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. How could wastewater look so beautiful??!! Iceland is definitely on my must-visit destination, and I’ll remember to include Blue Lagoon when I get to chance to actually visit it. =)

      Who knew, right?? Though, to be fair, it’s not your typical “waste”water. 😉

    Hi,
    Great article! Thanks so much for the details on the actual experience. We already knew we wanted to visit the Blue Lagoon on our trip in June, but there is very little info on how things work/what it is like. You did a fantastic job of ‘bringing us with you’ on your trip, and it is much appreciated.

    One quick question: We have a 4 (almost 5) year old who is a great swimmer, and wondered if he be allowed in the lagoon? We obviously would stay with him the entire time, but I don’t see a lot of pictures or info online about younger kids going in.

    Thanks again for the great info!

      Happy to be able to help!

      I just had a look at the Blue Lagoon’s website, and children of all ages are indeed welcome. (In fact, it seems like anyone under 14 is free!) They only mention that kids under 8 have to wear floatation arm bands. (Check out the info. here: http://www.bluelagoon.com/blue-lagoon-spa/spa-etiquette/ )

      Have a great trip!

    Thanks for such an informative post! We are planning a trip to Iceland next summer…now I know to watch out for the old lady boobs! LOL We are definitely interested in spending some time at the Blue Lagoon and your pics and thoughts make me want to even more. 🙂

      Great to hear, Nichole! I hope you have a great trip!

    Aah, this looks amazing! I’m just dying to visit Iceland, and the Blue Lagoon is definitely on my list. (I was kind of put off by the fact that it’s really just power plant runoff, but I think I can get over it, as it looks so relaxing and peaceful.)

      It is well worth a visit! Once you’re there soaking in the nice water, I promise you won’t care where it came from!

    hey i’ll be in iceland for honeymoon in this coming october!!! :)))
    we were planning to go to the blue lagoon on the first day after we arrive at 6:30am! how long do you think we should spend in blue lagoon? and what are your recommendations if we are eating there?

      The length of time you spend really depends on how much you like to relax! I easily spent 4 hours there, and I’m not really much of a spa person! The good news is that if you book your ticket through FlyBus, you can then catch any FlyBus back to Reykjavik (they’ll give you a schedule with your ticket), so you don’t have to decide beforehand how long you want to spend!

    If you can clarify this it will be great! After you take the shower and put your swimsuit, can you actually take your towel with you to the area where you will be at the lagoon or you put everything in the locker provided?What if I want to take my camera while in the lagoon? Do I have to go back to the locker to put it there after Im done or there’s a place (not the locker) that I can leave it?

    Thanks!

      You can take anything with you that you want! However, when I went, there weren’t any chairs or anything else outside, so there wasn’t really anywhere to put a towel or camera or other things once you got into the Lagoon. I did take my waterproof camera into the Lagoon with me, but I then went and put it back into my locker when I was done with it.

        Thanks for your response! I understand then that most people leave their towels in the lockers and after taking their time in the lagoon just go straight to the lockers to shower? I read somewhere about the etiquette in the thermal pools and I think it said that is not well seen by the locals that you go all wet and dripping to the lockers.

          Well, I don’t know how many locals you’ll actually find at the Blue Lagoon, first of all… haha. And, like I said, when I was there (on a cold and damp day), there wasn’t really anywhere to hang/set a towel outside. There was a room with tables and chairs just inside the doors that people were leaving towels/shoes in before they went to the Lagoon. I suppose you could leave your towel/robe there. But, there were SO many towels/robes piled up, that I don’t see how you could possibly find your own again upon exiting the Lagoon…

            I think the etiquette “rules” applied to geothermal pools that locals frequent more! Thanks for answering my questions!

            Your passion for travel remind me of when I decided to just explore the World even if nobody wanted or could travel with me; as of today I can say that I finish visiting the 7 New Wonders of the World, it took me 7 years and in my way I visited many other countries with great cultures and sites…still there is so much to see out there. Happy travels!

    Don’t be alarmed at the locker and shower rooms. You can be private. The locker rooms are broken down into several sections, with bathrooms, and there are private change rooms. Also in the shower rooms there are private showers. There are as many people being private as being nude.

      Yup, all true. Though, it’s much easier to just get over the self-consciousness and go with the flow. 😉

    It looks really cool, but I was a little weirded out when you said it’s waste water from a power plant. Then the stuff about the locker rooms…ugh. I’m not a fan of that stuff. Especially the mandatory shower in front of everyone else in there? Yuck. I can’t handle massages either, not my thing. I think I’ll wait until I actually book a trip to Iceland before I decide about going to Blue Lagoon. I’m glad you enjoyed it though!

      Haha, don’t be weirded out! The power plant is a hydro/geothermal one, so the water is turned to steam, used to move turbines, and then pumped into the lagoon — so it’s by no means dirty wastewater! The locker rooms might not be your thing, but if you go early enough, you can probably get through the awkward bits quickly without much of an audience!

    We will be visiting Iceland in the next few weeks for a honeymoon trip. I was lucky to visit Japan a few years ago and went to an Onsen. Your description reminds me somewhat that. Onsens, at least with my experience, are segregated by gender and are small, hot pools, rather than a large lake. The whole bath experience is ritualistic, and of course, the nudity is not a concern; it all hangs out. So I believe it is we uptight Americans who worry worry about these things, rather people of other cultures. By the way, we are planning on visiting Blue Lagoon immediately on the morning of arrival to Iceland. And we are looking very much forward to doing so.

      It is very much a Western thing, I think, to be so concerned about modesty (I’ve talked to some Australians who were similarly surprised at the Blue Lagoon, so I don’t think it’s only Americans). Enjoy Iceland!!!

        Lucy and I are very excited to visit Iceland; we can’t wait.

    I didn’t know the blue lagoon was actually wastewater. Still looks really pretty, and definitely a place I’d want to check out.

      It’s not like dirty, toxic wastewater though, as it’s only used in a hydro/steam power plant. But it definitely wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for the plant!

      Most definitely worth a visit!

    I was very surprised to read about the changing room. I would probably be self conscious as well, yet, like you, I would do it anyway. Even though the lagoon is not natural, its color is spectacular, the mountains around it look pretty natural and this all place looks fantastic. I would definitely go.

      Good to hear you’d still go! It’s definitely worth it.

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