The Blue Lagoon is the iconic postcard image of Icelandic tourism, and often the very first thing people will learn of discovering Iceland for the first time.
With many bucket list destinations there is a risk of it being over hyped, and the experience just not living up to expectations. But for us the Blue Lagoon was amazing!
It was our first stop on our Iceland road trip, on our first morning, on very little sleep…. And we loved it!
So we thought it important to share this information with you so you can have an equally great experience.
Is the Blue Lagoon Worth It
If you are measuring in both time and money the answer for us was yes! But I can see why some people may think otherwise.
Even for the most basic package it is an expensive day out, and you may only be there for an hour or two depending on your schedule.
It is a very unique experience though and if you do have it on your bucket list then money probably isn’t that high on the priority list.
Best Time to Visit
We were there right on opening time and for the first hour we had the Blue Lagoon almost to ourselves.
This allowed us to get some great photos without having to doge other tourists, or wait for clear backgrounds.
We also didn’t have to wait for anything. Change rooms were empty, bar deserted, instant face mask….
If you came in peak times, or with a large tour group I can see the experience being very different.
The colder morning summer air I think also added to our experience. The water is hot, and once the sun is on you it can be very glary.
So if you are an early riser and attending in Summer we would recommend first thing in the morning.
Even though the Blue Lagoon is open until 11pm in the summer months, you may find that the numbers remain high until closing time. You also would have to pre-judge how much time you want to spend there.
This could leave you feeling disappointed…. So just get up early and go.
In the Winter time you can flip this idea on it’s head. Closing time comes forward to 9pm, but it will be well and truly dark by then. Which means you are a chance of viewing the northern lights while floating on your back in the warm water.
Tourist numbers are down in Winter, and you won’t care who’s around you when looking at the sky anyway.
So to sum up, the best time to visit the Blue Lagoon is:
- Summer -> as early as possible: book that first slot of the day!
- Winter -> as late as possible: At least an hour before sunset so you get at least some sunlight.
Location and Transport
The Blue Lagoon is a great introduction to Iceland due to its proximity to both the airport and the capital of Reykjavic.
For reference the address is Norðurljósavegur 9, 240 Grindavík.
While you could take a taxi there, it is the return journey that makes it impractical given the isolated location and that you will likely be in the complex for hours.
So your best options are:
- Rental car
- Private transfer
- Jump on a guided tour
From Keflavik International Airport
It is an easy 20 minute drive from the airport. You head down highway 41 which is pretty much the only road out of there towards the city, and then you take a right at highway 43.
From there it is easy to follow the signs to the Blue Lagoon.
It is much further from the capital with the drive being about 40 minutes.
The number system makes navigation around the city quite easy, but when coming out of the capital do yourself a favor and just use Google Maps navigation.
Highway 49 will take you out of the center of the city, and link up with highway 40 that heads south-west until you meet up with the main road that takes you all the way to the airport – highway 41.
From there its is a long straight drive until you reach highway 43, take a left there and follow the signs.
Packages & Prices
There are three tiers of packages that you can book for your visit. Each has a range of inclusions in addition to your entry to the complex.
Prices will vary depending on the time of year, and your time slot. You can save a few bucks by going early or late:
This is the entry level package and just includes the basics. For the boys, if you have never had a face mask on today is your day!
Cost is from 6,990kr to 11,990kr ($50-$85 USD) and your inclusions are:
- One drink from the bar
- Use of towel
- Silica mud mask
One face mask was enough for me…. But if you plan on hanging around to eat then it may be worth it.
Cost is from 9,990kr to 14,990kr ($70-$110 USD) and your inclusions are:
- One drink from the bar
- Use of towel
- Silica mud mask
- Second face mask
- Dining reservation
- Sparkling wine when dining
- Slippers & bathrobe
This is the premium experience where you would want to put aside a whole day to make the most of it.
