Ever fancied a giant bright blue bath with healing waters and a swim up bar? Well, you’ll find just that at The Blue Lagoon in Iceland. Located close to Reykjavik, the Blue Lagoon is an incredibly popular attraction – and understandably so. This is such a must-visit destination that I included it in my Europe bucket list.
Combine picture-perfect surroundings with the ultimate spa experience. It’s a wonderfully relaxing day out that brings numerous health benefits too. Not only will you leave feeling super chilled, your skin will also be as soft as a baby’s bottom.
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What is the Blue Lagoon?
You’ve seen the pictures, you’ve heard the hype – but what actually is the Blue Lagoon? Set amidst an other-worldly black lava field, the Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa. Although Iceland is full of natural hot springs, the Blue Lagoon is actually man-made.
The surrounding land and lava are entirely natural, but the water used is a byproduct from the nearby geothermal power plant. The water is heated naturally by volcanic activity and lava flows. It’s this interaction with the geological layers underground which gives the water its rich mineral content.
As well as the geothermal spa itself, the Blue Lagoon has been developed and adapted for visitors. You’ll find restaurants, a hotel, changing rooms, a spa, a gift shop, steam rooms, sauna and an aggressive waterfall that delivers a pretty punchy massage experience.
Is the water warm?
The Blue Lagoon is very warm, at a temperature of between 37 and 40 degrees Celsius. It effectively feels like a comforting warm bath. The water is warmer towards the surface and also close to the vents where the water enters the lagoon.
How deep is the Blue Lagoon?
The Blue Lagoon varies in depth but the deepest parts go down to 1.4m/4.7ft. Worth knowing if you’re taking children with you, or if you have short little legs like me.
What are the health benefits of the Blue Lagoon?
The water is rich in skin-loving minerals, blue-green algae and a high concentration of silica. This combination of contents help exfoliate and condition the skin. As well as giving the water its milky appearance, silica also carries antibacterial properties. This makes it potentially beneficial in treating skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
And that’s not all. The rich minerals are supposedly fantastic for anti-aging. Add to that the free silica mud face mask which works to deep cleanse and clarify the skin.
You’ll emerge from the waters looking like a smooth-skinned toddler! (This assertion is not scientifically backed).
Planning your visit
With a high number of visitors everyday, you’ll need to plan your trip carefully. There are a number of things I wish I’d known before I visited and I will aim to cover all of them in this guide.
Where is the Blue Lagoon in Iceland?
The Blue Lagoon is often described as ‘in Reykjavik’ – but this isn’t strictly true. It is actually situated a good 40-45 minute drive from Reykjavik, just outside of Grindavík.
How far is it from the airport?
The Blue Lagoon is a 20 minute drive away from the airport. Given its close proximity to the airport, it makes sense to plan a visit to the Blue Lagoon at the start or the at the end of your Iceland itinerary.
Best way to get to there
If you’re staying in Reykjavik, the best way to get to the Blue Lagoon is by car or shuttle bus. The former option is great if you’ve rented a car. If you’re visiting Iceland as part of a tour then transport should be taken care of for you.
Travelling by bus is another great option and I recommend travelling with the official transport partner, Destination Blue Lagoon. There are hourly departures from Keflavík and round-trip hotel pickups from Reykjavik. Or, you can pick up the shuttle bus from the airport.
When is the best time to visit
The Blue Lagoon is open all year round. A visit to the Blue Lagoon will be much the same whatever time of year you visit. The main difference is that the walk from the changing rooms to the warm waters is a rather chilly one in the winter months! But in a way, that makes the warm waters even more welcoming.
When I visited, the weather was incredibly overcast and grey. I actually quite liked it, as it added to the other-wordly look and feel of the lagoon. But likewise, I’m sure that beautiful blue skies would be wonderful too.
Choose what month to visit based on the experience of Iceland you’d like as a whole. Would you prefer the longer, warmer days of the summer? Or the colder, snowy days of the winter when you’re more likely to see the Northern Lights?
I visited in November and was blown away by the beauty of Iceland at this time of year. The days are short but the sunset lasts pretty much all day. Having said that, the weather in Iceland can be unpredictable at any time of year.
In terms of timings on the day itself, I’d suggest getting to the Blue Lagoon as early as possible. If you can get there just before it opens then you’ll be one of the first in. This is particularly good if you are keen to snap a few photos without other people paddling around in the background.
Can you visit the Blue Lagoon at night?
You sure can visit the Blue Lagoon at night! The dark skies combined with the lights of the lagoon add to the magical look and feel of the spa. Plus you’ll find it more peaceful. Just don’t bank on taking any clear photos, as it will likely be a bit too dark and misty to capture anything worthwhile.
Do you have to pre-book?
Yes, you do have to pre-book the Blue Lagoon. So don’t even think about just rocking up on the day because you will likely be disappointed!
How far in advance to book
Try to book as far in advance as you can, just to be on the safe side. It’s not always possible to get tickets if you try to book in the same week as you’d like to go. This is especially the case if you’re visiting at the weekend, as it tends to be a little busier then.
How to book
You can pre-book tickets for the Blue Lagoon on the official Blue Lagoon website. If you’re doing an organised tour as part of your visit to Iceland, then tickets may already be included. It may be that your tour provider can organise it all for you, so it’s worth asking.
