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?
47 thoughts on “Rethinking (And Revisiting) The Blue Lagoon In Iceland”
I like your advice that it is important to give some negatives a second chance. I spent a little time in a China on the way home from a wonderful two weeks in India. Two more different cultures you could not hope to find. I was not in the right place to give China a fair shake.
Yup, it’s happened to me several times before as well. It’s amazing how one’s own attitude and mood can completely color our travel experience.
This place is on my bucket list. Couple of friends went there and they fell in love with Blue Lagoon.”
I visited the Blue Lagoon a couple of years ago as part of a tour I was on. It was supposed to be early in our trip but our guide changed it to our last afternoon and I’m really glad she did. After all the sightseeing and touring it was really nice to just relax for the last afternoon and think about everything we’d seen and done.
The package you booked sounds heavenly. We just had the normal one so I think the key is to find your own little spot away from everyone else and then just close your eyes and let your cares drift away.
Great to know your insight! Heading there in May, and the BL is the first stop on our tour, after leaving the airport. Your posts and pictures have helped me anticipate my adventure even more!
Oh good and I hope you have fun!
If I arrive Sunday early, is it enough to only stay one night at the hotel nearby or should I book a second?
So if I get to the lagoon at 12 Sunday, is it enough time to check out Monday at 12 or do you recommend spending all of Monday there as well?
I think I’m a little confused by your question. Depending on what you do there, 3-4 hours at the Lagoon should be plenty.
Heading to Iceland Tomorrow, considering going to BL, but am curious, I plan to hitch hike as much as possible and will be camping, so hows the surrounding area? Something worth camping in? Or possibly able to sneak back into the lagoon after closing to enjoy to lagoon for myself?
Enjoy it all by myself*
Um, there is no sneaking into the Blue Lagoon LOL. You’ll see once you get there. Enjoy your time in Iceland!
I was at the Blue Lagoon last Monday, I loved it. It is something that I have never experienced.
Matt, I thank you for all the informations!
Thank you for all of the insight! I am currently planning a trip to Iceland for December. Is there any difference between visiting Blue Lagoon in the warmer months as opposed to visiting during the winter?
Just the surrounding weather. In the winter it’s colder out and very windy, creating mini-waves in the pool
I am visiting Iceland this summer and am so excited to visit the blue lagoon! If you don’t mind my asking, how much did you spend on the blue lagoon the first time you went and what was the package called. I just want to make sure my family and I choose the right package for the best experience possible! thank you!
I will visit Iceland just a few days before Christmas. We arrive just after 3 p.m. And I know it will be dark from about 4 p.m. Can you advise me what is better, go directly after arriving and vistit the Blue Lagoon about 4.30 p.m (it will be all dark) or wait untill the next morning, drive from Reykjavik to there and see the sun come up there? Thanks for your replies.
Thanks for your advice and second-chance review. I’m heading to Iceland this summer. Also, appreciated the warning about puffins and whales being on the menu (a different article you wrote). Yikes.
I still think it’s overrated.
The water at the blue lagoon dries out your hair, and I used the white mask everyone was using and it seriously dried out my skin to the point that it felt like it was burning.
But maybe that’s just me.
I would not go again though just because it didn’t do much for me other than dry out my hair and skin.
My foot’s skin literally cracked the next day
I’m going to arrive in Iceland from Boston at 0430, so would you recommend going right there and then checking in later (4pm check-in). Is it “on the way” to downtown R. from the airport? Thank you.
well it won’t be open that early. Check their web site for opening times. Keep in mind that Reykjavik is 45 minutes from the Blue Lagoon.
Website says Luxury is 3 hours. Would my add on hour massage be added to the 3 hours or included making time for only 2 hours luxury. also shoold i add on signature treatment or just the massage as alot if signature seems to be incouded in luxury…
We went to the Blue Lagoon in March. It was snowing, which meant that there was a cloud of mist over the lagoon. This was fantastic. Not only were we in a warm (comfortably warm, occasionally hot) outdoor pool with snow falling around us, but the mist meant that we couldn’t see all of it. We kept on exploring and finding little corners and new areas that were hidden. I think the weather had put some people off going, and maybe we were comfortably out of high season (is there a high season in Iceland?), but there was plenty of room. You could barely hear another voice in some of the outlying areas. Every now and again, we’d bump into a staff member offering a mud mask. It was a relaxing and memorable experience. We were on the cheapest entry ticket, booked in advance.
There’s plenty of room for suitcases and the Blue Lagoon is a stop on the bus route between the airport and Reykjavik. My advice is the same as Matt’s – go immediately on arrival or (if you have time) on your way out. But if you can go on a snowy day, don’t hesitate.
Would love to go when it’s off season, do you happen to know when that is?
1-The content of the water (algae, silica, minerals) is not manmade but, yes, the pool is man-made.
