When visiting Iceland, a stop at the Blue Lagoon cannot be missed. Sure, it’s touristy, and most locals will tell you it’s highly overrated, but in our opinion it’s still worth checking out. The Blue Lagoon was our favorite thing we did on our trip to Iceland last year. Today we are sharing our tips and tricks on how to get the most our of your visit for the first timers guide to the Blue Lagoon.
Where is the Blue Lagoon?
The Blue Lagoon sits about halfway between Reykjavik and Keflavík International Airport. For this reason, it is a very popular choice to stop off at the Blue Lagoon either on your way into the city as you’re first arriving or on your way to the airport on your last day. There are hourly bus transfers to and from Blue Lagoon, Reykjavík, and Keflavík International Airport.
Wait, do people really go on their way to/from the airport?
Yes! We thought this was a little strange too, but its actually very easy. We opted to visit on our last day on our way to the airport. This was a nice and relaxing way to end our trip. There is a building facility in the parking lot where you are able to store your luggage for 4 euros a bag.
Why is the water blue?
It’s actually not. The water is milky white, but the reflection from the sun makes it look blue. The geothermal water has a unique composition, featuring three active ingredients- silica, algae, and minerals. The water originates thousands of feet under the surface where fresh water and seawater combine at extreme temperatures.
Is the Blue Lagoon natural or man-made?
It’s man-made. It sits on a naturally formed lava field, but the water comes from a nearby geothermal power plant, which harnesses the water to create electricity and hot water for nearby communities. The lagoon contains 9 million liters of water, and is self-cleansing, renewing itself every 40 hours.
How deep is the Blue Lagoon? How hot is it?
The depth varies from 3 feet to 5 feet and the water temperature sits between 98-102 degrees Fahrenheit (37-39 degrees Celsius).
Do I need to know how to swim?
You don’t need to know how to swim to visit Blue Lagoon. The lagoon is designed for relaxed bathing. So, while you can swim gently around the lagoon, its warm, cloudy water is not suitable for vigorous exercise. You can walk your way through it and sit down at various places. There are shallow areas where you can stay in the water, the further out you go the deeper it gets. Diving is not allowed anywhere. There are also lifeguards on duty at all times, for anyone who might get into difficulty. You do not need goggles in Blue Lagoon. You will not see anything with them since the Blue Lagoon water isn’t clear.
Are there skin benefits?
The mineral rich waters of the Blue Lagoon are believed to contain healing powers for skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
When is the best time to visit?
The Blue Lagoon is open 365 days a year. To avoid the crowds, try to arrive early in the day or closer to closing. The crowds are at their peak around mid-day. We visited during the month of April, and visited the Blue Lagoon on a Sunday arriving at 11AM. While there were certainly a good amount of people there, it in no way felt too crowded. Also, don’t worry about visiting in bad weather. It’s all part of the Iceland experience.
Do I need to book in advance?
Booking your tickets in advance is not just recommended, it is required. If you don’t book in advance you will not be allowed to enter. It is preferred that you print out a hard copy of your entrance ticket to bring with you, however, if you don’t have access to a printer you can pull it up on your mobile device so the bar code can be scanned.
How much does it cost?
There are 4 different entrance packages. The prices range from $45 – $223. Standard admission is free for kids age 2 – 13. The Standard package ($45) includes admission and a silica mud mask to use in the lagoon. The Comfort package ($62) includes entrance, the silica mud mask, use of a towel, a drink of your choice at the swim up bar, and an algae mask. The Premium package ($80) includes everything in the Comfort package, but adds use of a bathrobe and slippers, a reservation at Lava Restaurant, and sparkling wine if dining at Lava. The Luxury package ($223) includes everything in the Premium package, as well as a spa product set and entrance into an exclusive lounge.
So what package should I get?
The Comfort package is the most popular, and what we would recommend for the average person. We wanted the use of a bathrobe, but didn’t care about the other benefits of the premium package, so we purchased the Comfort package and opted to add on the use of a bathrobe for an additional $11.
What do I need to bring with me?
