When you go to Iceland, there are a couple spots that nearly every tourist visits…the Blue Lagoon and the Golden Circle. Yes, there are better, hotter, less expensive hot springs to visit, but the Blue Lagoon is the luxurious, touristy option that has become wildly popular. The convenience of locker rooms, a restaurant, a swim-up bar, alcoholic slushies, and silica mud masks doesn’t hurt either.
When I visited Iceland, I could not wait to discover the wonders of the Blue Lagoon! There were just a few things I wish I knew in advance, which brings me to this post…explore some of the key things to know before visiting the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. These tips should prepare you to enjoy your experience and level set expectations on your time at the Blue Lagoon.
In any case, if you’re going to Iceland, I’d recommend taking a trip to the Blue Lagoon. Read on for an inclusive guide of everything you need to know – the post covers topics ranging from a packing list to how to not ruin your hair to the restaurant options.
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How do I Get to the Blue Lagoon?
The Blue Lagoon of Iceland is located in a lava field near a little town called Grindavík. It is about 45 minutes by car from Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, and about 20 minutes from Iceland’s Keflavík Airport.
Make sure you arrive well in advance of your entrance time to give yourself some time to explore the lava fields – I felt like I was on the surface of the moon! Please excuse my appearance in the photo below – it was very early morning and I had just stepped off a flight from Florida!
The last thing you want is to rush through the experience. Depending on what you want to do, save time for massages (book ahead!), eating, showering before and after, standing in the luggage check-in/retrieval line, and even checking in and out. The lines can get long during peak times.
There are several options for getting to the Blue Lagoon.
- Book a roundtrip transfer from Reykjavik if you don’t have a car. I would recommend this option if your flight times don’t match up well with tacking on a trip to the Blue Lagoon either after landing at the airport or before departing.
- Book a transfer from Keflavík International Airport to the Blue Lagoon to Reykjavik or vice versa. I’d recommend this if you aren’t renting a car and your flight times allow you to visit the Blue Lagoon after landing or before flying out. I personally went with this option because I only spent 4 days in Iceland and did not rent a car. After sitting on an overnight flight, it was absolutely the perfect way to unwind and welcome myself to Iceland. If your flight time coming in doesn’t work, try combining with your departure. The Blue Lagoon has locker rooms and showers, so you’ll be clean and relaxed for your flight home!
- If you’re planning to rent a car for your journey around Iceland, check out Sixt or Expedia. They let you filter by vehicle type, automatic vs. manual, and have a decent selection. If you’re traveling with a group, Sixt has a nice van option. However, overall Expedia will have more options to choose from.
When is the Best Time to Visit the Blue Lagoon?
My two suggestions for timing on when to visit the Blue Lagoon are either early morning or evening. This will help you to avoid the huge crowds during the middle of the day and make for a more pleasant experience overall.
Early Morning: The Blue Lagoon’s opening and closing times change throughout the year, so I’d recommend checking the Blue Lagoon website for hours (and prices) in advance of your visit. I personally had an early morning landing so arrived at the Blue Lagoon around 8:30 AM. After checking in, storing my luggage, getting my locker, and showering, I entered the lagoon. I definitely wasn’t the first to arrive, but the Blue Lagoon was still quiet at that time of day and I felt like I could really relax and enjoy myself. We all had plenty of space without feeling like guests were fighting for room.
Evening: If you can’t swing a morning visit, try aiming for an evening visit (depending on the time of year and hours of operation). If you’re visiting during winter, you could potentially see the Northern Lights, which would be an amazing experience! If you’re there during summer, evening times mean the mid-day crowds have mostly moved on and the Blue Lagoon is quieting down again.
Pre-Booking Your Time at the Blue Lagoon
Honestly, don’t even bother showing up without a booking. The Blue Lagoon is incredibly popular, so please book in advance! There are standard packages (what I got) ranging up to fancier ones which included a robe, sparkling wine, slippers, etc. This is one of the most important things to know before visiting the Blue Lagoon Iceland.
How Long Should I Spend at the Blue Lagoon?
This is going to depend on a handful of different things. Consider what package you plan to buy, if you’d like to eat on site, and if you plan to book any spa treatments. All of these decisions will affect how much time to spend at the Blue Lagoon.
Personally, I booked the standard package, did not go to the spa, did not eat at the Blue Lagoon, but did enjoy mud masks and the swim-up bar in the lagoon. The silica mud mask bar is the place to be – these mud masks are included in every ticket, even the standard entrance. I definitely wasn’t expecting this and felt like I was at a spa. The mask makes your skin super smooth, so naturally I smothered myself in it…twice!
