Relaxing into Iceland: Visiting the Blue Lagoon
You’ve probably seen pictures of the famous Blue Lagoon, considering it’s one of Iceland's top tourist attractions. While I said I could take it or leave it when planning our Iceland itinerary, Dan insisted that we go. I'm not usually one for sitting in large public baths, so I wasn't necessarily looking forward to this part of the trip. I couldn't have been more wrong! First, the Lagoon isn't really a bath. It's a manmade pool that evolved from steaming, milky blue seawater after the establishment of a geothermal power plant in the area (...not to be confused with a nuclear power plant). This geothermal seawater comes from 2000 meters underground and picks up silica, algae, and other minerals on its way to the surface. Now, people come from all over the world to experience the water's healing properties.
Our visit to the Blue Lagoon was the perfect introduction to Iceland. With its close proximity to Keflavik Airport, we drove straight to the Lagoon before heading into Reykjavik for the night. After the flight, relaxing in the Blue Lagoon was most welcome and it turns out a great way to prepare for the intense few days ahead driving the Golden Circle, hunting the Northern Lights, and visiting the South Coast.
While many guides have been written about the Blue Lagoon, I found Anna’s from Travel Outside the Box on We Are Travel Girls to be the most informative. Rather than repeating everything she’s shared, I'll highlight the tips I found most important and add a few more. Even if you're not a spa or public bath person, absolutely don't miss the chance to either begin or end your trip to Iceland with a visit to the Blue Lagoon.
Yes, I have to set expectations here because the Blue Lagoon is 100% catered to tourists. You won't find locals bathing here even though geothermal bathing is popular in Iceland. That being said, I still think it's worth a visit. I wanted to try and find a more local option, but sometimes there's a reason why places are touristy...it's because they're great! I've heard it can get quite crowded, but the space is large enough that you shouldn't feel like it's too busy.
Booking your experience
Blue Lagoon offers a number of different packages that vary in price. You must book tickets early because they often sell out weeks in advance. Based on Anna's suggestion, we went with the Standard entrance for 7,500 ISK ($68 USD) and rented a towel for 700 ISK ($6 USD). The price varies based on time of day. You could also bring a towel from your hotel if you're not coming from the airport. You can rent slippers or you can bring flip flops that double as shower shoes for your South Coast tour with Goecco. I didn't think it was worth it to purchase an extra mask when the silica mask is included. If you're interested in a massage, make sure to also book that in advance because we were disappointed when we tried to book even a month before. They're quite expensive, but our friend said worth the splurge.
The Blue Lagoon is located in between the Keflavik Airport (20 minutes) and Reykjavik (50 minutes). Thus, it's most convenient to either go upon landing in Iceland or on your way out. It all depends on what timing works best with your flights. We landed at 1:30pm and went straight from the airport. You can book a transfer directly with the Blue Lagoon (they use Reykjavik Excursions) when purchasing your ticket or use one of the other larger companies like Gray Line or Bustravel. Unfortunately, none of the times worked with our flight arrival, so we booked a semi-private transfer with Back to Iceland and it worked out perfectly! We would probably opt to go with them again as opposed to the larger bus because it gave us more flexibility with timing and we were able to leave our luggage on the bus. Plus, we were the only ones on a brand new minibus.
TBP Insider Tips
> Figure you'll want 2-3 hours at the Lagoon. We spent about an hour in the Lagoon and another changing and showering, etc. This time may vary if you're getting a massage or want to hang at the bar in the water.
> Don't stay in one place! There are lots of areas to explore. Don't miss visiting the waterfall!...It's a great free massage if the other is booked :)
> Ladies, my best advice is to avoid dunking your hair. The silica and minerals can leave your hair stiff and crunchy. You may be better putting it up in a bun. Before going in the Lagoon, you can use the conditioner provided in the locker room to cover the ends around your face. If you decide you want to get your hair wet, then you should coat your hair all over in conditioner before going in. Men, there's conditioner in your shower too.
> If you visit in the winter, it can be extremely cold to enter the Lagoon from outside. Instead, you can hang your towel on a hook just outside the locker rooms and enter from the inside pool. If you're facing the Lagoon from the locker rooms, there's a pool on your left with a door at the end.
> Just an fyi, the men's and women's locker rooms meet at the same place at the entrance to the Lagoon. If you're in a mixed group, you can plan to meet there.
> Stay hydrated! Especially if you just got off a plane. There is complementary water provided near the snack bar across from the inside pool...and it's delicious Icelandic water. Do not waste money buying a bottle.
> Leave your good camera in the locker and bring a GoPro and/or a phone in a waterproof case.
> Lockers are connected to electronic wristbands that you'll be given upon check-in. They are also connected to your credit card, so you can buy drinks and snacks without needing your wallet in the Lagoon.
> If you have luggage, you can store it in the service area next to the parking lot for 550 ISK per bag ($5 USD). I was able to fit a medium-sized backpack into the complementary locker.
> For those nudists out there, you must wear a bathing suit in the Lagoon. No skinny dipping allowed. You do have to shower naked before going into the Lagoon though...not that I saw anyone doing that.
> If you plan to shower after, you must bring your own shampoo if you don't want to use their generic body wash. Body lotion, conditioner, and body wash are provided. There is also a vanity area with hair dryers.
> If you visit during a sunny day, you'll want sunscreen and sunglasses.
> I chose not to go in with contacts or glasses. I was worried about getting the mineral water in my eyes, which would irritate my contacts and I knew my glasses would fog up right away. I embraced the blur and relied on Dan to make sure I didn't bump into anything.