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Which spa / pool / lagoon to go to in Iceland (with or without kids)?

Blue Lagoon” by Moyan Brenn is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Blue Lagoon and other geothermal spas

When describing the Blue Lagoon, someone once said: “We actually charge now every tourist 40 Euros to bathe themselves in a spill of water from a power plant.”

Except that someone happened to be the President of Iceland. Oh, and he just said it last week. He isn’t the first person to state (or at least strongly imply) that the Blue Lagoon is an overpriced tourist attraction. On the other hand, you’re a tourist, and Iceland isn’t exactly the world’s cheapest country. So should you go anyway?

I think it’s worth going to at least one of the geothermally heated pools or spas. So which one is best? To compare, let’s take a look at each one, along with the cost for a hypothetical family of 4 (2 adults and 2 children, ages 5 and 8) visiting in July 2016.

Here’s a map of the options we’re looking at:

spas map

Blue Lagoon. Cost: $109

Blue Lagoon again

Blue Lagoon” by Chris Yiu is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Yes, the president is correct. The Blue Lagoon is filled with extra water from the Svartsengi power plant. I don’t think that makes it any less amazing. Maybe slightly less amazing? Every swimming pool I’ve been to has also been man made; this seems okay to me?

The milky blue water is caused by natural silicate minerals in the water. There are many other mineral deposits in the water, and some people say they can help with skin conditions; they sell a variety of skin care products.

Blue Lagoon Pros:

  • It’s beautiful, and big, and very luxurious
  • It’s on the way to the airport, and many buses will take you there on your way to or from the airport.

Blue Lagoon Cons:

Blue Lagoon With Kids:

Update: See our visit to the Blue Lagoon with kids.

Fontana. Cost: $52

Fontana

Photo from Laugarvatn Fontana.

Fontana is in the small town of Laugarvatn. It is a natural hot springs in an active geothermal area.  This is the most convenient hot spring on the Golden Circle route: it is directly on the way from Thingvellir National Park to Gullfoss.

Fontana Pros:

  • Significantly cheaper than the Blue Lagoon
  • Easy to add to a Golden Circle Tour

Fontana Cons:

  • Much smaller than the Blue Lagoon.
  • You may have to deal with large groups on Golden Circle bus tours

Fontana With Kids:

Update: See our visit to Laugarvatn Fontana with kids.

Secret Lagoon. Cost: $38


Image used with permission from Heather K Jones Photography

The Secret Lagoon just opened in the summer of 2014. I think that there is a decent chance the price will rise once this isn’t such a secret any longer. From the water, you can watch a little geyser erupt while you float around in the steamy water. And there is a geothermal area you can explore around the lagoon.

Secret Lagoon Pros:

  • The cheapest option here that isn’t a city pool. (That city pool is still really nice, though …)
  • Fairly easy to add to a Golden Circle Tour. It’s not quite as convenient as Fontana, as it will add at last 15 minutes of driving. But it’s about 10 minutes from Fridheimar, the greenhouse restaurant. (See our post about Golden Circle add-ons here.) 

Secret Lagoon Cons:

  • Much more rustic than other options– there’s no fancy spa here
  • You may have to deal with large groups on Golden Circle bus tours, though I think this is less likely than at Fontana
  • Minimal food options- just snacks and drinks.

Secret Lagoon With Kids:

  • Kids of any age are allowed
  • Kids 16 and under are free
  • A little geysir that erupts every 5 minutes should entertain the kids for a while

Update: See our visit to the Secret Lagoon with kids.

Myvatn Nature Baths. Cost: $62

1024px-Myvatn_Nature_Baths_by_Bruce_McAdam

Myvatn Nature Baths by Bruce McAdam is licensed under CC BY 2.0

My first reaction to the photo above is, “Hey, that water is a crazy blue color- just like the Blue Lagoon!” My second reaction is, “Wait, does that mean it’s also water from a power plant?”

And the answer is yes. I like that Myvatn is more open about this on their web site: “The water supplies for the lagoon run straight from the National Power Company´s bore hole in Bjarnarflag. The water has a temperature of about 130°C when it arrives to the huge basin beside the lagoon itself forming an impressive, man-made hot spring.”

Myvatn Nature Bath Pros:

  • Less crowded and less expensive than the Blue Lagoon
  • Surreal blue water
  • Right off of the ring road, and not too far from Akureyri, Iceland’s second largest city

Myvatn Nature Bath Cons:

  • May not be convenient at all. See the map above- This is a 6 hour drive from Reykjavik.

Myvatn Nature Bath With Kids:

Laugardalslaug. Cost: $15

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Laugardalslaug by Félix Tungsteno is licensed under CC BY 2.0

It doesn’t seem fair to put a municipal pool on the list. But this is a thermal municipal  pool with kid’s pools, hot tubs, water slides, and a minature golf course. The water in the main pool will be nice and warm in the summer, though you may want to stick to the hot tubs in the winter.

There are many other thermal pools in the Reykjavik area (including a geothermal beach!) But this is the largest and, for most people, the most convenient. (We may have a separate post about all of the pool options at some point.)

Laugardalslaug Pros:

  • The cheapest option by far. This plus and other spa on here will still cost you less than the Blue Lagoon
  • Convenient. It’s probably too long of a walk, but it is a quick cab ride, and it’s a 15 minute walk from the zoo.
  • Not a tourist trap- there are locals here too!

Laugardalslaug Cons:

  • It’s just a very fancy pool. It doesn’t have surreal blue water or a natural setting

Laugardalslaug With Kids:

  • Kids 5 and under are free, but kids 6-14 only cost about a dollar.
  • Free if you purchase a Reykjavik City Card. For $74 for 1 day or $132 for 3 days, you can get our entire fictional family of 4 into all of the pools and many museums in Reykjavik.

Update: See our visit to Laugardalslaug with kids.


Blue Lagoon or not?

We visited all of the places on this list, along with 5 or more thermal pools in different cities around Iceland, a natural hot pot, and a geothermally heated ocean spot. By the time we got to the Blue Lagoon, we had been in a lot of warm Icelandic water. To take a snippet from our review of the Blue Lagoon with kids:

I went in hoping I wouldn’t have to recommend a visit to the Blue Lagoon. That I could be a haughty travel writer who tells you to avoid the most touristy spots. But I won’t. Despite the hassles, the Blue Lagoon is incredible. It’s huge, it’s beautiful, and it’s relaxing. Myvatn Nature Baths comes close, and Myvatn has the benefit of two different lagoons with different temperatures. But it doesn’t give you the otherworldly feeling you get at the Blue Lagoon.

So work the Blue Lagoon into your plans. But also be sure to try a thermal swimming pool in Reykjavik, or in any town around Iceland. You’ll spend $110 to get your family into the Blue Lagoon, and you’ll spend $12 to get into the thermal pool. And both will be worth it.

 


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Which spa / pool / lagoon to go to in Iceland (with or without kids)? was last modified: January 11th, 2017 by Eric