The Blue Lagoon: A Guide

blue lagoon Iceland

In the middle of rugged lava fields on the Reykjanes Peninsula, you will find the most famous geothermal spa in Iceland, maybe even the world. We are of course talking about the Blue Lagoon. With its mineral-rich waters and beneficial properties, the Blue Lagoon offers its visitors an opportunity to unwind and soak in the middle of Iceland´s beautiful and raw nature. In this guide we will provide you with all the information you might need to make the most of your visit to Iceland’s most iconic retreat. 

How to get there

The Blue Lagoon is very conveniently located as it is just 30 km [18 mi] from Keflavík international airport, and 50 km [31 mi] from Reykjavík city. The lagoon is easy to reach by car but there are also many options for guided tours and shuttle buses. As with many popular activities in Iceland, it is highly advisable to book your tickets or tours in advance, especially during peak season. 

Experiencing the Blue Lagoon

When booking a ticket to the Blue Lagoon, visitors are able to choose between a comfort ticket, premium or signature. With a standard comfort ticket of ISK 9,900 to the Blue Lagoon you will have access to the main lagoon and get a towel to use. Additionally you will be able to choose a complimentary drink at the lagoon´s in-water bar and make use of the silica mud mask at the mask-bar. When booking your ticket you can choose if you would like to add some extras like massages, float therapy or more. 

Upon arrival leave your worries at the door and immerse yourself in a world of relaxation and indulgence. Here are some highlights to enjoy:

Soaking in the Geothermal Waters
First and foremost, enjoy slipping into the milky blue waters of the lagoon and feel your cares float away as you soak in the soothing waters. The water in the Blue Lagoon is 70% ocean water and 30% freshwater, enriched with silica, algae, and minerals and therefore has therapeutic benefits and leaves your skin feeling soft and rejuvenated. The presence of silica in the water is also the reason for its distinctive blue color. This is due to the fact that the silica that permeates the water, only reflects blue and absorbs all other colors.

Exploring the Facilities
There is more to experience than just relaxing in the warm water. Other amenities include steam rooms, saunas and a relaxation area. Treat yourself to a selection of beneficial mud masks at the mask-bar in the lagoon and have a refreshing shoulder massage at the lagoon´s little but powerful waterfall. 

Indulging in Spa Treatments
When purchasing your ticket you are able to elevate your experience with a range of luxurious spa treatments designed to pamper your body and soul. From float therapy and massages to facials and body scrubs, the spa menu offers plenty of options for you to indulge in and make the absolute most of your relaxing experience at the lagoon. 


5 x Practical tips when visiting the Blue Lagoon

  1. Book everything in advance; tours, tickets, additional services and dinner reservations. This way you will secure your preferred options and avoid disappointment.

  2. You need to bring swimwear and a towel with you. Other things that might come in handy are slippers and maybe even a robe. You are able to rent towels and robes at the lagoon but bringing your own is always good.

  3. Do not go with your hair in the water of the Blue Lagoon. Due to the minerals your hair will most likely get very dry and it can be a hassle to clean it properly after. Protect your hair by applying conditioner at the shower before entering the lagoon and leave it in. It is also advisable for those with long hair to put it up to protect it.

  4. Remember to remove any jewelry before entering the lagoon as the minerals in the water might cause damage.

  5. It is obligatory to shower before entering the lagoon. The locker rooms are equipped with good showers and they have soap, shampoo and conditioner at the facilities. 

 

Despite being a natural beauty, the Blue Lagoon is partially man-made. The water is in fact wastewater from a nearby geothermal power plant and is therefore, contrary to popular belief, not a natural hot spring. Despite this, the water in the Blue Lagoon is perfectly safe. It is self-cleansing due to the continuous stream into the lagoon and even beneficial, as we have mentioned before, due to the natural minerals found in the water. 

Visiting the Blue Lagoon will be a rejuvenating experience that takes you from the hustle and bustle of life for a hot minute. Nourish your mind, body and soul while experiencing the healing embrace of Iceland’s geothermal oasis. 

 

Is the Blue Lagoon in Iceland open after the eruption?

The Blue Lagoon Iceland

Update: April 11. The Blue Lagoon closed its doors again on April 10 due to gas pollution in the area, but as of April 11, it is open.

Due to its close proximity to the eruption site, the Blue Lagoon had to evacuate its guests and temporarily close down all facilities. Even though the lagoon is open, please make sure to stay updated and check the website of the facility before planning your visit.

The Sundhnúkagígar eruption is the fourth eruption since December 2023 and is, at the time of writing, still active.

Land uplift close to the lagoon

After intense seismic activity in the early morning of February 8, a volcanic eruption began on the Reykjanes peninsula in the Sýlingarfell mountain area. Shortly after, the Blue Lagoon closed and evacuated all of its operational units. The spa is in Zone 1 of the hazard map for volcanic eruption by the Icelandic Met Office. Currently, land uplift continues to increase under Svartsengi. The area is in close proximity to the Blue Lagoon. Experts are predicting another eruption to occur within the next few weeks, similar to the last three months.

