The Blue Lagoon is the iconic Iceland tourist experience – and the one which everyone will ask you about, usually at the expense of Icelands’ stunning natural wonders!
As one of Icelands’ most popular tourist attractions, The Blue Lagoon is busy all year round with tour buses as well as independent travellers and the odd local resident.
Located 45 minutes from Reykjavik city centre and just 15 minutes from the international airport, most tourists visit en route to or from the airport.
The Blue Lagoon is not a natural wonder; it is man made and was opened in 1976. Set in a striking lava field next to the unattractive geothermal Svartsengi plant – the lagoon is fed by the excess water from the plant – the industrial setting may not be what some visitors are expecting.
The complex has grown considerably since opening and in addition to the lagoon, there is a restaurant, spa and accommodation on site complete with ample parking facilities. The staff are friendly, multilingual and every one of them looks like they have stepped off a catwalk; they are a walking advertisement for the well being properties of the lagoon!
Pre-book on The Blue Lagoon website well in advance of your visit and adhere to chosen date and allotted time. If you arrive without a booking and the Lagoon is fully booked, you will not get in.
The large changing and showering facilities are spotlessly clean and efficiently run. Large, secure lockers are provided. If you decide not to enter the lagoon, you are welcome to relax in the bar or restaurant viewing area to watch multiple nationalities enjoy a communal soak.
Although the lagoon is always busy, it is large so does not feel crowded and it is possible to find a quiet corner in which to float and relax. The deliciously hot 39 degrees Celsius water is clean and completely renewed every 48 hours. The water is famously an ethereal, milky white colour due to the rich minerals – particularly silica – found in it. The opaque water feels heavy to swim or wade through and the heat and hot steam rising off the water can be overwhelming at first; you may need to take a minute to adjust. After long hours of hiking and sightseeing (with a strong chance of those hours spent cold or wet!) a hot soak is pure relaxation.
With the dense water and the sympathetic landscaping blocking out the industrial plant next door, noise is absorbed so, despite the number of people, the Lagoon is oddly quiet. With a change of wind direction, the steam and mist can unnervingly block out sight and sound of other people. The swim up mud mask hut is very popular, as is the steam room and muscle pounding waterfall. Amongst all the serene calm and relaxation of the lagoon, it is an odd concept to serve alcohol at swim up bars and the resulting litter, though swiftly dealt with, was disappointing.
Ensure you apply the freely available conditioner to your hair before entering the lagoon to protect it from the silica. Apply generously -silica is great for your skin but not your hair; we had hair like scarecrows for weeks afterwards!
Undeniably unique, The Blue Lagoon is not a cheap place to visit. Current 2018 prices are between 53 and 75 Euros depending on the time of day you visit, with early morning and late evening the cheapest times, but don’t be put off by the price; it is an enjoyable, one off experience. However, you will not meet many other Icelanders or feel in a natural environment so try to visit other volcanic hot pools or outdoor public pools during your stay for a complete Icelandic hot pool experience.
Visiting The Blue Lagoon With Kids
The Blue Lagoon is one of those rare tourist hot spots where families are not penalised. Children aged 2-13 years are free, no matter how many children or adults are in your family unit. Adults are classed as 14 + and children under 2 years are not allowed.
We were made to feel as welcome as any other visitor, by staff and other guests alike. Our kids loved the whole experience; the floating, the face masks, the waterfalls. We have visited natural hot pools before and they still enjoyed The Blue Lagoon.
For a group booking, it is even more essential to book in advance. When we arrived without a prior booking (on a mid week day in October) my husband and children were allowed in as there were lockers available in the male changing rooms but very disappointingly, I was not allowed in. After numerous, repeated polite requests (begging) I was eventually allowed in when a female locker became available- just as my husband and children were getting out of the lagoon!
Stay awhile, don’t rush your visit, go in and out of the lagoon, use all the extras (face mask, steam room etc) and you will get your moneys worth. Children find it hard to regulate their body temperature and can overheat quickly so keep an eye on them in the hot water and steamy atmosphere. Stay hydrated. Take breaks if you need to – there are cooler sections of the lagoon available for this reason. Eat and drink back in your vehicle as on site catering is expensive.
And remember – use the hair conditioner!