Anyone planning a trip to Iceland must have come across the Blue Lagoon! And even if you aren’t, then you might still have heard about it too as it is quite the attraction. But is it a touristy trap or a place worth visiting? Well, read on to find out about my experience and some useful tips for visiting the Blue Lagoon!
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Get to know the Blue Lagoon
To clear things up to those of you wondering what the Blue Lagoon is, I am going to give a short description of the place. Keep in mind that the term Blue Lagoon is used to describe different places in different countries. For example, there is a Blue Lagoon beach in Malta, Croatia and Cyprus, a water park in Wales and who knows how many other places exist with the same name around the world. (If you know more, share them in the comments.)
In Iceland, the Blue Lagon is a geothermal spa. It is located in the southwest of Iceland, specifically at the Reykjanes Peninsula. It is known for its warm outdoor pool area and spa therapies. As it is only a short distance from the airport, Blue Lagoon is a very popular activity even for people who only have a few hours to spend in Iceland.
A bit of history and science
The Blue Lagoon is not a natural pool site, but the water that fills the pool comes from natural sources. These natural sources are local geothermal seawater springs two thousand metres below the ground. The water coming from these sources is rich in minerals, silica and algae, which provide various beneficial qualities.
A known benefit of bathing in this type of water (that has also been proven through research) is that it reduces the effects of psoriasis. The research was triggered after a psoriasis patient bathed in water coming from a nearby geothermal power plant (the lagoon did not exist then) and noticed that it improved its symptoms.
In the years that followed, there was a lot of local interest in bathings in those waters. This eventually led in 1992 to the founding of the Blue Lagoon as a recreational and research establishment. The lagoon uses the same seawater that is sourced from the nearby geothermal power plant.
My Blue Lagoon experience
I visited the Blue Lagoon with my boyfriend Christos during our first trip to Iceland. None of us had been to any thermal baths before, so it was a first-time activity for both of us. We got the Comfort ticket (below I talk more about the different tickets types) and booked a 10 am entry slot.
The whole experience was very pleasant and straightforward. When we arrived there, we got in the queue to check in. While waiting in the queue there were screens that explained how to get ready to get in the pool and where the changing rooms were located.
At the check-in, each of us was given an electric wristband which acted as the key for the changing room lockers and for making purchases from the bathing area. People who booked the Premium ticket were also given a bathrobe. Then, we proceed into the changing rooms area to get ready.
The changing rooms were very clean with plenty of lockers. The lockers were a bit tricky to operate, and it took me some time to figure it out, but it t all worked well in the end.
The female changing rooms were well equipped (and in a better condition than those of my old gym ?). There were a few private changing cubicles (most people change in front of their lockers), a few sinks with mirrors and hairdryers, a fair amount of shower cubicles (and a couple of open showers) with each having a shampoo, conditioner and body shower containers and a few toilets. As Christos told me, the male changing rooms were similar.
While there, we had to have a proper shower and put on our swimsuits. Besides, I had to prepare my hair as the water in the lagoon can damage it. To do that, I had to put on some hair conditioner and leave it on. It was important to tie up my hair in a bun to avoid contact with the water.
After all that we were ready to head to the pool! The only thing we had to do before leaving the changing rooms was to remember our locker number. A good practice if you are taking your phone with you to the pool, is to save your locker number there so that you don’t forget it. And this brings me to the next topic: bringing items to the pool.
Bringing items to the lagoon
The general rule is to not take anything with you to the pool excluding your electric wristband (and swimsuit of course). This includes sunglasses, bracelets, earrings, etc. The silica and the minerals in the water mean that it is very easy to destroy your items if they are submerged. Plus if you drop them in the water it will be very difficult to find them. The water is not clear, and it is not recommended to get under the water due to the large amounts of silica which can be harmful to your hair.
Taking your camera with you
Despite the advice to not bring anything in the water, many people bring their cameras with them. In my opinion, that’s fine as long as you don’t mind risking dropping it and don’t bother the other visitors. Many people had their GoPros or other waterproof action cameras with them or simply brought their phones in a waterproof pouch. I wouldn’t suggest bringing your phone without a waterproof pouch (unless it is already waterproof) or an expensive DSLR camera. No matter how careful you are, at some point, you will most probably wet it.
For us, it was the case that we didn’t have our GoPro with us, but luckily I had one of the waterproof pouches in my bag for my phone, so I used that one instead. Plus the pouch had a strap, which meant I could wrap my phone around my hand (I don’t like hanging it on my neck, but that’s an option too) so that I don’t accidentally drop it.
If you still want to take your non-waterproof phone with you but forgot to bring a waterproof case, you can buy one from the store by the pool. You could also take some photos from outside the pool before getting in and then return the camera to your locker. Keep in mind, that you are not allowed in the pool area if you have clothes on, so it’s best to do that before getting yourself wet to not get cold.
