include the silica body scrub, algae and silica mud masks, mineral moisturizing cream, and lava scrub. Also note that not a single product is tested on animals, adding to the Blue Lagoon’s reputation for green, ethical functioning. These items all result from twenty years of skin care research and development onsite at the Blue Lagoon, and they are appropriate to use on all skin types. However, bear in mind as you browse that some products are exclusively designed to treat psoriasis.

What You Need to Know Before You Start Soaking

A man and woman float in Blue Lagoon spa resort in Iceland
A man and woman float in Blue Lagoon spa resort in Iceland

1. Book ahead. Pre-booking is required, so don’t forget to make your reservations! Booking is very easy and can be done online at the Blue Lagoon’s website. You can peruse their four reservation packages and pay online for your experience on Blue Lagoon website.

2. Know what’s in the water. Hopefully you didn’t skip that part! There’s nothing to be afraid of in the Blue Lagoon’s waters – it’s been well-established at this point that the benefits far outweigh the con of temporary mineral buildup in your hair. However, everyone’s skin is different, and it is generally wise to pre-evaluate how you might be affected by unfamiliar minerals and long periods of consistent heat. Just as a reminder, the geothermal spa is fueled by seawater originating approximately 2,000 meters below Earth’s surface, where it manifests at a searing 240° C and slowly cools as it rises to a balmy 40° C. Natural silica, algae, and other minerals are elevated from the lava bed as the water rises, giving the lagoon its unique teal hue and medicinal capabilities.

3. Go early to avoid crowds. Admittedly, the Blue Lagoon’s ethereality can be somewhat diminished when you’re bathing with hundreds of strangers. After around 12:00 PM, crowds start to get incrementally heavier. Fortunately, the lagoon opens at 8:00 AM, so set your alarm and get there in the morning for the ideal experience. At the same time, don’t fear the effect of crowding too much. Most – if not all – Blue Lagoon visitors state that they had truly magical experiences regardless of the all the hubbub.

4. Condition your hair. The Blue Lagoon provides complimentary conditioner in the pre-bathing shower area – which you must utilize as all bathers are required to be thoroughly clean before they take a dip. Take advantage of that product. The steamy, milky geothermal lagoon will affect your hair. And you can’t say they didn’t warn you! The Blue Lagoon’s website specifically denotes the importance of conscientious hair care before bathing, particularly for women. But don’t panic – the high levels of silica in the lagoon waters are not harmful to hair. The minerals simply cause buildup, which can be challenging to manage when wet and difficult to remove. As a result, your hair may feel a little crunchy and stiff after you bathe. Fortunately, there is a way to combat this even if you don’t elect to use a shower cap – simply apply conditioner before getting in the water, immediately wash your hair with clarifying shampoo after exiting, rinse, and condition again at night.

5. Don’t be afraid to use the mud mask. Take a dollop and apply it to your face, letting it sit until dry for about fifteen minutes. Your skin will feel delightfully smooth, plumped, and taut when you rinse the mask off – guaranteed.

6. Don’t be afraid of Icelandic weather. You are in Iceland – there will be weather extremes. But don’t be concerned about visiting the Blue Lagoon in adverse weather conditions. You can find online accounts of visitors who have bathed in the middle of hailstorms. Be cautious when you’re out of the water, but trust that the lagoon will keep you warm.

7. Disappearing legs. Be a little cautious about where you step as you wade through the waters. These waters are known for their unique colouring, which resembles vibrant cerulean fluid blended with fresh, milky cream. This means, however, that the lagoon is cloudy, so your visibility in the water will be very, very limited. It’s not particularly dangerous to misstep in what’s essentially hyper-healthy, toasty bathwater; but still, exercise some caution and don’t be alarmed when your can’t see your legs anymore.

8. You don’t actually have to know how to swim. Any time you’re submerged in water – even shallow water – of course it is safest to have some basic practical knowledge of swimming technique. However, the Blue Lagoon is shallow enough that you can walk your way through it. Furthermore, lifeguards are on duty at all times for any bathers who might run into some discomfort or difficulty. If you’re not confident in your swimming abilities, you can still enjoy the lagoon.

