Iceland is well known for its dramatic scenery, volcanoes, geysers and other natural delights. The Blue Lagoon near Reykjavik is an example of how man made things can complement nature by using natural effects. It is fed by water from a nearby geothermal power plant, Svartsengi.
Water is sourced from underground near to a lava flow, and as such is very hot when it enters the plant. First, it passes through turbines to harness the natural power to create electricity. It then provides the heat for a community hot water system. Finally, it reaches the lagoon, by which time it has cooled enough to be used for bathing purposes. The water is meant to be incredibly good for the skin because of a high mineral content.
After driving a drive through a landscape which made me think about being on the moon, we arrived at the Blue Lagoon all prepared for an afternoon dip. Wearing jeans, jumpers, scarves and gloves, we had a quick look at the people who seemed to be enjoying themselves in the outdoor pool, and it was with slight trepidation that we bought our tickets.
On entering the changing rooms, it really does feel like walking into any regular pool changing rooms. The difference is, having come inside from the cold, I was slightly reluctant to strip down to my swimming costume knowing that I had to go back outside in what felt like Baltic conditions.
All I kept thinking was that surely only insane people would do that, and my thoughts were confirmed with my mother’s pearls of wisdom that we were going to “catch our death of cold going out in that again”! But, we hadn’t paid to dither about, so we bit the bullet, changed, and after a moment’s hesitation at the door strode out to the edge of the lagoon. The biting cold in the air was literally breath-taking.
Seeing the stream invitingly rising from the water though left little doubt in my mind that that was where I wanted to be, so I gingerly made my way across the rocky outer edges to completely submerge myself in the warm blue water.
As an aside, I am one of these people who will only go in the sea or any other natural source of water wearing shoes. It does draw some looks of ridicule, and my friends do laugh at me, but I don’t care. I like to know what I’m standing on. Or rather, I don’t want to be barefoot when I stand on the unknown.
The Blue Lagoon does not, however, permit wearing any footwear, so for me, this was a new experience. Feeling rocks and silicone sand beneath my feet made me feel slightly uncomfortable, so I chose to spend most of my time sitting on a smooth ledge or treading water. Both of these allowed me to be in the water without having to touch the, in my eyes, creepy bottom. So any fellow sea-shoe-wearers out there, be aware of this! It is not like a smooth swimming pool as it is contained within naturally formed volcanic rocks.
The surrounding scenery is simply spectacular, and the power station only seems to add to the majestic nature. The lagoon is in part of a lava field, which creates a completely other-worldly experience.
The temperature of the water is very warm, like being in a nice relaxing bath at home. The average temperature is between 37 and 39 degrees Celsius. It was luscious to just wallow in the relaxing water up to my neck and admire the views all around me. There are small pots of silica mud around the edges that you can take free of charge to use as a totally natural face mask.
That was fun, but did pose the difficult question of whether it was worth braving the cold to get my camera to take a picture of my mum sporting her ghostly gloop. (The hilarious photo opportunity did win in the end.) Being in the Blue Lagoon was such a lovely, soothing experience… until each time I exposed more of my flesh and the cold afternoon air set my teeth on edge and quickly sent me ducking down into the water again.
When we decided that it really was time for us to leave, it was a mad scramble to get out, grab our things, and hastily throw our towels around us followed by a mad dash to get back into the warmth of the changing room. In those few minutes I truly was chilled to the bone – a sharp contrast to the lovely warmth from only a little time before. A warm shower later though and I was fine, and raring to go explore some of the other outside areas.
The regular entrance fee is 35 Euros between September and May, and 40 Euros between June and August. There is a range of other extra services available at the Blue Lagoon complex, including massages, skin and beauty treatments, a shop, restaurant, cafe and bar.
The luxurious Blue Lagoon is open every day of the year, with varying opening hours. It can be visited any time of the year, due to the permanent heat of the water.
Other attractions not to miss near Reykjavik include the beautiful Gullfoss waterfall, the well-known geysers and Thingvellir National Park. There are a handful of interesting attractions in Reykjavik town itself, but the real treasures lie out in the surrounding countryside areas.
Where else in the world can you relax in a beautiful natural setting? And, do you have any examples of where Mother Nature and man combine forces to form a must-not-miss attraction?