When I first heard of a magical blue lagoon in Iceland I pictured rugged and untamed landscapes, rocky cliffs, and a magical hot spring nestled beneath with steam rising gently into the sky.
Imagine my surprise when I googled it and found out it’s actually next to a geothermal plant and touristified beyond belief with a spa, restaurant, and worst of all a hefty price tag!
Still … when in Iceland …
My sister and I were spending 4 days in Iceland and I strategically booked our tickets for the Blue Lagoon on our last night. I figured (correctly) that we’d want a relaxing end to a nonstop DIY driving tour that was sure to leave us exhausted at the end of our time in Iceland.
We also had to fly out at 6 a.m. the next day, and with the airport being located 40 minutes from Reykjavik, plus arriving early for check in etc. we decided to just save some money and stay up all night to catch our flight so again, the emphasis on relaxation was key.
I booked Comfort Level tickets for 7:00 pm on Sunday night. Online it said that the lagoon stayed open until 10 p.m. and while it would have been nice to experience it in the dark, the long summer hours were already setting in and sunset wasn’t until 9:41 p.m. We wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to get back from our adventures in Vik so 7 p.m. it was.
There are multiple ticket prices at the Blue Lagoon: Comfort, Premium and Retreat Spa.
Ours, the Comfort ticket, cost a whopping $91 USD and is officially the most I have ever paid for any tourist attraction anywhere. It gets you entry to the lagoon, a towel, the Silica mud mask and one complimentary drink.
The other levels in the same time slot started at $122 for Premium and $553 for the Retreat Spa. The prices vary based on time, so if you’re going earlier in the day you can expect to pay a higher price. The price drops in the evening — but then, of course, you get less time. The variance is only around $10-20.
Arrival and parking
I highly recommend arriving at least 15 minutes before your allotted time. This allows you to complete all the preparatory items beforehand and start experiencing the lagoon right at the beginning of your time slot.
Parking is included in the (already hefty) admission price so get parked and head down the lane to the entrance. You’re looking for this sign which is just to the right of the luggage storage building.
Entry walkway sign.
The Blue Lagoon is set up wonderfully to accommodate travelers coming to or from the airport. You can leave large luggage items at this building for a cost of ISK 550 ($5.25 USD), or store them in the lockers at the facility itself.
Service Center with luggage storage.
If you leave items here you’ll be given a receipt which you just show at the end when you pick up your things. Judging from the numerous suitcases people were lugging to and from, this is a very popular stop for people just arriving from or heading to Keflavík airport.
Once you’re inside the Blue Lagoon, the locker rooms contain a variety of locker sizes as well as an area for “larger than typical sizes.” I’m not sure if they charge more for this area or if it’s included in your ticket price. I would assume its a first come, first served system so there may not be any available storage for big luggage pieces depending on how busy they are during your visit. If you don’t want to deal with the unknown, just use the facility here in the Service Center.
The lines are clearly marked according to your ticket level. We had the cheapest option and there was no one in line in front of us when we checked in.
We aren’t fancy enough to have a line! That’s for the big spenders!
A pleasant gentleman waved us up to the counter and scanned our ticket (which I had printed in advance).
No line for the Comfort Level ticket holders.
NOTE: I didn’t check if they accepted mobile tickets but from the smooth, practiced efficiency of the entire operation I would assume they do.
He then handed us a wristband which we were instructed to put on, and he informed us that our first drink was complimentary. After that, we were free to make any additional purchases we wished and they would be linked to our wristband. At the end before exiting, we’d owe a balance if there was one.
We thanked him and continued on to the locker room.
The locker room/changing facility
This area is reminiscent of a nice hotel’s gym facilities — but much larger. There are hundreds of lockers, along with washrooms, showers, and seated areas with hair dryers and well-lit mirrors for fixing yourself up afterward. (I couldn’t take pictures of all the areas here for obvious reasons).
You are required to get naked and scrub up before getting into the lagoon. This is pretty standard for any pool in Iceland and as they say on their website, “everyone benefits when everyone is clean.”
There are several banks of showers and while they do not lock, each has a swinging door you can close for privacy. They’re also fogged so you can see that they are occupied but can’t see all the way through.
The showers each have large containers of shower gel and conditioner provided but no shampoo. Make sure to bring your own for rinsing your hair afterward which I’ll talk about in a later section.
Shower gel and conditioner but no shampoo.
There are no temperature settings but the water is comfortably warm without being too hot. You simply press the only button on the wall and the shower will begin. The water spray lasts for about 60 seconds and you can continue to press it for as many times as you need.
NOTE: The showerheads are located directly overhead so if you were planning to not get your hair wet you’ll need to bring a shower cap or do some complex contortioning in the small space!
The locker system is set up very nicely.
There are tons of lockers of various sizes.
I chose a large rectangular locker. It was easily big enough for my hiking boots and backpack.
