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The Blue Lagoon in Iceland was one of the most unforgettably relaxing experiences I’ve ever had. As soon as I stepped into the Lagoon, I instantly felt an odd combination of tranquility, excitement, and even a bit of mesmerization. The water in the Lagoon has just the perfect amount of “hotness” and because not all areas are the same temperature, you can easily wander to other areas to suit your body’s need for the right temperature. Between the black lava rock hills, the soothing blue water, and the bit of beer and champagne we downed, I found myself in a little slice of heaven in Iceland.
Simply put, the Blue Lagoon was my favorite experience in Iceland and that is saying a lot considering that I almost knocked it off the itinerary because I thought it might be too “touristy.”
Here’s what you need to know to prepare for a great visit to the Blue Lagoon:
1. Book in advance
The first thing you want to do is book your ticket online before you arrive. There is a long line at the entrance for those purchasing their tickets at the site. And I’ve heard this line gets reallly long in the summer. When you book online you get to bypass that long line and will gain entrance quickly. Just make sure that you print out your ticket or have a smart phone device that can pull up the PDF file for them to scan at the entrance.
2. Getting There
There are a number of busses that run from Reykjavik and other locations to the Lagoon so transportation by bus is easy. Here is the bus schedule that runs from Reykjavik to the Blue Lagoon. If you are driving on your own just be sure that you arrive at the Blue Lagoon and not the Blue Lagoon Hotel. We pulled up at the hotel and waited for several minutes (along with others) until we realized that the actual lagoon was on the other side. Also, keep an eye out for the Lagoon signs as you approach it. We accidentally took the back way to the lagoon and were basically driving nervously through power plant facilities for a few minutes until arriving at the back entrance to the hotel.
Basic admission is €35-40 (depending on peak season or not). Other packages range from €60-172 and offer special amenities. Brad and I went with the “Premium Experience” at the price of €80 per person. It offered us admission, use of a bathrobe (you can’t keep it), a drink coupon, skin care trial pack, slippers (actually flip-flops), and a meal at the LAVA restaurant.
Update May 17, 2016: The Blue Lagoon no longer includes packages where the meal is included — you only get a table reservation and a glass of sparkling wine, so please be sure to keep this in mind.
What I’m sure you’d like to know is whether or not upgrading to the premium package was worth it. I think that if you’re planning on eating at the LAVA restaurant then it is definitely worth it (a two course meal by itself is $44USD/€35). They allow you to choose two courses for your meal and the food at the restaurant is pretty good; not blow-you-away delicious, but okay. I went with a lamb dish and ended up pretty satisfied.
My only complaint with the restaurant is that they took almost 2 1/2 hours to serve us and bring us our bill. We saw many others arrive after us and leave before us so it got a little frustrating and worse it took away from our time we could have spent at the Lagoon.
Tip: Regardless of what time you make your reservations for you can always arrive early to the restaurant.
The robe that they give you is nice, especially because they allow you to wear it to the LAVA restaurant for lunch (but not dinner). The sample products that also came along were okay but very small. Overall, I was happy with our purchase and will next time even consider one of the massages that they offer on-site.
4. Getting in
First, before you even enter the entrance there’s a hut for you to store your luggage if you’re arriving with plenty of bags so consider that (€3 per bag). After you pass that you’ll walk up to the main desk to collect your bracelet and any other items, such as robes.
Once you present your ticket and get your bracelet you can then proceed to the locker rooms. The lock mechanism can be a little confusing. You will first load up all your stuff in the locker then after you shut your locker immediately press your bracelet up against the sensor and your locker will be locked. It’s a cool system but often doesn’t work. If your locker doesn’t work then don’t worry; just find an employee lurking around the locker room (kind of odd, I know) dressed in black pants and a black shirt and they will help you out.
And yes, they do ask that you shower (naked) before you enter the Lagoon. This may make some uncomfortable but don’t worry because they have shower and changing stalls that allow you plenty of privacy. The primary concern in the showers should be your hair! Use all the conditioner that they provide and then some both before and after when you get out the Lagoon. This is because the algae and the minerals in the salt water will turn your hair to stone once you get out… I think it took a couple of days for me to get my hair back to normal so I could only imagine what it would do to someone with long hair. So be sure to condition!
