In Grindavík, less than 20 minutes from Keflavík Airport, you will find the Blue Lagoon (Bláa Lónið). This is perhaps the best-known site for tourists going to Iceland, and they can't get enough of this spring water.
Many pop in for dip upon landing in Keflavik to hit the reset button after the flight, or as a last souvenir just before flying out, as the Blue Lagoon is located between Reykjavík and the airport.
The Blue Lagoon is an artificial lake created from excess catchment water from the Svartsengi geothermal power plant. These same waters provide heating and hot water to the city inhabitants. They are naturally rich in silica, mineral salts, and seaweed, which explains the turquoise blue color and milky appearance.
You can swim in the piping hot water (between 36 °C and 40 °C) of the Blue Lagoon year round, and the stark, lunar landscape in the background makes this experience truly exceptional. Icelanders love the Blue Lagoon, particularly while watching the Northern Lights in winter or the midnight sun in summer.
Of all the hot springs in Iceland, The Blue Lagoon boasts the most modern installation. Its layout was designed to for total comfort and peace of mind.
They were clever enough to build the car park a few hundred meters from the main entrance, to avoid breaking the meditative spell the place induces. The path from your car to the entrance was carved straight into the lava field.
The Blue Lagoon has been a provider of dermatological treatments for psoriasis since 1994. Bathing in these waters can be healing in itself, but patients can continue the treatment at home. In 2005 the center grew to include a research institute specializing in skin diseases (psoriasis, eczema, etc.).
Taking long baths in the Blue Lagoon waters will be a relief to anyone suffering from these diseases thanks to the high silica content.
But the milky waters of the Blue Lagoon have other healthy ingredients too: sea salt, calcium, carbonate, and magnesium to name a few.
From Reykjavík, the Blue Lagoon is a 50 km drive away so it takes roughly 45 minutes to get there. It's actually closer to Keflavik airport, just a short 20 minutes to drive the 20 km to its turquoise waters.
If you don't have a car, the Blue Lagoon is accessible by bus at reasonable prices:
Popularity has driven up the price in recent years, so you can expect to pay 6990 ISK for an adult entry in (2021 summer prices, slightly more than winter prices). As is often the case in Iceland, entry is free for children. Package deals can be a good option: you can add a meal, a facial treatment, and more for a few extra 10€ bills.
Recently, the Blue Lagoon has started requiring reservations as it is simply too popular, so be sure to book in advance, especially in summer.
The Blue Lagoon has a range of offers:
The first two offers will be enough for the vast majority of visitors; the Standard package includes:
You can book your ticket online, and a handy option even includes a transfer from Reykjavík:
Upon arrival you are given an RFID badge, in the form of a bracelet, to access your assigned lockers, but the account paired with the bracelet will be your electronic wallet for any purchases on site. Just swipe your badge to enjoy a beer in the pool or buy seaweed masks.
Once this bracelet is delivered, you can stay inside as long as you want! Most visitors find a good 2 hours is ideal.
The place is particularly family-friendly, with impeccable showers and changing rooms. Like in any swimming pool, leave your shoes at the entrance with your clothes in a locker and go take your mandatory shower. Many just shower naked in the communal showers, and that is entirely acceptable here, but if you are shy there are shower cabins too.
You slip into the water from an indoor space that is well heated. Then once you are submerged in the milky water, swim your way into the outdoors. Plunging into the waters of the Blue Lagoon is quite simply exquisite. You'll never want to leave! But we recommend the sauna, and like any self-respecting Icelander you can throw yourself in the cold water pool for an invigorating thermal shock!
The bathing area is huge, and the heat varies depending on where you are. There is also a bar and a self-service mud counter, and while no mud-fights are allowed you can make yourself silica masks at will. There are also saunas and steam rooms on site.
In addition to the saunas, the hot water fountain and cascade (around 36°C) makes for quite the massage. But if you want a real, professional massage, this is an optional service which you can book at the entrance.
You can walk around the entire lagoon, but you can take a shortcut through the basin as it is shallow, 1 m to 1m20 approximately. As a result, most visitors will be seen sitting or squatting to minimize skin exposed to the Icelandic air.
There is a café by the pool that serves both food and drink, including some tasty sandwiches.
Inside the complex you will find the rather upscale Lava restaurant. The place is famous both for its decor and its breathtaking view of the lagoon, and last but not least for the quality of its cuisine.
The dishes served are typically Icelandic and prices vary depending on whether it's the lunch or dinner service. A main course costs 5900 ISK in the evening compared to 4,500 ISK at noon. It has children's menus as well as vegetarian options, which is always good to know.
Even though the vast majority of tourists sleep outside the complex, there are now two hotels for those who can't get enough of the lagoon waters. These hotels can break the budget however so they aren't for everyone.
The Blue Lagoon is open all year round, the waters hot in both winter and summer, but the opening hours vary by season:
The lagoon may be quite spacious with huge capacity, in order to guarantee a peace and quiet, it's still better to avoid the crowds. There can be a line at the entrance, and you may wait a while before you receive your electronic bracelet.
As with all other tourist sites in Iceland, the least busy time of day is early morning or evening, but it's best to go in the evening.
Besides the fact that you'll have more space, it's one of the best ways to take in the midnight sun, eyes on the horizon while basking in the milky waters. The refracted light on the turquoise waters of the basin will make for great photos.
In winter, the long nights makes for a fantastic experience in the lagoon's water. Swimming here at night is already a delight in itself, but if you get the chance to catch an aurora borealis as you lounge in the pool, it will be the night of a lifetime!
The Blue Lagoon seen from the air - Stephen Leonardi @Unsplash
A final note: the entry price is arguably quite expensive, even a bit excessive, but this is simply a result of its popularity. There are few places in the world where you can experience anything like this, and most of not all visitors come away with no regrets.
The Blue Lagoon is by far the most modern and equipped hot spring resort, but for travelers on a limited budget, rest assured, the island is teeming with natural hot springs with equally healthy mineral properties, so you can most definitely find the perfect spa experience for you.
Check out our article to find the best hot springs in Iceland: