Soaking away life’s strains in Iceland's legendary Blue Lagoon 28 Jun 2016
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One trip out of Reykjavík that should not be missed is to the world’s greatest outdoor bath, Bláa Loníð (Blue Lagoon)
The lagoon is a pool of seawater naturally heated by the geothermal activity below the surface. It sits in the middle of a lava field where you can lounge around with warm mud oozing between your toes in wonderfully warm water temperatures of 37–40°C (98–104°F) all year round. In spite of its evocative name, the lagoon is not a natural phenomenon, but a fortuitous by-product of Iceland’s geothermal energy usage. The nearby Svartsengi power plant pumps mineral-laden water from up to 2km (1.2 miles) beneath the earth’s surface, at a temperature of 240°C (470°F). The superheated water passes through a dual process, on the one hand to generate electricity, and on the other to heat fresh water.
Learn about Iceland's history, people and culture in Insight Guides: Iceland
This run-off water, rich in silica, salt and other elements, once flowed out into a pool a few hundred metres from the present lagoon’s site. Psoriasis and eczema sufferers noticed that bathing in the water seemed to ease their symptoms. Once the word was out, the lagoon was moved to its current location, and state-of-the-art facilities, carefully designed to complement the surrounding landscape, were built around it.
A cave-like sauna is carved into the lava and a thundering waterfall delivers a pounding massage. The complex also contains a spa treatment area, restaurant, snack bar, shop, conference facilities, and, should you care to spend the night, there is a guesthouse just over the lava field. If you are impressed by the Blue Lagoon’s healing properties, a range of eponymous skin and bathing products are on sale across the island.
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