If you are planning a vacation in Iceland then you must have researched a lot and asked around for suggestions already. Without a doubt, paying a visit to the Blue Lagoon must have been one of the top suggestions from every reliable source of yours, and for all good reasons too. The Blue Lagoon probably is the most famous destination in Iceland which requires a ticket to visit and needless to say, it is overbooked well in-advance every single day. So much so that you need to make a reservation at the Blue Lagoon Retreat or a guided tour about 2-3 months prior to the date of the visit that you want. Seems preposterous but it really is not. The popularity of this beautiful lagoon with milky azure blue water is on a whole different level. No wonder that National Geographic has included it in the list of “Top 25 Wonders of the World”.
What Makes the Blue Lagoon So Popular?
It is no secret that the Blue Lagoon is something that possesses an incredible beauty of its own. A huge beautiful lagoon filled with azure-colored water with a mix of milky hue, surrounded by black lava rocks, and the newly built gorgeous resort are factors good enough to make it one of the most loved destinations in the Iceland travel itinerary. The Blue Lagoon was one of the very first attractions in Iceland that increased the popularity of the place among tourists when tourism started to peak in the country. The beauty is there, along with it the lagoon is conveniently positioned near the international airport of Keflavik. Apart from that, peer pressure could also be a huge reason that tourist insists on visiting the lagoon. Visiting the Blue Lagoon in Iceland can be considered a parallel to going to Paris and visiting the Eiffel Tower and clicking that mandatory cliché picture of holding the tip of the tower.
Why should I Consider Visiting an Alternative?
If you do not want to stick on your phone or laptop in just so that you can book tickets for a single visit then you should consider visiting one of the many beautiful alternatives of the Blue Lagoon. Not to mention, a visit to the Blue Lagoon can put serious pressure on your wallet if you are planning to travel on a budget. Blue Lagoon admission fee is quite high and if you plan to enjoy a stay for a day or two in the retreat then the expenses are going to pile up a lot more.
The other factor is the crowd. The popularity of the Blue Lagoon catches a lot of attention which in turn brings in more and more tourists every time increasing the crowd in the peak tourist season and the offseason as well. So, if you are someone who would like to spend some alone hours soaking in a beautiful hot pool, Blue Lagoon might not be the place for you.
Top Alternatives to Try
To put your mind at ease, there are several alternatives in the country that you can visit instead of the Blue Lagoon. Not to mention, each one of them is equally beautiful if not more and you will probably find no or lesser crowd in these. Several of these alternatives have become more and more known among the tourists which are worthwhile considering their exceptional gorgeousness. Let us find out some of the top alternatives that you can try instead of or along with the Blue Lagoon.
The Secret Lagoon
Located in the Golden Circle, the Secret Lagoon is the oldest hot spring of Iceland which was constructed in 1892. You can take a tour to this place when completing the mandatory Golden Circle tour as it falls right on the way to close to Gullfoss waterfall. The Secret Lagoon is located in a geothermal area near the small village of Flúðir in southern Iceland. While the Secret Lagoon is not as busy as the Blue Lagoon, it is still required that you make a prior booking. The scenery here is quite rugged reflecting the raw beauty of nature with lush green fields, steam rising from the many geothermal pools around the arena, the mountains peeking in the distance, and the clear blue sky on the top. The water in the Secret Lagoon stays at a soothing temperature of about 38-40°C which is perfect for a relaxing bath. There are changing facilities at the lagoon along with many other basic amenities that anyone would need. It is the perfect place to be if you don’t want to deal with humungous crowds, want to spend a limited amount of money (about one-third of what Blue Lagoon charges), would like to take a bath surrounded by raw nature, and would like to add a widely popular hot spring in your travel itinerary.
Myvatn Nature Baths
If the milky azure-colored water of the Blue Lagoon is a must-have for a hot spring in order to entice you, then color yourself impressed, because Myvatn Nature Baths have it all. No wonder that it is known as the Blue Lagoon of the North. Located in Lake Myvatn near the village of Reykjahlíð, the story of how this bath came into existence is quite interesting. The lake one day took a few villagers by surprise when they noticed steam rising from a certain part of it in the middle. They soon discovered that the lake has a geothermal spot in the middle from where the steam was rising. This brought in the idea of the construction of the baths.
