Best and Worst of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland
Bathing in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland was on our 100 Things list way back before we even got to Europe so we were very excited to tick this one off. But was it going to live up to expectations and be worthy of inclusion on our bucket list? Or was it going to be an overpriced swimming pool?
Honestly, I think it landed somewhere in the middle (don’t you hate people who sit on the fence!).
At some points the Blue Lagoon was great and there is no doubt it is a relaxing place to have a soak once you can find a space to yourself (especially after hopping off a crowded plane). However at other points it left us feeling like it is a wee bit overrated.
So I’ll opt for listing out the positives and negatives and let you decide if we’re just being whingers and the place is actually as magical as some have described it (and as it’s always better to list someone’s good points before you berate their bad ones, I’ll start with the positives).
The positives of Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon is a short 20 minute drive from Keflavik airport so it was the perfect place to stop after flying in. It was then only a 50 minutes to drive back to Reykjavik where we were staying so it worked perfectly to tie in with arriving from the airport.
It has flash & modern facilities including a fancy advanced changing room system
OK so this is where I admit that the changing room system completely confused us and made us feel like lost idiots. I was naively just expecting a simple changing room where we both walk in to our respective changing rooms, get changed and come back out to meet up before going off merrily to find the pools.
We agreed to meet back outside in 5 minutes but as soon as we went in we realised we had made a bit of a mistake in planning. There are a few different entries to changing rooms that they manage by a traffic light system complete with a traffic cop type worker waving you into the open changing room with any red lights being accompanied by a roped off entry (when we first got in we had to wait a little for one to open up).
Once you get a green light , you go in and leave your shoes in one section at the entry and then have a flash locker system to contend with where you get allocated a locker (thankfully without a key to hold on to). We eventually found each other back at the entry and agreed to meet on the pool side of the changing rooms (after our mandatory shower on the way through).
A picturesque setting
That crazy blue water with a wild, volcanic and rocky landscape makes the Blue Lagoon an undeniably picturesque spot for a soak. It reminded me of the blue water you see around Mt Cook back home in New Zealand (and also made us spend far too much time taking photos).
The swim up bar
Sure the swim up is a little pricey but not really that bad considering the location (actually pretty good for beer at not much over £5). It’s not even that much more expensive than the rest of Iceland. Swim up bars and sipping beers in hot springs definitely score points from me. Not sure about how tasty the local beer is though (Gull – a bland mass produced beer that you would love if you love budweiser…which I don’t). Dayna was quite impressed with the sparkling wine though.
The awesome wristband system
This kind of goes with the swim up bar point but the wristband system is pretty cool. You get issued it at the start when you come in and it makes ordering a beer at the swim up bar super easy. All you need to do is tap the wristband against a sensor to add a drink to your bill then pay for it at the exit. No more dry bags with wallets being carried around.
The only downside of the wristband system was they track how much you have to drink and cap you at 2 drinks per wristband (understandable as I imagine a bunch of drunk people floating about the hot pools wouldn’t turn out so well).
Free mud facemask
We weren’t that keen to go diving in and cover ourselves with the white mud (silica actually) like many others but it was good that they conveniently put buckets of the stuff around the edge of the pool and mark out where to get it on maps. This didn’t stop us from missing it completely at first and we still opted for the au natural, no mud on the face look for our stay. Apparently it is great for your skin though!
The Lava restaurant
The food isn’t cheap but at ISK 5900 (£28) for a large Steak Tenderloin main it isn’t that bad and the food was delicious. If you stay for dessert then the cheese board is worth a visit by itself as you go through a series of different delicious local Icelandic cheeses and get to pick and choose which you’d like more of (plus it is only ISK 1900 or about £9 so that could even be called a bargain for what you get). They have great, friendly service as well.
We’re on a whole 30 diet at the moment which means we haven’t eaten dairy for far too long (only a few more days left at least!) so even just thinking back on that cheese plate is making me drool…
The negatives of Blue Lagoon
The price (at least as I write this) is 45 Euro per person during summer months (just for the basic entry option). 90 Euro for both of us was pretty steep. Especially when we’ve been spoiled with awesome and much cheaper hot springs in New Zealand. Glacier hot springs near Franz Josef comes to mind where you are surrounded by lush rainforest or even Hanmer Springs near Christchurch. These New Zealand options would come in at about a third of the price of entry to the Blue Lagoon.
It’s just like any popular spot, there are A LOT of tourists around (and potentially long queues to get inside, get changed, get a drink and even get out at the end of the day). This isn’t much of a negative given it is so predictable and you can make this slightly better by avoiding the peak times of 10am-2pm & 4pm-6pm. When we checked the pool after our dinner it was mostly empty later in the evening so that would be a great time to go.
The water isn’t that hot
The Blue Lagoon is 37-40 degrees Celsius on average apparently. That might be pretty hot for some people but I found it felt like a reasonably warm bath after a while of getting used to it. It was definitely pleasant but given the outside air was freezing I’d prefer a slightly warmer option which ties to the next point…
There’s only one pool
It’d be great if there were a few more pools with different options in heat etc. Again…slightly spoiled in New Zealand as it is normal to have a range of options that usually include at least one I can barely tip my toe in as it’s so hot.
So there you go, Blue Lagoon has some good positives but a few negatives as well.
Would I put it ahead of other hot pools in the world? Probably not.
Would I recommend it to anyone flying in or out of Keflavik airport? Yes, Definitely. It is a great way to start (or I imagine finish) a trip to Iceland.
If we make it back to Iceland I think we may opt instead for trying to find one of the more wilder and adventurous hot pool options. If you like that idea and you’re a Game of Thrones fan then you can even go to the spot where Jon Snow got all naked with Ygritte for a swim (Grjotagja cave). Although it is on the other side of the country and just don’t ask us for directions; the closest we got was a nice scenic hike around the area following the apparently misleading signs. Seriously – we suck at finding stuff sometimes.
Some bonus fun facts I learned about the Blue Lagoon
- The water isn’t even blue. It’s actually white and it just looks like it is a blue colour because of the silica and the way that sunlight reflects off it.
- The lagoons aren’t a beautiful natural creation – they’re man made. They were created back in 1976 when the nearby geothermal power plant was built and the waste water ran off into these pools. A few years later people started bathing there and then in no time at all you have 700,000 visitors a year and it’s one of the most famous hot pools in the world
More Information on the Blue Lagoon in Iceland
You need to pre-book when going to Blue Lagoon to avoid being disappointed and not getting in (easy to do online here).
The cost is currently (as at August 2015) €45 (£32) in summer and €35 (£25) in winter – check their website here for up to date info.
How long to spend there
I think 2 hours for the actual pools is all you need but would be good to allow 3-4 for time to take photos and look around. Maybe add another hour and a half if you want to eat there at the Lava restaurant as well.
When to Go
We were there in late May but you can go year round. I found the outside air pretty chilly in May so although it’d be nice seeing it with snow around I reckon it might be a little cold in winter especially when getting between changing rooms and pool.