Visiting the Blue Lagoon is perhaps the ultimate of Icelandic experiences and an absolute must. With its wide expanse of pastel blue waters surrounded by dark volcanic rock it is quite a sight to behold. Then slipping into its balmy waters from the chill of Iceland’s open air takes things to another level.
Water babies rejoice! Iceland has a surprising array of outdoor swimming options to discover. That said it is the Blue Lagoon that tops the list for luxury and spectacle. In this article we will tell you all you need to know about visiting the Blue Lagoon Iceland. From the best time to visit, what to expect when you get there and how it came to be.
Where is the Blue Lagoon in Iceland?
The Blue Lagoon lies in the more populated southwest of the country on the Reykjanes Peninsular. It is really conveniently located between the capital city of Reykjavik and Keflavik International Airport. Just a 20-minute drive from the airport it can make an excellent pre or post-flight treat. It is another 50-minute drive on to the capital from the lagoon. So we’re talking some very comfortable travelling distances here.
How to reach the Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is easy to get to and ideal if you are hiring a campervan or car. Especially if you arrange for your camper or motorhome to be waiting for you to pick up at the airport. You can load your luggage and be plunging into the lagoon in under an hour from touch down!
There are also plenty of options for joining day tours from the capital to the Blue Lagoon. You might combine a visit with other tours such as exploring the Golden Circle. A spa visit is always welcome after a long day of hiking or horse riding too. So consider a more active combination tour to really appreciate your wallow after a work out.
How was the Blue Lagoon formed?
Many people assume that the Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s many naturally formed hot springs. But in actual fact it is man-made. Surprisingly one of the most popular attractions in Iceland came about purely by chance. It was the happy side effect of the building of a geothermal power plant nearby.
Iceland has long taken advantage of its naturally occurring geothermal energy to heat its homes. And this power station was built for just that purpose. When the hot water is extracted it is extremely hot at some 200 degrees Celsius. It is also very rich in minerals. As such the water isn’t used directly but rather to heat fresh water which is then used in heating systems. The original water is then washed through the surrounding volcanic rock.
Over time this water formed a striking Blue Lagoon set amongst the dark rock of the nearby lava field. The first person to bathe there visited the Blue Lagoon with the express purpose of healing their psoriasis. They found that the waters had incredible healing properties. Then the rest, as they say, is history.
Over the years the lagoon has been moved further away from the power plant and enlarged several times. It has also been beautifully landscaped and enhanced with sensitive architecture and luxurious amenities. The water in the Blue Lagoon is a blissful 39 degrees Celsius. Just the right temperature to bathe!
The best time to visit the Blue Lagoon
The lagoon is open all year round but the opening hours differ a little from season to season. In the winter months the pools shut a little earlier at around 9pm. While in the height of summer they stay open late to make the most of the Midnight Sun. Bathers can still be lounging come midnight in August.
Anytime of year is good for a visit with each season having its own charm. In winter you might get lucky and see the Northern Lights dancing across the sky as you bathe. In summer the low sun late into the night creates a beautiful twilight effect.
What about tickets?
The Blue Lagoon is one of the most visited Iceland attractions so you will need to book in advance. There may be some last-minute tickets but they will likely be at more unpopular times and a higher price. As such we definitely recommend being a little structured about this part of your trip.
There are time slots for entry into the lagoon but once in you can stay as long as you like. Because of this it is much busier in the afternoons. So if you would like a quieter visit then you should book an early morning ticket. Having said that the geothermal spa pools are spacious and there is a cap on visitor numbers. This means that they never feel crowded and there is a pervasive sense of calm.
There are three different ticket options. These are Comfort, Premium and Retreat Spa. Prices differ a little depending on the time of year that you visit. They are a little higher in the high season of June to August and lower in winter.
The Comfort ticket price is in the region of $90 US give or take. This includes entry into the spa with a complimentary towel and silica mud mask. The ticket also includes a drink of your choice from the pool bar.
Premium tickets include all of the above along with a second mask of your choice. If you are making a dinner reservation then the Premium ticket treats you to a complimentary glass of sparkling wine too. This ticket costs in the region of $110 US depending on the season.
The final option in the Retreat Spa entry priced at around $600 US. For those who are looking for all-out luxury this ticket allows access to the exclusive Retreat Spa with special spa treatments and dining options.
Dining at the Blue Lagoon
If you would like to make a day of your visit to the Blue Lagoon there are two excellent restaurants. The Lava Restaurant offers fine dining in stunning surroundings. The building is actually built into the lava cliff and floor to ceiling windows offer views across the pools.
The food here has a strong focus on local Icelandic ingredients. Expect succulent lamb and freshly caught Atlantic Char delicately flavoured with unusual local herbs and foraged berries. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. If you visiting Iceland on a budget then the lunch menu is more moderately priced.
Then there is the upscale Moss Restaurant in the ultra chic and exclusive Retreat area. This one offers an exquisitely prepared fine dining menu with a price tag to match. It is only open for dinner reservations.
There you have it! Our guide to the most famous lagoon in Iceland.
For more on Iceland’s natural hot springs visit our article - The Best of Iceland's Hot Springs