Is Visiting the Blue Lagoon worth it? An Honest Review with FAQ
Whenever someone mentions visiting Iceland, the Blue Lagoon is always mentioned as a ‘must-visit’ – but is it? It’s actually the last thing I recommend to people, and only as a last resort. After my enthusiastic (read: sarcasm) referral, it’s a long discussion about why I’m not head over heels for it.
I wanted to put together the most frequently asked questions I get about visiting the Blue Lagoon. This way you have all the information at your fingertips and can make your own decision on if it’s worth it to visit the Blue Lagoon.
We visited the Blue Lagoon during one of our 3 days in Reykjavik.
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What is the Blue Lagoon?
The Blue Lagoon is located in West Iceland and is a natural geothermal spa. Located at an altitude of 1,300 meters above sea level, it is surrounded by mountains and glaciers. The water temperature is around 35 degrees Celsius. There are three pools: the main pool, the children’s pool, and the adults’ pool. The Blue Lagoon also offers various treatments including mud baths, salt rooms, saunas, massages, and facials. The Blue Lagoon is owned and operated by the Icelandic company Blue Lagoon Spas.
Getting to the Blue Lagoon
Only 14 miles (22.5km) away from Keflavik Airport, the Blue Lagoon is easily accessible. This is why many people who have layovers in Iceland head to the Blue Lagoon.
There are a number of tours that include round-trip transfers from the airport – perfect for a long layover! It’s only a 20-minute drive from the airport, but 45 minutes from Reykjavik city center.
If you’re renting a car and doing a road trip in Iceland, there is plenty of parking on site.
If you’re visiting Iceland without a car, you can take advantage of a shuttle service operated by the Destination Blue Lagoon. You can buy tickets directly through their website, or for a simpler way, you can add the transfer at the time of booking your Blue Lagoon tickets
What to Pack for the Blue Lagoon
Obviously, a swimsuit is the most important thing to pack, but even if you forget it they have some for you to rent! You can feel free to bring your own towel, toiletries, and flip-flops. I suggest bringing a waterproof phone holder so you can take pictures safely while you’re actually in it.
The Blue Lagoon, like most of Iceland, is incredibly organized. They have towels, lockers, and toiletries available. They even have bags for your wet garments.
Do I have to reserve a time for the Blue Lagoon?
Yes! Reservations are now required for the Blue Lagoon. Prices vary depending on the time of day and level. Children under 13 are free.
Gone are the days when you could decide on the day to go visit on a long layover. I recommend booking your time slot at least one week ahead of time.
What are the different levels of the Blue Lagoon?
There is the Blue Lagoon – the thermal hot spring. The Retreat Spa for a day of pure relaxation. The Silica Hotel and the Retreat Hotel are for guests who want to stay overnight.
For the Blue Lagoon, the simplest way to book is through the Blue Lagoon website. However, if you’re booking a transfer from the airport or city, then it might be easier to book through GetYourGuide.
The price varies depending on the time of day, day of the week, and if there are any special events going on. The earlier you get there, the quieter it is. Some people decide to book the day of their flight, as it’s a great way to relax after a long-haul flight.
Next, decide whether to get premium or comfort tickets. Both options include a silica mud mask at the Mask Bar, a drink at the swim-up bar, and use of towels. The Premium ticket includes the use of a bathrobe for the day, a drink at the restaurant, two additional face masks, and a quicker check-in process. There’s a Luxury option with direct access to both the lagoon and the Retreat spa. Or, to extend your time, you can stay at the Retreat at the Blue Lagoon.
What to expect when you get to the Blue Lagoon
The Instagram- famous beauty of the Blue Lagoon is often edited – crowds removed, water made bluer – you know the drill.
Expect to wait. Even though you purchased a timed ticket, expect to wait. Unless you’re one of the first ones there in the morning, you should expect to wait in line for 30-60 minutes. Premium ticket holders have a separate line.
Expect friendly staff. There must be something in the water – the staff were incredibly friendly and patient. They’ll check you in, give you a basic introduction to the Lagoon and explain everything.
At check-in you’ll get a waterproof wristband. They’ll activate it and it acts as your lock for the locker room, and a credit card throughout the day.
Frequently Asked Questions for Visiting the Blue Lagoon
Where can I leave my luggage?
The Blue Lagoon knows that people come from/on their way to the airport. Smaller backpacks/carry-ons can be stored in the changing room lockers, but larger items/checked luggage can be checked in at the luggage storage right in the parking lot. If you’re not sure if your bag will fit, just ask at check-in and they’ll let you know.
You can lock/unlock the locker by using the buttons on the door. There are attendants who can help you if you have any trouble. There are several groups of lockers, each next to a scanning point Lock the door, scan your wrist band, and it will show the lock number, which will then lock the door. To unlock, just scan your wristband again, and the system will remember which locker you had. The door will pop open.
