blue lagoon

The Most Complete Guide to the Blue Lagoon Ever Written

John @ Iceland In 8 Days Hot Springs Leave a Comment

Welcome to Iceland, and to what is sure to be one of your greatest adventures! The Land of Fire and Ice offers so much to see and do that it can be at times a bit overwhelming. Fear not! Among rugged excursions across hiking trails, glacier camping, volcanic exploration, and countless waterfall experiences, there is a magnificent hot spring and spa close by. Here, at the Blue Lagoon, you can sit back and relax while soaking in the natural beauty of Iceland after chasing down all the wild Icelandic adventure you came to seek.

blue lagoon

About the Blue Lagoon

Bláa Lónið is the local name for the world class Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. This is the largest and most popular spa in all of Iceland. It is often considered a “must see” attraction by both novice and veteran visitors. You can find the Blue Lagoon on most any itinerary, from one-day stopovers to two-week excursions.

Shorter-term tourists enjoy the Blue Lagoon for its close proximity to the nation’s capital and airport. However, there are some detractors that call Blue Lagoon a “tourist spa” (including ourselves in a way). The Blue Lagoon is often heavily populated with Ring Road visitors. However, the luxury spa does enjoy a regular influx of quick stopover clientele as well.

In comparison to the Myvatn Nature Baths

Hot springs and natural geothermal pools appear all over Iceland. The spas that are built up around them can become quite popular. The Myvatn Nature Baths in northeast Iceland offers a pale simulacrum of the Blue Lagoon experience. There are many similarities, but plenty of differences as well.

Though it may be far less expensive, the smaller and quieter Myvatn Nature Baths can’t offer the feature-rich luxury and carefree leisure one finds when visiting the Blue Lagoon.

The Myvatn Nature Baths has a natural rock bottom, which is nice on your feet, and preferable to mud in other geothermal pools, and concrete at the Blue Lagoon. It is well run, the location and the bath itself are beautiful, and as a bonus, you generally won’t encounter tour buses as you would at Blue Lagoon.

One of our most popular posts, Myvatn Nature Baths vs The Blue Lagoon: Pros and Cons, addresses and contrasts these two popular geothermal baths. We highly recommend this authority article when comparing the two.

Getting to the Blue Lagoon

When you arrive at Keflavik airport, you are only 20 minutes from the Lagoon. If you are staying in Iceland’s Capital city of Reykavik, you are still under an hour ride to the spa. If you are renting a vehicle for your trip, you can make the scenic drive yourself, parking facilities are free. Or you can take a dedicated coach to the spa. “Destination Blue Lagoon” has large, roomy coaches that run hourly pickups and drop offs at Keflavik’s main terminal and regular round trip circuits to the hotels in Reykjavik.

The transportation website makes it easy to plan your transportation with one way or round trip options as well as alternating pickup and drop-off between Reykjavik and the airport.

What better way to commence your vacation than being picked up from the airport in luxury, pampered at a world class spa, and then delivered to your hotel in style? Or doing the reverse! When you have finished your adventuring, soaking in the Blue Lagoon Spa as your final Icelandic indulgence.

Upon Arrival at the Blue Lagoon

Once you arrive, the parking lot is the last glimpse you will see of the mundane, non-luxurious world. Upon entry, there are storage lockers and cabinets for your luggage. This is ideal if you are coming in from the airport, or if you are packed up to depart after the spa.

There is a long winding pathway through a lava field that you will walk from the parking lot. It’s metaphorical, as you leave the traffic, noise and stresses of the real world behind. Down the path and around the bend, you emerge into the Blue Lagoon arrival and check in building. Here, you will begin your spa experience.

All the buildings in the Blue Lagoon complex are specifically designed to compliment the natural landscape. In fact, many of them have been built directly into the lava cliffs themselves.

Floor to ceiling windows provide little obstruction to the magnificent views and Icelandic landscapes. Traffic, parking, flights, and the congestion of everyday Icelandic travel is blocked out behind you. Here inside the Blue Lagoon, you can relax and let the soothing waters rejuvenate your soul as well as your skin.

