Relaxing at Iceland’s Blue Lagoon

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It was like being in some sort of late-night-food-induced dream. You know, the kind where you're walking on the ceiling and people are climbing out of suitcases?

I was in the middle of a swirling world of fog and mist, the lapping of waves the only major sound to be heard. Out of the steam, two women with their faces covered in white goo materialized, laughing as they glided past, their hair arranged in odd piles atop their heads. From the other direction, a teen boy floated by, munching on an ice cream bar.

And everywhere I looked, I saw milky blue.

Blue Lagoon in Iceland

But this wasn't some weird dream — it was the famous Blue Lagoon in Iceland.

Blue Lagoon in Iceland

Located between Reykjavik and Keflavik International Airport, the Blue Lagoon is the perfect place to either begin or end your trip to Iceland — in fact, you're even encouraged to do so by several of the bus companies that run bus services between the airport and Reykjavik..

On my first trip to Iceland, I chose to end my time in the country with a few hours of relaxation at the Blue Lagoon. On my second (and third!) trips, I went straight to the Blue Lagoon as soon as I arrived.

Either way, it's kind of a must-visit in Iceland!

Blue Lagoon in Iceland

Visiting the Blue Lagoon: Arrival

The Blue Lagoon is one of the top tourist attractions in Iceland, but that thankfully means that everything there runs pretty efficiently. There's luggage storage available (for a fee) in a building next to the parking lot, so you can easily visit on your way to/from the airport.

Upon arrival to the Blue Lagoon, you walk along a lava path for a short while until you get to the spa building itself. If you want to take some photos of the unreal blue water, make a quick detour off to your left before going inside — this part of the Lagoon isn't used for swimming, so you can just marvel at the milky-blue water.

Yes, it's true that the Lagoon is not natural, but you'd be surprised at how unbothered by this you become when you actually see it up close.

Blue Lagoon

After snapping some photos, head inside the building to check in. These days, booking your Blue Lagoon ticket in advance is pretty much mandatory. If you arrive early, there's a cafe and shop on the main floor where you can go to kill some time.

When you check in, you'll be given your towel, robe, and flip flops if you paid for them, along with a plastic bracelet that will serve as your locker key and bar/cafe tab all at once.

Then you head into the gender-specific changing rooms. Pick and empty locker (follow the directions posted on how to use your bracelet to claim a locker), and get changed.

Blue Lagoon, Iceland

For all my fellow Americans out there, be prepared that Iceland takes a very European approach to spas: everyone is expected to shower sans swimsuit before entering the pool, so it's not unusual for naked people to be wandering around the locker rooms.

Next, it's finally time to head out to the Lagoon itself. You can either walk straight outside and enter the water that way, or you can ease into the water indoors and then make your way outside via a huge, heavy wooden door.

Blue Lagoon in Iceland
Walking paths around the Blue Lagoon

Visiting the Blue Lagoon: In the lagoon

The water at the Blue Lagoon is always between 37°C and 40°C (98-104°F), meaning it's perfect for soaking no matter what the outdoor temperature is.

Once outside, you might be struck by just how BIG the lagoon is – I know I was on my first trip! There are various little pools everywhere, a cave, multiple bridges, a waterfall, saunas, a water massage area, and even a swim-up bar. Yes, a floating bar.

Grab a drink and maybe even an ice cream bar, and get to floating. (Most Blue Lagoon tickets include one free drink.)

Blue Lagoon in Iceland
The swim-up bar in winter
Blue Lagoon in Iceland in summer
A small part of the Blue Lagoon in summer

The Blue Lagoon is renowned not only for its odd color, but also because the water is rich in silica and sulphur – both said to be fantastic for the skin.

Swim up to the Silica Bar to get your free handful of silica goo to put on your face. (If you get one of the Lagoon's more expensive packages, a second face mask will also be included; I recommend the algae mask!)