Travel Tip: Be sure to leave any jewelry in the locker as the silica in the Lagoon can have a negative effect.
Before you enter the Lagoon, you can check your bag for 800 ISK per piece with the attendant. Hold the ticket during your visit.
Pro Travel Tip: Remember to leave 15 minutes or so to get your luggage when you leave in case it’s busy.
What are the crowds like?
Whenever someone mentions Iceland, they mention the Blue Lagoon. So unless you’re really early AND really lucky, you’ll be surrounded in the pool. We visited in November, a shoulder season, and it was very crowded. I’m talking large groups of tourists (pretty sure there was a tour bus or two when we left), families trying to get their children used to the warm water while they cry, and travelers who drink too much beer and get rowdy. You get the picture – the Blue Lagoon is not immune to over-tourism. This is honestly my top reason why I don’t recommend it. If you have the opportunity to go to another hot spring, then that would be a more authentic Icelandic experience.
Do I have to shower before entering the Blue Lagoon?
Yes! There are attendants who are diligent about people showering before you go in the lagoon – without your bathing suit on.
There are communal showers if you’re comfortable, but there are also private showers. There are about 15 private shower cubicles, so you might have to wait a few minutes. If you have a robe, make sure to hang it outside the shower and not over the door.
How do I pay for things during my visit?
You won’t need to carry your credit card or cash during your visit. The waterproof wristband you received at check-in acts as a card for everything. Charge everything to your wristband. When you’re ready to leave, there is a machine to scan your wristband and pay your balance.
How do you enter the Blue Lagoon?
There are a few different entrances to the actual lagoon. One is stairs inside the building so you can get in while you’re still warm. Another is a ramp that can be slippery – so be sure to hold onto the railing.
Does the Blue Lagoon smell?
A little bit, but not the sulfer/rotten egg smell some thermal spas have.
Is the water very hot?
It’s like a very warm bath temperature. It’s not shockingly hot like a hot tub, but rather a comfortable super-warm.
What gives the Blue Lagoon its milky blue look?
That’s the silica minerals. It’s said to have healing properties and is very good for your skin.
Does the water damage your hair?
Not really, but it can dry it out. I have really dry hair in general, so I tied mine up to help prevent it from getting too wet.
Pro Travel Tip: Apply lots of conditioner before entering and don’t rinse it out. It will help keep the moisture locked. Something that I wish I knew before visiting.
What type of mud masks can I get?
As someone who does not frequent spas, I thoroughly enjoyed indulging in a mud mask. There’s a mask bar in the Lagoon with four different masks available. Silica, Algae, Mineral, and Lava. There’s a little menu that describes the benefits of each of them depending on what you want.
The Comfort Ticket includes one mask, while the Premium ticket allows you to try three masks. The attendant can help you choose and show you how to apply it correctly.
Pro Travel Tip: There are mirrors and cold running fresh water near the mask bar for washing your hands and face. This is especially helpful if it runs into your eyes unexpectedly.
What do you DO in the Blue Lagoon?
Relax! That’s the whole point of the Blue Lagoon.
There is a swim-up bar so you can enjoy a drink in the water. One complimentary drink is included in the ticket. When we went, you could choose any drink from the menu, so choose a more expensive one first. Any additional drinks will be charged to your wristband. Soda is between 500-700 ISK ($4-6 USD) and beer/wine is around 1200-1500 ISK ($9-12 USD). They have a variety of drinks including smoothies and sports drinks as well.
There is a cafe lagoon-side for drinks or snacks outside the lagoon. There is also a restaurant on-site, but like most of Iceland, it can be quite pricey.
What do you wish you knew about visiting the Blue Lagoon?
I was expecting a much more “spa-like” experience. The expectations on social media were disappointing. With a lot of tourists, constant chatter, kids crying, drunk people being loud, and always being in someone elses’ photo, it wasn’t the type of place where you can just “be”.
Having the correct expectation can significantly impact your trip, which is why I wanted to give an honest review of the Blue Lagoon.
Mid-morning is the busiest time. Tours typically get there between 10:00 and noon, so just be prepared. If you’re in one of these tours (no judgement, sometimes it’s easier), maybe explore the exterior for a bit and get some photographs out of the way. There are hot springs and dark rocks outside the Blue Lagoon. That’s where I got my traditional jumping photo! This way, you’ll let the crowds dissipate inside and get some of your photos done so when you get into the Lagoon, you can just enjoy it!
Would you recommend visiting the Blue Lagoon?
If you have the option to visit a smaller, more local hot spring, then take it. However, if you’ve heard about it for years, seen the beautiful photos, and know it will be crowded and pricey – then go for it! On one hand, I’m glad I went to experience it myself – on the other hand, I definitely would not visit again.
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