The Creation of the Blue Lagoon

To know what Blue Lagoon is, you must begin by understanding how it came to be. Remember, its creation was merely a byproduct of Icelandic geology and culture.

The island is rich with geothermal hotspots. These cracks in the earth where groundwater seep down is heated by the natural thermal energy of the planet’s crust. Iceland is a world leader in using this natural resource for energy. 30 percent of Iceland’s electricity generation comes from geothermal plants and 87 percent of structures in Iceland are heated via geothermal energy.

In 1971, on the Reykjanesskagi (Southern Peninsula) of Iceland, near the small fishing village of Grindavík, construction began on the Svartsengi Power Station. This station would go into operation in 1976. It generated electrical power for the area, and was the major source of heat for the entire peninsula.

Inner Workings of Geothermal Power

The way a geothermal power plant works is by boring into the earth and harnessing the released steam and heated water in their vents. The water rushes in at 170 psi. It then spins electrical generating turbines. This water is housed at 464°F, but it is brackish and heavy with mineral deposits. So, while it works well enough to spin the electrical generating turbines and still retains its heat, it is not suitable for use in heating homes directly because it would clog and corrode the pipes.

Instead, a closed system of freshwater is used. The super heated water drawn from the geothermal plant is used to heat the freshwater through a heat exchange system.

After the water is pulled up to the surface and used for its purpose, it is then piped into a storage or waste facility, depending on the local regulations.

Svartsengi Power Station Becomes the Blue Lagoon

Since the water Svartsengi uses was simply passed through a series of pipes and not contaminated in any way, it is deposited directly into the porous lava fields nearby. From there, it percolates back into the earth.

Once the power plant went into operation, the waste water from the plant began to fill up the lava fields, creating large pools. The heavy minerals in the water (mainly silica and sulfur) clogged up the porous lava fields. The minerals are left behind as the water slowly seeps through the cracks back into the ground.

Years of continual mineral deposit buildup have created a large and permanent man-made lagoon of varying depths from two and a half feet to just over four and a half feet deep. There have been concerns that this growing mineral deposit and water pooling constituted and environmental disaster. However, that general opinion changed in 1981.

The Blue Lagoon as a Spa Destination

A man suffering from severe psoriasis received permission to bathe in the silica and sulfur laden heated pools. In accordance with traditional therapeutic treatments, he claimed his affliction felt better after bathing in the lagoon. Word spread, and by 1986 the bathing culture of Iceland began to infiltrate the “wastewater” pools of the Svartsengi Power Station. In 1992, the location was re-branded as the “Blue Lagoon” and built up into the luxury spa you see today.

The original pools are dubbed the “Old Blue Lagoon”. They still bear the direct visual impact of its humble power plant beginnings. However, further expansion of the lagoon has migrated away from the power plant. These new pools cultivate the trademark expression “Experience the wonder, explore the luxury”.

Luxury of Icelandic Bathing Culture and the Blue Lagoon

Natural hot springs are a timeless attraction. A stone pool on Mount Li in China is thought to be the oldest hot spring spa ever built back in the 200’s BCE. Hot spring spas have been found all around the world including Italy, Japan, New Zealand and in the United States and Canada. These hot springs are often situated near the fissures in the Earth’s crust at the meeting of our tectonic plates. Iceland being poised directly over one of these fissures boasts a large number of hot springs (and even diving opportunities).

Icelanders have along history of a bathing culture. In nearly every city around the island, each community has a swimming pool. The locals are often found spending time in these pools as a way to relax, refresh and casually socialize. In the long summer sun and deepest winter snows, these naturally heated pools bring the locals and the tourists together.

Entry into the Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon Spa is by far the largest geothermal spa in Iceland. It is located about 30 to 45 minutes outside the most populated city of Reykjavik. A common attraction on most Iceland itineraries, it is always full of bathers eager to spend some time in the luxurious, soft blue waters.