I ended up spending about 3 hours relaxing at the Blue Lagoon, but you can definitely spend more or less, depending on your preferences.
How to Protect Your Hair
Condition your hair! Ladies, I’m not playing with this one…this is one of the key things to know before visiting the Blue Lagoon. The silica in the water will absolutely wreak havoc with your hair; it will be stiff and downright unpleasant for days afterward.
The best way to avoid this is to slather your hair with conditioner (complimentary in the locker room) and leave it in your hair while in the lagoon. You could also wear a shower cap, but that makes your pictures significantly less cute, so I went with the conditioned bun look and just rinsed my hair afterward. It seemed like the conditioner worked just fine! Even as a blonde (which reportedly have more hair issues with the silica), conditioner worked perfectly in protecting my hair!
What to Expect at the Blue Lagoon
I’m not going to sugarcoat it, the Blue Lagoon is obviously a tourist attraction. You will not find any locals coming to the Blue Lagoon for a quiet day at the hot springs. However, due to its huge popularity, it has expanded, modernized, and continues to cater to tourists and provide a luxurious experience. With tourists in mind, the Blue Lagoon offers the following amenities:
Luggage Storage: If you’re coming to or from the airport, this becomes incredibly helpful. The luggage storage is in the parking area; you get a ticket for your bag, and return the ticket to get your bag back.
Wristband: Upon arrival at the Blue Lagoon, you receive a magical wristband that is your key to everything at the Blue Lagoon. It unlocks your locker, buys drinks from the swim-up bar, and basically acts as an in-water credit card, so don’t worry about carrying around your wallet. Do keep a good hold on your wristband though…they’ll charge you if you lose it! This is one of the most helpful things to know about visiting the Blue Lagoon!
Locker Room: Before you hop into the Blue Lagoon, you need to take a naked shower before putting on your swimsuit. There are plenty of clean showers with frosted glass in the locker room. Plus, the showers have shower gel and conditioner so you’ll be nice and clean! You can use them on the way out too to clean up, and yes, there are hair driers.
Plus, you can enjoy the Blue Lagoon no matter the weather. Even if it is frigid outside, the water in the lagoon is nice and toasty! It usually runs 98-104 degrees, which feels just about perfect. The day I went was in the low 50s and it even started raining, but it was still an awesome time. There are definitely areas warmer than others (usually toward the edges), so I 100% migrated there.
The fact that the Blue Lagoon is a well-known tourist stop doesn’t mean it’s not a fun experience. I thoroughly enjoyed my mud masks, alcoholic slushies from the swim-up bar, and quality time in what is basically a giant blue hot tub. Honestly, how could I not have a blast?
I’d say that one of the key things to know before visiting the Blue Lagoon is that it is touristy, so just have your expectations in check. However, is it great? Absolutely, especially after an overnight flight!
Blue Lagoon Packing List
Bringing a swimsuit to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland should seem like an obvious one, but if you’re coming off a red-eye flight, nothing is obvious anymore. Maybe it’s just me, but I definitely struggle when I miss a night of sleep. In any case, it’s super helpful to have a small Blue Lagoon bag tucked inside your luggage for easy access.
Also, one of the key things to know before visiting the Blue Lagoon is to consider how you want to take photos. Trust me, you’re going to want to take pictures in and around the Blue Lagoon. I brought my waterproof camera in with me (the Olympus TG-4), and it worked perfectly. If you don’t have a waterproof camera, I’d recommend investing in a waterproof phone case or even a cheap dry bag.
The Blue Lagoon’s locker room is easily accessible, so you can arrive fully dressed and/or straight off a flight and change there. Another perk of the locker room is that the Blue Lagoon offers bags for wet swimsuits, which becomes very handy if you’re visiting before your flight departs.
Make sure to include the essentials on your packing list:
- Towel (depending on your package)
- Flip flops
- Hair brush
- Hair tie
- Change of clothes
- Waterproof camera/phone case
- Any shower items you might want (e.g. clarifying shampoo)
A quick note on the sunscreen and sunglasses: the water is incredibly reflective, so I definitely opted for some sunnies to shade my eyes. Also, the Blue Lagoon recommends that you don’t go in with contacts, but I’m basically blind without mine, so I was hoping the sunglasses would protect them…worked for me! Also, I know the idea of wearing sunscreen while it’s freezing out sounds ridiculous to some, but just trust me here, I saw many sunburned people. Don’t let that be you.
