You’ve seen the photos all over Instagram — steam rising from impossibly blue water. People swimming around with their faces covered in mud. Volcanic landscape dominated by huge black boulders. Visiting the Blue Lagoon in Iceland looks pretty amazing from the photos. And much like the Golden Circle, it’s become an unmissable part of any Iceland bucket list.
So if you’re planning a trip to Iceland, you’re probably wondering, is the Blue Lagoon worth it?
Spoiler alert: My answer is resoundingly, YES. Visiting the Blue Lagoon is an essential part of a trip to Iceland and it’s way more enjoyable than all the haters make it out to be. In this post, I’ll give you a preview of what the Blue Lagoon is really like, along with a few tips to make your trip go smoothly.
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What is the Blue Lagoon?
The Blue Lagoon is a spa and thermal pool in Iceland. The water comes from 6,500 feet below the Earth’s surface before being heated by a nearby geothermal power plant.
While the water is heated naturally, the lagoon was built for tourists. So it’s different from other geothermal springs in Iceland in that it’s not 100% natural — if tourists didn’t come here, the water would probably just be disposed of.
The lagoon water runs an average of about 100 degrees Fahrenheit year round. You’ll notice when swimming around that some pockets are warmer or cooler than others, but you’ll never feel chilly when soaking in the pool.
In addition to enjoying the thermal pool, you can have a full spa experience when visiting the Blue Lagoon. From in-water massages to masks that benefit your skin, it’s truly a relaxing and memorable way to begin or end a trip to Iceland.
Where is the Blue Lagoon in Iceland?
One common misconception — and frustration — about the Blue Lagoon is that it’s right in Reykjavik. The marketing materials make it sound like an easy trip from the capital that you can squeeze into your Iceland itinerary. But it’s actually far closer to Keflavik International Airport — almost an hour’s drive away from the city center. So if you count travel time and the time you’ll want to spend there, you need at least half a day for visiting the Blue Lagoon.
The good news is, you can easily add a trip to the Blue Lagoon on the way to or from the airport. I highly recommend going on your way to the airport as you leave Iceland. Trust me on this — you will never feel better getting on a long international flight than after you’ve spent the morning soaking in the hot springs and enjoying the spa.
If you are visiting the Blue Lagoon on a day trip from Reykjavik, it’ll take you the better part of the day. You can also tack it onto a Golden Circle tour if you want to save time.
Transportation options for visiting the Blue Lagoon
Visiting the Blue Lagoon is easy whether you’ve rented a car in Iceland or are reliant on buses and tours.
If you’re self-driving, take Highway 43 and look for the signs. Plan for an hour from downtown Reykjavik, or 15 minutes from the airport.
Reykjavik Excursions and Destination Blue Lagoon both offer bus transfers from the airport and the city center. You can either return to the same location or the other one. The tickets are open-ended — you choose a time to go to the Blue Lagoon, but you can take any bus when you leave (buses to the airport are roughly coordinated with flight departure times). This allows you to stay for as long as you like.
Destination Blue Lagoon is pricier — you’ll spend just over $40 if you buy round-trip tickets, while Reykjavik Excursions costs $35 round-trip. I took Reykjavik Excursions and was very happy with the service.
If you’re taking a bus to the Blue Lagoon, be sure to confirm whether your ticket includes admission. (Hint: It’ll be way more expensive if it does.) You don’t want to pay $35 for a transfer only to find out you can’t get in when you arrive!
Blue Lagoon opening hours and the best time to visit the Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon opening hours vary by season:
- January through early May: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm
- Late May through June: 7:00 am – 11:00 pm
- July and August: 7:00 am – midnight
- September through November: 8:00 am – 10:00 pm
- December: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm
But the biggest thing to consider when visiting the Blue Lagoon is the crowds. You’ll surely want to avoid the peak periods.
The most crowded times to go are in the middle of the day (roughly noon to 3 pm) on weekends, especially in the summer. You’ll have a much better time if you visit early or late in the day, on weekends, and/or in the winter.
