ISSUE 58  |  On the Mountain

The Volcanic Powers of Iceland’s Blue Lagoon Spa

February 07, 2013 12:00 PM

BY Michelle Slatalla

A steamy, misty lava field created 800 years ago by a volcanic eruption–and conveniently located a half hour’s drive from Reykjavik and barely eight miles from Iceland’s international airport –is home to The Blue Lagoon Spa (that’s Bláa lónií° in Icelandic, by the way), one of the most popular destinations in the country. It’s easy to see why:


Above: The actual lagoon at spa holds 6 million liters of water, an amount difficult to visualize until you Google it and learn that is coincidentally the same amount of beer Germans drink each year during Oktoberfest. So we know it’s a lot.

Heated by the earth, the minerals in the geothermal waters create the ethereal blue color. It’s safe, from a health perspective, to dunk your head — but the high silica content may not be kind to your hair. Photograph by Canalmercer via Flickr.


Above: The water bubbles up from 2,000 meters below the surface (not sure how deep that distance is in beer, but it sounds impressive). Photograph by Marina via Flickr.


Above: Outdoor showers to rinse off the minerals, silica, and algae. Photograph by Maarten Roggeman via Flickr.


Above: A network of wooden boardwalks connects different areas of the lava field. For overnight visitors, the Blue Lagoon Clinic hotel is a ten-minutes’ walk from the spa. Photograph by Kelly G via Flickr.


Above: Lifeguards are on duty. Spa etiquette: bathing suits are worn (even in the sauna). Bring your own or rent one (available in a range of sizes, from small to extra large). Photograph by Jevgeny Schmitenberg via Flickr.


Above: This is a place where a loofah gets a good workout. Photograph by Canalmercer via Flickr.


Above: Located on the Reykjanes Peninsula, the lagoon receives water from a nearby power place called Svartsengi (visible in the distance). The extremely hot water runs electrical turbines and then passes through a heat exchanger to provide heat for a municipal system. Photograph by Jules via Flickr.


Above: Steam rises from the water at the Blue Lagoon Spa. Photograph by Canalmercer via Flickr.

Craving your own personal spa? See 12 of our favorite home spas at “Architect Visit: Spa Bath Roundup.”