Here was our personal experience at the Blue Lagoon, from May 2017:

The entrance area is a long walkway with natural lava rock walls on either side, reminiscent of Thingvellir National Park’s walk to Oxararfoss. Quite a few people were walking back and forth with their luggage, as Blue Lagoon is a popular destination once short-term travelers land at Keflavik International Airport.

Once inside we are greeted with a super-overpriced gift shop and a modern-looking check in area akin to a hotel. Once checked in, we received a waterproof digital armband that allowed us to lock and unlock lockers, as well as purchase amenities and drinks once in the water.

The Luxury Experience

Before venturing into the waiting waters, you check in and receive your waterproof RFID bracelet. This bracelet will provide you access to everything from the locker room to ordering drinks at the lagoon’s in-water bar.

The lack of cleansing chemicals such as chlorine in the lagoon (and in nearly all of Iceland’s public pools) requires a full shower before joining your fellow bathers. Part of Iceland’s prominent bathing culture is that nudity is not seen as an unusual, or even particularly eventful, condition. However, since the lagoon does draw a large number of visitors from around the world and from countless cultures, the immaculate showering facilities are separated into men’s and women’s stalls.

The water is an inviting and steamy 102°F. The milky powder blue color is a result of the minerals saturated in the water. Gentle sand-like silica permeates the blue waters and soothes your skin as you wade into the lagoon. At any point, you can apply your complimentary silica mud mask, available at all tiers of pricing. Then, allow yourself to soften and unwind in the warm embrace of the naturally-heated waters.

Blue Lagoon Opportunities

Perhaps you would opt for an algae mask, or possibly arrange an in-water massage? The options for comfort are nearly limitless, based on the package chosen. The massage sessions book up early, so be sure to make that appointment when you set up your original spa visit.

Other casual options include wading into the cave and listening to the soothing echoes of the water, or lying in repose under the waterfall, feeling the pulsations of the warm falling water relieving the stress from your muscles.

Walking paths and arcing bridges dot the landscape. You can easily lose yourself to the fantastic views of the pale blue water in contrast against the pure black of the surrounding lava fields, or the colonies of lush green moss growing on the rocks. Beauty surrounds you as you spend your time in the Blue Lagoon.

Current Blue Lagoon Pricing and Amenities

  • Comfort Package: From $57 USD. Includes: entrance to Blue Lagoon, silica mud mask, usage of towel, first drink of choice.
  • Premium Package: From $81 USD. Includes all of the above, as well as: Second mask of choice, slippers, use of bathrobe, table reservation of Lava Restaurant, and sparkling wine if dining.
  • Retreat Spa Package: From $647 USD. Includes all of the above, as well as: Four hour access to Retreat Spa, The Blue Lagoon Ritual, private changing area, Retreat Lagoon, skincare amenities, access to Spa Restaurant.

Blue Lagoon Amenities and Options

Here are the different amenities that are offered at the different package levels shown above at the Blue Lagoon. All information is regularly updated and comes straight from the Blue Lagoon booking page.

Comfort Package

  • Entrance to Blue Lagoon: Entrance to the Lagoon and all other spa facilities, including changing rooms, the sauna, the steam bath, the relaxation area and more.
  • Silica Mud Mask: The silica mud mask is Blue Lagoon’s principal element. It is delivered at the Silica Bar inside the Lagoon.
  • Use of Towel: You receive a large, comfortable Blue Lagoon towel to use during your visit. At the conclusion of your visit, the towel must be returned.
  • First Drink of Your Choice: You receive the first drink of your choice at no additional cost while in the Lagoon.