Please make sure to stay updated and check the website of the facility and local news outlets before planning your visit. The situation can change very fast.

Useful resources

Apart from news updates that we provide, below are some links you may find useful as you stay apprised of the situation or your visit to Iceland nears:

The Icelandic Met Office, which provides updates on earthquake and volcano activity.

The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration, which provides detailed updates on road conditions all over the country.

Safe Travel, which provides continuously updated information relevant to traveling to and within Iceland.

Isavia, which operates Keflavík International Airport.

How to visit the Blue Lagoon

If you are contemplating a visit to the Blue Lagoon, there are several way to do this. A premium admission pass with bus transfer (from Reykjavík or Keflavík airport) is a popular option. Alternatively, you could combine a trip to the Blue Lagoon with a Golden Circle tour or if you are doing a self-drive, you can book a basic admission ticket.

The Blue Lagoon is located about 20 kilometers (13 miles) from Keflavik International Airport and about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Reykjavik. Hence, you can reach the Blue Lagoon by car, taxi, or shuttle bus. Bear in mind that under normal circumstances this is a very popular destination, so booking in advance is recommended to secure a spot in the lagoon.

By booking travel services through Iceland Review, you are supporting independent coverage and curation of travel in Iceland. See more information on tours and trips to lagoons and hot springs in Iceland or visit our travel section for a comprehensive resource with practical information on travel in Iceland.

 

Blue Lagoon Reopens Despite Ongoing Eruption

blue lagoon Iceland

The popular tourist destination Blue Lagoon reopened at noon today after being temporarily closed since a volcanic eruption began in nearby Sundhnúkagígar on March 16.

The spa was evacuated when the eruption began and has been closed for three months in total during the span of volcanic activity in Sundhnúkagígar that started in November of last year. Concerns over gas pollution from the volcano were the main reason for closure this time around.

Coordination with police

Helga Árnadóttir, Blue Lagoon manager, told RÚV that staff and management were excited to begin operations again following this latest three week shutdown. “We’ve been in conversation with the Suðurnes police commissioner and gone over the situation, the shifts, measurements, risk assessments and other things,” she said. “And the result was that we agreed that it would be sensible to reopen today.”

Increased security

Helga said that operating hours would be adjusted according to gas pollution estimates and wind forecasts at each time. “It’s all to ensure that we’re not risking the safety of our guests and staff at any given time,” she said, adding that wind forecasts for the next few days were looking good. Gas meters have been set up along the area and safety personnel are on duty to help with response if evacuation is needed at any time.

Eruption Cycle Near Grindavík Could End Soon

gígur, crater, eruption, eldgos

The current volcanic eruption in Sundhnúkagígar could mark the end of a string of eruptions in the area near Grindavík, despite now being in its third week and still chugging along.

The eruption began on March 16 and activity remains in two craters in the area, with steady lava flow and no immediate signs of the eruption ending, according to an Mbl.is report. More of the activity is ongoing in the larger of the two craters. Some gas pollution could be detected in Grindavík and Hafnir today.

Magma flowing from deep

However, there are signs that this might be the final eruption in the cycle of volcanic activity which began at the end of last year. Þor­vald­ur Þórðar­son, professor of volcanology at the University of Iceland, told Mbl.is this weekend that activity in Sundhnúkagígar might be coming to a close.

The shallower magma chamber in the area, situated under Svartsengi near the tourist destination Blue Lagoon, which has been closed since the current eruption started, is no longer receiving magma from the eruption, Þorvaldur explains. Therefore, magma from the deeper magma chamber in the area is flowing to the surface. “This could chug on for the next few days,” he said Saturday. “We’re not talking about the eruption ending in the next few hours.”

Activity elsewhere still possible

“I believe that when this eruption stops the activity in Sundhnúkagígar will end,” Þorvaldur added. “That doesn’t mean, however, that there won’t be activity elsewhere. Since this is coming from the deeper magma chamber and crustal uplift has stopped, the process we’ve seen since November 10 is ending. In my estimation, this activity has been connected to magma flowing from the deeper chamber to the shallower one.”

Blue Lagoon Extends Closure Until April 1 Due to Ongoing Eruption

The Blue Lagoon Iceland

The Blue Lagoon has extended the closure of its facilities until April 1 due to volcanic pollution from the nearby eruption. A representative from the Blue Lagoon told RÚV yesterday that management would not reopen the facilities until it was completely safe for staff and visitors.

Monitoring pollution from the eruption closely

The Blue Lagoon was evacuated on March 16 when a volcanic eruption in Sundhnúkagígar commenced and has remained closed ever since. This morning, the Blue Lagoon, in consultation with the Icelandic Meteorological Office, decided to further extend its closure until April 1, primarily on account of volcanic pollution. The situation will be reassessed on April 1.

Helga Árnadóttir, Chief Sales, Operation & Service Officer at Blue Lagoon Iceland, told RÚV yesterday that volcanic pollution in the area was being closely monitored: “We anticipate that Grindavíkurvegur road will reopen in the coming days, but we are dealing pollution from the eruption, which we are managing by increasing measurements.”