When you close your locker door, a large sensor set in the wall for that entire bank of lockers starts beeping a countdown. You have around 6 seconds to place your wristband by the sensor. It will flash your locker number as a confirmation. The locker is now locked. You should be sure to pull on the door to make sure, but it should be good to go.
When you come back to your locker, just hover your wristband over the sensor and after a few seconds, your locker door will pop open. You can return to your locker as many times as you need to throughout your time there.
Heading out to the lagoon
You can take flip-flops and your towel/bathrobe out with you, though I have no idea how people find their items later if it is busy. When we walked out there were hundreds of identical white towels and bathrobes hanging up and flip-flops scattered everywhere. (This would be a good time to use your Minions or Deadpool towel!)
In addition to this spot, there was another area off to the left with hundreds more towels and flip-flops.
We opted not to take towels or flip-flops (as we didn’t have this handy guide and didn’t know what to expect) so we just walked out into the cold and scampered quickly into the warm water!
As you come out of the locker room area and enter the lagoon there is a short outside area (brrrrrr) and then you can quickly submerge into the gorgeous (and warm) blue water. Be careful because the entry area can get quite slippery. There are handrails down the ramp into the water and I strongly recommend using them. (Pictured above.)
OK. Let’s start with the most important thing … the bar. People with drinks in hand in the Blue Lagoon are like beacons of hope for those without. Several times throughout the evening a misty figure would float up to me and ask the all-important question, “Excuse me … where did you get your drink?”
The dim evening light, misting rain, and massive amounts of steam rising off the water make it difficult to see far and many, like me, were interested in exercising that “first drink complementary” option as quickly as possible.
Lest you find yourself thirsty and lost in the lagoon, here’s how to find the bar. When you first enter the lagoon, there is a bridge over to your right. You can go under that bridge and follow the lagoon as it curves left to the bar, OR go straight out and curve right after the first set of platforms and rocks that you pass.
NOTE: At the time of my visit in late April 2018 at 7 p.m. there was only 1 bar open. There may be more during busy times.
The bar is not just a bar but more of an all-inclusive “drink stand” with numerous options: beer, wine, champagne, soda, Gatorade, iced coffees, and slushies.
To pay, you simply scan your wristband. The first drink is free but any additional purchases will be linked to your wristband and you’ll pay the balance as you exit the lagoon after showering.
A little blurry … but here’s the price list in ISK.
Disposing of your empty cups afterward is easy thanks to the numerous trash cans placed on platforms easily accessible from the water.
The area on the opposite side of the bar has built-in seating areas underwater along the platform edge — similar to a hot tub — so be sure to settle in there for a bit and relax with your drink in hand. Just be careful! They’re slippery!
This area opposite the bar has built-in seating along the edge.
Several lifeguards — in waterproof jackets, snow pants and bright green safety vests walk along the platforms keeping an eye on patrons.
You do not need to be able to swim. The lagoon is only about 4.5 feet at its deepest point. Closer to the edges, the water is even more shallow.
There are numerous rock formations in and around the lagoon. While the majority of the bottom of the lagoon is smooth, you will need to be careful around these rock formations.
The closer you get to them, the more likely that the floor of the lagoon will become rocky and they are quite sharp.
The Silica mud mask
A silica mud mask is included with your ticket. There are a number of add-on masks you can purchase for about $9-12 USD but we opted to just stick with what was included.
You’ll find this at the, what shall I call it … mud mask hub? — a round building rising up from the water to your left as you enter the lagoon. It’s not an immediate left but more of an out and then gradual left.
There, the girls inside will scoop out a generous portion of silica mud which you can then smooth all over your face, neck, and shoulders.
There is also a girl who works at the lagoon making her way around the pool with a big bucket of the stuff, offering it up if you haven’t had a chance to make your way over the hub.
It’s hard to see her in the mist and she has a large area to cover so if you’re dead a set on trying the mask I’d recommend going straight to the source. (By the way, where was that job when I was a teenager? Bobbing around the Blue Lagoon on summer break answering questions and giving tourists scoops of mud. Yes please!)
Online, when we bought our tickets, we were told that the lagoon closed at 10 p.m. We weren’t sure if this meant the entire facility closed then (including locker room) or if that was when we had to get out of the water.
We then overheard one of the mud mask girls talking to another English speaking visitor and she said that the lagoon closed at 10:30. We were staying up all night in preparation for flying out at 6 a.m. so we had no place else to be and were hoping to stay a bit longer.
We lurked in the water until 10 p.m. and when no announcement was made for us to get out we kept hanging out. The crowds were gone and only a few people remained. I went back to the same girl to inquire about specifics and she told me that at 10:30 we must get out of the water and at 11:00 the entire facility closed. At 10:15, they made a single announcement — letting guests know there were only 15 minutes left before it was time to vacate the water.