2-It has proven health benefits for those with severe skin conditions — which is why the Icelandic Health service pays for people to go there for FREE *if* they qualify based on their medical condition
3-This was discovered *because* of the unique benefits that are unlike other geothermal spas in Iceland or other countries. The water is seawater, naturally heated in lava rock, that the heat is then siphoned off by the power plant, and the water (just less hot) was run off. Icelanders, used to stripping down and jumping into any steaming water they see, were bathing in it and then people with psoriasis started to notice their skin getting better. That is when they directed the water into a man-made pool, created the for-profit tourist site, and also a separate medical spa that is free to Icelanders who qualify and others can pay to get medical treatments there. (Other geothermal pools in Iceland are not seawater but glacial water and so lack the algae and silica components that.)
I went thinking it was a pure tourist site and then saw a dramatic improvement in my skin the next day. I then read up on it. Since then I actually booked an entire three day return trip to Iceland, only to visit the Blue Lagoon. Instead of applying daily creams to myself and paying insurance copays, I’ve decided I’m sending myself to Iceland every three months and treating my skin to the Blue Lagoon. I also bought their silica mud mask and it does wonders for my eczema patches.
But if you have normal, non-sensitive skin without any inflammatory issues, then yeah, the Blue Lagoon is overrated and not worth it when you can visit other geothermal spas for much less cost.
Did u say for free?! Where can I find this? I have bad eczema and I’m certain I’d make the ‘requirements’.
I am still trying to decide which day to visit the blue lagoon. I Am going to rent a car at the airport and spend the first day in Reykajavik. The second day I will do the golden circle and spend the night in Selfoss. Would it be best to devote the entire next day to the lagoon?
How does it work at the Blue Lagoon. If I get entry at 10am do I have to leave withing a certain number of hours? Or am I allowed access all day?
great insight. thank you
We are arriving as flights do early on a Saturday morning in late August. Our transfers to hotel are already booked, so we will go from downtown rejkavik, but is there something between the least expensive and the luxury with massages? And should we book in advance thru one of the tour companies or just take a bus from our hotel when we arrive around 7. a.m.? Thank you for your great write up and column.
i m thinking about going to iceland in aug. and meeting some friends. I ll be arriving very early around 6 am and am usually really tired from flying… plus i ll need to eat…. is going to the BL from the airport after arrival a good idea for me. can i get some food there?
Sure, lots of folks do that depending on when they land and when it opens when they visit. And yes, they have an on-site restaurant.
I wonder which month is best to visit there?
My flight lands at 4am in Reykjavik. Blue Lagoon doesn’t open until 8am. Hotel check in isn’t until after noon some time. Should I go straight to Blue Lagoon from landing at the airport? Are there restaurants on the drive there where one could stop for an early breakfast while killing about 3 hours? Is the parking lot at Blue Lagoon open before 8am, where maybe I could take a nap in the car until the spa opens?
My husband and I honeymooned in Iceland earlier this year and were conflicted about the BL. We tentatively had planned on visiting immediately after landing, for the reasons you mentioned above but were really conflicted about the tacky, commercialized aspect of the place. We are both ecologists and enjoy simple nature and usually avoid heavy marketing. We ended up at a cafe for breakfast and chatted with locals about things to do and the Blue Lagoon. I’m glad we followed their advice. We stopped in to the BL, looked around and quickly assessed it was not for us…the BL was way overpriced and swarming with tourists and buses. This is not relaxation, or at least our idea of it. We found very relaxing experiences at local hot pots in Reykjavik with great interaction with the Icelandic people. We also did not ‘waste’ our time before checkin at the guesthouse. The cafe owner directed us to some incredible landscape features that we hiked to (Like I said, we’re nature dorks), the sort of places that are not in any guidebooks.
So, having said all that, I would agree with the comment above relating to the skin condition. If you don’t have one, go enjoy the real Iceland for far less money.
I am heading to Iceland at the beginning of April, my flight lands at Keflavik at 15:10, do you still recommend going straight from airport as its an afternoon visit? Also, what do we do with bags/luggage when at the blue lagoon?
It’s really up to you, depends on your schedule. Yes, you can store things in lockers I believe but large bags may be an issue if not with a tour company.
I will be arriving at around 6:45am. Do you think I can make a reservation for BL for 9 am and make it on time? How long would it take to go through customs (going to Iceland from New York) and get to Blue Lagoon? About how long do you stay soaking in the lagoon because I want to make a reservation at the Lava Restaurant too?
You’ll get there hours early. Takes no time to get through the airport and the BL is 15 minutes from the airport.
If my flight arrives at 06:30am , do you think we can make it to Blue Lagoon on time for an 08:30am reservation? Is that too close?
It’s 10 minutes away.
We arrive at 6:40 AM will have to pick up car off site at Fara then have 10:00 BL reservations. Do you think this is a doable time frame.
Yes, You’ll still be way early
So we can do the 9:00 time slot at Blue Lagoon, but was thinking that would not give us enough time. I just don’t want to miss our entrance time. Would you know of anything in the area of Airport or Fara that we could eat and then head to BL? Just trying to put things in place
There’s honestly not much at all. You could grab food at a service station, but that’s about it. It’s an issue I’ve run into many times before.
Not to be skeptical but were you compensated in anyway to revisit your opinion of the Blue Lagoon?
nope but thanks for the insinuation!
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