When I am stressed or in a bad mood, I find go to Trip Advisor. For a reason that I can’t quite explain, reading reviews of places I’ve visited helps to calm me. Even better if the reviews are bad. There’s nothing like the venting of first-world problems to put my issues into perspective.
Recently I visited Trip Advisor’s page for The Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon is one of the places we’ve made sure to visit on each of our three Iceland trips. Overall, visitors seem to love the geothermal pool as much as we do. I feel bad for those who spent the money to visit the Blue Lagoon and didn’t find it as magical and wonderful as we have.
I’ve always found that it’s important to manage my and my family’s travel expectations. Knowing what to expect or at least what’s “normal” can go a long way towards enjoying most attractions. The Blue Lagoon is no exception.
What is it?
The Blue Lagoon was actually formed as runoff from a nearby geothermal plant. The way I’ve read it, locals started bathing in the pools because the mineral content of the water helped different skin conditions. Over time, the pools and entry were built up into the Blue Lagoon as it is today.
How is it different?
Iceland is full of hot springs, public pools and warm baths. We’ve been to several besides the Blue Lagoon and have enjoyed them a lot. Interacting with locals at the community pools is a great experience. The baths, food and surroundings of Laugarvatn Fontana make for and unforgettable night experience. They are all worth it. In fact, I think any Iceland trip should include multiple chances to enjoy Iceland’s geothermal heritage. But ultimately, none are quite like the Blue Lagoon.
The Blue Lagoon’s water is unlike any other pools or springs we’ve visited in Iceland. The high silica content of the water creates the milky blue color. The temperature is often perfect, although it does vary from spot to spot. The size and scope of the pool is also a plus. We’ve never found it difficult to find a quiet area to relax and enjoy.
For better or worse, the Blue Lagoon is also one of the most built-up pools in Iceland. The area offers hotels, restaurants and a spa. This can get very pricey. Fortunately even a basic experience is luxurious and worth every penny.
What to expect?
The Blue Lagoon is a popular tourist attraction. Some people avoid popular tourist attractions. For me, I think there’s a difference between a tourist attraction and a tourist trap. One has inherent history, value and interest and the other is manufactured solely for tourists. I believe the Blue Lagoon is an attraction. It’s not for everyone, but it’s for most.
Like any place you visit, it’s important to know what to expect. These are some tips and pieces of advice that have made the Blue Lagoon so enjoyable for my family.
- It’s best to go there on your way to or from the airport. It’s about 45 minutes outside of Reykjavik, so it’s not really on the way to anything besides the airport or Reykjavik. It’s very easy to get a transfer from either location and it saves time if you’re already coming or going. We personally go right from the airport. An early morning visit after a long plane ride is heavenly. It also helps to wake us up a bit and get us through our first sleep-deprived day. if going on the way to the airport, just be sure to budget enough time to fully enjoy it.
- It’s now very necessary to pre-book. We have seen people walk up without a reservation and leave disappointed.
- Pre-booking doesn’t mean you won’t have to wait in line to get in. It can take some time to get people checked in, get a card on file and learn about the wristbands.
- There’s a baggage check for large luggage (do this first). The lockers at the pool will hold a carry-on size bag.
- The first women’s locker room often has a sign that says it’s full and to wait for assistance. Don’t wait (this is where many people get frustrated), but head right on to the other locker room.
- Small screens near the entrance will show which lockers are available. This can save a lot of time and direct you to an open area of the locker room.
- You can be modest, but expect people to change in front of you. This was a shock for my daughters, but a good lesson in different customs. There are some private stalls for changing and showers if that makes you comfortable. Just be ready to avert your eyes for those more confident.
- The silica mask is free-use it! This is one of our favorite things about the lagoon. The mask makes my skin feel amazing. An algae mask is available for a small upgrade (which also includes a drink). The last time we were there, a worker was in the pool offering complimentary samples of a lava scrub. A complete facial in the comfort of a warm pool. Magical!
- Your towel might go missing. With the lagoon-issued towels, it’s so difficult to keep track of your towel. There’s a good chance someone will accidentally or intentionally take it. We’ve never had an issue asking for a new one if ours has gone missing.
- Visit the waterfall. This area provides the most wonderful massage on your shoulders. I could stand there for hours.
- Kids under 8 will need to wear the provided swimmies. Even though my daughters hated them, it helped to lengthen the time they could stay in the pool. It’s not a swimming pool, and this helped them to float along.
- Shampoo, hair dryers and more are available. It’s easy to get ready for a flight home or to go out into the brisk Iceland air without a wet head.
Iceland is full of warm pools. Visiting local pools or quieter pools will make for an authentic feeling. Visiting the Blue Lagoon will feel more like an attraction experience. But the qualities of the water and the incredible relaxation I feel there make the “touristy” excuse irrelevant. It’s a must-do because it’s simply unlike anywhere else.