At the request of the Blue Lagoon, the Icelandic Meteorological Office installed monitors near the popular tourist destination. Sulphur dioxide levels in the area reached up to 5,000 ppm yesterday morning, levels which are potentially hazardous to human health.

As noted by RÚV, volcanic pollution was also recorded in the town of Höfn, with the Icelandic Meteorological Office recommending that residents close windows, turn off air conditioning, and monitor air quality.

The Blue Lagoon will continue to reassess the situation: “We have been taking one step at a time … intend to manage the situation well before reopening,” Helga observed. As noted by RÚV, one employee of the lagoon had to seek medical attention at a hospital last week due to volcanic emissions. He is on sick leave, according to Helga.

“We will not reopen until we and the authorities deem it completely safe for both staff and guests to return. This has a lot to do with wind conditions and how these measurements develop from day to day,” Helga concluded.

All About The Reykjanes Peninsula

svartsengi power plant reykjanes

What natural attractions can be found on the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwest Iceland? How far is Keflavík International Airport from the capital, Reykjavík? How have volcanoes defined the region, and is it safe to visit? These questions and more will all be answered, so read on to learn about the Reykjanes Peninsula. 

Most people arrive in Iceland through the international airport. It means the first landscape they look upon is that of the Reykjanes Peninsula. The most obvious comparison is that the scenery looks as though it might be found on another planet. 

Rocky and barren. Craggy hills that spill lopsidedly to distant mountains on one side, to the tossing blue waves of the Atlantic Ocean on the other. Reykjanes is an eerily beautiful introduction to the land of ice and fire.

Located on the southwestern tip of the country, Reykjanes means “smoking point,” hinting at the volcanic zones that lay beneath its rock-strewn exterior. In summer, the peninsula is blanketed with beds of dark green moss, and in the depths of winter, a thick layer of twinkling snow. 

Keflavík International Airport  

Keflavík airport
Photo: Páll Stefánsson. Iceland’s only international airport.

As mentioned, Keflavík International Airport is where the vast majority of visitors to Iceland arrive. It is the only international airport in the country. This leaves the only other means of arrival as the M/S Norröna. A ferry from Denmark that arrives on the far eastern coast at Seyðisfjörður. 

Keflavík International Airport began as a small landing strip at Garður. It was first built by British forces during the Second World War. This was later expanded by the Americans into two runways. Patterson Field to the south, and Meek’s Field to the north. 

The northern airfield was left abandoned after the conflict came to an end. The structures of Meek’s Field, on the other hand, were incorporated into Naval Air Station Keflavík, an Iceland-led organisation named after the adjacent town.

Keflavík Airport
Photo: Golli. Keflavík airport

During the 1950s, the American Air Force returned to Naval Air Station Keflavík as part of the NATO defensive pact between the United States and Iceland. This station was widely controversial at the time on account of Iceland having no military of its own, and objecting to a foreign military’s presence on their soil. It was not until 1987 that the civilian terminal was separated from military checkpoints, allowing for foreign travellers to come and go to Iceland freely. 

Having gone through a number of major expansions since, Keflavík International Airport is, nowadays, much like any major airport in the world. Its departure gates are surrounded with duty-free souvenir shops, electronic and clothing stores, as well as restaurants, bars, and cafes. There are also designated smoking areas; somewhat unusual in today’s age. 

Its main terminal building was named after the first Norse explorer to arrive in North America, Leif Erikson, otherwise known as Leif the Lucky. 

Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa

A woman and her child relaxing at the Blue Lagoon
Photo: Reykjavík – Blue Lagoon round-trip transfer. Relaxing at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.

The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s most famous attractions. With its silky, silica-rich waters – aquamarine in colour, warm in temperature – nearly every traveller in Iceland makes visiting this beloved geothermal spa a priority. 

Given its proximity to Keflavík International Airport, many stop by the spa either on the first or last day of their holiday. Both work just as well for starting or ending a vacation with a healthy dose of calm and relaxation. 

Though hard to believe, the Blue Lagoon started out as something of a local secret. During the 1980s – long before Iceland was of such avid interest to foreign visitors – people living on the Reykjanes Peninsula would bathe in the geothermal seawater that formed just outside of Svartsengi power plant. 

Eventually, scientists became curious as to just why so many people were attracted to this gentle reservoir, and the Blue Lagoon Ltd was founded in 1992. 

Only three years on, the healing properties of its waters were confirmed, leading to a range of skincare products being released by the company. By the millennium’s end, the first incarnation of the spa was in place, and it has gone from strength to strength ever since. 

Towns on the Reykjanes Peninsula 

Reykjanesbær
Photo: Reykjanesbær Facebook

Dotted amidst the rugged terrain of Reykjanes are a handful of towns and villages that are worth stopping by when travelling across the peninsula. Unlike Reykjavík, which boasts the majority of visitor’s attractions, these settlements offer a more authentic perspective of how Icelandic people live. Aside from that, the surrounding nature of coastlines and mountains makes such places unique and beautiful points of interest in their own right. 

