Visions of Iceland’s dreamy, steamy, Blue Lagoon filled my head for weeks before my first trip to Reykjavik. This place was on my bucket list for years, and now that I’ve experienced Iceland’s most popular attraction, I’m sharing what you need to know beforehand to have a perfect visit.
GETTING TO THE BLUE LAGOON
The Blue Lagoon is about a forty-five minute drive from Reykjavik in a town called Grindavík. There are several motor coach companies you can book a roundtrip ticket with from the town center or the airport. Plan to arrive a little earlier than your entrance time, because the land around lagoon is a lava field, and you will want to leap out of the car and explore it! The rocky, moss-covered land looks like the craters of the moon, so if you ever had dreams of being an astronaut, this is your chance. I spent an hour walking around in awe of the terrain. It’s unique to Iceland, so you should really take time to appreciate it.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE BLUE LAGOON
First, you should know that the water in the Blue Lagoon originates 2,000 meters below the surface and is full of silica, algae, and minerals which gives it the milky-white color. The water is brought up from the geothermal power plant next door and used to create electricity for nearby communities before it goes into the lagoon – so it is not a natural hot spring.
The Blue Lagoon has become increasingly popular in the last few years, so it has modernized and expanded. They were in the process of building a luxury hotel during my visit. (Construction will end Spring 2017). The facility itself is luxurious, but very touristy. Once you enter, a high-tech wrist band operates your locker and tracks your purchases, and the lagoon has floats, noodles, and a swim up bar that serves alcoholic slushies. One of my favorite moments of my visit was when a very chubby man, completely covered in a thick coating of silica swam by balancing three slushies between his hands and wearing sunglasses – despite the completely overcast sky!
The fact that it’s touristy doesn’t mean it’s not great – because I definitely enjoyed my visit. It’s a giant, hot tub with free mud masks and cocktails; how could that be bad? But before you go, have your expectations in check. There are several natural geothermal spas in Iceland to visit if want an authentic experience.This is the fancy, tourist-filled, manufactured, version with lots of selfie sticks. Don’t expect to see any cute white-haired children splashing around. The only locals are the ones behind the silica bar. As long as that won’t disappoint you, you will have an excellent time.
WHAT PACKAGE TO BUY
Reserve your tickets ahead online to be sure you have a reservation for the time and day you want and to avoid a long line. Online, you can pick your time slot and package level and print your tickets. Don’t stress too much about the arrival time. I know from experience that they don’t mind if you’re twenty minutes late because you lost track of time shopping for furry hats in Reykjavik. Once inside, you can stay as long as you like.
There are four different prices for tickets. The standard is the least expensive and truly all you need to have a fantastic experience. Everything in the upgraded packages is available for purchase separately if you decide you want to add on.
The upgraded “premium” package comes with towels, an additional algae mask, a robe, slippers, a drink in the lagoon and a drink at LAVA. But for 30 euros more I don’t see the value there. Bring a towel from your hotel if you have the option, or you can rent one there for an additional few euros. The walk from the shower to the Lagoon entrance is just a few steps, so you don’t need a robe, you can wrap your towel around yourself and then hang it up on hooks right outside the pool before you get in.
For drinks and an algae mask, buy these things a la carte if you want them. The algae mask is 3 euros but the silica at the lagoon is free, so there’s really no need to buy another mask. There’s a swim-up bar and a silica mud bar. I covered my face and body in the stuff, as everyone does. If you want a drink you can buy one at the swim up bar, but I think it’s better to enjoy a cocktail outside the lagoon before or after rather than inside. With the steam, and a noodle, and the mud mask on my face, the last thing I wanted was a glass in my hand. In the lagoon, there are steam caves, a sauna, a little waterfall, and some areas that are semi-private from the main pool, all free to use as you want, but mostly it’s just a giant span of milky, white water.
WHAT TO BRING TO THE BLUE LAGOON
They have big and lovely locker rooms, so you can arrive fully dressed and change there. So pack a little bag with what you need, if you want to avoid going to a hotel before and after. The lockers are free and lock/unlock with your waterproof wrist-band. They also offer luggage storage if you are en route to or from the airport.
Bring your most photogenic and impractical swimsuit, since you don’t need to worry about getting strange tan lines. I recommend 2 towels (one for use after the pool, another for after your shower), a hair brush, and make-up (if you want to put it on afterward – you’ll want to take it off before using a silica mask in the lagoon). The locker rooms have hair dryers, bags for wet swimwear, shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion. If you plan on taking photos, don’t forget a waterproof case! There is no chance of survival without it.
HAIR-CARE AT THE BLUE LAGOON
I heard horror stories of the silica ruining your hair if it gets wet – making it sticky and tough for days – particularly blonde hair. So I asked my hair colorist about this in order to avoid catastrophe, and he advised the water would not ruin my color, but would just make my hair a strange texture for a day or two. If you plan to go under – rinse your hair in the shower before entering the lagoon and cover it in a thick layer of conditioner, which they have in the showers for free. This will help prevent the sticky feel after. Wash and condition your hair after leaving and all should be fine.
In the lagoon, most women had it up in a bun. I put my hair up, and put some conditioner around my neckline and face line, where I knew some water could splash, just in case. I like to play it safe when it comes to my locks.
EATING AT THE BLUE LAGOON
Inside there is a little take-away cafe with pre-packed and self-serve drinks, small bites, and sandwiches. The options are good, but limited and food is expensive so I wouldn’t plan on eating at the Blue Lagoon unless it’s your only option, or you’re in need of an emergency snack. There is also a fancy restaurant called LAVA that you need to book in advance. I heard from locals the food is very good and if you want to extend your stay at the lagoon it’s a nice option for dinner. But, it is by no means a must-visit with all the great places to eat in Reykjavik.
I recommend eating in Reykjavik before or after if you’re coming from or going there. If you want a delicious and affordable meal, check out The Coocoo’s Nest by the harbor. This charming spot is family owned and has fresh salads, soups, and sandwiches. Their homemade, crusty bread was so good I actually stole one of the thick slices off of my husband’s plate when he wasn’t looking, then tried to convince him that we should buy a whole loaf for later. There is also a local ice cream shop next door called Valdis if you have room for dessert. I always have room for dessert, and a cookie butter ice cream cone is a perfect sweet ending to a day in Iceland!
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