What is the Blue Lagoon?
The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa & resort located in the south-east corner of Iceland. As one of Iceland’s major tourist attractions, the Blue Lagoon has been the subject of world news on several occasions, most noticeably when it was named as one of the world’s 25 wonders by National Geographic.
The Blue Lagoon is Iceland’s most frequented tourist attraction, with almost 70% of all foreign travelers paying a visit.
After having worked at the Blue Lagoon for several years, I have compiled my best advice and information into this guide for you. I hope it helps.
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How was the Blue Lagoon created?
Contrary to popular belief, the Blue Lagoon is not a natural attraction. In 1971, drilling began in the Svartsengi area to tap into the geothermal energy resting beneath the surface. The water was pumped up from the earth to be distributed to heat up freshwater sources in nearby areas and any excess water was simply released into the nearby lava field “Illahraun”.
At first, the water simply sept through the lava, but this water was extremely rich with silica mud so, in time, the lava became clogged with mud which eventually petrified and prevented the water’s access back into the earth.
The result was the formation of a creamy-blue lagoon on top of the Illahraun lava field. It was not as large and impressive as it is today, and not many would have considered bathing there.
That is until a young man from Keflavik named Valur Margeirsson began bathing in the lagoon. Valur suffered from the condition Psoriasis and decided to test a theory that the lagoon’s water might help the symptoms of his condition. Much to Valur’s relief, the lagoon’s waters did help and his symptoms perished.
In an interview with a local newspaper, Valur referred to the place as the Blue Lagoon and the name simply stuck.
Where is the Blue Lagoon in Iceland?
The Blue Lagoon is located on the Reykjanes Peninsula, 5 minutes outside the town of Grindavík, 20 minutes from KEF Airport and roughly 45 minutes from Reykjavik City.
There are well-marked signs that should lead you the way from the Reykjanesbraut highway, but if you’re coming in from the south coast, then you’ll need to drive through Grindavík towards Reykjavik until you will see the Blue Lagoon on your left.
How to get to Blue Lagoon Iceland?
By Car - Since the Blue Lagoon is roughly located between Reykjavik and Keflavik, you can simply take route 41 Reykjanesbraut from either location and then make a turn on to route 43 where the signs should clearly lead the way.
By Bus - Several bus companies operate daily or even hourly transfers to and from the Blue Lagoon. You could even book a tour with the entrance fee included.
Blue Lagoon in Winter
There are a few pros to going to the Blue Lagoon in winter, the biggest, in my opinion, being the price. Winter is low season in Iceland and, as such, all the prices start dropping spectacularly, including the Blue Lagoon ticket prices.
Another pro is obviously the northern lights. Can you imagine sitting in the steaming lagoon, snow all around and the aurora borealis dancing above in the clear night sky?
Blue Lagoon in Summer
To be frank, I would choose winter over summer if I had a choice. The summers are expensive, overcrowded and the locker rooms get stinky.
But, summer isn’t all bad. Being Icelandic, I do enjoy a good dive in the Blue Lagoon when the sun is out and I get a chance to tan away my milky pale skin. So, the main pro during summer would be the sun.
Hotels near the Blue Lagoon
The Retreat at the Blue Lagoon
The newest addition to the Blue Lagoon Resort is the Retreat, an upscale hotel built into the lava field in order to fit the aesthetic. Chances are, however, that most of you reading will not be staying there since the price is well over 1,000 USD per night and who has that kind of a budget?
If you do have that kind of budget, though, you’ll likely not be disappointed with the amenities or features. The suites are decorated with the latest in Nordic design with balconies that overlook either a boundless field of moss-covered lava or the silky-blue waters of the Blue Lagoon itself.
Northern Lights Inn
Considerably more affordable than the Retreat at the Blue Lagoon, the Northern Lights Inn offers the same experience of being surrounded by a field of lava. It might not have the Blue Lagoon itself right outside the window, but it’s a quick drive over. You’ll likely get more value for your money at this quaint little inn.
The original hotel at the Blue Lagoon, the Silica Hotel is also a treatment center for people suffering from skin conditions so availability is limited and the feeling of luxury is considerably more present over at the Retreat.
However, the main appeal of the Silica Hotel is a private lagoon which is open only to hotel guests, giving you much of the same experience that the Blue Lagoon may offer, only without the heaps of tourists with you in the water.
Treatments at the Blue Lagoon
If you’re aiming for the complete Blue Lagoon experience, you might want to consider splurging on one of their in-water massage treatments. As some who’s done it, I can safely recommend the experience. The feeling of floating in the water, surrounded by steam and lava, as someone kneads your body is just like nothing else.