It is much more expensive with a flat rate of 39,500kr ($270-$280 USD), and includes:
- 4 hour access to the private retreat spa
- Private changing rooms
- Retreat Lagoon
- Skin care amenities
- Access to the Spa Restaurant
Combining this with a nice dinner at the X and an overnight stay at the X hotel will round out the premium experience nicely, but will set you back over a thousand bucks for the privilege.
We decided to spend the night in our campervan instead….
Where to buy Tickets for the Blue Lagoon
All packages will come with an allocated time slot and must be pre-purchased to guarantee entry.
Book well in advance if you need a specific time. We only booked the night before and could only get in first thing in the morning (which turned out great!) or later in the afternoon.
Book your tickets on the official website here.
If you are on a group tour then you can organize your entry through your tour operator, but double check if this is an inclusion in your package.
What to Expect on Your Visit
As you approach the site you will notice the rocks on the side of the road turn a volcanic black, and the car park completely surrounded by these dark colors.
The car park is free and from there it is a short walk to the entrance to the complex. Already you will see hints of milky blue water surrounding the entry.
Another perk of arriving early is no line to get in! We did see one building when we left hours later.
Showers are compulsory before entering the Blue Lagoon. Your entry pass will include the use of a locker so you can leave all your clothes and valuables safely tucked away.
You then have to navigate that cold walk from the shower to the warm water outside wearing not much more than a towel. That refreshing Icelandic air will smack you in the face as soon as you step outside.
This provides a delightful contrast as you creep into that warm water…. I enjoyed this, Anh didn’t. She doesn’t handle the cold.
From there it is up to you to start exploring.
There are bridges to swim under, and rocky enclaves to detour into, and steam vents spewing heated air out at a confronting rate.
You can get right up close to all of this.
Cool Facts and the Blue Lagoon’s History
Is the Blue Lagoon Natural?
While this looks like a natural wonder, the Blue Lagoon is in fact, man made. Upon entry you will notice a big, ugly, geothermal power plant right next door.
Well, that is where the milky blue water comes from.
It is quite ironic that a country which has become world famous for its natural beauty has a man made lagoon as its number one tourist attraction.
After the geothermal power plant was built in 1974 the water being fed back into the lagoon would pool in the surrounding area.
People would come to swim in this water that was warm and full of minerals like silica and sulfur (hence the smell in the air). It was not until 1987 that the complex was built and access regulated.
How Deep is the Blue Lagoon?
The Blue Lagoon’s deepest point is 1.4 meters (4.7 feet). But the rocky floor of the lagoon is constantly changing depending on where you explore.
While the water run off is man made, the lagoon itself still follows it’s natural contours resulting in inconsistent depth.
The main entry point to the water does have a display sign with indicative depths for the different areas in the water. So if you have kids (or are very short) you can check this out to know the safe zones.
What Temperature is the Water?
The temperature in the Blue Lagoon is 39 degrees celsius (102 degrees fahrenheit).
Similar to a hot bath, and while this may be a shock to the skin on entry you will adjust quickly and it becomes quite comfortable.
Activities and Amenities
While in the complex all of your inclusions and other expenses are managed through the wrist band you recieve on entry.
This allows you to leave your wallet in the locker and not worry about stashing your credit card in your swimsuit.
This small swim up bar allows you to claim your included drink without leaving the water.
The options are limited, but still refreshing.
Unfortunately they did not serve coffee….
While every package comes with at least one face mask, there are multiple options on offer. You can purchase extras on site if you feel like trying a second…. Or third:
- Silica mud mask
- Lava scrub mask
- Algae mask
- Mineral mask
We have already mentioned the private retreat spa, but if you do not want to spend the money for that experience you can get a floating massage right in the main lagoon.
You will be propped up on a floating mattress while a masseuse gives you the full treatment using products made from the minerals found on-site.
If you are after a free massage you can stand under the man made waterfall in the complex.
The power of the water will pound your neck muscles in a much less delicate way, but will be fun all the same.
If you need somewhere warm and indoors to relax and take in the view you can head up to the relaxation area.
This has floor to ceiling windows allowing an amazing view of the thermal baths from the deck chairs lined up along the windows.
