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. That looks so nice! I actually didn’t know that the Blue Lagoon wasn’t natural. I still want to visit it though!

      Natural or not, it’s still definitely worth visiting!

    With your modesty safely left in Iceland, your next stop can be the Friedrichsbad in Baden-Baden!

    I’m a guy with short hair, and it still took days for me to get the Blue Lagoon silica out of my hair. If I’m every there again, I’ll remember your conditioner trick.

      The conditioner is key! I actually think they had a sign suggesting it in the women’s showers, but I could be making that up…

    I really enjoyed reading your article. It made me chuckle and smile. I’ve been to the Blue Lagoon and know exactly what you are talking about. You describe it very well and the pics are great! Even though I am not into massages I had one, outside in the spa and it was fantastic!! When you get a massage you get a gift pack of products to take home, and a bathrobe and towel to use, which I would recommend leaving both in your locker while in the pool. Also, the waterfall is another great massage. There is also a viewing roof for photo taking. Great article, thank you 🙂

      Glad to hear you enjoyed both my post and the Blue Lagoon itself! I don’t know of anyone who’s been and didn’t enjoy it.

    I’ve been to the Blue Lagoon several times now and I LOVE it! Whenever I fly to Europe, I try to book on Icelandair or Iceland Express and schedule a long layover on the way back. Well worth the effort! Grindavik (where the Blue Lagoon is) is pretty close to the airport. You can use the Flybus or hire a taxi driver, I’ve done both and had no issues.

      IcelandAir is VERY smart for allowing free stopovers in Reykjavik between North America and Europe. It’s such a great idea on their part!

    Never heard about this lake but it looks amazing! Did you get a massage? The pics are awesome!

      No, I did not get a massage, but a lot of people do!

    Your pictures and post capture the atmosphere of the Blue Lagoon nicely. It’s great to read about someone else’s experience of it. Funny how we notice different things – we didn’t even notice the nudity (surprising perhaps being Brits), nor the effect on your hair (being a man), but we did enjoy the Krap, the Icelandic slush served from the bar (being with kids). The other worldliness is very striking though, especially if you visit as soon as you have arrived in Iceland. And isn’t it cool that you can do it as an excursions on the way to/from airport.

      Thanks, Stuart! It is definitely funny how different people notice different things. Glad to hear you guys enjoyed the Lagoon, too!

      And I think Reykjavik Excursions is genius for building in the Blue Lagoon into your Flybus ticket. Such a great way to get people to visit the Lagoon!

    I’ve seen a number of photos of the blue lagoon but love your details about how it works and getting the most out of your experience.

    As an American, I am long past the nudity issue we have here in the US. It’s definitely different for us but I’ve been on nude beaches, nude baths, and experienced it all. This shouldn’t hold anyone back from experiencing this at all. Definitely something I would love to do in Iceland.

      Thanks, Jeremy! I’m glad you liked the post. I’ve seen lots of photos of the Lagoon, too, but not so many posts with tips and descriptions about visiting. So hopefully this post helps fill that void!

      And I agree — no one should let the nudity issue keep them from the Blue Lagoon!

    I’ve been wanting to go to Iceland for ages. This definitely will make my list. Thanks for posting!

      Iceland seems to be on a lot of people’s lists these days… and for good reason! I’m already dreaming about a return trip.

    Oooh, so pretty! It looks fake! Iceland is really high on my bucket list, and going to the Blue Lagoon will be one of the first things I do.

      I hope you make it there soon, Emily! So much of Iceland looks fake – and it’s awesome.

    Your photos on Instagram were enough to convince me to go but this post has just made it a priority for 2012! It has to happen, it’s so (relatively) close to where I am living in Sweden. Wonder if it is cool to go year round or if there are some months I should try to avoid. Hmm….

      You are so close in Sweden, Larissa! I’ll bet you could find a good deal on IcelandAir, especially if you go during the off-season.

      The summer months are the most popular to visit Iceland in, but you can go year-round! It does get colder in the winter, but I’m sure no worse that what you’re used to in Sweden!

        True, true. Setting a fare alert NOW 🙂

    Wow, I had no idea it wasn’t natural. I’ve always wanted to go there though, and I’m still determined to go even if it’s man-made 🙂

      Well, for what it’s worth, it wasn’t man-made on purpose — it was actually a complete accident! But leave it to Icelanders to turn an accident into the most popular tourist attraction in the country!

    Just surreal!! The fog, mist coupled with the blue water look just heavenly.
    When I went to the Himalayas, there was this natural hot water spring which had green water! Reminded me of that.
    Hope you are having a great week Amanda:)

      Ooo, a green hot spring? That also sounds quite cool! But yes, the color of the Blue Lagoon definitely adds to the experience!

    Such awesome pics! I had the best time there. You don’t like massages? Ahhhh I think they’re the best!!!

      Nope, not really a big fan of massages… but I know that plenty of people love them!

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