Visiting the Blue Lagoon is regarded as an iconic experience for many travellers, but it is something that does require a little bit more planning than usual. I organised a trip here for 13 people as part of a girls trip to Iceland which I learnt a fair bit from, so here I share my top Blue Lagoon tips to help you plan your visit and get the most out of the experience.
I actually spent 3 days in Iceland for my hen do of all things, so it was a no brainer to add this onto our trip; a fun, girly activity and suitable for all the different age ranges, interests and activity levels in our party. My hen do was not traditional in the slightest and there were no plans to do anything wild, however after a quiet dinner in Reykjavik the night before, we had accidentally ended up in a bar. None of us were feeling high energy I have to say, but I was feeling particularly… delicate that morning!
What is the Blue Lagoon?
Bathing in hot springs is an Icelandic right of passage and as Iceland is a volcanic island, you’ll find no shortage of them. By far the most well known one is the Blue Lagoon, which ironically is not so natural, but actually a man-made lagoon of water from a geothermal power plant nearby.
The water itself though is from the ground, it has just been used to run turbines and provide heat to generate electricity before being deposited into the lagoon. It’s also very clean, as the water is fully replaced every 48 hours.
At around 38°C and balmy warm, at no point were we close to cold while in the water, as long as most of your body is in it! The water looks that slightly cloudy bright blue you see in pictures, with a fine steam rising from it, making the visibility a little hazy and mysterious, which I loved.
One thing I didn’t actually realise until I got into the lagoon is that the water is actually a milky white colour! The combination of the algae, silica and minerals in the water make it this colour, but apparently it is the sunlight reflecting off the silica that makes it look that bright blue colour we all know so well.
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Best Time to Visit the Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon operates a timed ticket entry system so as to stagger entry throughout the day. The time you choose also dictates the price you pay; the late evening slots are generally the cheapest.
If you want to visit the lagoon at it’s quietest, opt for one of the earlier tickets. It is an excellent location to experience the Northern Lights in the winter (if they feel like making an appearance) and the midnight sun in the summer, which also makes the evening a great time to go.
The good thing about the ticket entry system here is once you’re in, you’re in and you can stay all the way up until closing. This makes it totally possible to spend your entire day here. Luckily there is also enough to do to keep you busy and entertained should you choose to do this.
Which Blue Lagoon Package Should I Choose?
Ooooo, now this I debated FOR AGES! There are three entry options; Comfort, Premium or Luxury packages and eventually we decided on the middle ground of the Blue Lagoon Premium Package.
There’s a few things to consider when choosing which package is right for you. The two main ones are the cost and whether you are after a “proper” spa experience or not.
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The entry level package includes a silica mud mask, free drink and the swim up bar and use of a towel.
The price for this package is from 6,990 ISK (£40 ish), but this price is generally only applicable for entrance tickets timed 1 to 2 hours before closing (opening hours vary depending on whether you are visiting in summer or winter), so you really don’t get much time there at all.
Realistically, you are going to be paying 10,690 ISK to 11,990 ISK (£60 to £67 ish) for entrance tickets that give you enough time to properly enjoy everything the Blue Lagoon has to offer.
The middle tier package includes everything from the comfort package, plus an algae mask, slippers, bathrobe, reservation at Lava Restaurant and if dining there, a complimentary glass of sparking wine.
The starting price for this is 9,900 ISK (£55 ish), but again, tickets sold at this price are very limited and only for the last entrance time before closing. If going at peak times, you will pay up to 14,990 ISK (£85 ish).
This is the package we opted for and if I’m being brutally honest, wasn’t good value for money.
There’s a few reasons I think this; firstly, it doesn’t matter what package you get, Lava Restaurant operates independently to entry to the lagoon and so anyone can just call up and make a reservation. I think it just means it guarantees you a table, but if you make your reservation at Lava at the same time as booking your Blue Lagoon tickets, then this doesn’t need to be a factor when selecting your package.