Eating at the Blue Lagoon
One of the other key things to know before visiting the Blue Lagoon is all of your food options. You have the Spa Restaurant, Lava Restaurant, and Moss Restaurant.
- Spa Restaurant: The Spa Restaurant offers light, fresh dishes that you can enjoy with views of the lava fields and beautiful blue geothermal springs. You don’t need reservations and you can eat in your robe! You can also dine while fully dressed, but I’m a huge fan of robes, so this seems like an obvious choice to me.
- Lava Restaurant: This is the next step up from the Spa Restaurant. The Lava Restaurant is actually built into an 800-year old lava cliff and offers brunch (Saturday and Sunday), lunch, and dinner options, including a tasting menu as well as à la carte dining options. You are allowed to dine in your robe until 4:00 PM, but beyond that, relaxed fine dining attire is required.
- Moss Restaurant: Moss Restaurant was recommended by the 2019 Michelin Guide and is a truly unique experience. Not only will you enjoy unforgettable views, but the 5 and 7-course set menus offer a stunning culinary cuisine. With this elevated level of dining, no robes are allowed at Moss.
Since I was at the Blue Lagoon quite early, I stuck with the swim-up bar and then made my way into Reykjavik for some of Reykjavik’s foodie hotspots.
Why is the Blue Lagoon So Popular?
The Blue Lagoon is known for its milky blue water set amongst a spectacular lava field. With that kind of description, how would it not be popular? With the Blue Lagoon’s explosion on Instagram and all of the unique photo ops and experiences it offers, the Blue Lagoon has skyrocketed in popularity and has become a major stopping point on tourists’ journeys in Iceland.
Add in the fact of its proximity to both the airport and Reykjavik, and you have the makings of one of Iceland’s most famous tourist attractions.
Is the Blue Lagoon Worth It?
This will be a question that only you can answer for yourself. The Blue Lagoon is incredibly convenient, offers excellent amenities, and has convenient hours compared to most other options. However, you are paying for the convenience and amenities.
If you’d prefer less well-known options that may be a little more off the beaten path, try the following. Check out Myvatn Nature Baths in North Iceland. It’s a lot quieter, and you can’t visit on your way to or from the airport, which cuts down on crowds. You still get amenities like a swim-up bar, locker room, and café. Plus, the blue water and surrounding landscape (a volcanic crater!) make for pretty excellent backdrops to your experience.
Another option is the Secret Lagoon, which you can combine with the Golden Circle. The Secret Lagoon actually has a little geyser and is the oldest geothermal pool in Iceland (1891). It provides a simpler , more true Icelandic experience.
Where to Stay in Reykjavik
Most folks begin or end their Iceland itinerary in Reykjavik, so I’ll provide hotel recommendations for the city. While you’re at it, you’ll probably have a little extra time to explore the city, so don’t miss these top 10 Insta-worthy photo spots in Reykjavik.
Boutique Hotel: Stay at Hotel Ódinsvé—this hotel has an awesome location downtown, and offers cool amenities like a terrace and café bar. Try and book one of the rooms with a balcony so you can enjoy the views!
Mid-Range: I’d recommend Hotel Frón; this hotel is also centrally located and even has kitchen facilities in the apartments, which definitely comes in handy if you end up using Reykjavik as a home base.
Budget: If you’re looking to avoid hotels and go the hostel route, I recommend checking out Hostelworld; there are plenty of options in Reykjavik! My personal hostel recommendation is Loft Hostel. You have an amazing location in the heart of the city, and I absolutely loved the ambiance of the common area/bar and outside terrace.
Local Stay: Another option to forgo the hotels and stay at this adorable house in the heart of Reykjavik. You’ll enjoy views of old town and the harbor while being surrounded by quaint restaurants and shops. One of the cool things about the house is that it is owned by a family of artists, which gives the home many unique touches. Also, the house includes parking, which is somewhat rare in Reykjavik these days!
Flying to Iceland
Finding cheap flights to Iceland has never been easier, as airlines continue to expand their routes. I’d recommend searching through eDreams.net. They scan tons of different travel discount sites and feature special flight deals. You can typically find good flights on IcelandAir. You’ll fly into Iceland’s Keflavík Airport, which is about 45 minutes outside of Reykjavik. As a nice perk, the airport offers free unlimited WiFi, which I used to pass the time as I waited in the immigration line.
And there you have it, the top things to know before visiting the Blue Lagoon. Have you visited the Blue Lagoon? What are your tips for visiting or key things to know before visiting the Blue Lagoon?