The Blue Lagoon is the number one tourist destination in Iceland. Located close to the Keflavik International Airport and next to the geothermal power plant that supplies its water (yes, the lagoon is technically a pool filled with waste water), the Blue Lagoon makes a great stop off point either on your way to or from the airport. For those taking the Flybus between Reykjavik and the airport, the tour company offers packages that include a lagoon stop. Even though it's overly hyped and touristy in my opinion, it's kind of one of those places you have to experience. Like the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Colosseum in Rome. Just be prepared for crowds and to pay handsomely for the privilege.
The Blue Lagoon contains 9 million liters of water that maintains a temperature between 98 degrees F and 104 degrees F year round. The geothermal water has a unique composition, featuring three active ingredients--silica, algae, and minerals. The water is actually an opaque, milky white color but when hit with sunlight, reflects blue and green off the silica and algae.
If you do decide to visit on your next trip to Iceland, here are some tips I picked up during my visit last month:
- Book online in advance--the lagoon has become so popular that it sells out days in advance.
- Don't bother with the robe and slippers packages--you basically go from the showers straight out to the lagoon. So unless you want to lounge around the indoor cafe or quiet area, there is really no need for a bathrobe. If you want, you can bring your own towel or rent one as part of the Comfort package--that is what I did. You can also bring your own flip-flops. I found you don't need to wear them in the water as the bottom of the lagoon is a kind of muddy silica base. Just beware the sharp lava rock sides.
- You will be given a magnetic wristband at check-in. This wristband opens/locks your locker and can be used to purchase drinks or other items while visiting the lagoon. No need to carry around a wallet.
- Remove all jewelry--the heavy sulfur in the water will instantly turn your silver jewelry black.
- You need to take a shower before putting your bathing suit on and heading into the lagoon. They are pretty strict about this for good reason. The showers are private so you don't have to walk around naked like in a Japanese onsen. There is soap and conditioner inside the shower stalls. You store all your stuff in a locker--just find an open one when you get there. The lockers lock/open with your wristband.
- Put tons of conditioner in your hair and leave it in. Better yet--try not to get your hair in the water at all. It's like dead sea salty so will do a number on your locks. I found the water was never deep enough to require me to swim and get my hair wet.
- There are racks with numbered hooks right by the entrance to the lagoon outside to hang your towels and robes.
- As part of the package you get a silica mud mask and one free drink. I never made it to the drink as I was there at 9 am but the mud mask is fun--rub it on your face and leave it for 10 minutes before rinsing off. Supposedly it offers a deep clean of your pores. I sadly do not look any younger afterwards.
- When you are done, you will find small plastic bags in the locker room for your wet swimsuit.
- If you want to hang out a bit in the lobby and watch people in the lagoon, there is a nice cafe with WiFi and a gift shop.
- Bring sunglasses--I found even on a cloudy day the glare off the mist hurt my eyes after a while.
For anyone looking for something a little more off the beaten path, away from the tour buses full of people, check out some of the natural hot springs that dot the country. The Secret Lagoon outside Flúđir is just one example.