Note that if you want to take photos for commercial use or as an influencer you will need to get special permission. You can find more information about it at the Press Centre of Blue Lagoon’s website.
Inside the lagoon
After spending a bit too much time to get ready (I blame it on the locker), it was time to get in the lagoon. There are two ways to get in. One is to get out of the central door and into the pool, while the other is to step in the pool from inside and use the (somewhat heavy) door to exit in the outdoor area. I did the latter and it gave my body time to adjust to the water temperature and warm-up without being cold. Then, after I exited the building it was a smooth transition.
It is worth noting, that the weather was not bad when we visited (but neither nice). It was a bit cloudy, but luckily it wasn’t very windy nor it was raining. I don’t remember the exact temperature, probably around 15oC, but we needed a coat to walk outside. In reality, a couple of hours after we left the lagoon the wind picked up and it started raining shortly after. By the end of the day, this developed into a storm. So, you never know how the weather will end up on the day you visit. However, from what we noticed, the weather forecasts in Iceland were pretty accurate. Luckily, the water is warm enough so you will not really feel the cold.
Despite, being outdoors, the temperature of the water was very pleasant and kept at 38oC on average. When moving around the pool you will notice some temperature fluctuations. That’s become different areas of the pool are kept at different temperatures. The temperature of the water ranges between 36 – 39oC. A map inside shows the temperatures in the different areas of the pool.
As I said above, the water in the lagoon has various elements with the most common being silica. Silica looks like white mud, and you might be able to feel with your feet at some parts of the pool. Silica also gives the lagoon its distinctive blue colour. Another common element is algae. These specific algae found in the lagoon are a patented type local to the area. The Blue Lagoon algae are known to be beneficial to the skin by increasing collagen production. Lastly, you can find different types of minerals, such as mineral salt.
Other amenities and services
Inside the lagoon, you will also find a bar selling drinks and another hut selling face masks.
Each guest gets one free drink with their ticket. You can either redeem it at the in-water Lagoon Bar or at the Lagoon Bar outside the pool. You can find both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. If you want more than one, you can purchase it using your wristband.
Guests, also get one portion of silica mud mask to put on their face. There are other types of masks such as algae which you can purchase for an additional cost. Premium ticket holders, get three portions of masks (the silica one and two more).
Close to the Mask Bar, you will also find some sauna and steam rooms. You can use them whenever you want, provided they are not full.
When booking your tickets to the Blue Lagoon there is the option to add additional services. For example, in-water massages and flat therapies. These cost extra and are quite popular, so you need to book them early on. We didn’t have any, so I can’t comment about them.
Getting out of the laggon
After spending a good two hours inside the lagoon, we decided that it was time to move on with our day. In all honesty, if we didn’t already have plans for the rest of the day we probably would have stayed more.
So, once we exited the lagoon there were clean towels we could use. Technically, each person is entitled to one towel. However, from what we noticed nobody really cared and fresh towels were coming in all the time. People with bathrobes had to hang their robes before getting in the pool and once they exited they had to look for them to use them. In my opinion, it’s easier to just get a clean towel than looking for your bathrobe and hoping that none else had used it in the meantime.
After that, the checkout process was very similar to checking in. We needed to return to the changing rooms, have a shower, change back to our clothes, dry our hair and empty our locker. To leave, we had to pass from some machines to pay for anything purchased with our wristbands. We hadn’t made any additional purchases, so we just scanned our wristband, returned it and exited the area.
Outside the lagoon
Leaving the lagoon area is not the end of the visit. Outside the lagoon, there were a cafe with a small outdoor viewing platform, two gourmet restaurants: the Lava Restaurant and the Moss Restaurant (this one even has a Michelin star), and a shop selling various skincare products.
Before leaving, we had a quick look at the cafe and the shop. We didn’t purchase anything from the skin product range, but their products definitely looked promising.
Visiting the Blue Lagoon
Ok, now you know everything about the Blue Lagoon. Continue reading to find out how you can actually visit it!
How to get there
The Blue Lagoon is about 50 minutes driving from Reykjavík and about 20 minutes from Keflavík Airport.
If you are coming by car, there is a big car park outside the lagoon which is free of charge. If you need to rent a car, check out Rentalcars.com [AD] to compare, find and book the best car for your needs.
Otherwise, you can get the shuttle bus run by Destination Blue Lagoon. The bus leaves once every hour on the hour from Reykjavík (pick up point: Skógarhlíð 10) between 8 am to 5 pm and at 8:30 am and 2:30 pm from Keflavík Airport. To return to Reykjavík, there is a bus from Blue Lagoon once every hour on the quarter between 12:15 pm and 22:15. However, to get to Keflavík Airport there is only one bus at 2:30 pm. The bus costs 3 495 ISK (~ €25) per way.
You can find out up-to-date information about the bus schedule and purchase tickets here. You can also get tickets or transfers from many tour operators. In many cases, Blue Lagoon is combined with other activities around Iceland. In this way, you don’t have to miss out on important sights if you are in Iceland for a short amount of time. Below, there are some examples.
The Blue Lagoon has different opening hours depending on the season. In general, you can expect it to be open from 9 am to 8 pm, but in the summer these can expand. Currently, the opening hours for July and August are from 8 am to 11 pm and for June and September from 8 am to 10 pm. Usually, if you visit right after the opening of the lagoon or right before it closes, you will find fewer crowds.
Keep in mind that you will need to leave the lagoon at least 30 minutes before closing time. So, I would advise you to visit at least 2 hours before that to have at least one hour in the water.
Note that opening hours can change any time so it’s worth checking the Blue Lagoon’s website before visiting.
There are two ticket types or better packages: the Comfort and the Premium. Currently, the Comfort sells for 6 990 ISK (~ €50) and the Premium for 8 990 ISK (~ €65) per person. Both include entrance to the Blue Lagoon, the use of a towel, a portion of silica mud mask and a free drink. In addition, the premium package includes a bathrobe, two additional portions of face masks and a glass of sparkling wine at the Lava Restaurant. However, you only get the last inclusion if you choose to dine at the Lava Restaurant (reservations recommended).
Tickets have a timed entry, but once you get in you can stay until the closing time of the lagoon.
You can book your tickets from the Blue Lagoon website or from a tour provider such GetYourGuide [AD].
Retreat Spa Package
Besides that, there is also the Retreat Spa package. The Retreat Spa is a whole other experience with a focus on luxury and privacy. This package is probably too expensive for the average visitor. Its price is 59 000 ISK per person (a bit more than €400) and it offers access to the Retreat Spa area. There, visitors with this ticket type can enjoy a 5-hour relaxing experience with access to the Retreat Lagoon, 8 subterranean spaces, private changing rooms, skincare amenities and more.
You can book your tickets from the Blue Lagoon website or from a tour provider such GetYourGuide [AD].
It is easy to find accommodation near the Blue Lagoon [AD]. As it is close to the airport [AD], you can use one of the many hotels close to the terminal. Otherwise, you could stay in Reykjavík [AD] and do a day trip to the Blue Lagoon. If you have a car you can stay in one of the smaller accommodation establishments around the Reykjanes Peninsula [AD]. If you are camping around Iceland, then the closest camping site to Blue Lagon is in Grindavík. The campsites in Vogar and the one next to the Viking World are also not very far.
If you want to bring your visit to the Blue Lagoon to the next level, you could spend the night at the Silica Hotel [AD]. The hotel is located in the same complex and it is a great way to extend your stay there. The hotel offers a unique and luxurious experience and the rooms have views of the lagoon or the lava fields. The pricing starts at 76 000 ISK (~ €525) per night.
If that is not enough, there is another hotel in Blue Lagoon called the Retreat Hotel [AD]. Similar to the Retreat Spa packages, their rooms or better suites are not for the average visitor. They start at 180 000 ISK (~ €1250) per night, so definitely save this for a special occasion.
Tips for visiting the blue lagoon
That was a lot! Now, you probably want a summary of the most important things you need to remember for visiting the Blue Lagon. So, here you go:
- Visit early morning or late in the evening to avoid the crowds
- If you have long hair:
- Put some hair conditioner before getting in the lagoon and leave it on
- Tie them up so they don’t get wet
- Wash them with plenty of water and conditioner afterwards
- Don’t forget your swimsuit, but you don’t need to bring a towel or flip flops
- Plan to spend at least 2 hours there
- Bring a waterproof camera or phone or a waterproof pouch [AD] for your phone to take photos
- Book early if you want to have one of the in-water massages
- Relax and enjoy your visit
So, is it a touristy trap?
Based on my experience I wouldn’t say that the Blue Lagoon is a tourist trap. In fact, it was one of our favourite activities during our two weeks in Iceland. We could really relax in the warm waters, something that was definitely needed after a long trip. Yes, it was crowded and most visitors were not locals, but we could still find quiet spots to sit. Besides, locals have easy access to many local thermal pools costing less than this one. So probably the Blue Lagoon is not their weekly outing.
Overall, I would say that it is an experience worth having, especially if you haven’t done something similar before. We liked it so much that we said next time we visit, we will get the Premium package and spend the whole day there. We would like to try their other face masks, one of their spa treatments, and even have a meal at their Lava Restaurant. So, the Blue Lagoon is definitely an activity that shouldn’t be missing from your trip to Iceland!
P.S. This is not the only guide I wrote about Iceland. Find the other guides I wrote here.
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