You will find multiple dining options that escalate quickly in terms of both price and luxury.
Blue Lagoon Cafe
After leaving the water we could finally get our coffee fix at the cafe!
The selection was fairly basic, and the coffee out of a machine. But it was still a relief to get some caffeine into us!
The Lava Restaurant lives up to its name with decor consisting of volcanic rock with the room built into a lava wall.
Open for lunch and dinner, this is the mid-tier option for those who are looking to try some Icelandic food and take in the sights of the Blue Lagoon in a relaxed atmosphere.
Located on the top floor with stunning views across the Blue Lagoon, this high end restaurant is closer to a fine dining experience.
You can sample multiple local dishes with one of their set menus offering 5-7 courses of nordic cuisine.
This is only open for dinner so we didn’t get a look in unfortunately.
Only accessible to those on the retreat spa package who want to dine in a quiet and exclusive environment.
The restaurant’s menu is in the spirit of the spa retreat. A healthy selection of rejuvenating juices and light meals to round out the luxurious experience.
If you wish to stay overnight there are two hotel options on-site. This will allow you to get a sleep in, while also being first in the Blue Lagoon complex in the morning!
Plus you have the benefit of showering back in your room afterwards.
Which can be a huge plus given the hair treatment you are likely to need after swimming in the sulfur heavy water.
But realistically, these are premium options and unless you have serious cash to burn you can skip these and not lose anything from your experience.
While this is the more affordable of the two options it will still set you back upwards of 70,000kr ($500 USD).
The main feature of this hotel is the private lagoon only accessible to guests.
The typical guest here would probably never read this blog. So all I will say is it is expensive AF, and very luxurious.
You are looking at over $1,000 USD per night…. Enough said.
Tips and FAQs for your Visit
Here are a list of other tips to help you get the best out of your visit:
How Long Can I Stay?
There is no time limit for your stay in the complex.
Most people will typically hang around for 90 minutes to two hours. But this is an average – many will stay much longer which is why we recommend you visit early in the morning if you want to avoid the crowds.
Late in the day you will have those late arrivals plus the people who have decided to stay longer. So the numbers may not drop as much as you like by closing time.
What Will the Blue Lagoon Water do to my Skin and Hair?
The silica and sulfur minerals in the milky blue water are great for your skin, but not so much for your hair.
Anh had an awful time getting her hair back to normal.
While it doesn’t do any lasting damage, the water will make it go dry and brittle. You will be in for some lengthy conditioning that’s for sure!
Can I Swim in the Blue Lagoon at Night?
This is a funny question in Iceland and entirely seasonal. Because in Summer there is not really a night. Even at closing time you will be approaching that midnight sun.
So if there is in fact a night time, yes you can swim in the Blue Lagoon after dark. In fact, if coming in winter this is one of the more magical ways to view the northern lights if you are lucky enough to get the perfect conditions on your visit.
Is the Water Safe to Drink?
Absolutely not! But, there are small water outlets accessible while you are swimming that have a stream of pure Icelandic water that you can drink safely.
Just don’t gulp the silica/sulfur enriched water….
Alternative Geothermal Spas to the Blue Lagoon
While we loved the experience here, it is certainly not the only geothermal spa in Iceland. Hot springs are everywhere!
The Secret Lagoon is a hot spring that is nearby that is also popular. But it is a more natural experience and does not have the blue glow that you get here.
If you are looking for something that does have that blue glow then in the north-east of the country you will find the Mývatn Nature Baths.
It is a long way from Reykjavik though so a visit here will be itinerary dependent.
We have not been to the north yet, but are already planning to do so and cannot wait to share this with you also.
Some may call the Blue Lagoon a tourist trap, others may only be there for the Instagrammability of the place…
But forget all that and just enjoy the beautiful surroundings at your own place. When you first see that glowing blue lake in front of you it will be worth it.
Then just lay back and relax as the warm water soaks into your muscles, and your mind clears of everything except for how good life is.
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