We got out at 10:25 and headed for the showers. They do close promptly at 11 p.m. so many staff members were already cleaning and organizing things after a day that must have included several thousand visitors.
They were quite firm in reminding us when there were 10 minutes left, 5 minutes left — and who can blame them. That has to be quite a long day for them. After showering and gathering our things, we headed for the exit, taking our towels which went into a bin near the exit.
Final payment and exiting
I’d purchased an additional beer in the lagoon so at checkout I simply scanned my wristband and the lady told me my balance. I paid with my card and then we moved over to the exit. Here, you take your wristband off and drop it into a wristband-sized circle. The wristband is efficiently swept away by the machine and exit doors unlock allowing you to pass through. As per many places, you depart through the gift shop. We didn’t have time to look around but with the high prices in Iceland, that was probably just as well.
Be sure to take few minutes to check out the gorgeous deep blue of the water against the 11 p.m. sky (depending on the time of year you’re there … it won’t get dark in summer).
View from just outside the exit before we left. (You don’t have to pay admission to see this part.)
Other stuff that’s good to know
Getting photos and video
My preparation for this trip had begun long before at home in Las Vegas, surfing Amazon in search of supplies to properly document my trip.
I purchased a waterproof case for my iPhone as I wanted to get a vertical video on Instagram. While my new iPhone 8 is waterproof I didn’t want to take any chances in the lagoon since I wasn’t sure what the minerals would do to it. It was well worth it to me to purchase a $20 case to protect my $800 phone. In addition, the case came with a wrist strap to lessen the chance of me dropping it and losing it in the opaque water.
I also took my GoPro Hero 6 — already waterproof without a case. I still wasn’t sure what the algae and minerals in the water would do to the camera, so while I didn’t mind it getting wet, I also didn’t want it floating around for 3 hours.
To prevent this I got a small waterproof bag and took that with me into the lagoon. This way I was able to snap the shots I needed, then roll everything up in the bag and let it float along with us while we relaxed. There are also plenty of platforms and rock outcroppings you can set stuff on but I didn’t want to be tied to one spot the whole time.
There are numerous platforms to set your things or your drink on.
I forgot to bring a small microfiber towel to dry off my lens so make sure you don’t forget that!
How to avoid “Blue Lagoon hair”
The water of the Blue Lagoon isn’t permanently harmful to hair, but it certainly isn’t friendly either. In reading up on the lagoon in advance I’d come across some horror stories about people having dry, brittle, and unmanageable hair for days afterward. Again, I prepped in advance. Here’s how to prevent Blue Lagoon hair…
Make sure to put plenty of conditioner in your hair in before you get in the water. And I do mean plenty! Just like prepping for chlorine or saltwater, the conditioner will seal your hair, preventing many of the minerals from entering the hair shaft.
Curls Bliss Blueberry Reparative Shampoo
After you get out of the lagoon, spend a good amount of time shampooing and then, most importantly, use a non-protein conditioner. Any protein in your conditioner will react with the minerals causing ultra-stiff, unmanageable hair.
With 2 and a half weeks left in my Europe trip I couldn’t afford to deal with brittle hair the rest of the time so for my natural curly hair I used Curls Bliss Blueberry Reparative Hair Wash and Curls Bliss Blueberry Leave-In Conditioner. I’m very happy to report that these worked like a dream and my hair was back in its soft bouncy curls right away.
I think it’s safe to say you can skip the “dime-size” amount of conditioner recommended and go with handfuls in this case!
If you’re flying out the next morning …
We went to the Blue Lagoon from 7 – 11 p.m. with our flight to Paris the next morning at 6:30 a.m. We needed to kill some time before our flight so we headed from the Blue Lagoon over to the small town of Reykjanesbær.
I’d looked up pubs and restaurants in advance and found one that was open until 1 a.m. If it had been a Friday or Saturday night we would have been in luck with many bars staying open until 4 a.m. but then again, we still had to drive to the airport so it was probably just as well.
We grabbed drinks at Paddy’s Irish Pub, closing it down at 1 a.m., then headed over to a 24-hour Subway. Here, we grabbed a late night bite, charged our phones and got some work done before heading back to drop off the rental car and head for the airport.
If you don’t have the time/money to visit the lagoon
If you’re not up to paying the high price tag of the lagoon, I’d still recommend swinging by to check out the unbelievably gorgeous water. While you can’t see the main (touristy) part of the lagoon, there is plenty of blue water visible as you drive up.
You can also park (for free) then head up the walkway to the entrance. Instead of going in, veer left and follow a pathway that leads out into the rocks for plenty of gorgeous photo opportunities. In fact, the rugged and wild landscape makes the shots you’ll get here far more natural than those inside.
Walk to the left down this path for more gorgeous views.
Any other questions?
Did I miss anything? Do you still have questions? Please leave a comment or send me a message on Instagram and I’ll be happy to answer them.