Next up, robes and slippers. Just borrow them from your hotel. As long as you return them afterwards, I cannot see how they would mind.
That leaves you with your algae face mask and free sparking wine at Lava restaurant. Not sure either of those things are worth the significant extra cost in my opinion and if you aren’t dining at Lava restaurant, I would forget it.
Luxury Package at the Blue Lagoon
If you want a true luxury spa experience, this is it! Well you’d better bloody hope so, as it’s VERY pricy at 79,000 ISK (£440 ish). To be honest, I am not a massive spa person, so can’t see myself ever opting for this package, but if you are a bit of a spa junkie, then it’s one to consider.
Included in this is everything from the premium package, plus you get your own private changing room, Blue Lagoon skincare amenities, access to the Blue Lagoon Ritual and recently, access to the quieter and more exclusive Retreat Lagoon has been added onto this package, which is part of the super luxury hotel that has opened here.
This is the one package that doesn’t have a tiered pricing system dependant on entry, so it is the same price no matter what time of day you go. Also be aware of that while you get access to the Blue Lagoon for the rest of the day after you enter, you only get access to your private changing suite for 4 hours.
I can’t really pass judgement on this as I have not experienced it, but having just written those last two paragraphs down, it really doesn’t sound like good value to me for the price. However, you can head over to Silverspoon London for a first hand review of what this package was actually like and make your own mind up.
Top Tip: this hotel has the best located outside massage area I have ever seen!
Package Extras: In Water Massage
I may not be a huge spa person, but I do love a massage. I love a massage even more though when it is outside though; something about the breeze and being in a faraway place really lends something to the experience.
There is a separate part of the lagoon where the massages take place so you will have a bit of privacy and distance from the masses. Prices start at 17,400 ISK (£100 ish for 30 minutes).
Booking the Blue Lagoon
You MUST pre book your entrance tickets, no just bowling up, you will be disappointed! I also wouldn’t leave booking it too late either; we booked 6 weeks in advance for a slot in early April which is most definitely not peak season in Iceland, yet couldn’t get our preferred time slot. However, it was Easter Sunday and there were 13 of us, which could have played a part as well.
I did a lot of research when booking our tickets and I found that for the best prices, flexibility of options and ease of navigation, booking through the official website itself is the way to go.
There aren’t actually a lot of third party companies that offer tickets and where they do, lots of options are missed out that are available on the Blue Lagoon booking system.
I also didn’t find any that were cheaper than the corresponding ticket on the Blue Lagoon website itself and in fact, they often had a small mark-up, which I expect is the third party’s fee. I suspect this is because the Blue Lagoon is so popular, they really don’t need to be cutting deals with tour operators to increase their customer base.
Anyway, when booking on the official website, you need to select an entry time, with different times attracting different prices, as mentioned previously. You then will be taken through different add on options; in water massages, booking transfers from Reykjavik or Keflavik Airport and making a reservation at Lava restaurant.
I would really try and do this all in one go rather than attempting to do it at different times to ensure you can have the day you want there.
Related Post: A Girls Trip to Iceland for My Hen Party
Other Booking Options
Dependant on how busy you like your itinerary to be, you can book your Blue Lagoon experience in conjunction with other tours and experiences, for example this Golden Circle and Blue Lagoon Full Day Tour.
I spent 3 days in Iceland and did my Golden Circle Tour on a separate day to our visit to the Blue Lagoon and personally would recommend you try not to cram all of this into one day if you can, it’s a lot. However, I do prefer to try and take my itineraries a bit slower nowadays, so this is just my personal opinion.
How to Get to the Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is located in an area called Grindavik, about a 20 minute drive from Keflavik Airport and about 50 minutes from Reykjavik. It’s proximity to the airport means it is a very popular place to visit either right after you land or on your way back to catch your return flight.
As you would expect in Iceland anyway, the landscape is fascinating on the way to Grindavik (which is in the middle of a lava field); the last five minutes of our drive wind via a small road set in lots of small black volcanic rocks with steam rising into the air, you could be forgiven for thinking you were on a different planet!