The massage treatments may be pricy, at around 200 EUR for the hour, and availability is usually limited, but if you get the chance and don’t mind the price, then I’d say you won’t regret it.
Restaurants at the Blue Lagoon
There are currently two restaurants and one cafe situated in the Blue Lagoon resort and one restaurant located nearby in the Northern Lights Inn. Both of the restaurants in the Blue Lagoon have been known to have several permanent chefs from the Icelandic national chef team giving foodies something to get excited about.
The older of the two restaurants in the Blue Lagoon, Lava serves a separate lunch and dinner menu of exceptional plates including a fantastic lobster soup and a fish of the day, fresh from the harbor in Grindavík.
Until 4 PM you are even permitted to dine at Lava in your bathrobe, which means you can take a break from soaking in the lagoon to grab a plate of some world-class lunch only to return to the water after the meal.
A part of the Retreat at the Blue Lagoon, Moss is a new addition to the culinary flora at the Blue Lagoon. The newer restaurant is a slightly higher class than its sister restaurant, Lava, serving a set tasting menu over an A La Carte.
The cafe at the Blue Lagoon is a bistro-style cafeteria serving with two auxiliary bars inside the bathing area, one even in the water, where you can buy light refreshments, ice cream or some Icelandic beer.
Named for Max, the owner’s lovable golden retriever who delighted everyone he met. I remember, from the time when I worked at the Blue Lagoon, how Max used to walk over to us just to say hi.
The restaurant is popular as an alternative to the upscale eateries at the Blue Lagoon and is known for some great meals despite the lower price tags.
What to do at Blue Lagoon Iceland?
Obviously, the main activity consists of soaking yourself from head to toe in the mineral-rich waters, but what else is there to do?
Go relax in the steam cave or either of the two saunas located in the lagoon, right by the waterfall.
Put on a face mask at the Mud Bar in the lagoon. It’s free and it leaves your skin as smooth as a baby’s bottom. Smear the white delight all over your face and leave it on for 20 minutes. Be careful not to get it in your eyes because that’s gonna hurt.
Rinse off the silica in the waterfall. I normally drop by and let the waterfall massage my shoulders. It’s free!
If you want to go a bit further in the skincare routine, you can purchase a lava scrub and algae mask at the Mud Bar for the full experience with the silica mask. Begin by scrubbing the face gently with the lava scrub, then deep cleanse with the Silica Mask, leaving it on for 20 minutes before finally applying the algae mask which will leave your skin firm and nourished.
Go on a culinary journey. As mentioned above, the Blue Lagoon is home to two world-class restaurants that will surely delight your taste buds.
Talk to the Greeters. You’ll normally see them in stylish coats, walking around the lagoon with an iPad in hand, the Greeters are guides who are more than happy to tell you all about the lagoon and the area and will take a picture of you in the lagoon which they can e-mail to you free of charge!
Get a massage. If you don’t mind the price, it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.
Do the Blue Lagoon Ritual. A wellbeing experience at the Retreat Spa, the Ritual consists of three interconnected chambers where you will cover your body with the various jewels of the Lagoon’s waters such as minerals, silica, and blue-green algae.
Do I have to swim at the Blue Lagoon?
Not at all. The Blue Lagoon offers those who do not wish to go into the water to enter the building for a 10 EUR fee. After paying, you then have access to the viewing platforms, cafe, and shops.
What is the temperature of the Blue Lagoon?
The temperature of the lagoon is usually between 37-39°C (99-102°F) with some of the areas differing drastically in warmth. There are 8 wooden boxes situated around the lagoon where the water is pumped in and you’ll find that the areas around those boxes are usually where the heat is highest.
How much does it cost to go to the Blue Lagoon?
The Blue Lagoon uses a dynamic pricing model where the price goes up or down depending on availability and the time of day. Usually, the tickets for the basic Comfort Package are around 85 EUR, 107 EUR for the Premium and about 560 EUR for the Retreat Spa access.
Budget Tip: On some days, the price may go down to about 50 EUR for the Comfort Package for entry after 4 PM. Make sure you browse through a few days to check for a discounted price.
What is included with each entrance?
Comfort: Blue Lagoon
Entrance to the Blue Lagoon
Silica mud mask
Use of towel
1st drink of your choice
Premium: Blue Lagoon
Entrance to the Blue Lagoon
Silica mud mask
Use of towel
1st drink of your choice
Second mask of choice
Use of bathrobe
Table reservation at Lava Restaurant
Sparkling wine if dining
Luxury: Retreat Spa
Four luxurious hours at the Retreat Spa. Includes a private changing suite and unlimited access to both the Retreat Lagoon and the Blue Lagoon.