Keflavík

 

The town of Keflavík first came into being not because of Icelandic settlers, but Scottish engineers and business people looking to capitalise on local fishing opportunities. 

Since its founding in the 16th century, Keflavík has developed into the peninsula’s major urban centre, in large part thanks to its proximity to the international airport that shares its name. 

Music fans will likely want to stop by Rokksafn Íslands – the Museum of Rock and Roll – a fun and unexpected attraction that dives into local and international pioneers of this headbanging genre. 

Locally, Keflavík has a reputation for producing talented musicians, especially during the swinging sixties and seventies when Icelandic-made pop-music was finding its feet. In fact, Keflavík is sometimes nicknamed bítlabærinn, or “Beatle Town,” for this very reason. 

Njarðvík

 

With its panoramic coastal views, Njarðvík town is located adjacent to Keflavík. Alongside the village of Hafnir, the three locations make up the municipality of Reykjanesbær. 

The town is a pleasant, if not disjointed mix of commercial and residential areas. It is home to around 4500 people. Njarðvík is rarely visited by visitors, but several accommodation options are available for those looking to base themselves in Reykjanes. 

With that being said, there is one fascinating attraction that has started to pull people to Njarðvík each year. The glassy exhibition hall that makes up Viking World Museum was designed by the award-winning architect, Guðmundur Jónsson. It is perfectly constructed to display its major showpiece, a Viking longship known as the Icelander. 

This beautiful wooden replica was sailed to New York City at the beginning of the millennium. This fantastic ocean journey celebrated Leif Erikson’s arrival to North America many centuries before. 

Grindavík

Reykjanes peninsula eruptions
Photo: Golli. The Grindarvík eruption.

Over recent months, Grindavík has made international headlines on account of the nearby volcanic eruption that forced a mass-evacuation of the town. Before the heightened seismic activity in 2023, the town was mainly known for its picturesque harbour and close proximity to the popular Blue Lagoon Spa. 

The future of Grindavík remains uncertain; an issue that is of great importance to its 3800 displaced residents. Located atop one of the peninsula’s five volcanic zones, there can be no assurance that the town will not, once again, fall victim to a lava flow. 

Heated discussions are ongoing within the Icelandic government as to how best to relocate residents, or secure the town from another devastating natural disaster. As of today, it is prohibited to travel too close to Grindavík on account of the fact that the recent lava flows are still cooling, thus continuing to pose a danger.

Hafnir

 

Home to little over 100 people, Hafnir is a tiny village found on the far southwest of the peninsula. Aside from its many natural viewpoints, there is not much that Hafnir has to offer besides conversation with its friendly residents, but that’s not to say this minute settlement has not left an impact on history. 

For one, the US merchant ship Jamestown was crashed here in 1881, spilling timber across the beach. To commemorate this event, the vessel’s naval anchor can be found displayed outside the front entrance of Hafnir’s church. Aside from that, Hafnir boasts cabin ruins dating somewhere between 770 – 880, providing the earliest archeological evidence of people living in Iceland. 

Geology of the Reykjanes Peninsula 

Svartsengi
Photo: Golli. Mt. Þorbjörn

The Reykjanes Peninsula was designated as a UNESCO Global Geopark in 2015. As such, the region’s geological makeup is of great interest to any person with an interest in the earth sciences. 

Covering approximately 2,000 sq km, this is a landscape entirely defined by powerful volcanic forces. As visitors drive along its winding roads, they will likely encounter wide open fissures, sprawling lava fields, shield volcanoes, and pockmarked craters, all a result of the volcanic zones that lie beneath the ground. 

To scientists, this area is called the Reykjanes volcanic belt, and it comprises a number of systems that, at one point or another in history, have all contributed to the unique form of the peninsula. 

The exact number of volcanic zones vary depending on the source. It is commonly acknowledged that these systems include: Hengill, Eldey, Svartsengi, Fagradalsfjall, Krýsuvík, and Brennisteinsfjöll. 

Since the end of the last Pleistocene period, around 12,000 years ago, it is basaltic lava flows of Holocene volcanoes that have created the unsmooth curves and dips that characterise the landscape. 

Volcanoes and Eruptions in Reykjanes 

 

For around 4000 years, the Reykjanes Peninsula was almost completely absent of volcanic eruptions, save for a handful of minor episodes.  

Due to this long period of dormancy, the reality of the region’s molten underbelly awakening over recent years has come as a great shock to many, no more so than the residents that call Reykjanes home.

The Fagradalsfjall, Meradalir, and Litli-Hrútur eruptions 

volcano eruption Geldingadalir Reykjanes
Photo: Golli. The Fagradalsfjall eruption site.

In 2021, the Fagradalsfjall eruption ushered in this new era of volcanic activity. Only 40 km from Reykjavík, a fiery crater called Geldingadalir became Iceland’s latest must-see visitor’s attraction, lasting from April 5 until September 18. 

Visitors from across the world hiked the barren trail that led to this incredible force of nature, where people sat on adjacent hillsides observing the earth spew great fountains of lava into the air. As the first eruption of its kind in many years, Icelandic Search & Rescue services, ICE-SAR, were quick to form safe pathways, as well as keep the public informed as to the extent of sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide in the air. 

