As I sank into the hot water, the steam swirled around me and drifted down the canyon-like rock walls like old legends, disappearing into the oily cloudy sky. Atop these rock faces, the grass peeked out and I waded chest deep in the warm, welcoming waters of Iceland’s new Sky Lagoon.
The scene was both dramatic and calming. After flying for hours from Dallas to Reykjavik, the Icelandic capital, my body needed the soothing warmth and comforting embrace of a hot spring. But as dramatic as this steamy, swirling pool of mist is, it’s just one of many dramatic scenes in Iceland.
This northern island nation is a stunning and breathtaking landscape with its volcanoes, hot springs, massive glaciers, thundering waterfalls, multicolored aurora borealis and lava fields. It is a wild and untamed country with most of the population living in the capital, Reykjavik, which celebrates the country’s Viking history.
Beneath Reykjavic is a huge geoheated aquifer, and thanks to the abundant source of naturally heated water, the whole city runs on geothermal energy. That same geothermal energy warmed my weary body at Reykjavic’s brand new hot spring lagoon spa, Sky Lagoon, which opened in April 2021 to much fanfare. As part of an organized trip to discover Sky Lagoon, it was also my first visit to the country.
From its infinity pool view to its soul-enriching 7-step ritual, here are seven ways to enjoy Iceland’s beautiful new Sky Lagoon.
1. The new luxury getaway
Sky Lagoon, owned by Pursuit, is not only Reykjavic’s newest luxury destination, but it’s also super easy to get to. Located about 11 km south of downtown Reykjavic, getting to the lagoon is as easy as hailing a taxi. In fact, it’s so close you can even pay a visit if you have a long layover at Keflavik Airport, although the airport is about an hour’s drive away.
Sky Lagoon was designed to be an authentic experience of Icelandic beach culture, said Dagný Pétursdóttir, general manager.
“When we started this project, we knew we wanted to celebrate this rich heritage of bathing culture. The hot springs and the bath culture were probably the only reasons the Vikings stayed in this country,” she said. “They used the hot water to bathe in, and it was fantastic therapy for different things like arthritis…Today, geothermal pools and spas are what we do to connect, and that’s is so important socially.”
The new $31 million spa lagoon was built during COVID, beginning construction in early 2020. Pétursdóttir said the design pays homage to Icelandic geography, nature and heritage, incorporating the slate gray blues of the Icelandic skies, the deep greens of grass, and the creams and blacks of Iceland’s volcanic landscape. Following the Icelandic theme, the lagoon spa features a traditional turf house that houses the 7-step ritual, turf walls and a cold plunge pool.
In addition to the swimming lagoon, the Sky Lagoon has large changing rooms and showers – including private changing rooms for those who may be too shy for open facilities – a cafe and bakery, a small restaurant and a gift shop with all the wonderful skin care treatments offered at the spa.
Sky Lagoon’s massive 246-foot infinity pool and designer sauna’s large windows offer visitors a unique view of the Icelandic President’s residence at Bessastaðir, an occasionally erupting volcano on the Reykjanes peninsula, and the vast fjord of Skerjafjörður in which Sky Lagoon is located. .
The easiest way to get from Keflavik Airport to Reykjavic is by bus. You can take the Reykjavic Excursions FlyBus to the capital’s main bus station and then take a taxi to the spa, or you can opt for Reykjavic Excursions Sky Lagoon Pure Pass with Transfer. The Pure Pass includes transportation to Sky Lagoon from Reykjavic and entry to a 2-hour spa experience. You can also opt for a private transfer.
Icelandic Air also offers a Sky Lagoon Pure Pass with transfers!
2. Take the plunge (cold)
Besides the mysterious Viking-era views and 100-104 degree Fahrenheit geothermal waters, the real magic of Sky Lagoon is its signature “7-Step Ritual.”
The 7-step ritual begins in the hot lagoon. As you relax in the Sky Lagoon, allow your body to begin to release its tension before moving on to stage two.
The second stage of the ritual begins with a dip in the Cold Plunge, a small pool inspired by the cold pool found at Snorralaug in West Iceland. The Snorralaug pool is believed to have been in use since the 12th century based on accounts by 12th century author Snorri Sturluson, author of parts of the Edda in prosewho inspired what we now call Norse mythology.