9. What about technology? It is not recommended that you bring an unprotected smartphone or camera out into the lagoon for more than a few minutes. That is unsafe for your equipment, and gives you something extra to worry about while you are trying to engage in relaxed bathing. Many bathers use GoPro cameras or employ waterproof cases for their camera-equipped phones should they choose to bring them in.

Fun Fact: The Blue Lagoon is a Movie Star

It is no small wonder that the Blue Lagoon has served as the setting for numerous international television and film projects. What is somewhat surprising is the tremendous breadth of genres and projects. For example, a few global reality shows have centered episodes at the Blue Lagoon for various reasons – Amazing Race stopped by the lagoon during the first leg of its sixth season, and Britain’s Next Top Model selected the ethereal landscape as a setting for one of its fifth cycle photo-shoots. Furthermore, the American horror film Hostel: Part II filmed all its spa scenes at the Blue Lagoon – this is a bit of a startling choice given the site’s rather peaceful atmosphere.

The Blue Lagoon’s Surrounding Territory

Beautiful Blue Lagoon in Iceland
A beautiful shot of Blue Lagoon, Iceland

The Blue Lagoon is located close to the village of Grindavík, a beautiful fishing hub on the south coast of the Reykjanes Peninsula. While the Blue Lagoon is undoubtedly the region’s most powerful attraction, Grindavík also serves as a pleasant additional surprise for tourists – particularly those who enjoy golfing. The

Grindavík Golf course is exceptionally picturesque and winds all the way through the village’s highly active harbour and into the rugged lava fields, making for an outstandingly beautiful and rather extreme golfing route. You can also ride horses through the village and trot through the mossy, craggy, varied Reykjanes Peninsula with local guides.

As you make your way out of Grindavík and the Blue Lagoon, you will be wonderfully overwhelmed with craters, lava formations, and imposing figures of Icelandic geologic heritage. You can meander through the windswept Reykjavegur Trail on the Grindavík-Blue Lagoon link road and witness the rising and falling formations crafted by perpetual lava flow in the region. There are also numerous lava caves on the Reykjanes Peninsula and opportunities to explore them are abundant. It is worth noting that Icelandic authorities are committed to preserving the often-delicate formations inside, so please explore conscientiously and respectfully. Journey just east of Grindavík and you will discover Krysuvík, a highly active plain of mud pools, piping steam vents, and cavernous craters. Unlike the similar but topographically unpredictable Gunnuhver field on the peninsula, Krysuvík is open to the public for exploration.

Perhaps most haunting are the remnants of Reykjanes’s coastal shipwrecks. The peninsula east of Grindavík still yields the remains of a great steel vessel that was actually split in half, evidence of the power of Iceland’s great shoreline. The best-known ship remains were once part of the Jamestown, a tremendous vessel that contained tonnes of timber for home construction, which ran aground in 1881. You can access a map of shipwreck sites and their dates if you are interested in learning more.

Visit BlueLagoon.com to Learn More

Visit the Blue Lagoon’s official website, for highly comprehensive information regarding your day – or overnight stay – at one of Iceland’s most visited attractions and an inarguable worldwide wonder. You’ll receive useful coordinates and road directions, tips for facility use, hygiene instructions, a handy site history lesson, unique skincare product options, a preview of LAVA Restaurant’s elegant wining and dining menus, and much, much more. Most of your lagoon-related inquiries will likely be answered on the site’s frequently-asked-questions pages, but if you have any further unaddressed concerns, contact information for Blue Lagoon staff is available as well.

Enjoy your dip in the lagoon, take your time, and take advantage of everything it has to offer. It might seem a bit intimidating that approximately 80% of Iceland’s half-million yearly visitors end up visiting the Blue Lagoon, but you can trust that about the same percentage or more will report that the trip there was entirely worth it.

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