Iceland Hot Springs

The Blue Lagoon Versus The Mývatn Nature Baths

Let’s be honest who isn’t a fan of hot springs? Think of hot springs as mother nature’s hot tub, naturally warm water, rich in earthy elements to heal and soak your body in. Though some of these springs may contain water that is safe for bathing, others are so hot it could result in severe injury or death.

Us overlooking the Blue Lagoon
Joey under the Waterfall

Much research has been done on the medicinal value of hot springs given their positive effects on the human body post submersion. Containing a broad spectrum of minerals, hot springs are found all over the world, with some of the main countries including; the USA, Iceland, Japan, Turkey, China, Costa Rica, Iran, New Zealand, Peru and Taiwan.

The science behind hot springs?

Hot springs are naturally occurring pools of water that are produced by geothermally heated groundwater. This water is a mixture of fresh and saltwater combined under extreme temperatures and heated 2,000 meters below earth’s surface. By tapping into this water reservoir we are able to obtain hot naturally heated water rich in minerals from the earth’s mantle.

Geothermal Area

Iceland bridges the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. Between these plates is a zone in which high temperature geothermal areas are found, making Iceland a particularly volcanically active region. This is also why there are so many hot springs scattered across the island. In Iceland’s Blue Lagoon and Mývatn Nature Baths, the naturally heated water that emerges from the ground hovers around 37 to 40oC, but could fluctuate depending the time of year.

What makes these hot springs water blue?

Geothermal water is pretty unique in both composition and color. The 3 main ingredients in Iceland’s geothermal springs are: silica, algae and minerals. These ingredients are key in helping the body eliminate toxins, as well as improve blood circulation, cell oxygenation and digestion. What’s more, geothermal minerals contain high amounts of negative ions which aids in promoting the feeling of physical and psychological well being.

The Incredibly Blue Water of the Hot Springs
Joey Near the Blue Lagoon River
Ali Heading to the Blue Lagoon

At first glance the water in these hot springs appears blue. This arises from the silica rich waters and the way it reflects the light. In truth however, the water is actually white. If you take a cup of the thermal bath water and eliminate the sunlight you will see it looks quite similar to milk. Alternatively, sometimes in the summer, the water takes on a slight greenish coloration, from the algae that grows and multiplies in the sunlight.

Lucky us, in our two trips to Iceland, Joey and I have had the chance to try two of the country’s best hot springs: the Blue Lagoon and the Mývatn Nature Baths. Here is a small synopsis on both these places.

Geothermal Station for the Baths

The Blue Lagoon:

An oasis of relaxation, Iceland’s Blue Lagoon is one of the most visited spots in the entire country. Formed in 1976, through the operation of the Svartsengi power plant, this heavenly hot spring arose when locals started bathing in the lagoon and notice that it has great effects on the skin. Having an ongoing mission to promote wellness and energy through forces of nature, the Blue Lagoon uses science and nature in harmony to harness incredible health-giving properties.

Joey Getting a Mask put on
Ali Putting Silica Mud on her Face
Ali Swimming by the Lava Stone

At present the energy company HS Orka extracts geothermal fluid through deep wells, which at 240oC is used for central heating and converted into electricity. Currently the plant provides heating to around 17,000 people and electricity for 45,000 people in an ecologically sound manner, all-the-while fueling the Blue Lagoon on 100% clean energy.

The Mývatn Nature Baths:

Known as the Blue Lagoon of the north, the Mývatn Nature Baths are a luxurious man made swimming pool surrounded by the peace and serenity of Iceland’s natural landscapes. Opened in June 2004, this alkaline environment of steam and relaxation is the perfect example of nature and man working side by side. Fueled by the National Power Company´s borehole in Bjarnarflag, the 130oC geothermal groundwater arrives in a 3.5 million liter basin and is cooled to 36-40oC, the perfect bathing temperature. Situated in a less touristic region of Iceland, the magical waters of the Mývatn Nature Baths are a tranquil abode that will sooth even the most agitated mind.

Ali Relaxing in the Blue Lagoon
Myvatn Nature Pools
The Blue Lagoon and the Mývatn Nature Baths, two unbelievably amazing places but how do you choose which one to visit?

If your traveling to Iceland and wondering which spot to tryout you could go the old flip a coin route and let fate decide your destiny, or you can check out our comparison of these two places. Whatever location you decide to go with, I can assure you that it will be a deliciously rejuvenating experience.

Blue Lagoon

Mývatn Nature Baths

From 5.400 ISK to 26.500 ISK depending on what package you choose Cost Image  From 3.800 ISK to 4.300 ISK depending on the time of year
Required Pre-Book Image  None
Towel, Robe, Swimsuit, Slippers Extra Rental Image  Towel, Robe, Swimsuit
Silica Mud Available in the Pools Face Mask Image  No Silica Mud
 2 Restaurants and 1 Bar Food and Beverage Image 1 Restaurant
1 Hotel Onsite Accommodations Image  No Hotels Onsite
 47 kilometers from Reykjavik Location Image  489 kilometers from Reykjavik

All in all one of the most welcoming thing to any tourist visiting Iceland is a good long soak in some of their geothermal hot springs. Given that Iceland is in a very volcanically active region, you will find hot spots all over the place, the best ones being the Blue Lagoon and the Mývatn Nature Baths. As overpriced as it may be, if you are only in Iceland for a short time and don’t plan on touring the island the Blue Lagoon is without a doubt your go to hot spring, however if you are heading to the other side of the island I would wait and visit the Mývatn Nature Baths. They are not as expensive and significantly less crowded, plus you have the flexibility to go whenever you have the time and not worry about pre booking. One thing is for certain no matter which hot spring you choose, after a cold and rainy day exploring, your body will thank you.

RELATED POSTS
Dive Buddies 4 Life Logo