 

In August 2022, the next eruption to occur happened in almost the same location, this time called Meradalir. Lava from the new fissure poured across the fresh lava fields created by Fagradalsfjall, but ultimately, the eruption did not last long, ending the very same month. 

Litli-Hrútur erupted on July 10 2023, following 12,000 recorded earthquakes. At first, the site proved to be far more powerful than the prior two eruptions, with a lava flow greater than 10 times that which had become before. However, after a steady decline in flow rate, volcanic activity came to an end in the area August 23 2023. 

All in all, these eruptions brough an estimated 700,000 people to the area, all of whom were eager to observe these primitive natural spectacles for themselves. However, the next major eruption – that which occurred just outside of Grindavik – was to prove far more dramatic, far more dangerous, and far less accessible to visitors. 

The Grindavík Eruption 

litli-hrútur reykjanes
Photo: Golli. Workers at the eruption site.

In the months preceding the Grindavík eruption, residents of the town had lived with the constant knowledge that soon, lava flows would force them to leave their homes behind. Most surmised from the series of earth tremors, plus the onslaught of daily news reports, that the possibility of a significant disaster – be it an earthquake, or neighbouring eruption – was a very real threat.  

And so, when lava finally broke the surface on December 18, the townsfolk had already evacuated as a precaution. This was just as well; a recently constructed defensive wall meant to protect the urban settlement from lava flows was soon breached, leaving some houses destroyed. 

 

So it was that Sundhnúkagígaröðin volcano woken from its dormancy. Thankfully, no one was injured or killed in the incident. 

As stated, the situation regarding Grindavik’s future is still very much up in the air. But, as Iceland’s outgoing President, Guðni Th Jóhannesson, reassured in a televised speech; 

“A daunting period of upheaval has begun. We continue to hope for as good an outcome as possible. We will carry on with our responsibilities and we will continue to stand together.”

Attractions on the Reykjanes Peninsula 

Travellers at an eruption site
Photo: Golli. Travellers on the Reykjanes Peninsula

But all this talk of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. One would think that the Reykjanes Peninsula was an unsafe place to visit… 

Well, allow us to put your mind at rest!

Great swathes of this region are perfectly suited for travellers. Anyone seeking out beautiful natural attractions and interesting cultural sites are free to find them in Reykjanes. 

The Bridge Between the Continents 

 

 

The Reykjanes Peninsula is situated atop a boundary line between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. This is why the landscape here is blemished with countless cracks, clefts, and canyons. 

Built atop one of the larger fissures is a small footbridge, known as the bridge between the continents. It demonstrates the reality of this peculiar geography. As such, it allows visitors to literally step between one tectonic plate and another. 

The bridge is named Midlina in Icelandic. It is named after the famed explorer, Leif Erikson. He was the first Norseman to arrive in the Americas, which he did around 1000 years ago. 

This 15 m [50 ft] walkway was constructed to celebrate this grand odyssey. And, consequently, the enduring relationship that Europe and America shares. Visitors can find it approximately one hour’s drive from Reykjavík, near to the beautiful Sandvik beach. 

Kleifarvatn lake

Kleifarvatn - Krísuvík - Reykjanes
Photo: Golli. Kleifarvatn lake, Reykjanes Pensinsula

Covering around 10 sq km, Kleifarvatn lake is a scenic waterbody that offers respite from the seemingly endless black lava fields the Reykjanes Peninsula is famous for. As you may have guessed, it is the largest lake in the region, and one of the deepest in Iceland, with a total depth of 97 m. 

Oddly enough, Kleifarvatn was once much larger. It is thought that earthquakes in the year 2000 may have opened up fissures at the bottom of the lake. This would have drained much of it. Another strange aspect of the lake is that no rivers feed into it. All of its water originates from the highly-porous lava fields around it. 

Despite this isolation of sorts, many Arctic Char live in the lake, having been deliberately introduced in the 1960s. Local legends also claim that Iceland’s own version of the Loch Ness monster hides within its depths. A demonic whale-like creature. But, as of today, sightings are few and far between. 

Reykjanestá cliffs

 

 

Anyone seeking epic seascapes will want to stop by the Reykjanestá cliffs. It is located on the southwestern tip of the Reykjanes Peninsula. Here, dramatic pillars of basalt rise from the lapping ocean waves. These cliffs attracts various bird species to nest amidst the surrounding rocks. Guests can expect to see Black-Legged Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Razorbills, Fulmars, and Shags. 

From the cliff sides, you will be able to spot the idyllic Eldey Island in the near distance. You can also spot the oldest lighthouse in Iceland, Reykjanesviti. It was originally built to help fishing boats navigate as far back as 1878. But because earthquakes tend to streak across the Reykjanes Peninsula, the original was destroyed following a mighty tremor. The modern version of the lighthouse was built in 1929.     

Gunnuhver hot spring

Photo: Golli. Even when there’s no active eruption, the geothermal heat underneath Reykjanes is unmistakeable.

