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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Soak in the Experience -- Sky Lagoon is Iceland's Newest Geothermal Bath in Reykjavik -- All You Need to Know to Have a Meaningful and Healthy Visit

The Sky Lagoon is the ultimate meaningful and healthy experience! You may not fully understand why say that until you read our behind-the-scenes information from interviewing the guest relations and marketing coordinator. We invite you to add this new Icelandic spa to your travel list for 2021. 

Imagine you are a Icelandic boat traveling from your home to the sea.  What would you see? Sailing through lava rock formations, navigating your way and you can’t see what’s ahead because of the mist hovering above the water……appears…the vast expanse of the North Atlantic.  You’ve arrived at the Sky Lagoon’s treasure — the infinity pool over looking the sea and the effect is perfect.  You can’t tell where the lagoon ends and the sea begins.  

Courtesy of Sky Lagoon

Here is what you will learn in this article

  1. How is visiting the Sky Lagoon Healthy?
  2. What is the Ritual 7-Step Experience?
  3. How is the Meaning behind visiting the Sky Lagoon Meaningful?
  4. Interesting Tidbits about Sky Lagoon
  5. Practical Information about Sky Lagoon
  6. Summary

Iceland's newest geothermal lagoon, the Sky Lagoon opened April 30, 2021 and features more than just a lagoon. We met with Ragnheiður Harpa Haraldsdóttir, Guest Experience & Marketing Coordinator, (call her Heidi!) to find out more about how the Sky Lagoon is a meaningful and healthy experience! 

Luxury Travel Docs met with Ragnheiður Harpa Haraldsdóttir, Guest Experience & Marketing Coordinator for Sky Lagoon.  

How is the Sky Lagoon Healthy?

The Icelandic people have always had a strong relationship with the sea.  Of course that seems obvious when you are descended from Vikings and exist as an island equivalent to the size of Kentucky, but it is very interesting how the tradition of the sea continues today. Iceland is regularly rated as one of the happiest places in the world. Since the 1940s, learning to swim has been a legal requirement in the country – and it has one of the highest people-to-pools ratios in the world.  

So, could the secret to Icelandic health and happiness lie in their pool and hot tub culture? Swimming is seen as integral to their health, safety and culture. Heidi told us that she and many Icelanders swim in the ocean regularly despite the cold temperatures and how this is reflected in your experience at the Sky Lagoon will be evident shortly.  We found it interesting that Icelanders are introduced to swimming pools as babies! It is reminiscent of a Nirvana album cover…here is Snorri Magnusson "The Baby Whisperer" working with 4 month old babies in the pool. 

After hearing about this swimming culture, it is no surprise that locals were ready to come to the Sky Lagoon as soon as it opened.  Iceland reopened to international travelers in May of 2021, and before that the Sky Lagoon was 100% locals, but at the time we went, 10 weeks after opening, the ratio was about 50% locals and 50% tourists.  

When we first heard about the Sky Lagoon, we initially learned about the the Ritual 7-Step Experience. So what is the Ritual 7-Step Experience?  

The Ritual 7-Step Experience

Step One: Slow down, relax in the Lagoon

Enter through the cave-like entrance to the Lagoon. Step into the warm waters and relax. Breathe in the refreshing, cool ocean air. Float through a breathtaking canyon to the infinity edge and take in a view of Mount Keilir.  Pause, take it all in and enter a state of calm where you feel relaxed and open to what is to come.

Waterfalls are everywhere in Iceland! Of course the gorgeous Sky Lagoon would feature a waterfall. Luxury Travel Docs found the cool water and invigorating massage of the waterfall at the far end of the lagoon to just another enjoyable feature of the full experience!

Step Two: Cool down with a cold plunge in a replica of Snorri's pool

Boost your happiness with cold therapy. Wander in the fresh Icelandic air. Or, if you’re brave, take a quick dip in the cold (10 C/50 F) plunge pool. It will stimulate your immune system, decrease blood flow in the body and tighten skin. There is an interesting history behind the inspiration: Snorri's pool.

Snorri Sturluson, a revered Icelandic historian, poet and politician, had a man made geothermal bathing pool in Reykholt back in the 13th century. It was aptly named Snorralaug, which translates to Snorri’s pool and was fed hot water from the nearby hot spring Skrifla. Snorri had a tunnel built from his home straight to the pool so move easily back and forth to the pool. The pool still exists and can be visited

Snorralaug was once thought to be used only by Snorri, but the pool was mentioned much earlier in the Landnáma, or book of settlement in the 10th century. 

