Travel

A Guide to Enjoying Iceland’s Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is one of the most beloved and popular tourist sights in Iceland. Located in Reykjanes UNESCO Geopark, only a 20 minute drive from Keflavík International Airport and about an hour from Reykjavik, the man-made lagoon stays at a warm 102°F (39°C) all year round, making it an ideal spot for locals and visitors at any time of year. Guests agree; over one million people per year use the Blue Lagoon, with that number growing annually.

The pastel blue water, rich minerals, soothing warmth, and easy accessibility offer the perfect spot for a day or weekend trip for those visiting Iceland, and a regular stop for those living in the country. The lagoon is so busy, in fact, that you’ll have to book your tickets days, if not weeks, in advance before going (more on that below!). Thought the lagoon opens in the morning, we recommend going in the afternoon or evening if you’d like to experience the Northern Lights in late fall and winter or the “land of the midnight sun” in summer.

Not sure what to do at the Blue Lagoon? We’ve covered everything from practicalities to luxuries, and even what to know before going with kids, so you can enjoy the full experience:

History and formation of the Blue Lagoon

The Svartsengi Geothermal Power Plant opened in 1976. Geothermal power is water near a lava flow that is heated to extremely high temperatures in order to power turbines that subsequently create electricity. After being used for the turbines, the water goes through a heat exchanger, which is used to heat a local water source. Then the water is considered waste, and is dumped into pools outside the plant. These pools later became the Blue Lagoon.

 

 

In 1981, a psoriasis patient named Valur Margeirsson asked permission from the chairman of the plan to bath in the water, hoping it would improve his skin condition. Happily, it did! He named the place “Bláa Lónið” (Blue Lagoon in English), and that’s been the name ever since. Official baths were opened in 1987 – a simple structure with a few showers – that were largely used by those hoping to relieve skin conditions.

The Blue Lagoon company, the private company that owns the lagoon, formed in 1992 in order to expand and manage the area. The Blue Lagoon as we know it today was opened in 1999, and has been massively popular ever since, with international acclaim following stellar recommendations from global media and travel guides.

 

 

Because Icelanders have a strong bathing culture, using both public pools and hot springs across the country, locals were quick to understand both the physical and mental benefits of spending time in the lagoon. It is not only a place to improve skin condition, but also to relax and enjoy the calm beauty of nature on your own or with loved ones. The lagoon is 8,700 square metres and continues to grow to accommodate more visitors every year.

 
 

Is the Blue Lagoon good for your skin?

Yes! The Blue Lagoon is known as an effective treatment for psoriasis and other skin conditions. In the 90s, after anecdotal evidence of its effects were known, scientific studies confirmed these findings. A psoriasis clinic was opened at the Blue Lagoon in 1994 and still exists today, with both introductory on-site and outpatient treatments.

The skin benefits of the lagoon come from the mineral-rich water, which contains silica (that’s how it gets its milky color), algae, and salts. [Editor’s note: I suffer from fairly bad eczema on my hands. Upon leaving the Blue Lagoon, a flare up from the day before was significantly healed and the itch was completely gone for about 48 hours.]

 

 

The Blue Lagoon company offers a number of skincare products that can be purchased at the Blue Lagoon, online, and in their stores. We recommend their Silica Mud Mask, made from the mud at the bottom of the lagoon, which strengthens the skin barrier and deep cleanses without over-drying.

 
 

What to do at the Blue Lagoon

How to enter the Blue Lagoon

From the parking and drop-off area, you’ll walk a few hundred metres on a path cut through lava. Consider it your transport to another world. Once you’ve reached the entrance, line up for the reception and show your ticket. You’ll receive a waterproof plastic bracelet that will act as your ticket for the rest of your stay. This bracelet allows you to use the lockers in the changing room and purchase goods like masks or drinks in the lagoon itself. Items will be charged to the bracelet and you pay at the end of your stay.

Depending on the ticket you purchased, you’ll receive a towel and possibly slippers and a robe. Walk into the changing room of your identified gender, change into your swim gear and leave your bags in one of the lockers, then take a shower. Afterwards, you can make your way to the lagoon entrance, where you’ll find a hook for your towel. Now take those first steps into the Blue Lagoon: welcome to paradise!

 
 

Food and drink at the Blue Lagoon

It is possible to purchase simple food and drink while visiting the spa. There is a lagoon cafe that offers small items like cookies, coffee, juice, sandwiches, and other nibbles.