Walking among the miniature geysers and steamy fumaroles of the Gunnuhver geothermal area is akin to trekking across the Red Planet, Mars. The ground is a brazen orange. The air is thick with white gassy clouds. All of this culminates in a unique site that demonstrates the powerful molten forces that have shaped Reykjanes over the centuries.

Gunnuhver geothermal area is named after a vengeful spirit. One that is said to have terrorised locals throughout history. According to the legends, a woman named Gunna lived close by to the area. It just so happens that she was notoriously poor with money. Indebted to the owner of the land upon which she stayed, he confiscated her cooking pot, claiming it would only be returned to her once the debt was paid. 

Without the means to prepare food for herself, Gunna quickly starved to death. A few days following her funeral, the landowner was found deceased. Many locals claimed that Gunna had returned from the dead to enact her vengeance. As to the veracity of this story, we’ll leave that up to you. But such myths are wonderful to contemplate alongside admiring the area’s unique geology. 

Mount Keilir

Keilir
Photo: Golli. Keilir mountain, Reykjanes peninsula

This striking cone-shaped mountain is a little-known landmark of the Reykjanes Peninsula. It is easily visible from Reykjavík and the ocean thanks to its deep slopes and sharpened peaks. Thanks to its prominence, the mountain was utilised for navigation by fishermen throughout the centuries. 

More recently, many people have discovered Keilir as a viewpoint from which to watch the Fagradalsfjall eruptions. But even without the possibility of seeing flowing lava, the top of the mountain boasts fantastic views over Faxaflói Bay and much of the peninsula. A hiking trail leads to a guestbook atop the peak where ramblers are encouraged to leave a message. 

In Summary 

Reykjanes
Photo: Bar Harel. Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 4.0

The Reykjanes Peninsula tends to be where visitors begin and end their trips to Iceland. It is well worth spending time during the actual holiday to explore this amazing region rather than rush through it. 

With its rugged landscape, cultural sites, and beautiful natural attractions, Reykjanes provides for fantastic memories of your time in Iceland. 

Icelandic Bathing Culture and Geothermal Guide

sundhöll

Introduction to Icelandic Bathing Culture

Iceland is known not only for its breathtaking nature and beautiful scenery but also for its abundance of geothermal energy, where over 90% of the hot water in the country is heated by geothermal sources. Therefore, hot water in Iceland is incredibly accessible and is widely used to heat the country’s geothermal pools and spas, which play a large part in Icelandic bathing culture. The bathing culture, the hot springs and geothermal pools can be traced back to a time in history when communal bathing played a vital role in socialising and connecting with nature.

See here Iceland Reviews article on the Icelandic swimming culture.

As bathing is ingrained in Icelandic culture, hot springs and geothermal pools can be found all around the country. Below is our guide to the country’s bathing culture and information on the hot springs, spas and geothermal pools in Iceland.

 

The Geothermal Public Pools of Iceland

The public pools of Iceland can be found all around the country, most of them being geothermally heated. The pools of Iceland are open all year round, and guests visit the pools in almost any weather condition.

Visiting the geothermal pools of Iceland is not only done for the purpose of exercising.  The pools are also a social place and have become a hotspot for people to gather and discuss topics such as politics, the weather, and other cultural matters. Below is information about some of Iceland’s geothermal swimming pools.

 

Sundhöll Reykjavíkur 

Sundhöll Reykjavíkur is the oldest public pool in Iceland and the only one in downtown Reykjavík. However, many more are located in the area. Sundhöll Reykjavíkur is located at Barónsstígur and consists of pools both inside and outside, hot tubs, a children’s pool, a cold tub and a sauna.

Sundhöll swimming pool Reykjavík seen from above
Photo: Golli – Sundhöll Reykjavíkur

 

Sundlaugin Hofsósi 

The award winning swimming pool at Hofsós is in northwest Iceland. It is unique since it has an infinity pool overlooking the beautiful landscape of the Skagafjörður fjord. The pool was donated to the community of Hofsós by the two businesswomen Lilja Pálmadóttir and Steinunn Jónsdóttir on Women’s Rights Day in Iceland on June 19, 2007.

 

Laugaskarð Swimming Pool

The swimming pool at Laugarskarð is located in the town of Hveragerði in South of Iceland. The drive from the capital area to Hveragerði is only about 30-40 minutes. Hveragerði is a large geothermal area with multiple natural hot springs all around, where it is possible to bake the famous Icelandic rye bread or boil eggs.

 

Krossneslaug Swimming Pool

The Krossneslaug swimming pool is situated remotely in the western fjords of Iceland. The pool is an infinity one, overlooking the ocean where it is often possible to spot whales whilst looking over towards the North of Iceland.

Note: Due to road conditions, Krossneslaug can only be reached from mid-May to the end of August.

Krossneslaug swimming pool in Westfjords.
Photo: Golli. Krossneslaug swimming pool in Westfjords.

 

Akureyri Swimming Pool

The Akureyri swimming pool is in the North of Iceland, in the country’s second-largest city, Akureyri. The pool is located in the city’s centre and consists of heated swimming pools, hot tubs, a children’s pool, a cold tub, saunas and three waterslides. 

