Blue Lagoon: A winter visit to Iceland’s most famous attraction

Blue Lagoon: A winter visit to Iceland’s most famous attraction

Everyone has heard of Blue Lagoon, the famously vibrant and luxurious natural hot spring of Iceland. But does it live up to the hype? I traveled to Iceland during winter (the off-season) in order to save money while exploring this normally expensive country. Click here to learn how we saved money in Iceland. Blue Lagoon was, of course, on our list of places to visit. It is the most popular tourist attraction in the country, welcoming 400,000 people a year.

Is it really worth a visit? Read on for my personal experience.

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TIP: Blue Lagoon is located 20 minutes from the airport (map). Use this unique experience to cure your jet lag or as a final reward! Book your visit either at the beginning or end of your trip, on your way to/from the airport. 

I arrived at the Lagoon at 9am, opening hour, hoping to avoid the crowd. A long line had already formed, snaking around the lobby, but we advanced quickly. I had pre-booked my ticket, choosing the “Comfort Package” for €55 per person (the winter price), but I upgraded to the “Premium Package” for €15 more to receive a robe, slippers, a few free drinks, and a reservation at their upscale restaurant: LAVA.

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Blue Lagoon, Majestic in Winter

After changing into my bathing suit in the ladies locker room, I peered outside the glass doors to see the dark and majestic water looming only 20 feet away. As quickly as possible, I made my way across the cold deck, into the steamy hot water.
It was overcast and drizzlingly when the sun rose around 10:30 am. The misty lagoon was spooky yet angelic in the early morning light. I could see the water was a pale, aqua color. When the sun peeked through the clouds, the lagoon appeared to be vibrant blue. It was strikingly beautiful.
I thank the winter season for the sparseness of visitors. It was quiet and relaxing. Sometimes I felt lost in the fog as I slowly waded through the steamy water. Was I was sleepwalking? Even my memory of the experience replays in slow motion and has a calming affect.

Iceland Blue Lagoon - 0036Cold Weather vs. Hot Water

Blue Lagoon fluctuates between 99°F and 104°F, so it feels wonderful when the air temperature is 32°F in winter. It’s difficult to get out of the water! After a few hours of soaking, I briskly walked from the lagoon to the towel rack, wrapped myself in my cold robe, and hurried inside. This was the only time I used my robe and slippers.

TIP: The robes, slippers & towels aren’t important. Save your money, go with the “Standard Package” for €40 and bring your own towel.

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What no one tells you…

The spring water the feeds the lagoon is self-cleansing and renews itself every 40 hours. That being said, there are pockets where water gets trapped and the silica is ankle deep. I made the mistake of grabbing a handful of silica off the bottom when I was in a particularly shallow pocket of the lagoon. I brought the white substance above water for observation. What did I find? A slimy snowball of human hair mixed with silica. I’m certain there are bandaids, fingernails, jewelry, and more found in the lagoon from time to time.

That sounds gross, but remember the lagoon is a glorified public swimming hole. I wouldn’t suggest digging up the bottom of a pond either.

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Silica: Nature’s beautiful milk

A must try at Blue Lagoon is the free silica mud mask, located in bowls along the back deck. After leaving the mask on for only a few minutes, my skin felt incredibly soft and smooth. I did two or three masks throughout the morning while sipping fruit smoothies from the swim up bar – why not?

Iceland Blue Lagoon - 0018TIP: Try not to get your hair wet; the silica will dry it out. I ignored this rule and used a heavy conditioner to rinse. My hair was okay, but if you have sensitive hair, you may want to avoid contact. 

Other things to do at Blue Lagoon

Aside from soaking and applying mud masks, the lagoon features a swim-up bar, sauna, steam room and a variety of small ponds, wading rivers and waterfalls to explore.

Iceland Blue Lagoon - 0024Changing Rooms at Blue Lagoon

Before my visit, I heard that the showers were awkward because of the lack of privacy. If you’re a squeamish type, you’ll be happy to hear that Blue Lagoon does have small private showers and changing areas available in the women’s locker room. But keep in mind – it’s a spa with a natural hot spring. If you want to walk around naked in the changing room, that’s perfectly acceptable.
Blue Lagoon offers shower gel, conditioner, hair dryers and lockers for no additional charge.

For €70, I expected more vanity items.

I’ve visited plenty of low-cost spas that supplied “spa freebies” to pamper yourself. Blue Lagoon’s gift bag of samples was disappointingly stingy. If you want a curling iron, shampoo, deep conditioner, lotion, perfume, etc, bring your own! Or do like I did: Forget about leaving the spa looking like a beauty queen and embrace your inner pool rat.

Iceland Blue Lagoon - 0031My vote: Does it live up to the hype?

There’s no doubt that Blue Lagoon is a beautiful sight, but it doesn’t live up to the hype. It’s expensive and not as luxurious as you might think. I’d rather save my money and seek out one of Iceland’s many public hot springs. That being said Blue Lagoon is worth one visit, just to see the gorgeous (and famous) blue water. Check it off your list and then go see what else Iceland has to offer.
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  1. January 13, 2016 / 9:05 am

    If you treat it as a luxury item, I’d recommend booking a massage. Sure, not cheap, but you get a massage in the water (floating, with the help of these floating foam thingies). Did it when I was there a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.
    As for being “a spa with a natural hot spring”, I think Wikipedia is correct here: “man-made lagoon which is fed by the water output of the nearby geothermal power plant Svartsengi”. It’s not so natural, but it doesn’t matter. It was fun to visit — especially during the winter.

  2. January 24, 2016 / 5:51 pm

    @ DANIEL…..But isn’t that geothermal plant supplied by underground hot water. In a way it could still be called a “Spring”. I guess I could have looked this up but isn’t the underground thermal water under pressure?

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