The Blue Lagoon was one of the last places we visited in Iceland. By that time, we’d already been to many pools and spas all over the country. And the Blue Lagoon is much more expensive than any other pool or spa in Iceland. So let’s just say that the bar was set pretty high for me to recommend it.
I was just about ready to write off the Blue Lagoon entirely when we got to the front entrance. Or, rather, didn’t get to the front entrance.
The Blue Lagoon offers timed tickets. The time specifies the hour during which you are allowed to check in; once you’re in, you can stay as long as you like, or until they close (at midnight in the height of summer.) You have to reserve a time in advance. If you haven’t visited in the last few years, note that tourism has exploded in Iceland, and pre-booking is new in just the last few years. Just for fun, let’s look for a ticket a week from today:
Your only option is 9 PM, and even then you’re paying 60 Euros, instead of the base price of 50 Euros. (Edited July 2018: The minimum price is now up to 54 Euros.) This works just like airline tickets; as the cheaper tickets are sold, the only ones left are the more expensive ones. Even looking 2 weeks out, you won’t find the cheapest tickets available until 8 PM:
Now, these are dates in August, which is still in the peak season. But once you know what day you plan to go, book your tickets to get your preferred time and possibly save some money. In 2018, The Blue Lagoon eliminated the half price rate for teenagers (14-15), so now everyone 14 and older pays full price. Kids 2-13 are free. Kids under 2 are NOT allowed to swim; a parent will have to stay with them outside of the lagoon area. Note that I haven’t seen this infant policy anywhere else in Iceland– babies are welcome at any other pool or spa.
[EDIT: In March of 2018, the Blue Lagoon eliminated the “Standard” admission, which was the cheapest option. Now the lowest priced option is a “Comfort” admission, which includes a towel and 1 drink. That means the minimum entry price is 54 Euros, or $65. (These seem to be fixed prices, and not dependent on currency exchanges.) In addition, the $65 price only seems to ever be available at 8 PM or later, at least on the dozen or more dates that I tried. You’ll end up paying $74, $84, or $93 for admission during the middle of the day. Theoretically you can still find the $65 price any time of day, but in practice this might be nearly impossible.
Perhaps the only good news is that kids will now get a free towel rental along with their free admission.]
After a few minutes, we finally made it inside, and saw this:
Not the most relaxing part of the experience. We had tickets for 8 PM; these two crowd pictures were taken at 8:03 and 8:10. And I think this might be the key to minimizing the lines– show up late! There’s going to be a rush of people who get there at the exact time their ticket allows for, especially late into the evening. I’m not positive, but I’m fairly certain that, had we shown up at 8:30 or 8:40, the line would have been minimal. So you could consider booking an earlier time and then showing up toward the end of the hour window.
We eventually made it through the line. But with the waiting, and the changing, and the showering, we didn’t make it into the water until about 8:45. And the locker room was crowded, and honestly not any nicer than some we have seen at thermal swimming pools around Iceland.
And then, after the lines and the changing rooms and the crowds and the showers, there’s the lagoon.
It’s huge and, surprisingly, not very crowded. I was expecting wall to wall people after all of the waiting, but the lagoon is so big that it handles all of the people quite easily.
One nice feature of the lagoon is that there is a small indoor area, with a door that leads outside. This allows you, and your kids in particular, to avoid the cold walk to get to the warm water. Instead, you can enter the warm water inside (after putting water wings on all kids 9 and under) slowly, and then make your way outside without leaving the warmth. Definitely head left to get to this pool instead of going straight outside.
The water temperature is a perfect temperature; maybe 37 Celsius? And just a couple of degrees can be the difference between kids who are done after 15 minutes and kids you have to drag away a couple of hours later. (For example, I thought the Secret Lagoon was too hot.) The Blue Lagoon was definitely in the dragging-the-kids-away category.
There are dozens of places you can explore. You can wander around, or find a suitable spot for your family and hang out. There’s a cave, benches, showers (which are extremely powerful), an area to get mud masks, bridges, alcoves galore, a snack bar, and much more. The mud mask area is back and to the left; the snack bar is all the way back to the right:
Everyone is given a wristband to wear; these can come off fairly easily, and the Blue Lagoon will charge you if you lose one. Make sure you help the kids slide the plastic piece around so the band won’t come off. (Actually, I’m not really sure why the kids have to wear them, since admission for them is free. I guess it ensures they didn’t sneak in without an adult?) These bands are color coded for adults, teenagers, and kids. Adults and teenagers can use their bands to purchase drinks. Note that you’ll have to settle each tab at the end; if you are all together, it may be easier to just have one person put all of the drinks on a single wristband.
Options at the snack bar include skyr smoothies, juice smoothies and slushies. They also offer beer, with a limit of 3 beers per wristband. The smoothies are premade, and include one with fruit, and one with fruits and spinach (called “Green is Good”). These were very good, but expensive at 900 krona for maybe an 8 ounce serving. The slushies were less expensive at 550 krona (though there’s no real fruit), and came in 2 flavors: Blue raspberry or cherry. The kids enjoyed drinking the freezing cold slushies while enveloped in the warm water.
So, the questions everyone asks, and Googles, is whether the Blue Lagoon is worth it or not. You have to reserve a time well in advance, which limits your flexibility. (By the way, if you have time in the area, we highly recommend you check out the Reykjanes Geopark.) You may have to wait in line, or at least optimize your arrival time to avoid the crowds. And it’s extremely expensive.
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. (Did you know that the Blue Lagoon is just power plant run-off?) 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.