You can add transportation onto your tickets when booking the Blue Lagoon through their website for 5,500 ISK (£30 ish) for a round trip and you can choose different pick up and drop off locations. Based on your ticket entry time and your departure location, the website will recommend the best departure time to meet your booking slot.
If you are coming from Reykjavik, the coach leaves from the BSI main bus terminal, which is a bit outside the city centre. I have gone over the vehicle restrictions that operate in Reykavik and what impact that has on getting around the city here, but basically this means that a shuttle does a round trip around the hotels and bus stops to collect everyone and bring them to the coach at the main bus terminal, which then goes on to the Blue Lagoon. The shuttle service starts 30 minutes before the main coach departs and the coach leaves the BSI terminal 1 hour before each booking slot.
I might be making this overly complicated here, but it is really simple on the website, you just enter the name of your accomodation and it will tell you the nearest bus stop and what time you need to be there.
Booking Blue Lagoon Transfers through Third Party Operators
If you do book transfers with a third party tour operator, just check that they include the shuttle service to the BSI bus terminal, otherwise unless your accommodation is close by, you will have to fork out extra for transport there.
When you factor in this additional cost, it will often be more than just booking the full transportation package with the Blue Lagoon. There is also the small risk of missing your connection and if you have booked through 2 different services, it is likely to cost you to change your booking.
I didn’t find any transfers that included the shuttle service from your hotel to the BSI for less than the price that the Blue Lagoon was offering. We therefore went with that option and it was a breeze; everything ran on time and our shuttle driver helped direct us to the main coach when we got to the BSI.
Also, if you are travelling with children under 14, not only is entrance to the Blue Lagoon free, if you book via their official website, so is the transfer. Bizarre as they still take up a seat, but I’m not one to argue on that!
Parking at the Blue Lagoon
If you have hired your own car, you can park free of charge. The parking area is very large and there were lots of free spaces during our visit.
What to Bring to the Blue Lagoon
- Hair tie if you have longer hair (you want to minimise your hair’s exposure to the water)
- Slippers or flip flops
- Waterproof Phone/Camera case
- Toiletries: both body wash and conditioner are provided free of charge in the changing rooms for all levels of package
The Blue Lagoon Experience
I was originally in two minds as to whether to bother with the Blue Lagoon or not. I tend to look for less popular and commercialised experiences when travelling and the Blue Lagoon is most definitely both of these things.
However, I was on a girls trip and relaxing in the hot water was a perfect girly day and the kind of activity that appealed to everyone on this trip from my 82 year old grandmother to my 13 year old cousin!
On arrival, the entrance hall was very busy and more resembled a scene at the local swimming pool rather than a spa. There were separate check-in desks for different packages and while the Comfort line was queuing, we went straight to an available desk for those who had the Premium Package at the Blue Lagoon (a perk they do not mention but really should when comparing packages online).
Check-in was quick and we are issued with wristbands for charging drinks and refreshments to rather than carrying your credit card. There is a different colour for those under 20 years old (legal drinking age in Iceland), as there are alcoholic options at the bar in the lagoon.
We were given our towels, robes and slippers bundle and directed to the dressing rooms, which are almost just as busy! Your wristband also acts as your keycard for a locker, which were in relative short supply, although between us we did find enough to house all of our stuff.
One of the requirements of visiting the Blue Lagoon is to shower sans bathing suit; there are communal showers for this, however the vast majority of people were opting to shower in the cubicles, which was resulting in about a 5 minute wait to use one.
Complimentary toiletries are provided, including conditioner, which you are going to want to slather generously through your hair and not rinse out before entering the lagoon itself. As the water contains high levels of silica, it makes hair very dry and brittle even after washing and the conditioner pre-treatment really helped minimise this. Try and keep your hair out of the water as much as possible.
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There are a couple of entrances to the lagoon; as we were still a bit nervous about the outside temperature (it was actually fine at around 5°C) we opted to enter from the inside entrance where you duck under a barrier to find yourselves outside.
My “slightly” delicate feeling very quickly dispersed when I got into the lagoon; the combination of the warm water and cool breeze is a very good hangover cure!
We all perked up a bit and went for our first face mask which is given to you via little swim-up huts at the edges of the lagoon so you don’t need to leave the warmth.
After, we had a little swim and explore around, the lagoon is big! We spent 40 minutes or so just working out the measure of the place which was great fun as just when we thought we had swam round it all, a breeze would blow a gap in the steam to a reveal a corner we hadn’t quite seen!
Swimming around the lagoon, we stumbled upon the swim-up bar for our complimentary drink. There are both alcoholic and soft drinks options at and if you want to purchase further drinks, you need to use your wristband (no need to carry your credit card around with you). Be aware a 3 alcoholic drink limit is applied though to avoid any unpleasant accidents.
While we were all feeling better, we decided to accelerate this with some delicious smoothies rather than opting for any of the wine, prosecco or beer on offer!
We went for our second face mask that was included in our premium package, before heading over to the relaxation corner. Here there are plenty of nooks to sit in, a separate area for those getting an in water massage and a waterfall for those of us who didn’t book one to get pummelled by the water instead.
This is also where you hop out to get in the sauna and steam room should you wish, you’ll have around 5 seconds out of the water and in the cold before you are safely back in the warm again!
Both the sauna and steam room are quite small for the size of the lagoon, but we didn’t struggle getting seats when we wanted them, so maybe they aren’t that popular? There is also a little cave to the side where you can sit and watch a video on the history of the Blue Lagoon.
Facilities at the Blue Lagoon
There are 2 restaurant options; Lava is a more formal dining experience whereas Blue Café serves light snacks and drinks via counter service.
While the silica, algae and minerals in the lagoon is not brilliant for your hair, it is great for your skin, so much so the Blue Lagoon has formulated an entire luxury skincare range around it. There is an on site shop that showcases these products with testers available too, among other souvenirs and Blue Lagoon branded products,
If you taking advantage of visiting on your way to or from the airport, the reception staff can help you store you luggage. There is also the option of storing it at the Luggage House in the car park, but there is a charge associate with this.
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Top Tips for Visiting the Blue Lagoon
- As soon as you book your flights, book the Blue Lagoon. It’s a pricy and popular experience and that credit card bill becomes a little harder to swallow when you’ve had to make a load of compromises just book your slot there! Out of all my Blue Lagoon tips, this is the one to remember.
- The Blue Lagoon operates a refund policy where you will get 90% of the cost of your booking back if you cancel more than 3 days in advance. One of our party had to cancel her ticket due to a medical condition a couple of weeks before our trip; I emailed them and they sorted right away.
- If not all of you want to go to in the Lagoon, you can sit in the Blue Café or in the seating area on the second floor (there are lovely views out across the lagoon from here).
- I am a contact lens wearer and water baby, so am no stranger to combining the two! You can wear your content lenses in the Blue Lagoon, just follow the same advice as if you were swimming elsewhere, don’t put your head under the water and avoid getting the water in your eyes. If you do, go and rinse them as the the silica in the water could irritate them.
- You can take your cameras and phones in the water, just make sure you bring a waterproof case for them. They do sell them in the on site shop if you forget, but don’t expect them to be cheap!
- Children aged under two are not allowed in the lagoon. Those aged between 2 and 14 are admitted free of charge and will experience the same package that the adults they are admitted with book.
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Feeling more than slightly refreshed after our Blue Lagoon experience, we headed to Lava for a late lunch. There is a small area with views over the lagoon, but most of the floor to ceiling windows look out over lava rocks so in places is was actually a little dark. There is also lots of black décor which can give it quite a cold feel
The James Bond movie Die Another Day sprang to mind, bearing in mind some of it was filmed in Iceland this wasn’t entirely surprising! The food however, completely epic.