Blue Lagoon admission cost
It’s not quite as straightforward as one simple price (that would be too easy). There are three different pricing tiers to choose from:
Comfort: Blue Lagoon
Price: From ISK 5,990 (about £33 or $44)
- Entrance to the Blue Lagoon
- Silica mud mask
- Use of towel
- First drink of your choice
This is the option I did and it suited me perfectly.
Premium: Blue Lagoon
Price: From ISK 8,990 (about £50 or $66)
- Entrance to the Blue Lagoon
- Silica mud mask
- Use of towel
- First drink of your choice
- Second mask of your choice
- Use of bathrobe
- Table reservation at Lava Restaurant
- 1 glass of sparkling wine if dining at Lava Restaurant
Luxury: Retreat Spa
Price: From ISK 49,000 (about £270 or $360)
- Four luxurious hours at the Retreat Spa
- Private changing suite
- Unlimited access to both the Retreat Lagoon and the Blue Lagoon
Note that prices may vary depending on the time slot you book.
How long to spend in the Blue Lagoon
Around 2-3 hours is a good amount of time to spend at the Blue Lagoon. If you love to relax and indulge for a long time then stay for around 4 hours. There’s no rush and it’s always nice to take your time at these places. If you’re treating yourself to a massage or bite to eat in the restaurant then you may want to allow a little longer.
Is there an age limit on visiting?
The minimum age for visiting the Blue Lagoon is two years old. For the Retreat Spa, it’s 12 years old. All children in the Blue Lagoon must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. This is particularly important because some areas of the lagoon are as deep as 1.4m/4.7ft. As a short person myself, there were some areas where I could just about keep my chin above the water!
Can you visit the Blue Lagoon if you’re pregnant?
It’s always recommended to go on the advice of your doctor or midwife. It is generally considered that the Blue Lagoon is safe for pregnant women, but ultimately it’s a personal choice. Just be sure to stay hydrated if you do go.
What to know before you visit
What facilities are there?
Aside from the geothermal spa itself, there are a number of other facilities available to use at the Blue Lagoon. Make the most of the free silica mud mask, or extend your relaxation into the saunas and steam rooms dotted around.
For an intense DIY back massage, stand under the man-made waterfall and experience the pounding of the water on your shoulders. Enjoy a drink at the swim-up bar within the lagoon itself and choose from a healthy smoothie or an indulgent beer. If you fancy a break from the outdoors, there’s an indoor relaxation area with views over the lagoon.
In terms of the more practical facilities, you’ll find changing rooms with shower facilities. There’s also the Spa Restaurant where you can enjoy a light bite to eat. It’s an informal affair, so you can visit in your robe if you wish. For a more formal affair, there’s the Lava Restaurant which offers excellent gourmet dining. No robes in this restaurant!
A useful one to know before you go – you HAVE to shower before entering the Blue Lagoon. And you HAVE to shower naked, without your swimsuit. If you’re happy to bare all then there are same-sex shower rooms. But if you prefer to keep your privates, well, private, then there are a number of shower cubicles with fitted doors too.
If you try to avoid this rule then there are staff who will notice and make you shower before entering the lagoon. It may seem like overkill but it makes sense – you don’t want to be paddling around in other people’s dirt.
Now this is a really important tip – for both men and women. The waters of the lagoon may do wonders for your skin. But they wreak havoc on your hair. In fact, the effects that the water can have on your hair are so bad that there are numerous signs insisting that you slather your hair in conditioner before you enter.
I implore you to listen to this guidance. Smother your hair in conditioner and secure in a bun on top of your head. Avoid getting your hair in the water at all costs. If you do get your hair in the water then don’t panic. It just means that you will have exceedingly dry hair for a good few days and it will likely take several washes for it to return to normal.
How to take pictures at the Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is a truly beautiful place and not like anywhere else. It’s a perfect picture opportunity – but there’s also the issue of cameras / phones versus the water. I strongly advise taking a waterproof case for your phone or camera.
Personally, I didn’t want to risk taking my camera in. Instead, I used a waterproof case for my phone which I could hang around my neck. Shoutout to my friend on the trip for bringing a spare one, because I did not think of this! I saw a number of people holding their phones in their hand out of the water. It made me stressed just watching them, so I really would recommend a waterproof case.
Blue Lagoon vs Secret Lagoon
There’s another giant blue bath in Iceland? There are actually many alternative options to the famous Blue Lagoon – Iceland is not short of hot spring spas. One of the closest rivals is the Secret Lagoon in Fludir.
The Secret Lagoon is smaller and more intimate. It’s not quite as commercialised, meaning it’s cheaper, not as touristy and feels a bit quieter. This makes it a compelling alternative, especially if you’re on a budget. But if you’re set on the signature blue milky waters of the Blue Lagoon, know that you won’t find this at the Secret Lagoon.
All in all, despite the Blue Lagoon being a very touristy attraction, it’s simply not one to be missed. For the ultimate relaxation experience, stay at The Retreat or Silica Hotel – two of the best luxury hotels in Iceland. Just be aware of all the tips and information in this guide, so you can go prepared and ready to enjoy the experience.
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