Silica bar at the Blue Lagoon
At the Silica Bar
Algae masks at the Blue Lagoon
My dad and I putting on algae masks

How long to spend at the Blue Lagoon

I was a bit skeptical on my first visit, and could not fathom how I would enjoy spending 4 hours floating around in a pool of blue wastewater (because that's what the Lagoon really is — wastewater from a nearby power plant; but don't worry, it's not toxic).

I'm not a spa person or a beach person. Honestly, I'm not any kind of person that is required to wear a bathing suit.

I don't like massages or any other activities that require strangers to touch me repeatedly, either. And on my first trip I didn't even have a travel buddy to chat with to keep my mind off feeling uncomfortable in such an atmosphere.

Blue Lagoon in Iceland

But the 4 hours I had to spend at the Lagoon actually flew by. I floated around for a while, seeking out the extra-hot spots in the water and watching goo-faced people glide through the steam.

I took a break and sat in the “relaxation area” inside with my fluffy robe and my Kindle for a while, and also grabbed some lunch before going to soak some more.

Blue Lagoon, Iceland
The relaxation lounge

On subsequent trips with my husband and then my father, I still insisted on going to the Blue Lagoon.

Yes, the Blue Lagoon is touristy. And yes, it's expensive (just like everything else in Iceland).

But I love visiting the Blue Lagoon anyway. It's just so unique, and truly is relaxing no matter what time of year you visit.

Sunrise at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland
Sunrise at the Blue Lagoon in winter

And now…

Tips for visiting the Blue Lagoon

Here are some practical tips for visiting the Blue Lagoon:

  • Go early. Around noon or 1 p.m., the Blue Lagoon starts to get crowded. If you want to enjoy the warm water in peace, try to get there as early in the morning as possible (or later in the afternoon would probably also be less busy).
  • Leave the modesty behind. As mentioned above, forget about being self-conscious — no one else will be. And don't be surprised (or offended) when you meet stark-naked people in the changing rooms.
  • Beware your hair. The silica and sulphur in the water of the Blue Lagoon may be good for your skin, but it's definitely NOT good for you hair. Especially if you have long hair, apply conditioner liberally before going into the Lagoon, and don't rinse it out until you're ready to leave. Otherwise you'll be dealing with dry, brittle hair for days.
  • Pay for the extras. No, you don't need a fluffy robe or extra towel or drink from the floating bar… but they sure are nice to have. Just be aware that they do cost extra!
  • Relax. After all, this is what the Blue Lagoon is all about!

Best Blue Lagoon Tours

You don't really need to book a “tour” to the Blue Lagoon; but combining a visit with other tours in Iceland is sometimes a great idea!

Interested in a Blue Lagoon tour? Check some of these out:

Would you visit Iceland's Blue Lagoon?

 

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Tips for visiting the Blue Lagoon in Iceland
Tips for visiting the Blue Lagoon in Iceland

 

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131 Comments on “Relaxing at Iceland’s Blue Lagoon

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  1. Thank you for your post. Your review was extremely helpful and your photos are wonderful. May I ask how early did you arrive to the Blue Lagoon? I’m wondering if an 8:00am arrival time will give me great photos like yours. Thanks in advance

      Hi Annie. I’ve actually visited twice – once in the afternoon, and once in the morning. The Blue Lagoon used to not open until 9 or 9:30 a.m. in the winter, but they’ve recently expanded and now appear to be open at 8 a.m. every day. In the winter, it will still be dark at 8 a.m. and you may get to watch the sunrise. During the summer, it will already be full-light by that time.