Premium Package

  • Entrance to Blue Lagoon: Entrance to the Lagoon and all other spa facilities, including changing rooms, the sauna, the steam bath, the relaxation area and more.
  • Silica Mud Mask: The silica mud mask is Blue Lagoon’s principal element. It is delivered at the Silica Bar inside the Lagoon.
  • Use of Towel, Bathrobe and Slippers: A large, comfortable Blue Lagoon towel. A bathrobe to keep you warm and cozy. Slippers for walking around the resort or to wear while dining at Lava Restaurant. At the end of your visit, the towel and bathrobe must be returned.
  • First Drink of Your Choice: You receive the first drink of your choice at no additional cost while in the Lagoon.
  • Second Mask of Choice: Your choice of Lava, Mineral or Algae. These can be obtained from the employees wandering about the Lagoon with bowls.
  • Restaurant Reservation (optional): Built into a stunning lava cliff, with views over the lagoon, LAVA is a fine dining Restaurant and an unforgettable setting for any meal. A table will be reserved for you at LAVA Restaurant. This is optional, you can also choose to decline the restaurant reservation.
  • Sparkling Wine if dining: When seated at LAVA Restaurant, you will receive a complimentary glass of sparkling wine (if dining). Non-alcoholic is available.

Retreat Spa Package

  • Access to the Retreat Spa (4 hours): Journey through underground realms of luxurious heat and inspiring design. Carved into into the volcanic earth, the spa transports your mind and body to new dimensions of peace and rejuvenation. More about the Retreat Spa.
  • Private Changing Room: Accommodates up to two people. Includes walk-in shower, towels, bathrobes and slippers.
  • The Blue Lagoon Ritual: The pinnacle of the Retreat Spa journey, the Ritual is a dynamic cycle of well-being. It brings you into harmony with the astonishing properties of geothermal seawater: silica, algae, and minerals.
  • Retreat Lagoon: Explore the mineral-rich waterscape encircling the spa. Serene. Peaceful. Enchanting. A more intimate way to experience the geothermal wonders of the Blue Lagoon.
  • Skin Care Amenities: A selection of signature products from our renowned line of Blue Lagoon skin care.
  • Access to the Spa Restaurant: Enjoy the fresh, nourishing, savory delicacies of Spa Restaurant as you journey through the earth.
  • Entrance to Blue Lagoon: Entrance to the Lagoon and all other spa facilities, including changing rooms, the sauna, the steam bath, the relaxation area and more.
  • First Drink of Your Choice: You receive the first drink of your choice at no additional cost while in the Lagoon.

Health Benefits of the Blue Lagoon

Many tour guides and sightseeing programs will end their day at the Blue Lagoon Spa. After a full day of exploring the beauties of Iceland, hiking up trails, facing the imposing waterfalls, or withstanding the sea’s harsh winds and spray while whale watching, an afternoon of soaking in the silica rich waters of Blue Lagoon can offer a welcome tranquil opposition to the day’s events.

Tired feet, sore muscles and withered faces can all be unwound with an extended soak in the milky blue waters.

Consider the logistics of thousands of people soaking off a rough day in the spa. You might start to ponder the cleanliness of everything. However, remember that it is required and strictly enforced that every bather takes a full shower before entering the waters.

If that is still not enough to quell your concerns, the entire lagoon is continually draining into the lava field and being refilled by the power plant. This cycle maintains the regular temperature. It also serves to refresh the water at the rate of about a 48 hour period of full water renewal. This is astounding considering the size of the Lagoon.

The Blue Lagoon’s origins are founded with that one man in 1981 asking permission from the Svartsengi power plant to bathe in the silica rich waters to alleviate symptoms from his psoriasis skin condition. The salty sea water and mineral infused soaking provided some relief for this man and many others since.

Skin Benefits of the Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon has long focused on skin care and spa relief for skin ailments of all kinds. The contents of the water have a wide range of minerals and algae within it.

On a particularly sunny day when the blue-green algae goes into bloom, the ordinarily powder-blue color of the water turns to a luminescent green. Silica, chloride, calcium, sulfur and magnesium are just some of the key components of the lagoon’s water. The staff are always looking for ways to use these natural ingredients to further provide skin care relief for those suffering from ailments.

Blue Lagoon’s Skincare Product Line

In the mid 1990’s, the Blue Lagoon began offering a skin care product line. With this, guests could purchase spa items to bring home with them. This allows guests to continue to feel the luxury of the lagoon’s magnificent waters and fabulous spa treatments they indulged in. Bringing a taste of Iceland back home, so to speak.