Bathing suits are required in and around all areas of the lagoon, including the sauna. You can bring your own suits, or rent them. You can also rent towels and bathrobes or you can bring your own. All are available in a range of sizes, from S to XL. If visiting on a sunny day, sunglasses are recommended. Also, if it is sunny, be aware of sunburn and consider using sunscreen. We would recommend bringing a pair of flip flops to wear around the locker room and walking to/from the lagoon. Water shoes are allowed but not really recommended or needed. The bottom of the lagoon is naturally uneven, but smooth because of silica sedimentation.
What do I do when I arrive?
Upon arrival, stow your luggage (if applicable) and walk up the lava path towards the spa entrance. Before heading inside, take a quick detour to the left just before the entrance doors for a great photo opportunity. Now enter the spa and step in line to check in. There will likely be a line of people who all have tickets for the same entrance time as you. A helpful staff member will scan your pre-purchased ticket and hand you your wristband along with any other items you are renting (i.e. towels, bathrobes, etc.). Your wristband should be worn at all times and acts as a key for your electronic changing room locker. You can also use your wristband to buy drinks and refreshments while you are in the spa. It works like an in-water credit card. You just pay for anything you charge to the wristband when you leave. From there you immediately go into the locker room areas to change. Women and Men have separate locker rooms and you don’t exit the locker room the same way you enter. Be aware of this if traveling with mixed company, as you may want to pre-arrange a meeting place as you’re likely leaving your cell phones in your lockers and won’t have a way to communicate once outside. The lockers are big enough to accommodate a backpack along with your coat, shoes, and clothing. Locate an empty locker and scan your bracelet to lock it once you have changed and want to secure your belongings. It isn’t the most intuitive process, but we were able to figure it out by watching a couple of people around us. However, there are staff in the locker room available to assist you with any questions.
So, I’ve heard there’s a lot of nakedness…
In Iceland, it is mandatory to take a full body shower, without your bathing suit, prior to entering the lagoon. Body culture in Europe is much different than America. People are generally just much more open. If you’re uncomfortable about it though, be assured that at the Blue Lagoon there are private changing rooms as well as private showers. It is 100% possible for you to change and shower without anyone seeing you naked if you don’t want them to. But I can’t promise you won’t see other people…
Complimentary Blue Lagoon shower gel and hair conditioner are provided in the shower area or you can bring your own. Wash your hair and body with the shower gel and then liberally apply the conditioner to your hair and DO NOT RINSE IT OUT. See more on this below.
Will the water affect my hair?
One of the unique features of the geothermal water at Blue Lagoon is the high levels of silica. Silica is not harmful to hair. However, if you get your hair wet, it can become stiff and difficult to manage. To avoid this you can keep your hair out of the water, but in our opinion it is part of the experience to get your hair wet. We generously applied the complimentary conditioner and did get our hair wet while bathing in the lagoon. If you spend more than a couple hours in the lagoon, and are getting your hair wet, I would recommend returning to the locker room and reapplying conditioner. Even still, we found our hair was still a little dryer than usual in the days following our visit. However, using a deep conditioner a couple times returned our hair to normal.
What happens when I’m in the Blue Lagoon?
After you have showered and changed into your swimsuit, it’s time to head outside to the lagoon. Bring your towel with you. The walk from the locker room to the lagoon is probably only 100 feet or so, but in freezing temperatures you’ll want to get to that warm water as quick as possible. There are racks outside where you can hang your towel and leave your bathrobe and flip flops. Just know, this area is not secured, so don’t leave anything valuable here. No one messed with or moved our towels or flip flops while we were in the lagoon. Leave your towel (don’t forget where you left it!) and head into the water. Once in the water, it’s easier to see just how big the lagoon is. There are various little pools everywhere, a cave, multiple covered bridges, and even a waterfall. Included in your admission are access to multiple spa amenities including the famous white silica mud mask, access to sauna and steam rooms, and a relaxation area that allows you to take a break from the water with lounge chairs overlooking the lagoon. After spending some time getting used to the water in the lagoon, head over to the silica bar, located in the lagoon, and an employee will give you a handful of silica mud for you to apply to your face and body. Leave it on for 5-10 minutes and then rinse it off in the lagoon. If your admission package includes the algae mask go back to the silica bar to get that one. We found the silica clay mask to be more cleansing and the algae mask to be more moisturizing. After getting glowing skin and exploring the lagoon a little, head over to the swim up bar. If your admission package included a beverage, the attendant simply scan your bracelet to cash it in. But if you want more than one drink, or if your admission package didn’t include one, you can order whatever you want, scan your bracelet, and you’ll pay for it on your way out of the spa. The swim up bar serves both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. You can make the health conscious option and go for a smoothie or frozen slushy, but we opted for a glass of champagne. There is a 3 drink maximum on alcoholic beverages, but really this is just common sense for your safety. You can get in and out of the lagoon at any point. Your admission is good for the whole day and there is no time limit. If you get tired of soaking you can take a rest in the relaxation area, or go enjoy the sauna and steam room.