I went to Iceland in November and did my Blue Lagoon trip on a Tuesday morning at 10 am. I didn’t have it to myself, but it wasn’t uncomfortably crowded and it was easy to find quieter parts.
Blue Lagoon admission and booking
In any discussion of whether the Blue Lagoon is worth it, you can’t ignore the steep admission fee. If you are accustomed to traveling on a budget, the price of Blue Lagoon packages is a rude awakening.
The most basic package is called “Comfort.” It includes admission/use of the facilities, one free drink, a silica mud mask, and towel rental. This costs 6,990 ISK — about $55.
For an additional 3,000 ISK/$30, you can book the “Premium” package. This includes everything in the Comfort package, plus slippers, a bathrobe, and a second mask. It also entitles you to a reservation at the on-site Lava Restaurant and free sparkling wine if you choose to eat there.
Finally, you can go all-out with the Retreat Spa package. This gets you four hours of access to the full suite of spa services, including massages, in-water treatments, and more. It comes in at a steep 30,000 ISK/$256 US.
If you’re traveling on a budget, the Comfort package is sufficient to enjoy the best of what the Blue Lagoon has to offer. But if you have the cash to spare, the Premium package is worth the splurge. I booked the Comfort package when visiting the Blue Lagoon and was extremely envious of everyone who had bathrobes and slippers.
Whichever package you choose, you must — I repeat, MUST — book your ticket before arriving. In high season, this means booking at least a few days in advance, before it’s sold out. You cannot purchase admission or change your package when you arrive. (However, you can add additional services for a premium price.) You can usually cancel your reservation up to 24 hours in advance, but check the fine print on whichever booking site you choose.
Arriving at the Blue Lagoon: Lines, lockers and showers
Upon arrival when visiting the Blue Lagoon, you’ll walk on a pathway through the lava fields to the main building. You’ll then have to stand in line to check in and get your wristband.
If you take a bus, sit at the front and get off as quickly as you can — you’ll want to be at the front of the line. If you’re self-driving, try to avoid arriving on the hour to avoid getting caught behind a busload of people. The different packages have different lines, but all of them move pretty slowly. Expect to spend 15-30 minutes waiting to get in.
When you check in, you’ll have to show your booking information (on your phone is fine). You’ll then receive a towel and a wristband, which you can charge additional purchases to throughout your visit. If you booked a Premium package you’ll also get your bathrobe and slippers.
Head upstairs to the changing rooms, where you can leave your luggage if you’re heading to or from the airport, or just your daypack if that’s all you have. Your wristband allows you to lock and unlock your locker — ask the staff at the entrance for help if you can’t get it to work.
Before you can enter the Blue Lagoon, you’ll need to shower (without your swimsuit on). The showers have privacy screens and hot water. They also have shampoo, conditioner and body wash — load up your hair with as much conditioner as you can stand and leave it in. The silica in the lagoon’s water makes your hair very stiff, but the conditioner can help, as can tying up long hair. Blow dryers are available if you want to dry your hair when leaving.
What to expect when visiting the Blue Lagoon
Now that you’ve gotten in, showered, and locked up your stuff, you’re ready to enter the Blue Lagoon!
You can either get in the 98+ degree water from inside the building, or step outside (in the freezing Icelandic air) and walk into the pool from there. The wooden platforms around the water are absolutely frigid with bare feet. This is where those robes and slippers come in handy — you can’t bring any other clothes with you outside!
Once you’re in the water, you’ll be amazed by how warm it is. You won’t be cold at all, even if you’re visiting Iceland in the middle of the winter.
The parts of the pool closer to the building are shallow. Go to the left (as you face away from the building) and you’ll find a small waterfall. The mask bar is in front of you from here, while the drinks bar is to your right. Further away from the building are the deeper parts of the pool, which are also radically less crowded.
With both the Comfort and Premium packages, you get free silica mud masks (either from the mask bar or from one of the staff walking around handing it out). It’s an otherworldly experience to swim around and see crowds of people with their faces covered in white mud. When you’re ready to try it, the staff will plop a small clump of mud into your hand, which you then spread over your face. Leave it on for about 10 minutes, until it starts to feel dry — then wash it off in the lagoon’s water.