Silica mud masks, algae masks, lip balm, lava scrubs, lip balms, conditioners, moisturizers, shampoos, and many more facial and body care products are available in shop or at their website once you return home. Other body care products are also available such as towels, bathrobes, scented oils and candles, so you can remember and relive the comfort and delight you feel at the Blue Lagoon Spa.

Skincare Products Available Through the Blue Lagoon

Some of the most popular skincare products available through the Blue Lagoon are:

  • Silica Mud Mask: composed of the Blue Lagoon’s iconic white wonder – deep-cleanses and strengthens your skin, reduces the visibility of pores, and leaves your skin fresh and clear. After your daily regimen, apply generously and evenly to face. Avoid the eye area. Leave on for 5-10 minutes. Rinse with warm water. Use 2-3 times a week. Currently $103 for 3.4 oz
  • Rich Rejuvenating Cream: confers an ageless glow upon your skin and minimizes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. After cleansing, apply to face and neck. Use daily, morning and night. Suitable for normal to dry skin. Currently $145 for 1.7 oz
  • Algae Mask: composed of unique patented Blue Lagoon algae, nourishes your skin from within, minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and providing an immediate lift and youthful glow. After your daily regimen, apply evenly to face. Avoid the eye area. Leave on for 5-10 minutes. Rinse with warm water. Use 2-3 time a week. Currently $105 for 2.5 oz
  • Hydrating Conditioner: composed of Blue Lagoon minerals – nourishes the hair, leaving it tangle-free and healthy-looking. Massage into hair. Leave in for 1-2 minutes. Rinse well with warm water. Avoid contact with the eyes. For all hair types. Currently $41 for 6.7 oz

While these products can be purchased at the shop inside the Blue Lagoon itself, and also the shop located in the Keflavik International Airport, they can also be purchased globally from the Blue Lagoon Online Store.

Additional Curative Powers

Though many have found relief from their skin conditions in Blue Lagoon, there is no claim to the water’s curative powers. The relief many find from their psoriasis and other ailments are simply a respite from the condition.

Symptom management and not a cure. Hydrotherapy and balneotherapy are pre-scientific concepts that have no basis in modern medicine. Relief from skin conditions such as psoriasis are the soothing of the skin and the rejuvenation and relaxation inherent in spending time in a warm water spa such as the Blue Lagoon. These reliefs are a welcome interruption to those afflicted by the condition.

Tradition, folklore, anecdotal evidence and true belief are no substitute for seeking proper medical attention for severe skin problems. But the Blue Lagoon sure does feel nice!

Beyond the Blue Lagoon Itself

There is so much Blue Lagoon offers that goes above and beyond the feelings inspired by the soft blue waters. If a quick afternoon soak is not enough for you, the rest of the spa grounds offer ample amenities. There is enough to do that you may decide to make Blue Lagoon a multi-day experience!

Diving into the Retreat Spa

For additional fees, the wonder of the Blue Lagoon can be transformed into a luxury spa occasion at the property’s exclusive Retreat Spa. This experience is comprised of four hours in an exclusive portion of the lagoon. This piece of the property is located away from the public section of the Blue Lagoon, and instead in the private suite Lava Cove.

Here, in-water massage treatments are the ultimate way to enjoy the restoring waters, while also allowing your body to be coaxed into a relaxed state. The elevated terrace is a brisk and refreshing walk into the cool winds blowing over the lava fields. This allows your skin to feel the stark contrast of the heated treatments being received against the cool breezes of beautiful Icelandic nature.

Additional Features of the Retreat Spa

Carved into the lava cliffs and into the subterranean spaces are several unique experiences Blue Lagoon wants you to enjoy. A steamy exposure to the moist heat in the Steam Cave will let you enjoy the steam bath in private, while the Lava Spring will refill your spirit with the bubbling energy of falling water.

The Nest is a warm and inviting relaxation spot while enjoying the views of the lagoon, and the Fire room is a wonderful meditative location with an ever-burning fireplace.