Also, if you want, after you get changed into your swimwear you can bring your bathrobe outside and place it on a hook (with your same locker number) and then enter into the lagoon.
5. Enjoying the Lagoon
This is the easiest part, of course. Like I mentioned before, I’ve never felt so relaxed and excited at the same time as I did in that lagoon. The water is a perfect temperature and I never felt over-heated like I typically get in a hottub. Even if you get hot, just move around to a cooler spot and you’ll find your body coming to a perfect temperature. Make sure you make yourself a mudmask, too! There are a number of buckets in the Lagoon that you simply scoop out some mud from and apply to your face. It’s recommended that you leave it on your face for about 15 minutes and then wash it off. Personally, I don’t recall any substantial change in the skin in my face but it was still a fun experience to apply my first “mud mask.”
Warning: if you wear contact lenses then watch out. The saltwater seemed to be especially potent (due to the high mineral content?) and really messed with Brad’s eyes and his contacts. So be extra careful or just try to wear glasses.
Once you begin to get a little thirsty then head to the bar. The bar serves pink champagne, beer, slushies (I think), and water and juices. The beer and champagne added a nice touch to the relaxation and I recommend you getting one while inside the Lagoon (there’s a bar indoors as well). You’ll use your bracelet to electronically build up a balance and then pay it upon exiting so it’s an extremely convenient and efficient process when ordering.
6. What to do about a camera?
When it comes to a camera, there are a couple of options for you to choose from. Personally, I used a GoPro for all of these shots at the Lagoon. I also had a waterproof case for my iPhone but opted not to bring that just in case something happened to it. I saw at least one person with a DSLR who set it up on a tripod outside the water and took photos of himself and his friends as they enjoyed their time. If you do not have a waterproof case or GoPro I would not recommend you bringing your unprotected phone or camera out there for more than a few minutes, so that you can wander freely without worrying about it.
If I could go back and do it all again I would have brought my DSLR. It would have been safe in my locker while I was out and I could’ve at least brought it out for a few minutes to get some shots. Also, I recommend going atop the viewing deck to get a great view of the place. You have to pay to get up there but if you bought admission into the Lagoon I suspect that they will allow you to go up there without paying anything additional.
7. Body issues? No worries.
One of the coolest things about the Blue Lagoon is just the overall vibe. I got the sense that everyone out there, tourists, locals, etc. just had a desire to relax and enjoy the beautiful warm waters of the lagoon. I saw people of all different shapes and sizes enjoying themselves. I guess it helps that for the most part you are submerged up to your shoulders, but even still, I don’t think others are there to worry about what you look like in a bathing suit. So if you happen to be on the self-conscious side, don’t worry about that at all.
8. Plan your visit to the Blue Lagoon for the end of your trip
This is my personal suggestion. For me, it worked out perfectly to visit the Lagoon at the end of my trip due to the fact that I had battled the flu for about four days straight. The opportunity to finally immerse myself in pure relaxation was priceless after that tortuous battle with being so sick.
If you’re going to be doing a lot of amazing tours in Iceland and hitting up all the hot spots, and especially if you’re planning on doing some strenuous hiking or glacier climbing, then what better way to wind down then book your trip to the Blue Lagoon at the end of your visit. Also, the lagoon is only about 30 minutes from Reykjavik and near both airports so it shouldn’t pose any kind of lodging problem for your last night of stay in Iceland.
9. Visit right at opening or near closing
To beat the crowds plan on visiting right when the Blue Lagoon opens (usually 9am or 10am) or a couple of hours before they close. If you go towards closing you won’t have to worry about the crowds at all. If you arrive as soon as they open, the crowds will start building up about an hour after it opens. The Lagoon gets very crowded during the summer but when we visited in late September (on a weekday) the crowds were at all times very tolerable and I never felt overwhelmed (though it does get very busy in the locker rooms).
That’s all for the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. I hope that you have as great of time as I did and if you’re looking for a good guide on other things to do in Iceland check out this this Lonely Planet guide.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the digital smart wallet, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. His content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.