On my first trip to Iceland 14 years ago, two locals took me to the Blue Lagoon. It was fun, it was kitschy, it was a great memory. But is the Blue Lagoon worth the price to go for a second time?
On our trip to Iceland this past month, we made a snap decision on our New York layover to book a morning at the Blue Lagoon. This was largely driven by the fact that our flight from JFK was set to land at 6:15am (and wound up getting in an hour early); since it’s dark until nearly 9:30am in Iceland in November, and we couldn’t check into our Airbnb until 4pm, this left a lot of time to do nothing.
So we impulse-purchased a pair of tickets to the Blue Lagoon from the airport lounge at JFK for the first time slot upon the lagoon’s opening. You can buy tickets directly from the Blue Lagoon website or look for better deals from third-party vendors that include perks like transfers and robe rentals.
Getting to the Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is just 14 miles or 22 minutes from Keflavík Airport (KEF), Iceland’s main international airport, and in the general direction of Reykjavik itself. So if you’re flying in and out of Keflavík, it’s really easy to tack on a visit to the Blue Lagoon, which is very relaxing after sitting on a plane all day and all night.
We rented a car from SADcars for the duration of our eight-day trip to Iceland—more about that experience to come—however, renting a car in Iceland may be something you don’t want to do especially if you’re only there for a day or two (the deposit we had to put down for declining insurance was, no joke, $8,000!). If that’s the case, you can easily book a transfer to the Blue Lagoon from a third party like Get Your Guide.
Many travelers stop over in Iceland for a day or two to break up a longer trip, particularly since IcelandAir offers that option at no additional charge, so if you fall in that category, you’ll want to book a Blue Lagoon excursion that includes a round-trip transfer.
What you need at the Blue Lagoon
Obviously, you’ll want to pack a bathing suit and a change of clothes and have them handy when you enter the Blue Lagoon, though you can rent a swimsuit there if you forget yours. The Blue Lagoon has complimentary WiFi, towels, lockers and everything you need after you get out of the lagoon (shampoo, conditioner, lotion, hair dryers). They even provide plastic bags for your wet garments.
Everything at the Blue Lagoon is so organized, much like all of Iceland. When you arrive, you’ll scan your code for tickets, which are booked based on entry time but has no limit to how long you can stay, and in turn you’ll receive a wrist band that is both your credit card for lagoon purchases as well as your admission.
You’ll then go through a turnstile, be handed a towel and funneled into either the men’s or women’s locker room, where you’ll choose a locker (included with admission). There are plenty of changing rooms, bathroom stalls and showers, and once you’ve changed into your bathing suit, an attendant will direct you toward the outdoor pool. But first, you must shower before entering to keep all grime out of the Lagoon itself.
Included in your basic Comfort package is a silica mud mask. If you upgrade to the Premium package for an additional $15, you’ll get a trio of masks from the mask bar and a robe to wear. We didn’t need the extras so we went with the cheapest deal Comfort ($68 a person).
Explore Blue Lagoon packages here
Is the Blue Lagoon really that blue? Kind of—it really all depends on the light outside. We were the first people in when it opened at 9am, so witnessed a gorgeous sunrise that set the mountains around it ablaze.
Mostly, though, the color of the Blue Lagoon water is like a milky aquamarine due to the high silica content and presence of salt and algae. While many of the hot springs throughout Iceland are natural occurrences, the Blue Lagoon is not—it’s man made. Abutting Svartsengi Resource Park, the Blue Lagoon was formed by the geothermal power plant’s excess water, with the runoff filtered straight into the pools.
In the 1980s, locals began to bathe in the warm waters that had formed in the adjacent lava field beside, and from there, the Blue Lagoon morphed into a place of health and wellbeing driven by the bioactive properties of geothermal seawater. Today, it’s one of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions and a great respite from the stress of international travel.
The Blue Lagoon experience
There have been some serious upgrades in the past 14 years since my first visit to the Blue Lagoon because it definitely was not this fancy back then. Now, there’s a cafe and restaurant complete with fast Wi-Fi that overlooks the Lagoon should you want to stay warm and cozy inside while the rest of your party lingers, as well as a boutique, a full-service spa and even an on-site hotel.
The basic Comfort package also comes with a drink of your choice. Which they didn’t tell us about, so now I feel the need to go back and redeem that! Because, yes, the Blue Lagoon has an in-lagoon, swim-up bar so you can drink your champagne while watching the geothermal activity around you.
We did not make use of that bar, however, as we were already groggy from a sleepless night of transatlantic travel. So the swim-up bar may be a case for going to the Blue Lagoon in the afternoon if that’s your thing.
Stay at the official Blue Lagoon hotel. Check prices here.
So is the Blue Lagoon worth the price?
In my mind, absolutely. It was worth it on the first time; it was equally worth it on the second. Even if you’ve done the Blue Lagoon once, if you’re traveling with a first-timer to Iceland, you have to give him/her that experience.
Sure, it’s touristy but touristy things get that way for a reason, right? Because they provide joy.
If getting to the Blue Lagoon isn’t convenient for you for some reason, there are other cool hot springs around Iceland to explore. One of them that my friend Katie highly recommended is the Sky Lagoon, which is just outside of Reykjavik and offers awesome views of the ocean straight from the lagoon itself.
Pro tips for the Blue Lagoon
Book the first session of the morning and be inside waiting in line 10 minutes ahead of time. This ensures you miss the first bus rolling up to the parking lot full of fresh-off-the-plane tourists.
Bring a change of fresh clothing in so you don’t have to redress in the socks, underwear and other clothes you wore overnight on the plane. I recommend using a packing cube and having your Blue Lagoon outfit at the top of your suitcase or carryon for easy access when you arrive.
Pack a waterproof camera like a GoPro and/or a phone that can get wet. You’re going to want to take pictures, but good pictures are really hard to capture with all the steam foggy up your lenses. I took both my new GoPro HERO10 as well as my iPhone 12 Pro in the water with me.
The earlier your booking time, the longer you can stay. Since there’s no time limit to your visit at the Blue Lagoon, you’ll want to go as early as possible (see previous tip about first thing in the morning if it works with your schedule). But how long do you realistically need at the Blue Lagoon? We stayed around two hours, including showering on both ends, and lounging in the cafe for a beat, which was more than enough time for us.
Other Iceland experiences to consider
While I have a lot of Iceland content in the hopper, here are some experiences and bookable day trips from Reykjavik I’ve taken and highly recommend:
- Day at the Sky Lagoon
- Reykjavík City Card
- Iceland’s Magic Ice Bar
- Small-Group Golden Circle Tour
- Reykjanes Volcanic Hike
- Ride an Icelandic Horse