The Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa - where you can take a seven-hour bath with tons of strangers and not even mind
We’re the first to admit – we’re absolute wimps when it comes to the cold. (We carry sweaters around in our car back home in Florida because the AC is usually just too cold). But in Iceland, it all went out the window. Why?
Guys, two words: Blue Lagoon. More officially, the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa. The lagoon’s origins harken back to the 1970s. It was originally a project of the nearby Svartsengi power plant, but in the ‘80s people started bathing in the milky waters (Who was the first guy to do this and what was he thinking?!) and discovered its minerally-rich (namely, silica and sulfur) properties had amazing health and skin benefits. Later, the Blue Lagoon company purchased the attraction and people have been coming ever since.
We booked our spot at the lagoon online. They require that you do so in advance because they only allow a certain number of people in for the day. A word to the wise: as it is one of the most visited attractions in the country and one of the 25 wonders of the world, book before your trip, well before if possible.
While making our plans we took the weather into account plus the structure of our day. All things considered, we hoped for sun and wanted to end with the lagoon. Less rush, more wading. The rules are as follows: Choose a time slot during their opening hours from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. depending on the time of year. Let’s say you opt for 11 a.m., you have an hour to enter the spa facilities. After you’re in, you can stay on the premises for as long as you want. We chose 3 p.m. after our waterfall hike in Þingvellir National Park. Not wanting to miss even a second of our spa afternoon we set out from the park just after lunch. It’s about an hour and 15 minutes away from Þingvellir and 30 minutes from the capital, Reykjavík.
Driving up to the spa was like an encounter of the martian kind, but blue. Puddles of lagoon-like water flank the seemingly desolate road. If it wasn't for the parking lot full of cars, we wouldn’t have believed there was a soul around. The party was definitely inside.
At the entrance, the attendants scanned our tickets (we took screenshots of them from our phones) and gave us wristbands according to our package. There are three options - Comfort (6990 ISK/$70), Premium (9990 ISK/$101), and Luxury (53000 ISK/ $535 for two people). The price tag was already pretty steep so we thought we’d be safe with the basic package. "Comfort" got us entrance to the lagoon, a bath towel, mud mask, and a drink.
After changing into our suits and storing our stuff in lockers, we showered, which is mandatory and thank goodness! We’re all for hygiene. Our posture started to tense just looking at the cold from inside the spa area. There is a way to enter the pool from the inside but we decided that was too anticlimactic. We rushed out the doors, threw our towels on a rack we hoped we'd remember and took a handful of photos before plunging into the bathtub temperature water, 98 - 102 degrees farenheit to be exact.
The water is milky, like a melted icy blue mint. You can’t see through to the bottom, but not in a creepy way. The floor is smooth with swirling minerals kicking up with every step.
Drinks at a swim up bar? Check. Sauna and steam room? Check. Spa quality face masks? Oh yeah.
We spent hours in there - swimming, taking photos, putting on algae masks. We also felt it necessary to hydrate during the day as well, exiting the pool for some indoor refreshments and snacks. One thing we neglected was sunscreen, an absolute faux-pas but our skin was ...uhh richer for it.
Speaking of photos, our phones were safe and sound in our YOSH waterproof phone cases, (At the time of this writing, the black ones are currently out of stock. Try these colored or white ones or the Joto brand - $7.99). We highly recommend these! At about $13 for two, they’re a great alternative to a plastic bag – hey, don’t try this, we briefly saw a couple using this method and literally had to look away – or worse yet, dropping your phone straight into the water.
There was a point during the day when we felt the need to take the place in without fussing with picture taking. We returned our GoPro and phones to the lockers, reentered the pool, and searched for an isolated spot. We just closed our eyes, swirled the water around with our hands, and gave our remaining senses a feast. Sometimes it’s hard to let go and take a place in. Not here, guys. Trust us.
Jumping out of the warmth and rising into the cool brisk air was biting - in the best way. We’ve even heard that shocking your system with a bit of cold is good for the constitution. And you know us. We’re all about a good constitution.
We were literally the last ones to exit the pool. We could see the clock getting closer and closer to closing time. Of course the sun was doing its thing where it looks like it’s setting but it’s not really - Iceland summer for ya. We turned our attention to the rest of the trip. Could it get any better than this? Should we scrap all other ideas and plans and just return to the Blue Lagoon again tomorrow and the next day? Fortunately, the welcomers in the lagoon were more than happy to point us in the right direction for more experiences as incredible as this one.
Atli, originally from Hveragerði, told us about his stomping grounds and a must-see/must-dip hot river nearby. Solrun, another welcomer, also suggested a glacier that most visitors pass by without even knowing it. It was a seldom appreciated beauty which meant we HAD to see it. More on this soon. We did, however, have to record her spelling said glacier. Try not only remembering the names of Icelandic locations but also googling them based on phonetics. We dare you. So with input from our trusted locals, we said farewell to the blue lagoon, at least for the meantime.