More About the Blue Lagoon Ritual

For those looking for the full experience, the Blue Lagoon Ritual is considered the “hallmark of the spa journey”. With this, you will be pampered with a full treatment with the purity of the white silica, the nourishing glow of algae, and the potency of the exfoliating minerals.

Dining and Lodging Options at the Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon Dining Options

After your body is refreshed, be sure to refuel it as well. The Cafe onsite offers snacks and fresh made sandwiches all day long. The Retreat Spa-only Spa Restaurant offers breakfast items a-la-carte, as well as a bevy of fresh lunch options. If you are looking for a meal, two full service restaurants await you, both offering the freshest local ingredients for an unforgettable Icelandic meal.

The Lava Restaurant opens for lunch and dinner with traditional Icelandic gourmet options such as Humarsúpa, (otherwise known as langoustine soup), freshly caught cod, arctic charr, haddock, and beef tenderloin or lamb fillets. The restaurant is aptly named, as it is built into the lava cliffs. The full length windows offer a stunning view of the lagoon while you dine in elegance.

Another restaurant, “Moss”, is open exclusively for dinner reservations. The menu focuses more on what the local farmers have freshly available. Because of this dedication to local sustained farming, the menu us always changing. However, you can be assured the team of chefs will create a nourishing meal as well as a lasting memory.

Blue Lagoon Lodging Options

Perhaps a single day is not enough to take in all the splendor the Blue Lagoon offers.  There are two accommodations available on site.

Rooms at the Silica Hotel are divided into view descriptions:

  • Lava Deluxe overlooking the dark lava fields
  • Mountain Deluxe overlooking the green moss covered stones
  • Silica Deluxe overlooking the lagoon

Each location has a private veranda and plenty of other amenities. The Retreat Hotel offers the same views as the Silica, but each room is a suite and is truly a magical all-inclusive resort stay. These accommodations will have you reveling in all of the luxury available from Blue Lagoon Spa.

Wrapping Things Up

The Blue Lagoon Spa is a worthwhile excursion experience in your Icelandic holiday. If you are there for a quick afternoon dip, an evening float with the northern lights dancing above, or for an extended stay of a few days, the Blue Lagoon will meet your needs and expectations with the delight and dignity you can anticipate from a world-class spa.

Book your trip now, the beauty and splendor of the Lagoon is widely known and the facility books up in advance, don’t miss the opportunity to experience it for yourself. Click here to go to the main Blue Lagoon page.

Our Final Thoughts

If you’ve read our comparison of Myvatn Nature Baths to the Blue Lagoon, then you know our personal take on the Lagoon. For those who have not, here is the piece with the pros and cons of the Blue Lagoon, from our personal experiences:

Blue Lagoon: Pros

The Blue Lagoon has a flat, pool-like bottom and is quite deep at almost chest depth. The staff is friendly and helpful. Clean, secure, electronic lockers are accessed using a waterproof wristband, and the shower rooms include private or semi private facilities. Water temperature varies in the lagoon.

Plenty of employees wade around in the lagoon with iPads, taking complimentary pictures that are emailed to you almost immediately. There is free hair conditioner, the location is beautiful, and there is no sulfur smell.

Blue Lagoon: Cons

The expense! Although the basic package is adequate, the staff persistently attempt to upsell everything, so at times the Blue Lagoon can feel like a tourist trap. For the adventurous, it’s possible to find some cheap or free hot springs in the beautiful surrounding area which you may have all to yourself so that the Blue Lagoon could be seen as vastly overpriced and fairly underwhelming.

Long tours sometimes will include a visit to the Blue Lagoon. Iceland is becoming a popular destination, and many tour buses drop off large groups immediately after their flight lands, so it can be extremely crowded at times. Your hair can turn into straw for days after despite using the Blue Lagoon conditioner before and after entering the water.

It can be very noisy, and it is advisable to book well in advance, and unfortunately, the Blue Lagoon does not have the spectacular views one would experience at the Myvatn Nature Baths.

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All photos from the Blue Lagoon Instagram page

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