Courtesy of Sky Lagoon

Step Three: Relax with a view in the sauna

After your cold awakening, visit the sauna for 5 to 15 minutes. Allow the heat to open pores, remove toxins and cleanse your skin. While the heat works its magic, enjoy breathtaking views through the largest single window in Iceland and enjoy the sensory experience of gentle coastal acoustics.

Courtesy of Sky Lagoon

Step Four: Refresh in an energizing mist

Next, balance the heat by stepping slowly through Sky Lagoon’s cold fog-mist space. It’s stimulating and rejuvenating for mind, body and soul. Take a deep breath and refresh your senses.

Step 5: The Sky Body Scrub

It’s time for re-invigoration. By applying Sky Lagoon’s signature Sky Body Scrub, with almond and sesame oils mixed with sea salt, your skin will be exfoliated and glowing. Don't get it in your eyes! 

Step 6: The steam room

Steam will once more open your skin, allowing it to absorb the key therapeutic elements of The Ritual and maximizing the hydrating benefits of the Sky Body Scrub. This warmth eases your breathing and improves overall body function.

Step 7: Shower and relax in the lagoon

Rinse off the scrub in the rain shower. Then, step back into the warm geothermal lagoon. Lean back, close your eyes, breathe deeply, feel the results and enjoy the moment. Let all the benefits of the journey set in. You’ll feel every single muscle in your body relax. When you’re ready, head to the Lagoon Bar for a refreshment.

Courtesy of Sky Lagoon

Our thoughts were that the 7-Step Experience would be nice to experience, like going to a spa after arrival to combat jet lag.  Little did we know that the experience is so much more than steam and salt scrubs. Don't get us wrong, the spa like atmosphere and experience is wonderful and makes your skin feel amazing but what intrigued us after speaking with Heidi are the under-recognized benefits of the 7-step ritual: Alternating COLD and HEAT experiences.  

For a long time we have studied the Wim Hof method about the power of cold therapy. "Breathing, focus, and controlled exposure to cold are the three pillars on which the Wim Hof Method is built. Together they enable us to deal with ‘cold hard nature’, which are conditions that our bodies are no longer accustomed to, due to the modern-day comforts that characterize our lives. Exposing oneself to cold conditions such as cold showers and ice baths is related to serious health benefits, including stress relief , better sleep , faster recovery from physical exercise , and even relief from symptoms that are related to diseases like fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis." (from We suggest reading the latest book by Wim Hof about his powerful method for realizing our physical and spiritual potential. Click the photo below to see the formats available and reviews at Amazon.

Not only are Icelanders obsessed with their geothermal swimming pools and their natural hot springs, but many people also love to swim in the cold North Atlantic ocean! 

In fact there is a great spot in Reykjavík that is geothermally heated and is a great place for people to swim. On a warm summer day, The Nauthólsvík beach is one of the most popular spots for groups of locals who like to indulge in the benefits of cold sea swimming, all year long! 

What is incredible is the invigorating feeling that you experience when moving from a cold to heat experience.  Your body will tingle for several minutes as blood flow increases.  There is science suggesting that alternating hot and cold therapy, can simultaneously reduce inflammation, stimulate circulation, and loosen tight muscles. This sensation will occur in two steps of the 7-Step Ritual: from Snorri's plunge pool to the sauna and from the cold mist to the steam room.

How is the Sky Lagoon Meaningful?

On so many levels, the Sky Lagoon is a meaningful experience. Understanding the history of Icelander's relationship with water and how the Sky Lagoon reflects this historically, physically and visually was enough for us, but there's more.  

Iceland is the "Land of Fire and Ice" and hot water is in abundance around the entire country. With so many resources, it is no surprise that Icelanders have learned to harness the power of geothermal water in many ways. The majority of households in Iceland use geothermal water. The water used in homes, hotels and guesthouses is both water that has been directly pumped from boreholes in the ground and water that has been used in power plants to produce electricity. Water is an abundant resource and we chuckled when Heidi told us that the Sky Lagoon had to install timers on the showers because Icelanders will just let the water run and never shut it off. 

Ecologically, the Sky Lagoon was designed to utilize the power of water and nature to conserve.  How? The water from the Lagoon is recycled throughout the floors and walls to heat the building.  

Courtesy of Sky Lagoon

While Sky Lagoon wows visitors with its warm and modern feel, the team ensured thoughtful historical elements and traditions were worked into the overall design and guest experience. The style of building used dates back to the settlement of Iceland in about 870 and was used all the way through to the mid 20th century. Settlers used turf to build their homes because it offered exceptional isolation and protection against Iceland’s harsh weather conditions. Turf was and continues to be in abundant supply on an island where historically construction materials were hard to come by (Have you heard the joke "what do you do if you get lost in and Icelandic Forest? Stand up!). While modern homes and buildings no longer use turf, they paid homage to this ancient Iceland design by building a turf wall at Sky Lagoon, a first for a modern building in the country. The turf wall greets guests as they arrive. You can see the turf wall first hand in our photo above with Ragnheiður Harpa Haraldsdóttir, Guest Experience & Marketing Coordinator.

