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Blue Lagoon Iceland – All you need to know before visiting

Blue Lagoon Iceland – All you need to know before visiting

Blue Lagoon planning Iceland Guide

Arctic blue water surrounded by harsh, black lava fields covered with dark green moss: A scenery so mystical and fascinating, it makes you feel like entering another world. While you can relax and unwind in the Blue Lagoon, you also might experience crowds of people, lines, and overpriced drinks. See our podcast episode for more details.

The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s most popular tourist destinations and the third most visited place in 2015. The promise of a once in a lifetime experience and well-targeted marketing pulls more than 1 million people towards the blue water every year.

From Wastewater to Luxury Spa

Although it looks natural, the blue lagoon is man-made. The water is a byproduct of the nearby power plant Svartsengi. The area around the Blue Lagoon is a so-called high-temperature geothermal field.

Iceland has several of these. In these areas, the temperature is over 200°C, especially in the top 1000 meters of the earth’s crust. And it is in most cases connected to a volcanic zone or a volcano directly. 

Everything started with a power plant (1976)

Blue Lagoon Power Plant Iceland
Svartsengi Power Plant close to the Blue Lagoon, Photo by @SteveAllenPhoto via Twenty20

The geothermal fluid from the boreholes in Svartsengi is very rich in dissolved matters like silica. It cannot be used directly to heat houses as it would destroy the plumbing. Therefore, it is used to heat fresh water which then is used to heat houses in the area. 

Now, what to do with the thick, slick wastewater?
The lava around the power plant is relatively young and porous. At the end of the process, the plant dumped the water into the lava field, where it disappeared through the cracks at first. But after a while, silica filled all the cracks and holes, so a lake formed.

Discovering Healing powers in the water

In 1981, a man from Keflavik suffering from psoriasis took a bath in the lagoon to see if it could help with his skin disease. After the water gave him a temporary cure, more experiments where conducted, which resulted in opening a clinic nearby.

At first, mainly patients with skin diseases visited the Lagoon. But soon after, more and more people wanted to experience the healing prospects of the water. However, it is not completely known how the water in the Blue Lagoon heals skin conditions. It is possibly a mix of the minerals, bacteria, and blue-green algae in the lagoon itself.

The Blue Lagoon gets its blue color from the silica molecules reflecting the blue part of the sunlight. 

Blue colored water at the Blue Lagoon, photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

A million-dollar business

Today, the Blue Lagoon complex includes two hotels, the retreat spa (opened 2018), two restaurants, and several changing facilities, meeting rooms, shops, cafés, and bars. In 2019 the Lagoon made a profit of 22 million EUR.

Which package should I buy?

The Blue Lagoon requires pre-booking. So no chance to show up and hope for a free spot.

Comfort Package (Basic Option) FROM 36 EUR | 43 USD

  • Entrance to the Blue Lagoon
  • Silica mud mask
  • Use of towel
  • 1st drink of your choice

Blue Lagoon Premium Package FROM 54 EUR | 64 USD

  • Entrance to the Blue Lagoon
  • Silica mud mask
  • Use of towel
  • 1st drink of your choice
  • Second mask of choice
  • Slippers (not needed)
  • Use of bathrobe (good luck finding your robe afterward, see below)
  • Table reservation at Lava Restaurant (unnecessary if you don’t plan to eat there)
  • 1 glass of sparkling wine if dining at Lava restaurant
Towel Blue Lagoon Iceland planning guide
Towel Jungle at the Blue Lagoon by @ashiqkhan via Twenty20

Luxury: Retreat Spa

*From USD 347 per changing room
Four luxurious hours at the Retreat Spa. Includes a private changing suite and unlimited access to both the Retreat Lagoon and the Blue Lagoon.

  • Access to Retreat spa
  • Private changing room
  • Access to Blue Lagoon Ritual
  • Access to Retreat Lagoon
  • Blue Lagoon skin care amenities
  • Access to the Blue Lagoon
  • You pay 347 USD per changing room which can be divided when two or more travel

If you are on a budget, choose the basic package. The only difference to the premium package is the (single use) slippers, bathrobe, and second mask of choice. Good luck finding your bathrobe – on the hangers inside and outside, overfilled with white bathrobes and towels. You don’t need the slippers; you can comfortably walk bare food through all areas. If you are not planning to eat in the Lava Restaurant, then you won’t need the reservation.

The only perk of the premium package is the “premium line,” so you might have a shorter waiting time when you enter the lobby. It’s not that bad after all if you can save some Krónas.

Keep in mind that the prices above will most likely change to even higher amounts. That’s why it says “From.”

Blue Lagoon Iceland prices
Prices I looked up on August, 28th, 2020.

When should I visit?

Since the Blue Lagoon is close to Keflavík airport, it makes sense to visit after you arrive in Iceland or before you fly back home. If you plan to take photos with the blue water and lava surroundings, keep the daylight times in mind. In summer you don’t have to worry as its mostly bright for 24 hours. In wintertime, it makes sense to visit between 11 am and 4 pm.

See Also
Pack for Iceland Trip

If you would like to combine your Blue Lagoon visit with a day trip to the fascinating surroundings and the Reykjanes Peninsula, you can follow our tips, which we mention in our podcast episode.

Blue Lagoon Iceland winter
Blue Lagoon in wintertime by @sydneyspencer470 via Twenty20

What should I bring?

You will not need lots of things, as the Blue Lagoon changing rooms have body lotion, hair shampoo, and conditioner, hairdryers – everything you need. Bring your swimwear and a towel if you have. If your towel is in another color than white, you have an excellent changed to find it in the jungle of towels.

If you plan to take pictures with your phone, should protect it with a case. Not only from water but also from the sticky silica. The Blue Lagoon sells those cases but we recommend bringing a good quality one that you can reuse.

It is always good to take a refillable water bottle. However, in the Blue Lagoon, you will find several fountains to hydrate. It is possible to buy drinks at the bar. Unfortunately, they are served in single-use plastic glasses.

Pros and Cons of the Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon Pros
  • Close to the airport, can be easily included in travelers itinerary
  • Extensive with different areas to visit and multiple entry/ exit points
  • Once entered, visitors can stay as long as they wish
  • Stunning lava surroundings
  • Closeby attractions to visit – see here
Blue Lagoon Cons
  • Very pricey
  • Can be overcrowded and then lacking a spa atmosphere
  • Lines to the masks and drinks
  • Small shower facilities, lacking hooks
  • Bathrobe and slipper jungle and therefore sustainability issue
  • Use of single-use plastic cubs

Is it worth it?

Surely a question that everyone has to answer for themselves. If you don’t want to miss out on a full Iceland experience with all the famous attractions and landmarks, we say, go for it.

If you plan ahead, you can still fish for the least expensive entry prices for time slots that are less popular. And if you have a decent departure flight time, you can enjoy some spa time before you leave Iceland.

However, if you find yourself on a budget, we recommend exploring other geothermal hot springs like Fontana or the Secret Lagoon. Local swimming pools usually cost less than 1000 kr.

No matter what you decide, we hope you enjoy your Iceland adventure. And don’t forget to shower without your bathing suit before you enter any pool in Iceland.

Steffi & Aðalbjörn

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