Published October 19, 2017
Lake Mývatn–Iceland’s fourth largest–is one of the country’s most treasured places. Full of brilliant natural wonders, from the geothermal energy that flows generously throughout to the rich depths of the Krafla caldera, the grassy mounds of the pseudocraters and the strange, gaseous pots at Hverir. This combination of raw landscapes and warm baths has made it a hotspot for people looking for the strange and wondrous. It’s safe to say that if you want to spend some time revelling in the powers of nature, Mývatn is among the best areas in Iceland to do so.
Saying that, what attracted me the most was the unstoppable urge to visit one of the area’s more man made offerings—a shiny blue nature bath, often dubbed the Blue Lagoon of the North. Just ten minutes from Reykjahlíð, the largest town around Mývatn, you’ll find the Mývatn Nature Baths. It’s a smaller, more intimate offering than its more well-known southern cousin, but what it lacks in complimentary silica mud masks, it more than makes up for in charm, coziness and more of an “authentic” vibe (not to forget it’s about half the price).
Rest and relaxation
As we rolled into the car park in the evening, the sun began to drop ever deeper into the horizon and the simple exterior of the baths made it seem like my secret spot–despite being built over a decade ago. With no queues, we sailed straight in, but once outside in the bathing area I saw that the baths were humming with activity as tourists soaked in the silky blue waters, relaxing after a day spent taking in the sights of the wild terrain of the north.
Even for a geothermal area, the water around Mývatn is especially rich in minerals. Upon entering the lagoon you immediately feel the beneficial effects—my skin never felt smoother or softer. The friendly staff gave was nice enough to warn me that if I wanted to safeguard my bling, I would be well advised to remove my jewellery–the high levels of sulphur will turn silver to black, an unfortunate fate to which I succumbed as I have the memory of a sieve. Fortunately, reclining in a balmy hot spring at sunset while surveying a panoramic mountain view has the uncanny effect of making worries drip off; the ethereal nature of your surroundings forbids anything more than quiet, appreciative contemplation.
No time for exercise
The larger of the lagoons is naturally a little cooler and the more traditional rectangular shape makes it better suited for swimming. I swam a few lengths, taking in the beautiful scenes of the mountains as they peeked out from behind the steam lazily rising from the springs, enjoying the cloudy blue water enveloping me. After congratulating myself wholeheartedly for my ten minutes spent ‘exercising,’ I padded over to the hot pot and closed my eyes as the waning sunlight turned the sky pink and the distant mountains a deep, dark purple.
After two hours, it was time to leave the warm waters of the Mývatn Nature Baths behind. I felt calm, refreshed and ready for more adventures tomorrow—it was the perfect ending to a day in nature and en even better way to prepare for the adventures of tomorrow.