The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions – and it’s not hard to see why. Its geothermal waters average 38 °C (100 °F), meaning that a constant veil of steam drifts across the surrounding lava field landscape. It’s rich mineral content gives the water a pearly blue shine, not to mention an array of skin healing properties. And what’s more, it’s conveniently located slap bang in between capital city Reykjavik and the country’s biggest airport, making its an easy stop-off on almost every visitor’s itinerary.
Of course, not everyone rates the Blue Lagoon highly, and a quick glance over at TripAdvisor quickly brings to light recurring complaints of high costs and poor customer service. Many disgruntled reviewers point out that there are plenty of lesser-known geothermal baths in Iceland that cost a fraction of the price and offer an equally good, if not better, experience. It’s definitely worth weighing the alternatives before automatically heading to the Blue Lagoon. After all, with the cheapest tickets starting at the pretty hefty €35, it’s certainly not cheap.
However, for many visitors to Iceland, the Blue Lagoon is simply the easiest option, especially if pushed for time. Plus, I know for me at least I wanted to see what the hype was about. So, if you do end up at the Blue Lagoon like I did, follow these three tips to make the most out of your experience:
- Save time and money by visiting the Blue Lagoon en route to/from the airport
The Blue Lagoon is only 12 miles (a 20 minute drive) from Keflavik International Airport, and 24 miles (a 40 minute drive) from Reykjavik. There are buses that can drop you off at the Blue Lagoon and then take you onto your next destination – which makes the Blue Lagoon a perfect stop-off if you’ve arrived on an early flight and want to recover/kill a few hours before being able to check-in to your hotel, or if you’re en route to an afternoon or evening flight. I stopped off there for about four hours before catching an afternoon flight back to the UK, and to be honest, that was more than enough. Two-three hours would have been plenty.
You also don’t need to worry about luggage storage. When you arrive at the Blue Lagoon, you’ll see a ‘left baggage’ area on your left where you can pay to leave big suitcases etc. If you’ve only brought a backpack or carry-on case, however, then my advice is: don’t bother. They’ll fit inside the lockers provided in the changing room fine, at no additional cost. I paid to leave my backpack, and then immediately regretted it once I’d seen the size of the lockers inside!
- Beautification issues
One of the Blue Lagoon’s biggest selling points is its water’s unique composition. The three active ingredients are silica, algae and minerals. It’s for this reason that, dotted all around the Blue Lagoon, you’ll find pots of special Blue Lagoon mud, which you’re invited to slather all over your face and body then wash off after it’s dried. It’s said to have rejuvenating and healing properties, but to be honest, I actually have very sensitive skin and eczema, and the mud began to sting after not very long. Whether this was a sign of it helping or harming I’ll never know, as I washed it off sharpish!
While your skin may well benefit from a dip in the Blue Lagoon, your hair most definitely won’t. The minerals essentially turn it into straw. To prevent this, I’d recommend washing your hair thoroughly with conditioner both before and after swimming, and also trying to keep your hair out of the water as much as possible (there’s no visibility in this milky water anyway, so there’s no need to go underwater at any point). Also make sure you remove any metal jewellery and leave it in your locker before getting in the water, as the minerals can cause damage.
- Don’t fear the showers
The Blue Lagoon upholds strict rules regarding hygiene (no chlorine in this water!) so visitors are expected to shower before bathing, under the watchful eye on an attendant who won’t let you through until you’re sufficiently clean. There are even helpful diagrams all over the changing rooms showing you which parts need cleaning (it’s your head, armpits, feet and hoo-ha, in case you’re interested).
Obviously the issue of having to get naked in front of strangers can cause some visitors more consternation than others – but it’s really not something you need to get worried about. Firstly, the changing rooms are segregated by gender. Secondly, the showers are divided into separate stalls, meaning that you’re more hidden than you might expect. And thirdly, there are a limited number of shower stalls with curtains available for use anyway (although competition for them can be fierce). So don’t let the prospect of nudity be enough to put you off!
Have you been to the Blue Lagoon? Let us know how you got on below.