You also receive a free drink when visiting the Blue Lagoon. Choose from beer, wine, soda, smoothies, and more. The blueberry Skyr smoothie was pretty tasty and filling.
While the Blue Lagoon gets lots of visitors each day, the pool itself is huge, so it never actually feels that crowded (except maybe right by the entrance). If you get annoyed with the other people around you, simply swim to a different section.
How long should you spend on your Blue Lagoon excursion?
If you’re going to spend over $50 on admission to this “natural” spa, you’ll definitely want to get your money’s worth. But if you’re visiting the Blue Lagoon on the way to the airport, it’s important to consider how much time you really need there to make the most of it.
I spent around 4 hours at the lagoon and felt like it was the perfect amount of time. When I got tired of swimming around, I found a reclining chair in the “relaxation area” and read a book for a little while before going back in. I had plenty of time to take photos and didn’t feel rushed when leaving.
If you’re dining at the Blue Lagoon, you should plan to spend at least an extra hour here.
Don’t cut it too close when leaving — if you’ve made any additional purchases while inside, you’ll need to wait in line to pay off your wristband when you leave.
Food at the Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon has a couple different dining options — a high-end restaurant and two cafes. (One cafe is outside the spa, to visit when arriving or leaving, while the other is inside.)
The Lava Restaurant has well-reviewed meals, but it’s not cheap. Expect to spend at least $50 USD to dine here. You should make a reservation in advance.
The cafes are also pricey — even simple, pre-prepared sandwiches are around $12. Coffee was over $4. And none of it looked particularly good.
To save money on food when visiting the Blue Lagoon, consider packing a lunch. You can pick up supplies like bread, peanut butter and jelly, Skyr (Icelandic yogurt), and other non-perishables at the Bonus supermarket in Reykjavik for just a couple dollars. No one will look twice at you if you eat your packed lunch in the cafe seating area or the relaxation area. (And if you’re heading on to the airport, save some room for a delicious sandwich from Joe and the Juice on your way home.)
What should you bring to the Blue Lagoon?
You don’t need to bring much when visiting the Blue Lagoon — you’ll lock up most of your belongings while you enjoy the spa facilities. But a few things can make your trip easier and more fun.
First, anyone with long hair should definitely bring a good brush and hair ties. You’ll want to wash your hair before and after visiting the lagoon, and tie it up while you’re in the pool.
Second, you can bring your camera/phone into the Blue Lagoon — but you’ll feel much better about it if you have a waterproof case. Dropping your phone in the lagoon’s water is a sure way to ruin it.
Bring snacks if you don’t want to spend too much money on food. A reusable water bottle also comes in handy too. You’ll find water fountains all around the main building, and you’ll get pretty dehydrated while swimming around.
Finally, flip flops come in handy when walking around the main building and using the showers. They’re not essential — the changing rooms are very clean — but if you get freaked out using public changing facilities, they’re worth having with you.
Summing up: Is the Blue Lagoon worth it?
Visiting the Blue Lagoon may be pricey, and the lagoon itself may be a bit of a tourist trap. But in my book, it’s still TOTALLY worth it.
Remember, what you’re paying for is essentially a spa experience. Whether you’re in Iceland or at home, that isn’t cheap no matter what.
Yes, the crowds can get a bit annoying at times, especially in the changing rooms. But the lagoon is so naturally beautiful, so relaxing, and so enjoyable, that even the fact that it’s a tourist trap doesn’t really ruin it.
Normally I hate doing the most touristy things when I’m traveling. I prefer to get off the beaten path, connect with local people, and have authentic experiences. But I’m still SO glad I didn’t skip the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. Not only was it incredibly scenic, it also made me feel great before I got on a six-hour flight home. Worth the $55? Definitely.
Have you been to the Blue Lagoon? Did you enjoy it, or think it was a tourist trap? Leave a comment and let me know!
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