 

Iceland’s Geothermal Spa Experiences

In addition to the many public pools in Iceland, the country also exhibits multiple geothermal spas, with one of the most well-known ones being the Blue Lagoon. Over the past years, the popularity of geothermal spas has increased, and you can find them in multiple areas of Iceland. Below are some of Iceland’s famous geothermal spas.

 

The Blue Lagoon 

The Blue Lagoon was founded in 1992 and was named one of the 25 wonders of the world by National Geographic in 2012. The lagoon offers a unique spa experience where the beneficial powers of the geothermal seawater come from the water’s primary elements: silica, algae and minerals. Since its opening, the lagoon has become a top-rated tourist attraction. Some guests come for the water’s healing powers while others visit for relaxation and beautiful nature. 

The Blue Lagoon is located near the town of Grindavík. The town is in about a 40-minute drive from Reykjavík or about 20 minutes from Keflavík airport. 

Blue Lagoon Tours can be purchased here.

A woman and her child relaxing at the Blue Lagoon
Photo: Reykjavík – Blue Lagoon round-trip transfer. Relaxing at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.

 

Sky Lagoon Geothermal Spa

Sky Lagoon opened in 2021 and is only about a ten-minute drive from Reykjavík’s city centre. The thermal bath offers a heated infinity pool where you can relax while overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Sky Lagoon offers a unique spa experience, including a seven-step bathing ritual where guests can fully immerse themselves in the Icelandic bathing culture. 

Sky Lagoon Tours can be purchased here.

 

Skógarböðin – Forest Lagoon Geothermal Spa

Skógarböðin, or the Forest Lagoon, is a geothermal spa located in Vaðlaskógur forest in the North of Iceland. As the name suggests, the lagoon is surrounded by trees, such as birch and pine trees, while also overlooking the ocean and nearby fjords. The way to Forest Lagoon is only about a 5-minute drive from Akureyri city centre.

Tickets to the Forest Lagoon can be purchased here.

 

Hvammsvík Spa and Hot Springs

Located in Hvalfjörður fjord, in southwest Iceland, is Hvammsvík Nature Resort & Hot Springs. The spa is secluded, surrounded by beautiful landscapes of tall mountains and black beaches. The spa is easily accessible from Reykjavík city centre as it takes only about 45 minutes to drive. 

Hvammsvík Tours can be purchased here.

 

Iceland’s Remote Hot Springs and Pools

Iceland’s natural hot springs can be found all around the country, which stands as a testament to the country’s geothermal richness. The country’s geological activity manifests in multiple ways. The activity ranges from powerful geysers, bubbling mud pots and relaxing natural hot springs readily available for guests to bathe in.

The hot springs do not only come in the form of luxurious spas or public swimming pools; many more remote hot springs can also be found in Iceland. Below are a few of the many natural remote hot springs in Iceland.

 

The Secret Lagoon Geothermal Pool

The Secret Lagoon, or Gamla Laugin, is located in the South of Iceland in the Flúðir village. It is the oldest pool in Iceland, made in 1891. The pool offers guests a relaxing experience in warm water coming from hot springs.

Secret Lagoon Tours can be purchased here.

 

Reykjadalur Hot Springs

The Reykjadalur valley is located close to the town of Hveragerði, about 50 km [31 mil] from the city of Reykjavík. Visitors must hike up a moderately easy path to reach the hot springs for about 45 to 60 minutes. The hot spring is, in fact, a creek-like river, making it very comfortable to lie and bathe in, as it is pretty shallow.

Reykjadalur Hot Spring Tours can be purchased here.

 

Hrunalaug Hot Spring

Hrunalaug, located near the village of Flúðir in the Hrunamannahreppur region, is a hot spring known for its relaxing properties. Visitors soak in the warm water while enjoying the beautiful natural surroundings of the Icelandic landscape.

View of Hrunalaug hot spring and surrounding landscape in Iceland
Photo: Hrunalaug Hot Spring

 

Seljavallalaug Geothermal Pool

Seljavallalaug pool is located about a three-hour drive from Reykjavík, in Seljavellir Valley. The valley is secluded with surrounding mountains and scenic views over cliff sides, grass hills and rivers. From the parking spot at Seljavellir Valley, visitors take about a 15-20 minute scenic walk to reach the pool.

 

Landbrotalaug Hot Spring

The hot spring Landbrotalaug is located on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, just off its main road. Visitors do not always easily find it, making it very remote and quiet. After turning from the peninsula’s main road, a dirt road follows. Eventually, visitors are greeted with a sign stating “Heit Laug, Hot Spring”, making it clear you have arrived at the right destination. 

 

What are the Rules and Etiquette When Visiting Icelandic Pools and Hot Springs?

By following certain rules and etiquettes that encompass Icelandic bathing culture, visitors can fully immerse themselves into the experience, making it a positive and respectful one for all.

 

Shower before entering

When visiting hot springs or geothermal pools in Iceland, it is mandatory to shower without a swimsuit before entering the pool when possible. In some places, no showers are available, such as at Reykjadalur Hot Spring. Therefore, it is not mandatory, though we do recommend doing your fellow bathers the courtesy of arriving clean. Many pools offer closed-off changing cells and showers for more privacy.

