A few years ago I wrote about my first experience in Iceland’s top tourist attraction, the world-famous Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa. It wasn’t a negative review, not exactly, but it wasn’t a glowing one either. I was cranky and short on time and I think I let those personal emotions color my overall experience at the spa. Since then I’ve thought a lot about not only the Blue Lagoon, but revisiting places in general and have come to the conclusion that it’s important to give second chances to places that you don’t necessarily love the first time around. With that in mind I decided to once again visit the Blue Lagoon, but without repeating my past mistakes giving it the best possible chance for me to like the experience.
In case you’re not familiar with the man-made wonder that is the Blue Lagoon, it’s a large geothermal spa located about twenty minutes from Keflavik International Airport and forty-five minutes from downtown Reykjavik. Unlike some of the other thermal waters found around the country, the water for the Blue Lagoon actually comes from a nearby geothermal plant, but don’t worry, the plant just taps the power of the hot water below the ground, so what you enjoy at the Blue Lagoon isn’t just safe, it’s actually medicinal. Thanks to a unique combination of minerals found in the water, those with a variety of skin issues can find relief in the waters. For the rest of us, it’s just a great way to relax.
I decided that visiting the Blue Lagoon right after arriving was the best way to go, and I was right. More on the timing in a second, but I also decided to spend more time at the spa and to go slow and relax, in theory enjoying the experience for what it’s meant to be – a peaceful way to decompress and reenergize. Again, this also turned out to be the best decision for my time there. So, let me break down what I did differently and why I think this experience was ultimately a lot more enjoyable than my first.
On my first visit to the Blue Lagoon, I went right before my return flight home. It’s a common way to visit actually; most people stop by either right when they arrive or as they’re leaving. For whatever reason, maybe I was worried about making my flight, but I didn’t feel like I had nearly enough time on my first visit and because of that I really didn’t enjoy the experience as much as I should have. On my second visit I changed that and drove over to the Blue Lagoon as soon as it opened on the day I arrived.
On your first day in Iceland, at least from North America, flights tend to arrive very early in the morning and since hotels don’t typically allow for a 7:00 AM check-in, it leaves most visitors with a lot of spare time on their hands. Instead of sitting in a hotel lobby, or traipsing around town exhausted and dirty, I found that spending those hours relaxing in the warm waters of the Blue Lagoon was the perfect way to recover from the flight and time change.
Booking a specific package, which is detailed in the next section, I had three hours in the spa complex to do absolutely nothing. Leaving the facility I felt absolutely relaxed and completely reenergized. I wasn’t tired and was ready to start my trip and see the best of Iceland. I also think that visiting the Blue Lagoon right away is a great use of time since there’s no “wasted” travel time. Those hours between arrival and hotel check-in could be lost otherwise, wasting precious time in Iceland. There’s also a lot to be said for a nice shower and change of clothes after a flight, even if it is a short one from North America.
I’m a luxury guy and the last time I visited my time at the Blue Lagoon was part of a larger package and we had no say over what kind of experience we enjoyed at the spa. This time was different, and I spent a fair amount of energy researching our options for the spa and decided to go with the luxury package. I’ll devote an entire post to this splurge, but in brief we had access to an exclusive lounge and private shower and changing room, private entrance to the lagoon itself and an added-on massage that ensured we enjoyed the Blue Lagoon in the very best way possible. I wanted to visit this way for a couple of reasons, of course I love luxury experiences but it was also to make sure I gave the Blue Lagoon every opportunity – I wanted to make sure I saw it in the best light possible before passing judgment a second time.
You can probably tell by the tone of the post, but I had a much better experience at the Blue Lagoon the second time around. Part of the reason is my own attitude. I wasn’t frazzled at the tail end of a trip or worried about making a flight. I was tired, sure, but eager to see Iceland again and excited for the start of a new adventure. I also gave myself more than enough time to really experience the Blue Lagoon in the way it’s meant to be done. I soaked for a couple of hours, enjoyed a fruit smoothie and even had an in-water massage. Once I opened my mind to enjoying the spa and did everything to make sure I’d like it the obvious happened, I had a great time.
As I mentioned in my first post, I still recognize that the Blue Lagoon is indeed a for-profit tourist site, but it’s a really fun one. There’s nothing quite like soaking in the oddly blue waters of the pool, watching the steam rise into the ether of the chilly air, experiencing the elements of Iceland out in the open. It’s fun and I’m glad I didn’t let a bad first impression sour everything or prevent me from trying it again. Done the right way, I think it’s a great addition to a trip and a fun way to ease your way into a fantastic Icelandic adventure.
Have you been to the Blue Lagoon? What did you think?