When constructing the wall, turf layer specialist Guðjón S. Kristinsson and his team revived this ancient building technique by cutting heavy pieces of turf into tiles and then layering those tiles into a herringbone pattern inside a wooden frame. Icelandic turf is especially durable because it is mixed with ash from various volcanic eruptions, making it thicker and almost concrete-like.

We pressed the question about giving back to the community, because these events are not publicized.  You won't see much about this because, things like donating tickets to an entire hospital after the pandemic, were not meant to be PR stunts, but truly a "thank you" to healthcare heroes. We feel this is the perfect attitude to have and it made us so happy to hear that the Sky Lagoon gives back. We heard many examples of how this is done. 

Interesting Tidbits

  • The sauna in Sky Lagoon is truly magnificent and boasts the largest single window in Iceland, weighing in at 2.4 tons!
  • The Sky Lagoon is situated on Seal Pup Bay, so make sure you look for seals while enjoying your views from the sauna.
  • The Sky Lagoon is built on a former landfill.  Let's just say it's MUCH nicer now!
  • A bridge across the Fossvogur (Reykjavik to Kópavogur) is planned in the near future for buses, pedestrians and cyclists and that will make traveling to Sky Lagoon from Reykjavik even less than 6 miles. They have bike racks at Sky Lagoon to encourage cyclists to ride to the facility.
  • We learned that the 65 employees of the Sky Lagoon feel like a close knit family and we found that was true! Everyone enjoyed interacting with patrons having big smiles and friendly attitudes. Ages of employees range from about 20 to 50 years of age. 
  • Wristbands provided at check-in gives you access to your locker.  Place the wristband up to the locker to lock or unlock indicated by a color change on the locker.  If you forget what locker number you have, you can hold your wristband up to a reader and it will display what number you have (do you think this good or bad?)

Practical Information:

  • Taxis to the Sky Lagoon from central Reykavik costs about $32 each way. We met a group that walked from the Perlan museum and it took about 45 minutes. 
  • Get drinks at the end of the Ritual 7-Step Experience. Then you won't risk getting dizzy in the sauna or steam room. 
  • The sauna has sand "hour glass" timers for 15 minutes on the wall.  Use one to not overheat (it's 80 degrees Celsius in there)
  • When you approach the Sky Lagoon, the area looks to the wrong place but know that the area is developing around it. Kópavogur is one of the fastest growing suburbs of Reykjavik.
  • Ask for return taxi at the coffee counter when you're ready to leave. They will call one for you. 
  • There are three passes available.  The Pure Lite pass was just added that skips the 7-Step Ritual, but we feel that is part of the meaningful and healthy experience. The difference between the Pure pass and the Sky pass is the Sky Pass gives you access to private showers and changing rooms.  Shower gel, conditioner, lotion and blow dryers are available with both passes and it's only whether they are privately available (Sky pass) or in a common area (Pure and Pure Lite passes). 
  • If you want to shower and use lockers with your spouse, get the Sky Pass and you will not have to use unisex rooms. 
  • Bring a waterproof holder or dry-bag for you phone.  We liked getting our pictures done in the beginning and putting our phones away to enjoy the experience.  
  • Cycling to the facility is encouraged and there are large bike racks out front for storage.  With a distance of 6 miles from Reykjavik, cycling is a perfect and healthy option for transportation.  In fact, Heidi often cycles to work. 



Visiting the Sky Lagoon was one of the highlights of our tour of Iceland.  We are grateful to Ragnheiður Harpa Haraldsdóttir for taking the time to explain not only the meaningful and healthy elements of the Sky Lagoon, but giving us tremendous insight into the Icelandic culture. Geothermal and cold water experiences are at the heart of daily life in Iceland and it is not something to miss. We hope our post has given you some insight into why you should make experiencing this a priority for your travels. In our opinion, skip the Blue Lagoon which we find to be too touristy, and take the time to immerse yourself in the experience at the Sky Lagoon. Or if you feel like it try both.  Have you visited the Sky Lagoon or the Blue Lagoon?  If so, leave us a comment about your experience below! 

Remember, if you have questions related to your health, always consult your doctor or medical professional. The information presented here is informative only and is not medical advice.

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