What is the average time spent at the Blue Lagoon?
Most visitors spend between 3-4 hours at the Blue Lagoon. We were there 3 hours, but would have been happy to stay longer.
Are there food and drinks available for purchase?
Yes, there are a range of items on offer from light snacks and beverages to find dining. It just depends on how much you want to spend, and how much time you have. We had a total of 3 hours from the time we walked in to the time we needed to catch our bus to the airport to make our flight. We chose to spend all of our time soaking in the lagoon, but grabbed a quick snack from the cafe after showering on our way out intending to grab a larger meal at the airport. Since we didn’t eat at the Lava Restaurant, I’m not going to review it here. But even if we’d had the time, we probably still wouldn’t have eaten there as the menu didn’t have any vegetarian options. I grabbed a smoothie at the cafe, made with Icelandic skyr, and it was delicious! If you had longer time to spend, and wanted to grab lunch in between soaks, you could head back to the locker room to change if you wanted, but the majority of people were in bathrobes.
What do I do when I’m ready to leave?
When you’re ready to leave, grab your towel and other belongings from the rack just outside the locker rooms and head inside. Your first stop is the shower. Rinse off and be sure to wash your hair, especially if you got it wet. I actually washed and conditioned my hair twice. After you shower, I recommend applying some of the complimentary body lotion. Just like when you take a long bath at home, the water can be drying and the Blue Lagoon lotion is quite excellent. We actually liked it so much we bought some to take home, but more on that in a second. Locate your locker and unlock it with your bracelet to get your stuff and change. There are many areas with vanities and hair dryers if you want to dry your hair and put on some make up. They thoughtfully provide plastic bags to put your wet swimsuits in, which was a nice touch considering we were jumping right on a plane. On your way out of the locker room you drop your towels and bathrobes in a bin and make your way back towards the front of the spa. This is when your bracelet is scanned for the final time and you pay for any extras you purchased during the day.
Can I purchase the products I used while at the Blue Lagoon?
Yup! Pop into the gift shop before heading home to grab some souvenirs. We stocked up on gifts for friends and family, and a few things for ourselves….
How does everyone get photos in the Blue Lagoon?
In a selfie obsessed world, everyone obviously wants to get photos of themselves in the Blue Lagoon. Many people we saw opted to bring their smart phones into the lagoon wrapped in what I’m assuming was a waterproof case, but looked like a ziplock bag on a string. I believe they sell them for purchase at the lagoon if you ask when you check in, but I’m not sure for how much. Some people looked to have waterproof cameras. We didn’t want to risk water damage to our phones, so we opted for our GoPro. We used our nicer camera while outside the lagoon to take higher quality photos and video footage, but all photos and videos in the water were shot on our GoPro.
Is there anything else I need to know?
If you want a luxury spa experience, you can book in-water treatments such as a massage. You can extend your trip to the Blue Lagoon by staying onsite in their hotel. Each guest of the hotel receives complimentary Premium level access to the Blue Lagoon during their stay, and you also have access to the hotel’s private lagoon, which is smaller but essentially the same as the larger public lagoon.
Anything you would have done differently?
We would have liked to have spent longer than the 3 hours we had. We didn’t get to enjoy some of the amenities such as the steam room or the relaxation area, or have time for an in-water treatment such as a massage. If we could do it again, we would probably head to the Blue Lagoon on day one of our trip, as most flights from the US arrive in Iceland early in the morning, and spend the whole day in the lagoon before heading into Reykjavik. Or we would even consider staying at the lagoon’s accommodations.
To see video footage from our time in the Blue Lagoon, as well as more of our trip, watch our Iceland Travel Vlog below.
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