The Blue Lagoon
The name alone whispers a calming, yet whimsacle air through your imagination. Pictures of the lagoon show steamy, opaque blue waters surrounded by gruff, textured fields of cooled lava. The idea of soaking in thermal waters unique to an island not many have visited is mouth watering. I got to experience this magical lagoon, and let me tell you..it wasn’t what I expected.
There are a lot of posts out there talking about the wonders of this man made thermal spa. This is not one of them. In an effort to be honest about my experience, but also kind to my favorite destination, I’ve compiled a list of 6 tips to help make your trip to the Blue Lagoon not awful.
1. Make a Reservation
You would think this would be one of the first things someone would inquire about before visiting. Well, we got caught up in the last minute excitement of it all and failed to look at anything other than the hours of operation. When we arrived, it was packed, and they were prioritizing those with a reservation over those without.
As it states on the website, a reservation is essential. This way your entrance is gauranteed and there is no possibility of getting stuck waiting too long to be admitted or being turned away.
In my opinion, renting a car for the duration of your trip is your best bet. Parking is included in your admission ticket and they have a decent sized parking lot to accomodate the tour buses as well as individual vehicles. Having your own car allows you the freedom to take your time in the waters and around the spa without a set departure time to be aware of.
However, you could also choose to book a tour or take a taxi. Most tours will include entrance to the lagoon as well as transportation, but of course, will cost more than driving yourself. Taxis from the airport to the lagoon as well as from Reykjavik could be costly (this is based on a brief search for taxi prices.) If you’re completely against tours, and don’t have a car, be prepared to pay for the drive.
2. Research the Rules & Regulations
All pools in Iceland require you to get naked. STRIP! STRIP! STRIP! (I’m only kind of kidding)
One of the regulations for entering the lagoon is that you must shower beforehand.. without your bathing suit. This goes for almost all pools in Iceland.
Being a semi-sheltered America who had a childhood membership to the YMCA, it wasn’t my first time seeing a lot of naked butts. However, it had been a while and it was quite a shock to be seeing women from all walks of life hastily washing themselves. Young, old, shy, adventurous; Doesn’t matter. They all got naked.
They do provide shower stalls with and without doors as well as shampoo and conditioner if you’d like to shower off after being in the thermal waters.
Being naturally rebelious, and self-conscious, I hid in the very last stall (no door) and did a couple piroettes under the showerhead fully clothed before speed walking out of the naked room.
On the technology side of the regulations, they also give you a waterproof wristband that opens and locks the electronic lockers and acts as a payment method for purchasing drinks at the underwater bar. They are a tad flimsy, so make sure you continuously check that you have yours at all times. It is also your way of releasing the gates when you want to leave. I assume if you lose it you’re forced to become one of the safety officers that miserably walks around the perimeter of the waters. I have no proof of this, however.
3. Go at an Ideal Time
Close to closing time is not an ideal time. I know this because this is the time I went. Right after an early dinner, and right as the sun was setting we decided to go and it was packed. The website doesn’t offer much about the best time to go, but after reading between the lines, I suggest going in the morning or early afternoon. In the morning, facilities will be freshly cleaned, and you’ll only have to deal with crowds that are arriving from the airport. In the early afternoon, most will already be in the spa, leaving it to board flights, or out adventuring the rest of the island.
You can still go in the evening and at night, but expect large crowds and less clean facilities. As stated on the sight, the waters are “self-cleansing” and renew every 40 hours. Who knows at what point in that 40 hours you’ll visit, but we found that our close-to-closing-time was coupled with massive crowds and lots of stray hair in the water.
4. Bring Moisturizer and Conditioner!
Your hair, unless you have magical unicorn hair, will feel like you’re wearing a hat of straw after swimming through the lagoon. All the minerals, algae, and clay masks that are in the water are also being soaked up by your hair. It may not damage your hair initially, but it will be very dry which is a gateway texture to damage.
The plus side is that they do provide free conditioner in the shower stalls. If you’re dedicated to healthy hair, you can also bring your own heavy duty leave in conditioner. Drown your hair in conditioner and leave it in for a couple hours or overnight. Without it, your hair will be dry for days.
Just the same, I suggest bringing moisturizer for your face. The free silica mud mask is meant to clear out your skin and reduce pores- a.k.a suck out all the gross stuff as well as all the moisture. Your skin will feel dry after your visit, whether you use the mask or not. Bring moisturizer, especially if you go in the winter, to sooth your skin after your visit.
5. The Blue Lagoon is a Tourist Hot Spot
The Blue Lagoon is a man made attraction. Though there are natural thermal pools all over Iceland, this one was constructed using the thermal run-off from the nearby power plant.
WAIT! Before you go running at the thought of soaking in power plant water..It is completely safe. Iceland uses the natural geothermal waters for electricity and hot water. The power plant just drills holes to bring the water to the surface.
There are also spa rooms, saunas, a gift shop, a bar in the water, a nearby hotel, and easy access indoor pools on site. If you’re set on the natural hot spring effect, you might be thrown off. Just know that this is very much a vacation-esque activity and less of an adventure. If you’re looking for something less commercialized, Iceland has a lot of natural hot springs. You just have to find them 🙂
6. Pair it with Another Attraction
If you’re coming from or going to Reykjavik in conjunction with the lagoon, it will take you a good 45-50 minutes one way. Unless you indulge in a full package deal or are planning to stay the entire day, I suggest pairing it with another attraction to make the drive more worthwhile. After a quick search, I found four things you can do before or after your visit to the lagoon that are relatively close and easily accessible via taxi or shuttle service.
- 4×4 tours of the laval field
- The Viking World Museum
- Arctic Horses Tour
- The Bridge Between Continents
This post initially started out as “Why I’ll Never Go Back to The Blue Lagoon.” But I couldn’t commit to that title or a post that bashed an attraction from the island that stole my heart. Plus, I can’t honestly say I wouldn’t give the Blue Lagoon another try, especially because I’m planning to go back to Iceland relatively soon.
Of all 6 tips in this post, I did the opposite of every single one. I didn’t make a reservation, I didn’t bring conditioner, I went too close to closing time, and I didn’t do any research on the spa other than finding out the hours of operation. Everything about my visit was very last minute and because of that, I did not have a great time.
I hope that when I return to Iceland, I can muster up the money to visit the Blue Lagoon the right way and follow my own advice. Until then, I hope this post helps with planning your trip to the iconic Blue Lagoon.