Although Snorri’s pool is warm, the circular Cold Plunge surrounded by rocks at Sky Lagoon is set at 10 degrees to wake up the skin. Slipping into this cold water is definitely a shock at first, but if you can handle the cold, it’s worth staying a few minutes before moving on to stage two.
3. Enter the sauna
The third step in the 7-step ritual of Sky Lagoon is the sauna with its large panoramic window on the fjord. As the dry heat warms the skin after the dip in the cold, the pores open and sweat out, cleansing your body of impurities. While you soak up that warmth, the views from what Pétursdóttir claims to be Iceland’s largest bay window will also soothe your mind.
4. Play in the rain
The 7-step ritual continues with a cold mist room, just enough to reduce body heat from the sauna experience. As light mist rains down from above in this stone room, you feel like a child again, spinning and laughing with the feel of soft raindrops. Covered benches allow you to rest sheltered from the mist, but the feeling of turning your face to the sky to embrace the rain is a singularly magical experience.
5. Scrub, steam and rinse
Once your pores have been closed by the cooling effects of the cold mist room, the attendants will hand you a small bowl of body scrub. Use this fourth step body scrub all over the body, avoiding the face, and feel the old skin absorb the salt scrub like a sponge. The scent is a field of Icelandic wildflowers, and before rinsing off, you’re directed to a steam room to allow the scrub to fully sink into your skin.
The sixth stage, the hammam, is like a dream when you first enter. The vapor is so thick you can barely see what’s in front of you, but as the tickle droplets roll over your body, it’s a good time to reflect on how you feel and how your body feels. reacts.
The seventh step is to rinse off the scrub under a shower before returning to the lagoon. After the seven steps, your skin feels like silk and your mind is at ease and at rest.
Pro tip: Sky Lagoon offers two packages, with the more expensive Sky Pass package including private changing rooms. But both entries, including the cheaper Pure Pass, grant admission to the lagoon and access to the 7-step ritual. If you don’t mind changing in front of others, the Pure Pass is all you need.
6. Taste Iceland
If you need a hot cup of coffee or that famous Icelandic hot chocolate, or if you’re feeling a little hungry after all that relaxation, The Sky Lagoon offers three Icelandic taste experiences that connect you to the flavors of this Nordic country.
The Sky Cafe is a bakery and cafe that includes pastries, rustic breads, soups (we had the cauliflower bisque, and it was to die for) and light sandwiches. You can also buy snacks here, like the locals’ favorite OmNom chocolate.
For a more sophisticated taste of Iceland, the Smakk Bar offers small tasting plates featuring Icelandic cheeses and sausages, artisan breads and crackers, and other tasty tapas-style treats.
“Smack in Icelandic means “taste”. This is a flavor bar where you can simply try Icelandic ingredients, whether it’s game, seafood or farm-to-table dishes,” Pétursdóttir said.
The third taste experience is the Lagoon Bar, nestled in a “cave” at the end of the lagoon itself. Simply swim for an Icelandic beer or local drink as you relax in the waters.
To note: There’s a three-glass maximum on alcoholic drinks, but the bar also offers soft drinks and even non-alcoholic beers.
7. Relax before or after a flight
Whether you’ve just landed after a long flight or are about to sink into a seat for a long flight home, The Sky Lagoon is just what you need to shake off that airplane funk. With its relatively close proximity to Kefvalik Airport and easy transportation, it’s a great place to start your Icelandic adventure or plan your trip home.
“We wanted Sky Lagoon to be the grand finale of your trip, and we have our products to sell internally,” Pétursdóttir said. “We have 40 products, and the most famous is the body scrub, which you will discover in the Ritual in 7 steps.”
In addition to body scrub, Sky Lagoon also sells other skin care products, such as organic body oil and body lotion.
No matter when you visit, you’re sure to leave cleansed, relaxed, and enveloped in Icelandic bath culture.
Pro tip: You will need to make an appointment to visit Sky Lagoon. Appointments can be made here.
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