Dining at Lava Restaurant
Generous portions of complimentary lava bread accompanied with whipped, salted and slightly warmed Icelandic butter were served first which was just amazing, maybe in part as this was the first food I had eaten all day! It was that good that when our complimentary sparkling wine appeared, I could drink and enjoy it!
There is a set menu offered at lunch time which is the most cost effective way to eat here; 2 courses is ISK 6,600 (£37 ish) and 3 courses ISK 7,600 (£43 ish). There are three options to choose from; Seafood, Icelandic Gourmet and Vegetarian.
We had a mixture of all 3 across the table and it exceeded our expectations, beautifully presented with superb and interesting flavours. I felt it was actually very good value, especially for Iceland. Service was attentive and our waitress patient, it’s not easy serving a large group of people who were mostly all experiencing varying degrees of hungover!
The restaurant was actually very quiet, there was only one other table dining when we arrived and when we finished, no more than half a dozen. I don’t know whether we caught it on an off day (it was Easter Sunday) as the restaurant is quite big.
Be aware that until 4:00pm, people can dine in their robes as well, so it is distinctly less formal in the day than I imagine it would be in the evenings.
Staying at the Blue Lagoon
There are two hotels at the Blue Lagoon, Silica Hotel and The Retreat. Not only are these both luxury boutique hotels, but one of the big draws is each have their own geothermal lagoons separate from the big public Blue Lagoon that everyone else uses (although you get complimentary access there as well).
Top Tip: The Retreat is available to book through the luxury hotel website Mr & Mrs Smith. They have a beautifully curated selection of boutique hotels that never fail to disappoint, along with a best price guarantee and a Mr & Mrs Smith ” Extra” with every booking.
For The Retreat, the current extra is a bottle of champagne. I have also seen an offer for 4 nights for the prices of 5 a couple of times as well.
The Retreat was a couple of weeks away from its grand opening when I was there and is now regarded as one of the top spa hotels in Europe; high end sustainable luxury at its absolute finest and the hotel to stay if you are on a luxury trip to Iceland.
Silica is not quite as luxurious as The Retreat, but still regarded as a luxury hotel, just not quite so high end (which is also reflected in the price differential.
You can read reviews of the Silica Hotel here and The Retreat here, written by two other excellent bloggers that specialise in the luxury travel niche.
The Retreat: Check prices at Mr & Mrs Smith | Booking.com | Hotels.com | Agoda
While we had a really beautiful day here and I am glad we went (it did fit perfectly with the girls getaway theme), I’m not sure I would rush to go back, unless it would be to stay at one of the two hotels here or eat in Lava restaurant again.
I personally think that it has more akin to a public swimming pool than a spa, albeit a much more attractive and expensive one. It has been extremely commercialised and while I didn’t find the lagoon itself to be overcrowded, the other public spaces for the most part definitely are and at times it’s a little chaotic.
As long as you adjust your expectations in line with this though and plan accordingly (which I hope my Blue Lagoon tips has helped you with!), I really don’t think you are likely to be disappointed. Relax in the water, enjoy that you are on your travels, don’t expect a spa experience and you will most definitely have fun!
– Book your Blue Lagoon tickets and transfers here
– Check Mr & Mrs Smith for a curated list of the best luxury boutique hotels in Iceland.
– Alternatively, you can view & book hotels in Reykjavik at Booking.com, Agoda or Hotels.com.
– Check flight routes and prices with Skyscanner to find the most affordable and convenient flights into Iceland.
– For private tours, we used the fabulous Discover Iceland. If you are looking for a group tour, try Get Your Guide for a great range of different options and easy price comparison.
– Book Flybus airport transfers, or if your are travelling in a larger group or would like a private transfer, try Snæland Travel.
– Click here to buy your Lonely Planet Guide to Iceland, my favourite guide book brand that I almost always purchase when travelling to a new destination.
– You can check out my full list of tried, tested and recommended Travel Resources here.