The Stinky Reality Of The Blue Lagoon, Iceland's Most Popular Tourist Destination

Iceland's Blue Lagoon is arguably one of the best reasons to hop a plane to the isolated Nordic country. The spot draws over 700,000 visitors annually thanks to its celeste-colored waters and elite spa facilities. Guests can spend the day swimming in the steamy geothermal baths, covering their skin in the Blue Lagoon's signature mud mask, and taking a break with a massage or a meal at one of the on-site restaurants. There are other luxurious activities, too, such as warm-up sessions in the sauna and "float therapy" to melt away stress.

However, one part of the Blue Lagoon experience isn't so luxurious: the smell. Iceland may have some of the cleanest, freshest air in the world, but you might forget that once you enter the lagoon's mineral pools. Some say the tourist attraction smells like rotten eggs, while one TikTok user compared the odor to farts. Either way, be prepared for a pungent stench if you decide to visit the natural wonder.

Natural minerals give the Blue Lagoon its smell

Rotten eggs and farts may not be the kind of scent you would expect to find at a breathtaking spot like the Blue Lagoon, but visitors should try to consider it just a part of the atmosphere. The lagoon's milky waters come from deep in the Earth, starting as geothermal seawater that's pushed to the surface. Along the way, the water picks up minerals and other properties from the ground and lava fields (volcanoes are one of Iceland's sneaky dangers). The result is water rich in silica, algae, calcium, sulfur, magnesium, and other minerals.

The unique makeup of the Blue Lagoon's water is said to help certain skin conditions, as well as signs of premature aging. However, these beneficial properties also give the water its distinct smell. The strong scent is the result of sulfur in the geothermal pools, and though getting a whiff might be unpleasant at first, it won't hurt you. In fact, some visitors say they get used to the odor quickly after arriving at the Blue Lagoon. If you notice the stench during your stay, consider it a reminder of the water's unique healing qualities.

How to escape the stench

If you're sensitive to certain odors — or just want to avoid smelling like a rotten egg — you may want to proceed with caution when planning your perfect Iceland itinerary. The odor at the Blue Lagoon may not be potent enough to warrant canceling a visit, but if you need a backup option, consider heading to Sky Lagoon instead. Sky Lagoon is located about 45 minutes away from the Blue Lagoon, near the capital city of Reykjavík. Some travelers on Reddit say Sky Lagoon lacks its counterpart's strong smell, even though it also uses geothermal water in its baths.

Outside of the hot springs, you may also smell sulfur when showering in Iceland, as hot tap water usually comes from the same sources as the lagoons. The odor can vary depending on the region, so a shower in one town may be stinky, while a rinse in another area may hardly smell of sulfur. If your hotel tap water reeks of rotten eggs and sewer gas, try to rely on cold water when you can (or at least give yourself a final rinse in cold water after a hot shower). Unlike Iceland's hot tap water, the cold water doesn't come from geothermal power plants and won't have the same sulfur smell.