Everyone has a perfect travel memory from years gone by. One of mine is from my first trip to Iceland nearly twenty years ago swimming around in a near empty Blue Lagoon as it was snowing – that combined with the steam coming off the water in the late twilight hours of a December afternoon made for a magical experience and one I have never forgotten.
Fast forward to last March when we visited Iceland for five days. Apart from all the sights we wanted to see on our road trip to the Golden Circle and along the South Coast, we also knew we wanted to visit the Blue Lagoon. I had read that in recent years that it had become very busy as well as very expensive but how would it compare to that very first visit?
The Blue Lagoon is one of the most well known attractions in Iceland. It is located near the town of Grindavik which is thirteen miles from Keflavik International Airport and thirty miles from the capital city of Reykjavik. It is actually a man made lagoon which uses the water output from the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power plant. It holds nine million litres of geothermal water which is renewed every forty hours and the water temperature is a nice and warm 37-39 degrees celcius all year round.
As we had rented a car for the duration of our stay in Iceland, we simply drove ourselves to and from the Blue Lagoon from our hotel in the centre of Reykjavik. However if you do not have use of a car, there are buses to and from the Blue Lagoon from Reykjavik as well as from Keflavik Airport. Many people visit the Blue Lagoon either straight away after arriving in Iceland or on their way back to the airport and there is a luggage storage facility located in the car park. We did neither of these as we visited during the afternoon on our last full day – a wonderful benefit of renting a car and being able to drive yourself anywhere, whenever you want. It was a very easy drive which takes about forty minutes and is well signposted – there is also plenty of free parking once you arrive too. As you approach the Blue Lagoon, you can see the steam from the water in the distance.
To visit the Blue Lagoon, you must pre book your tickets in advance – the easiest way to do this is on the official Blue Lagoon website where you pick the date and time you would like to visit – it’s advisable to book early as dates and times do sell out quickly. We booked our tickets two months in advance to ensure we got both the date and the time that we wanted.
There are several different packages available to book – we just booked the Standard package for 6800 ISK each (£48) which is all we needed. The reason for buying this one opposed to the 2000 ISK (£15) more expensive Comfort package (which included a towel, a drink and an algae face mask) is we did not need the use of a towel as we brought our own with us and there is no point in paying for an algae face mask as you have an endless supply of silica mud mask included once in the Blue Lagoon itself. We also brought our own flip flops with us for walking outside as well as our water bottles so there was no need to pay any more.
When you arrive at the Blue Lagoon, there are separate lines to enter depending on what ticket you have and if you are with an excursion or not. We arrived just before our reservation time at 4:00pm and luckily for us, there was no line for the package we had purchased and after showing our booking confirmation that we had printed, we were each handed a wristband. You use the wristband to get through the turnstile, use the lockers and they can also be used for charging drinks when in the lagoon which you then pay for when leaving.
After making your way through the turnstile, there are separate male and female changing rooms. If you are shy this is probably not the best place for you. There are only a few private changing rooms which were all occupied when I arrived and as I did not want to waste any time waiting for one to become available, I just joined everyone else in getting changed in the middle of the changing room. After placing my belongings into one of the lockers, they are locked by holding the door closed and placing your wristband against a nearby display panel. To unlock your locker, you simply hold your wristband over the panel again and wait for the door to open.
Before heading to the lagoon, it is a requirement that you shower without your swimsuit on (yes completely naked) and there is often someone stopping people who have not showered from leaving the changing rooms to head to the lagoon. There is no need to worry though as there are private shower cubicles that you can use that have both amazing body wash as well as conditioner in them. When you are in the shower, make sure to use plenty of the conditioner that is available and do not rinse it out of your hair (I tied my hair back into a ponytail after applying the conditioner) as this will help to protect your hair from the the silica in the water.
After showering and conditioning my hair, I grabbed my towel and headed outside. There are two ways to enter the Blue Lagoon – you can walk outside and get into the water from there or you can enter the water inside and walk out but where is the fun in that? You only have to walk a few metres outside, hang your towel up and walk down a ramp into the beautiful warm water. Another advantage of bringing your own towel with you is you can see it easily as all the Blue Lagoon towels are white – my purple towel was very easy to spot!
It was a beautiful cool day with blue skies when we were at the Blue Lagoon and getting into the water felt instantly relaxing. We noticed that the majority of people stayed close to the lagoon entrance which made this area very crowded (it’s also not too far from where the bar and the saunas are located) so it’s best to move away from this area if you want peace and quiet. Just by walking a little further out through the mist and the steam across the Blue Lagoon, there are fewer and fewer people to be seen. The water temperature can also vary around the lagoon so it was fun to try and find all the hotter spots.
On the left hand side of the lagoon is a little kiosk where you can help yourself to as much silica mud mask as you like. We each put it on our faces (it’s one of those things you have to do at the Blue Lagoon as well as take a selfie of it) and left it on for fifteen minutes before rinsing it off. Once we walked underneath the footbridge into another area of the lagoon, it was incredibly peaceful and quiet and there was plenty of room to float in the water watching the clouds in the sky and places to sit down on the rocks in the water as well.
I was using my “NoPro” with a waterproof housing and a floating handle to take photos whilst in the Blue Lagoon but I saw many people using their phones with waterproof cases on them. I also saw several people with expensive SLR’s, iPhones and even an iPad without any protection on them at all – it really was an accident waiting to happen. We also saw several drones flying overhead whilst we were in the water.
We spent a very chilled two hours in the water at the Blue Lagoon. I cannot even begin to imagine visiting on the way back to the airport to catch a flight as you would be constantly looking at the time and thinking about getting to the airport and it would not be the relaxing experience you want it to be.
After getting out of the water, I showered once again and made full use of the conditioner available and my hair was absolutely fine and did not dry out in the slightest. I had also brought facial wash, moisturiser and some make up with me as we were going out straight out to dinner once we were back in Reykjavik. There were also hairdryers available and even though I had brought some ziploc bags with me, there were bags available to put your wet swimming costume in.
Once I was dressed, I made my way towards the exit where there was quite a long line of people waiting to pay for the drinks that they had charged to their wristbands. As I had not bought anything, I could simply walk past the line and scan my wristband to leave – you drop your wristband off into a container on the turnstile before it lets you through.
We walked through the cafe to get to one of the viewing platforms as I wanted to try and get some photos of the Blue Lagoon from above. We also had a look in the gift shop but did not buy anything as it is incredibly expensive even though I had bought some moisturiser on my first visit and had absolutely loved it.
Whilst I cannot say that my second visit to the Blue Lagoon was as magical as my first (I honestly do not think anything could ever top that), I still had an amazing time. Yes you do hear mixed reviews but Iceland is now so popular that most places are going to be busier than what they were a few years ago. And yes, it is expensive but I still would pay to go back again.
So go to Iceland, go to the Blue Lagoon and have an awesome time!
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