Relaxing at Iceland’s Blue Lagoon

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It was like being in some sort of late-night-food-induced dream. You know, the kind where you're walking on the ceiling and people are climbing out of suitcases?

I was in the middle of a swirling world of fog and mist, the lapping of waves the only major sound to be heard. Out of the steam, two women with their faces covered in white goo materialized, jabbering in a foreign language as they glided past, their hair arranged in odd piles atop their heads. From the other direction, a teen boy floated by, munching on an ice cream bar.

And everywhere I looked, I saw milky blue.

But this wasn't some weird dream — it was the famous Blue Lagoon in Iceland.

Blue Lagoon in Iceland

Located between Reykjavik and Keflavik International Airport, the Blue Lagoon is the perfect place to either begin or end your trip to Iceland — in fact, you're even encouraged to do so by Reykjavik Excursions, who run the Flybus that is the easiest way to get to Reykjavik from the airport. You can buy Flybus tickets with a visit to the Blue Lagoon built in for a reasonable price.

On my first trip to Iceland, I chose to end my time in the country with a few hours of relaxation at the Blue Lagoon. On my second trip, my partner and I went straight to the Blue Lagoon as soon as we arrived. Either way, it's kind of a must-visit in Iceland!

I was a bit skeptical at first, and could not fathom how I would enjoy spending 4 hours floating around in a pool of blue wastewater (because that's what the Lagoon really is — wastewater from a nearby power plant; but don't worry, it's not toxic).

I'm not a spa person or a beach person. Honestly, I'm not any kind of person that is required to wear a bathing suit.

I don't like massages or any other activities that require strangers to touch me repeatedly, either. And on that first trip I didn't even have a travel buddy to chat with to keep my mind off feeling uncomfortable in such an atmosphere.

But, as soon as I arrived at the Blue Lagoon and stored my backpack in the free cabin provided by the Flybus, I quickly realized that I didn't have as much to fear as I originally… feared.

Visiting the Blue Lagoon

Upon arrival to the Blue Lagoon, you walk along a lava path for a short while until you get to the spa building itself. If you want to take some photos of the unreal blue water, make a quick detour off to your left before going inside — this part of the Lagoon was empty when I got there, and was just as breathtaking as any photos I'd ever seen of it.

Yes, it's true that the Lagoon is not natural, but you'd be surprised at how unbothered by this you become when you actually see it up close.

After snapping some photos in the cold morning air, I hurried inside to hand in my ticket. I decided spur-of-the-moment to splurge and pay extra for a towel and fluffy white robe, and was given both of these as well as a blue plastic bracelet that would serve as my locker key and bar/cafe tab all at once.

Then it was into the changing areas. Thankfully, I had been warned.

If you have no clue what I'm talking about, let me be blunt: If you are a women, be prepared to see lots of lady parts hanging out all over the place. Boobs, butts, and everything in between, on women of all ages. (And if you're a dude, you'll likely see plenty of man parts.)

As surprising as it may be for most Westerners (I'm looking at YOU, Americans), not everyone else in the world is as obsessed with privacy and modesty as we are. While the Blue Lagoon does provide a few fully-enclosed changing rooms, most of the changing here is done out in the open, for all to see. No shame, ladies, no shame. (I actually kind of love this – a woman should never be ashamed of her body!)

Showering — which you must do sans clothing before you enter the Lagoon — is also done mostly out in the open, so don't be surprised to walk around the corner and see… well, everything.

If you aren't too traumatized after changing, figuring out the locker system, and hopping under a shower, then it's finally time to head out to the Lagoon itself. You can either walk straight outside and enter the water that way, or you can ease into the water indoors and then make your way outside via a huge, heavy wooden door.

I opted for the latter option, and was pleased to find that the water was just about the perfect temperature for relaxing in — somewhere in between a bathtub and a hot tub.

Once outside, I was struck by just how big the lagoon is. There are various little pools everywhere, a cave, multiple covered bridges, a waterfall, and even a floating bar. Yes, a floating bar. Grab a drink and maybe even an ice cream bar, and get to floating. If you want a massage while lazing in the Lagoon, you'll have to book it far in advance.

The Blue Lagoon is renowned not only for its odd color, but also because the water is rich in silica and sulphur — both said to be fantastic for the skin. Find one of the stations full of white silica along the edges of the Lagoon, and slather up. I put a bit on my face, but honestly can't report any drastic improvements to my skin…

The 4 hours I had to spend at the Lagoon actually flew by. I floated around for a while, seeking out the extra-hot spots in the water and watching goo-faced people glide through the steam.

I took a break and sat in the “relaxation area” inside with my fluffy robe and my kindle for a while, and also grabbed some lunch before going to soak some more.

I loved the fact that the blue bracelets they give you allow you access to your secure locker as often as you want. And I loved how truly relaxing this place is.

Say what you want about it — I loved visiting the Blue Lagoon, and would definitely recommend it to anyone visiting Iceland. Even if you don't like spas or massages, chances are you will still enjoy the Blue Lagoon. I know I did!

Sunrise at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland

And now…

Tips for visiting the Blue Lagoon

Here are some practical tips for visiting the Blue Lagoon:

  • Go early. Around noon or 1 p.m., the Blue Lagoon starts to get crowded. If you want to enjoy the warm water in peace, try to get there as early in the morning as possible (or later in the afternoon would probably also be less busy).
  • Leave the modesty behind. As mentioned above, forget about being self-conscious — no one else will be. And don't be surprised (or offended) when you meet stark-naked people in the changing rooms.
  • Beware your hair. The silica and sulphur in the water of the Blue Lagoon may be good for your skin, but it's definitely NOT good for you hair. Especially if you have long hair, apply conditioner liberally before going into the Lagoon, and don't rinse it out until you're ready to leave. Otherwise you'll be dealing with dry, brittle hair for days.
  • Pay for the extras. No, you don't need a fluffy robe or extra towel or drink from the floating bar… but they sure are nice to have. Just be aware that they do cost extra!
  • Relax. After all, this is what the Blue Lagoon is all about!

Best Blue Lagoon Tours

You don't really need to book a “tour” to the Blue Lagoon; but combining a visit with other tours in Iceland is sometimes a great idea!

Interested in a Blue Lagoon tour? Check some of these out:

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"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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