Water in Myvatn Nature Baths stays at a temperature of 36-40°C and is said to be packed with minerals like sulfur just like the water in the Blue Lagoon. There is a separate pool for young kids, two steam baths, a hot tub on the side, and a small restaurant. The prices that Myvatn Nature Baths charge are about half of what the Blue Lagoon Charges. The whole area surrounding the Myvatn Nature Bath is filled with geothermal phenomena like mud pools, Mount Námaskarð, fumaroles, etc. We recommend that you book your tickets to Myvatn Nature Baths in advance.
Kvika Hot Pool in Grótta, Reykjavik
For those who would like to stay close to the capital area and not travel tens of kilometers to find a suitable hot pool or hot spring, Grotta Hot Pool often called Kvika, is the place to be. It is located right outside Reykjavik city center on Grótta and is the perfect place for people looking for a few completely isolated hours and a nice relaxing foot bath. Kvika Hot Pool is very small and people usually only use it for a foot bath. It can accommodate only 2-3 persons at a time so, there are chances that when you get to the location the pool already has a few visitors which means that you will have to wait your turn. But in all honesty, the view from the pool will completely be worth your wait. The pool itself is in a huge stone with a hole in it while the nearby area is filled with big and beautiful round stones that we find at beaches. The water of the ocean and the sky can be seen meeting at the horizon with Grotta Lighthouse in the foreground – a truly magical place to relax.
An incredible sight in the winters when the mountains surrounding this pool get covered with snow, Seljavallalaug hot pool is one of the most popular outdoor man-made hot pools in Iceland. It was designed in 1923 and is the oldest swimming pool in the country. It is located quite close to the Seljalandsfoss waterfall on the south coast of Iceland. Seljavallalaug used to be the largest swimming pool in Iceland till 1936 before the construction of the Laugardalslaug swimming pool which is allegedly the largest one in the country now.
It is free to swim in this pool since there are no official care-takers appointed for it. The water here is slightly colder than other hot pools and swimming pools in Iceland and runs around 20-30°C. The pool has three concrete walls as boundaries while the fourth side has a mountain for a wall. The view here is simply breath-taking especially in winters which makes it one of the finest places in Iceland to experience the contradictory nature of the geology of the country.
Reykjadalur Stream Valley
Different from any other outdoor hot pools, hot springs, and geothermal baths that you may have seen or heard of, Reykjadalur valley has a full-fledged stream with running hot water. The best part is that different sections of the stream have different temperature levels which means that every single person can find out their ideal bath temperature and enjoy the stream to the fullest. So, make sure that you walk along the stream in order to test and find the ideal temperature in the stream.
Reykjadalur valley is popularly known as the “Smoke Valley” which is because of all the steam that rises from the hot water stream and fills up the valley. The valley is at an approximate distance of about 40 minutes from the capital city and is located beside the small town of Hveragerði. The experience that you can have here is more rugged and natural in comparison to other places as there are no changing rooms nearby. There is a path built on one side of the river which can be used to walk up and down. The whole valley is filled with lush green grass, brown mountains covered in moss and vegetation and a sky that looks somewhat blurred with all the steam in the picture.
Another beautiful place for the fans of Blue Lagoon’s blue water, Grjotagja is an underground hot spring located inside of a lava cave with the same name located in north Iceland near the Mývatn lake. It is one of the hardest to reach locations in the country and even harder to spot once you are there on the location because there is a well enough chance that it is already covered and hidden under a thick layer of snow. Apart from being a fabulous place to take a dip, Grjotagja lava cave, and the hot spring inside also served as a shooting location for the popular HBO series Game of Thrones. This was depicted as the cave where Jon Snow and Ygritte spent their first night together.
The entrance to the cave is incredibly small and one may have to literally slip and slid in order to get inside. One thing to note about this place is that it is not always open for bathing and the volcanic activity in the nearby volcanoes is the one to blame for that. As soon as the volcanoes become active, the water inside the cave heats up a lot more than one can tolerate for a bath. There have been times when it even reached 50°C. So, make sure that you ask around about this particular thing before setting out on a journey.
Located in the highlands of Iceland near Hekla volcano in the south-center of Iceland, Landmannalaugar hot spring is one of the most popular places in the highlands visited by many people all-year-round. It is also known as “the pond of people”. The hot pool is located right beside the visitors’ center of the Landmannalaugar region. Landmannalaugar is a heaven for the ones seeking thrill on their adventures in Iceland as it takes traveling on gravel roads, crossing rivers, and probably hiking a little bit too to finally reach the destination. This means that you will need a 4WD car to get to Landmannalaugar. There are no changing facilities in the area or bathrooms so the visitors will have to change either out in open, taking some temporary measures, or in their vehicles.
The surrounding view is one of the top-selling points of this particular place. The hot spring is surrounded by brown rhyolite mountain ridges with black lava ash layers on them, the beautiful green vegetation in the area, the small flowers growing by the edge of the pool, and several different colors scattered across the landscape.
Are you an admirer of a good view of your bath? If yes, then consider paying a visit to Hveravellir. Located in the middle of a beautiful landscape in the middle of nowhere, Hveravellir is surrounded by hot pools with steam rising from them, snow-covered glaciers, huge black and brown rocks, and beautiful green vegetation that sits in perfect contrast with the strangely light-colored soil around the hot pool and crystal blue water. Hveravellir actually presents the tourists with a complete package as it is packed with several other exciting activities. There is a small campsite nearby where you can set a tent for a day or two to spend some time with mother nature and go horseback riding as well. Basically, Hveravellir is the place to be if you are someone who would like to get off the grid for a few days and just relax. Hveravellir is located up in the highlands of Iceland, on the same route as Kerlingarfjoll Mountains. A 4WD car is required to get to Hveravellir.
For the ones who would like to have the experience of a spa, sauna, and a hot spring, all in one like they have it over at the Blue Lagoon then Krauma baths are the perfect place to try out for you. The water in this hot bath comes directly from the most powerful hot spring in Europe – Deildartunguhver. The water from this hot spring is taken and then mixed with ice-cold water to bring the resulting mixture to a soothing temperature for bathing and such activities. This also means that the temperature of the water in the hot pools here can be controlled at will. There is a total of 6 baths here and each one has a different temperature. Krauma Baths are more about spas and sauna instead of hot spring though. These two steam baths, exclusive spa facilities, and a relaxation room. The scenery in front of the baths is extremely beautiful which should come off as no surprise at all.
Another great location for spa lovers that falls right in the middle of the golden circle route is Laugarvatn Fontana. The beauty of this place knows no bounds and it almost looks unreal to be present at a place like this. There a three beautifully constructed pools named Pool, Happiness and Wisdom, one hot tub named Viska, relaxation areas, a beautiful work of stone art, a sauna bath, and last but not the least, the Fontana hot dog meal. This is the ideal place for tourists looking to combine luxury and beauty of nature in a perfect mix. The steam room of Laugarvatn Fontana is designed in a way that one can clearly see the source of hot water bubbling underneath their feet below the steam grill. Fontana geothermal bakery is not only famous for its hot dog but also its Rye bread which is a must-have if you are visiting this place. Lunch and Dinner buffets are also offered in the local kitchen of the baths.
Imagine soaking in a relaxing pool of hot water with a view of the sea in front of you where you can see various species of whales breaching and flapping their tails above the water surface, sounds fantastic, right? This is exactly what you can expect from GeoSea Sea Baths located in Húsavík, the whale watching capital of Iceland. Húsavík is not only the best place to catch some magnificent whales working their way up from the depths of the ocean but, it is also one of the ultimate places in the whole world to watch whales having fun in their natural habitats. What makes GeoSea sea baths so special is that it is filled with warm salt water instead of fresh spring water like most geothermal spas in Iceland. Along with that, the GeoSea sea bath is the only geothermal bath that can take pride in the view that it presents to the users. Like most geothermal baths are inland, GeoSea lies out in the open on the shore of the ocean filled with sparkling waters, a view of mountains and fjords in the back.
A very recent addition to the list of geothermal baths in Iceland, Vök baths were opened for visitors on July 1st, 2019. The beautiful pool is located in the middle of a lake in the eastern part of the country close to Egilsstaðir. This geothermal area came into the light when some locals noticed that there was a part of the lake, somewhere in the middle, that never froze during the winters. Later it was found out that the area had a natural stream of hot groundwater sprouting inside. After that, Vök baths were designed and opened for the public. The bath is located in the middle of a beautiful natural landscape with low hills surrounding the area. The lake is at a very convenient distance from Egilsstaðir – the largest town in the east of Iceland.