 

Wear a swimsuit

When visiting Icelandic pools and hot springs, it is mandatory to wear a swimsuit. However, it is important to be mindful of showering without a swimsuit before slipping them on.

 

Remove outdoor footwear

Guests are required to remove outdoor shoes before entering the changing rooms.

 

Follow facility-specific rules

Different pools and hot springs might adhere to their own set of rules and guidelines, so it is essential to read and respect the rules posted at each facility.

 

Respect nature

When visiting Iceland’s natural pools and hot springs, it is important to observe and enjoy the beauty of the surrounding nature and respect and take good care of it. By respecting the delicate landscapes and ecosystems ensures that future generations can enjoy these unique sites. 

Respecting nature involves staying on designated paths, refraining from soaps and other materials that might harm the ecosystem and leaving no trace by removing all waste.

 

How Many Pools are in Iceland?

Iceland has over 160 pools, with about 18 of them being in Reykjavík city, so travellers can easily find a place to bathe in their nearest vicinity.

 

What is the Most Famous Pool in Iceland?

The hot springs and geothermal pools in Iceland are most incredibly popular by locals. However, the most famous pool, spa or hot spring in Iceland is the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon was named one of the 25 wonders of the world by National Geographic. It has become an immense tourist attraction and a luxurious spa experience for travellers all around the world.

 

How Much is the Admission Price for a Swimming Pool in Iceland?

The average price for public swimming pools in Iceland is around ISK 1000 for adults. However, it varies vastly depending on which area you are in and which swimming pool you enter. 

Grindavík and Blue Lagoon Evacuated, Next Eruption Uncertain

Grindavík - Þorbjörn

Following increased seismic activity on the Reykjanes peninsula, Grindavík and the Blue Lagoon have been evacuated. Though an eruption was previously considered imminent, it is now considered less likely for the immediate future.

Earthquake swarm

An earthquake swarm began around 15:55 today, according to the Met Office. The seismic activity moved southeast following the magma intrusion from December 2023, stopping near Hagafell mountain.

The Met Office notes that the current deformation measured is smaller than previously measured in the lead-up to volcanic eruptions. This could potentially indicate a smaller eruption, but it is also possible for a magma dyke to form without forming an eruptive fissure.

Currently, the depth of the seismic activity does not indicate that the magma will break through to the surface. The Met Office considers an eruption in the immediate future to be unlikely, but it cannot be entirely ruled out.

Grindavík and Blue Lagoon Evacuated

Both the town of Grindavík and the neighbouring Blue Lagoon were evacuated out of precaution.

RÚV reports that the evacuations were completed around 5:00 pm.

Víðir Reynisson from Civil Protection stated to RÚV that the evacuation went smoothly and that responders are still in the area to ensure that all residents have left. Responders are reported to be on standby in case of an eruption.

Helga Árnadóttir, director of the Blue Lagoon, also stated to RÚV that the evacuation went well, with all staff and guests having left the area.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office has updated their risk assessment, which is valid for the next 24 hours.

Eruption Imminent as Blue Lagoon is Evacuated

The Blue Lagoon Iceland

The town of Grindavík and its nearby area, including the popular tourist attraction Blue Lagoon, have been evacuated. An eruption in Sundhnúkagígar is imminent, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Office, Mbl.is reports.

“We expect an eruption any minute,” Úlfar Lúðvíksson, police commissioner of Reykjanes, told Mbl.is. “This is why we’re evacuating.

Some 600 to 800 people were at the Blue Lagoon when it was evacuated at around 4 pm today. This includes staff and guests of the spa and resort. Evacuation was completed in 40 minutes, according to manager Helga Árnadóttir.

A spell of seismic activity began at Sundhnúkagígar around 4 pm and a magma intrusion could have begun, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Office.

We will update this story as it develops.

New Road Being Built for Access to Blue Lagoon and Grindavík

The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration (IRCA) is currently working on the construction of a new road within the lava-protected area of Svartsengi, including Grindavík and the Blue Lagoon. This news was made public via an announcement from IRCA.

Recent eruptions have caused lava to partially flow over two primary roads connecting both the Reykjanes town of Grindavík and the Blue Lagoon to other major highways: Grindavíkirvegur and Bláalónsvegur. The new road will enable drivers to drive from Grindavíkirvegur to Bláalónsvegur via a new route connected to Nesvegur, located just west of the town.

The new road construction is crucial, as the Blue Lagoon has opened again. Although seismic activity in the area has been relatively stable, there have been signs of the surface rising again, which could mean an eruption as early as late February or early March.

Due to this new route being built within the dirt wall fortifications being used to hold back lava, travel to both Grindavík and the Blue Lagoon may continue unhindered in the event of an eruption. This is highly conditional, however; eruptions are notoriously unpredictable, and the previous one did result in fissures opening on both sides of and even within these fortifications.

IRCA is hopeful that the new route will be operational as early as this coming week.