There is also bar within the waters of the Blue Lagoon itself. There you can buy alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, including sparkling wine and green smoothies. Why not one of each? All items at the cafe and bar can be purchased using the plastic bracelet you receive at the entrance. Then just float and sip.

 

 

See more below on the restaurants adjoining the lagoon, including Lava Restaurant on-site, and Moss Restaurant at the Retreat Hotel.

 
 

Blue Lagoon spa amenities

There are a number of ways to maximize your relaxation time while at the Blue Lagoon. Within the lagoon there is a mud bar where you can try silica mud, algae, or mineral masks. The silica mud mask is free with entrance ticket, and others masks are included with the premium ticket or as separate purchases on your plastic bracelet. Almost everyone wears the masks during their time in the lagoon; don’t be afraid to slap it on and let it sit for a few minutes while your skin drinks it all in, then just rinse off with the lagoon water.

There is a steam bath and a Finnish-style wooden sauna for guests, as well as a viewing area where you can sit indoors with a view of the lagoon. Allow the man-made waterfall to cascade over your shoulders or back for a great way to relieve stress and rejuvenate your muscles.

You can book a in-water massage, salt scrub, silica wrap, or just go for the full two hour treatment and get it all! The full service costs 31,200 ISK (250 USD/220 EUR/1,700 DKK).

 
 

Hotels and Restaurants at the Blue Lagoon

The Retreat Hotel and Spa at the Blue Lagoon

The Retreat Hotel and Space, offering 62 suites, is the first five star hotel in Iceland, and it doesn’t get more luxurious than this. Created by Design Group Italia and Basalt Architects to maximise interaction with the opaque blue water, black lava, and green moss that surround the building, the hotel brilliantly brings in light and focuses on optimizing views of the lagoon for their guests. Built directly on top of an 800-year-old lava flow at Svartsengi, the hotel includes plush common areas, a yoga room, Moss restaurant, and a world-class spa.

 

 

The bedrooms are serene spaces filled with minimalist yet comfortable Scandinavian design, local art, and huge windows that look out over the awe-inspiring lava fields and pools of the lagoon. The rooms do not have televisions, as a way to encourage guests to be present in the unique natural setting.

When you book a room at The Retreat, you get access to the Blue Lagoon, as well as the hotel’s private lagoon. The Retreat Lagoon is smaller, more intimate, and is full of little canyons, valleys, and nooks to explore.

The Retreat Spa is an otherworldly experience, with their famous in-water massage that allows you to fully relax in the beautiful outdoors. They offer an array of massage and beauty treatments, as well as “the Blue Lagoon Ritual,” which incorporates all three of the lagoon’s natural resources – silica mud, algae, and minerals – into an invigorating full body treatment.

 
 

Moss Restaurant at the Blue Lagoon

A gourmet restaurant that is part of the Retreat, Moss is an incredible culinary and visual experience. The interiors have been designed to mimic the colors and textures of the Icelandic landscape, including shades of green throughout that imitate the spectrum of greens found in moss.

There is a chef’s table near the open kitchen made from lava, and a magnificent wine cellar deep underground with walls also formed from lava, colored a rusty-red due to oxidation. Those who book the chef’s table – a seven course meal – also get a tour of the wine cellar. If you’re sitting elsewhere, ask if you can get a peek!

The menu draws on New Nordic cuisine, with five and seven course menu options that are made up of local ingredients and change seasonally. There is also a vegan menu option.

Moss restaurant is built on the highest point of the Blue Lagoon; the view of Mount Þorbjörn and the moss-covered lava fields is stunning.

 
 

Blue Lagoon Silica Hotel

The Silica Hotel is only a few minutes away from the Blue Lagoon and offers the chance to surround yourself with the lagoon’s natural beauty for a night or more. The rooms are bright and luxurious in a simple way; the furnishings are minimalist, and the focus is on light and large windows that showcase the landscape.

Though this hotel isn’t as fancy as The Retreat, it’s still a gem, with comfortable, stylish rooms that offer the opportunity to unwind and enjoy the gorgeous surroundings without distraction. When you book a room at the Silica Hotel, you get premium access to the Blue Lagoon as well as the private Silica Lagoon.

 
 

Blue Lagoon Lava Restaurant

The Blue Lagoon’s on-site restaurant, Lava Restaurant, has a wall of solid lava, truly bringing the outdoors to your dining space. The high windows integrate further with the exterior, making guests feel that they are still enjoying the lagoon even as they dine in cozy comfort.

The restaurant is casual fine dinging, with a fish and local ingredient-heavy menu that includes a la carte, two, and three course options. The set courses include an Icelandic gourmet menu, seafood menu, and vegetarian menu. The prices are high but not unreasonable, with main dishes starting around 40 USD/260 DKK.

