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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Day 5: Mývatn Nature Baths/Jarðböðin

I bet you know someone who had a layover in Iceland and stopped for a visit to Iceland's famous Blue Lagoon.  You know it.... that famous milky blue hot pool just outside Reykjavik where tourists flock for a hot soak and Instagram worthy photos.  
The Blue Lagoon is after all Iceland's biggest tourist attraction.  

Everything I read about it made me want to stay far far away.  If you know me you know I sort of lose my shit around large crowds of humans.  Insane mobs and high prices lead us to the decision that IF we were going to spend money to soak in a hot pool we would wait until we reached the northern end of the island.  In Myvatn, Jarðböðin (the nature baths) are known as the "Little Blue Lagoon" and here, you can soak in a hot pool with fewer crowds and for a better deal, or so we thought

If you want to know which lagoon to go to, my quick answer is neither.  For me, this was another skippable tourist trap but in case you are interested in Iceland's "Little Blue Lagoon", read on and decide for yourself if it's worth your time and money.

Entrance sign - "Mývatn Nature Baths" is the English translation of Jarðböðin
One of my biggest issues with this pool was the temperature.  The water temperature could barely be described as warm and given the weather conditions and air temperature, not certainly wasn't warm enough.  According to their website, the water temperature is 36-40°C (96.8 °F - 104°F) and I am calling bullshit on that.  We spent most of our time trying to find the few warmer sections around the pool where the hot water was pumped in before eventually giving up to go steam in the sauna, so desperate for warmth after a long cold rainy day in Iceland.

Mývatn Nature Baths

The pools themselves are very scenic, pools with that iconic milky blue color nestled in the hillsides with gorgeous views of the Iceland landscape.  The pools were not busy and it was easy to find a section of the pool to relax in.  Again, our biggest complaint was that the pool was just above warm and not nearly warm enough to relax in after a long day in the cold.  The sectioned off hot tub was always full and jam-packed so I am assuming we aren't the only ones with these strong thermal opinions. 

Mývatn Nature Baths

Mývatn Nature Baths

Mývatn Nature Baths Location

--Fun Facts Nature Baths--
  • Mývatn Nature Baths" is the English translation of Jarðböðin
  • The baths opened in 2004, but people had been taking baths and steam baths in the area for centuries.
  • This is a manmade 5,000 square meter (54,000 sq ft.) lagoon with 3.5 million liters of 36-40°C hot water (96.8 °F - 104°F). (there was NO WAY the water was this temperature when we were there). 
  • The bottom is made of sand and gravel. There are some underwater benches although they are QUITE slimy. 
  • The pool of geothermal water is drawn from depths of up to 2,500 meters.
  • Mývatn Nature Baths are 487 km from Reykjavik whereas the Blue Lagoon is a mere 45 km (hence the lack of crowds).
  • Mývatn Nature Baths while cheaper than the Blue Lagoon (Blue Lagoon sells a basic adult ticket for 6100 ISK, $59), it still is expensive.  An adult single ticket is 3800 ISK to 4700 ISK for adults depending on the season ($37 to $45). There are lower rates for other groups like handicapped, senior citizens, and students and I used my student ID to get the 2700 ISK rate. 
  • Didn't bring a towel?  That will cost you an extra 700 ISK. You can also rent a swimsuit if needed. I brought my own suit and packed one of those micro-fiber towels.
  • Open year-round-- Hours:  June-Aug 09:00-24:00 / Sept-May 12:00-22:00
  • In addition to the lagoon, there is a hot tub and two co-ed steam rooms where you can relax in the geothermal steam.  There is also a large changing area with showers and lockers (you get a token for your locker with admission)
  • The showers are communal and there is one private shower.  Nudity is obviously very common and people are not shy about changing/showering/full nudity in the masses. There are very detailed and strict instructions on how to bathe BEFORE getting into the pools. There was definitely an icky feeling to these wet mass locker rooms.
  • You cannot bring your own alchol into the lagoon, it must be purchased there.
  • There is a restaurant open for lunch and dinner.     Website for more info

  1. Not nearly as touristy and crowded as the Blue Lagoon due to its distance from Reykjavik.
  2. Scenic with gorgeous views
  3. Included a sauna with geothermal steam 
  4. Cheaper than the Blue Lagoon
  5. Long hours, open late 
  1. Still insanely overpriced for what it was
  2. The water felt barely warm to us and we were not comfortable with the temperature and frigid air
  3. Felt like a tourist trap the way you have to pay for towels, etc. 
  4. You are not allowed to bring your own alcohol in, have to buy it from them and of course, it is not cheap. 
For these reasons while this was an interesting experience, 
the Mývatn Nature Baths/Jarðböðin get a big ole KW Skip. 

We ended the day with some shots of Brennivin by the geothermal pools outside the lagoon (these actually looked hot...) before settling into our guesthouse for the night (more on that later).

Lodging:  Skútustadir Guesthouse, Skútustadir 2B, 660 Myvatn (291 for 4 people- one "family suite" with two rooms, one with two twins and one with a set of bunk beds. Also had a private bathroom).  

Gallery image of this property
Photo from

This was a larger guesthouse with facilities in two separate buildings.  We stayed in one building and the communal kitchen was located in the other building.  While the images on showed a large beautiful kitchen to cook in, we were disappointed to see that that was NOT offered to guest and the kitchen was a tiny nook in the other building.  It was quite difficult to prepare meals in this tiny kitchen (note, there was no oven) and it got VERY crowded as other guests tried to prepare their meals.  This was one of the nights we decided to stay in and cook to help off-set the high food costs of Iceland.  We ended up making a veggie curry as being on an island, vegetables were expensive and hard to find and we were craving anything green.  While the rooms were clean and the breakfast was good, we were certainly disappointed by the tiny kitchen space.  

Breakfast however, was a great display of various local foods including local fish and homemade jams and we were excited to finally try the smoked trout.  Don't worry, Iceland is getting its very own food post 

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