How long can you stay in the Blue Lagoon?
Once you’ve paid for your access into the Blue Lagoon, you’re free to stay for the entire day if you wish. An average visit is usually around 2-3 hours.
How deep is the Blue Lagoon?
You don’t need to know how to swim to go into the Blue Lagoon. The deepest parts are only 1.4 meters (4.7ft) but most areas are way shallower. The lagoon floor can be very uneven, however, so be careful when wading through the water.
Blue Lagoon Skin Care Products
In addition to being a world-class resort and spa, the Blue Lagoon is also a world-class line of skin care products. The waters of the Blue Lagoon have been known to have been composed of various compounds like white silica, minerals, green algae and more, thought to help with skin conditions like Psoriasis.
You don't need to make your way all the way to Iceland to find the benefit in its waters. All you need is a computer and a credit card.
What are the most popular Blue Lagoon products?
Silica Mud Mask
The Silica Mud Mask is no doubt one of the more popular items available. It's definitely my favorite product. I routinely apply it to my face at home if I'm in the mood to soften my face up.
It is available for free at the Blue Lagoon Resort, but ordering it online can save you an expensive trip to Iceland.
Made using the iconic green algae found in the Blue Lagoon, the algae mask nourishes the skin and leaves a healthy glow and a more youthful appearance.
It is said to attack fine lines and wrinkles on the face, slowing down the aging process.
Made with actual lava found around the Blue Lagoon, the Lava Scrub exfoliates the skin and leaves it smooth and luminous.
From personal experience, I would not recommend this for those who suffer from dry or sensitive skin as it can leave your face inflamed and red, especially if used excessively.
Mineral Moisturizing Cream
This cream got me through some cold and dry winters. The Mineral Moisturizer is made from the Lagoon's minerals, specifically for dry and sensitive skin.
It's great if you, like me, suffer from sensitive skin that easily flares up during cold and dry atmospheres.
You can shop these and more Blue Lagoon skin care products here.
The Blue Lagoon also operates three shops where you can purchase these items and more, one in the city center, one at KEF Airport and the third at the Blue Lagoon itself.
Tips & Advice for the Blue Lagoon
Tip Nr. 1 - Keep your hair out of the water.
The white silica in the Blue Lagoon can be extremely hard to wash out and will leave your hair feeling dry and difficult for days. As an added layer of protection, clean your hair with the conditioner found in the showers before you go in. The conditioner adds a protective layer to your hair which will help fight off the silica if you should get in contact with it.
Tip Nr. 2 - Don't run.
I know it can get cold and you might feel the need to run quickly from the locker room to the lagoon or the lagoon to the saunas but those wooden walkways can get very slippery. I witnessed so many accidents when working there, including a broken arm. There is an indoor lagoon that connects to the outer one, so you do not need to run from inside to outside at all.
Tip Nr. 3 - Have lunch in your bathrobe.
Some people think that only guests from the exclusive lounge are allowed to walk in their bathrobes to the Lava restaurant and enjoy lunch, but that luxury is available to anyone, as long as you have a bathrobe. Bathrobes are available for rent in the reception. Just make sure you don't drop off your bracelet as you pass through the reception. You will still need it.
Tip Nr. 4 - Have your photos taken.
As mentioned above, the Greeters walking around the Blue Lagoon are there to answer any questions you might have and are more than willing to take your photo. They even have their own iPad which they can use to snap a picture, and will then send it to your e-mail address.
Tip Nr. 5 - Keep the silica out of your eyes.
Another common accident at the Blue Lagoon is silica in the eyes. This can be extremely painful and the treatment involves squirting saline solution into your eyeball which can be unpleasant for everyone involved. Be mindful when spreading the silica on your face.
Tip Nr. 6 - Shower.
Showering before you enter the lagoon is not only recommended, but it is required. You need to wash your entire body with soap before you go in. If you try to enter the lagoon dry you will get stopped by a member of the staff and mandated to take a shower. Be thoughtful to other bathers and wash your body.
Tip Nr. 7 - Know how the locker system works.
The Blue Lagoon uses electronic lockers that are operated by a plastic bracelet worn on your wrist. First, you need to do is find any open locker and, once you've put your belongings inside, go ahead and close the locker. It will lock in place, but only momentarily. A countdown begins on a nearby computer screen where you will need to scan your bracelet before the countdown ends. Once scanned, the locker is yours. Stick around for a moment and make sure your locker is really locked before you rush off.