    Dear Amanda
    Your 10 day itinerary for Iceland in winter is fantastic! Your photos are beautiful! I’m planning a 10 day trip to Iceland in May this year. Will you be able to help me with planning this trip? I would love to see the natural beauty of the country and also the culture there. Your help will be much appreciated. I would like suggestions on places to definitely see, how to get there, accommodation and time in each place. I will be travelling with my son who is an adult.
    Thank you in advance

      Hi Farida! I’m afraid that trip planning is not a service I offer. I also have not visited Iceland outside of winter, so I don’t have any first-hand tips for road tripping or staying outside of Reykjavik. However you could certainly use my 10-day itinerary for inspiration! I also have written a lot of other things about Iceland, all of which are linked here: https://www.dangerous-business.com/destinations/iceland/

    Just stumbled into this site as I was checking out blue lagoon. Can’t believe the amount of blogs you have received. Also it is much cleaner and hygienic than the natural places to swim in, it seems. So what’s the thing about the smell as I know swimming pool smell of chlorine and damage yr hair and eyes and whatever else if swallowed by accident.

      There’s no chlorine at the Blue Lagoon, but you might notice a sulphur smell that’s just natural in many parts of Iceland. The minerals in the water here can still damage your hair, though – that’s why you should definitely put lots of conditioner in!

    This was a great story, until of course the obligatory attack on Americans. Its an attitude that turns many off to world travel. Never ceases to amaze me how some feel the need to scold Americans for some basic modesty.

      There is no attack on Americans – I AM an American, and it’s a fact that we’re a fair bit more modest when it comes to things like this than most Europeans.

    Having been to a bunch of hot springs, I was hoping that the Blue Lagoon would feel a bit more authentic and less man made. I would think that Iceland’s geothermal energy would produce some natural hot springs that feel a bit more authentic. I still had fun though

      Well, the Blue Lagoon IS man-made! So that’s probably why it felt that way. 🙂 There are tons of natural hot springs all around the country, but you often have to have the insider knowledge about where they are to find them.

    You made me laugh! It sounds that seeing saggy boobs is the only unpleasant thing at the Blue Lagoon. I’d love to visit that amazing place!

      Haha! I’ll be going back later this year, so it must not have been all that bad. 😉

    Hoping to visit the Blue Lagoon one day! Just came across this post of yours, and I’m going to start reading all your Iceland posts, since it’s the next destination I’m hoping to visit 🙂

      Awesome! I’m hoping to go back later this year!

    So, super offensive to anyone without a perfect body, which frankly even girls with perfect bodies think theirs is something to be ashamed of because hyper critical body image issues run rampant. Just saying I was enjoying your post until I ran up against your disgust of people that don’t look like what you think is acceptable. I know you probably meant it to be funny, but commenting harshly on women’s bodies is basically girl on girl crime.

      How is it offensive? I think it’s great that people in Europe are more confident about their bodies than I am. My audience is mostly North American – we’re not used to to this, and I’m just being honest about what you’ll see. Where did you read the disgust?

        One might read it here: “If you are a women, be prepared to see lots of saggy old lady boobs. Perhaps some perky young ones, too, but definitely lots of saggy ones. […] If you aren’t too traumatized after changing, …” Happy aging (with more respectful wisdom) to you, too 😉

          Hey, I’ll have saggy boobs one day, too. That’s just reality! Nothing wrong with that, though. Aging is aging. It’s just not something most Americans are used to seeing in a (relatively) public place.

    Wow this looks amazing! I am in the early stages of planning my first overseas solo trip and the Iceland stopover looks more appealing by the day!

      Oh you should definitely do it! Iceland is great, and is very solo-travel-friendly!

    Thank you so much for posting this – very helpful. I’ll be in Iceland later this year and the lagoon is scheduled on my last day there. I’m traveling solo, so was a bit worried about looking like a dimsum on my own there. Good to know about the tips. Will save this. 🙂

      I was worried about the same thing, but I didn’t end of feeling weird there on my own at all! It was very relaxing.

    I’m disappointed to learn that its not clothing optional. I’d be more interested if I didn’t have to wear a bathing suit.

      Well unfortunately you have to keep you clothes on! Most European baths that I’ve been to require at least a bathing suit.

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