Guests are welcome to wear their robes until 4:00 pm. If you purchase the premium ticket package, your admission includes an optional table reservation at Lava as well as a complimentary sparkling wine with your meal.

 

 

Lava Restaurant Opening Hours

Lunch: starting at 11:30 am
Dinner: 5:00 – 9:00 pm

 
 

Children at the Blue Lagoon

Children are welcome at the Blue Lagoon as long as they are older than 2 years; those under 2 are highly sensitive to the lagoon’s mineral content. From ages 2 – 13, entrance is free as long as the child is accompanied by an adult.

Children under the age of 8 will be given floaties at the entrance; these are free and must be worn while in the lagoon. There a maximum of two children per adult, as it is essential that children are under adult supervision at all times.

 

 

The water in the Blue Lagoon is 1.4m/4.7 feet at the deepest and less than 0.8m/2.6 feet at the shallowest. It’s not deep, but young children or those who can’t swim will need to be careful. Other than that, it’s a wonderful activity for people of all ages: calm, beautiful, and totally unique. Your kids will never forget this experience!

 
 

How to get to the Blue Lagoon

Transportation to the Blue Lagoon is by shuttle bus or by car. If you rent a car and drive to the lagoon, parking is free.

Once you’re at the parking lot, you’ll still need to walk to the lagoon itself. The Blue Lagoon parking lot was constructed so that no roads are cars can be seen from the lagoon itself; it’s an oasis! So there is a path of several hundred metres carved through lava that guests must walk from the car park to the reception.

Shuttle buses to the Blue Lagoon can be taken from Reykjavik or the airport. From the airport, the transfer is 15 – 20 minutes. From Reykjavik, it will take between 45 min – 1 hour. The Destination Blue Lagoon transport is 5,500 ISK round trip (45 USD/293 DKK) and goes from either location; you can even do a multi-stop journey (e.g. Reykjavik to the Blue Lagoon, then Blue Lagoon to the airport). Tickets can be booked here. If you would prefer to book both transport and your entry tickets to the Blue Lagoon in one go, you can do so here.

It is also possible to take a taxi to the Blue Lagoon. It will cost approximately 11.000 ISK (89 USD/78 EUR/600 DKK) from the airport and approximately 18,700 ISK (150 USD/135 EUR/1,000 DKK) from Reykjavik.

 

 
 

Blue Lagoon address, entry fee, and opening hours

Blue Lagoon Address

Nordurljosavegur 9
240 Grindavík
Iceland

Blue Lagoon Entrance Fee

Comfort Level: 6,900 ISK (approximately 370 DKK/56 USD/50 EUR)
Includes entrance to the lagoon, silica mud mask at the mask kiosk in the lagoon, a towel, and one drink of choice at the lagoon bar.

Premium Level: 9,900 ISK (approximately 530 DKK/80 USD/71 EUR)
Includes entrance to the lagoon, silica mud mask at the mask kiosk in the lagoon, additional mask of your choice, a towel, one drink of choice at the lagoon bar, slippers, use of bathrobe, table reservation at Lava Restaurant, and complimentary sparkling wine if you choose to dine.

Children 2 – 13 years: Free and only permitted when accompanied by an adult
Children under 2 years are not permitted in the Blue Lagoon.

Pregnant women are able to use the Blue Lagoon (many do!); it is important to stay hydrated and be aware of the increase in body temperature. If you have a heart condition or other medical condition related to blood pressure, be sure to consult your doctor before entering the Blue Lagoon.

Book your tickets here.

Please note that it is necessary to book at least a few days, if not weeks or months, in advance. The later you book, the higher prices are likely to be, and there may not be availability at the date and time you would like.

Once you are inside the lagoon, you can stay until closing.

Blue Lagoon Opening Hours:

Open every day

1 Jan – 31 Jan 8:00 am – 9:00 pm
1 Feb – 3 Mar 8:00 am – 10:00 pm
4 Mar – 30 May 8:00 am – 9:00 pm
31 May – 27 Jun 7:00 am – 11:00 pm
28 Jun – 18 Aug 7:00 am – midnight
19 Aug – 30 Sep 8:00 am – 10:00 pm
1 Oct – 31 Dec 8:00 am – 9:00 pm

Holiday Opening Hours:
24th Dec 8:00 am – 3:00 pm

Want more hot springs in Iceland? Check out our guide to secret hot springs!

Photography by Freya August

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