Chances are if you’ve met anyone that has gone to Iceland, they’ve gone to the Blue Lagoon. It is THE place that tourists have heard of and visit, whether it is on a layover or a longer stay. And if you read Blue Lagoon Iceland reviews, most of them are pretty positive.
After all, it does seem like a pretty mystical place with steam rising from its milky blue water in a setting surrounded by volcanic rocks. You may have seen pictures of tourists covered in white silica mud masks relaxing in the naturally warm waters while sipping a cold beverage. It seems like the ideal place to relax, unwind and enjoy Iceland’s geothermally heated waters.
Other Blue Lagoon reviews will talk about the crowds. The downside of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland being so popular is that it can also get really crowded. There are a lot of places that everyone goes to that I try to avoid like the plague because I’m not a fan of crowds. Times Square in New York City is one of them.
When we visited the Blue Lagoon the first time it was in June, prime tourist season in Iceland. Now we never felt crowded anywhere else in the country, but keep in mind that the Blue Lagoon attracts plenty of visitors that are just killing time during a long layover. Since it is only about 30 minutes from the airport and there are plenty of bus options for getting to the Blue Lagoon, it is a very popular spot for layover guests — and it showed.
On another trip, I went to the Blue Lagoon in November and I have to admit, I loved that visit even less. In that case, it was more the weather than the crowds. It was cold and windy, with a freezing rain, making the mad dash from the locker room to the lagoon a cold one.
I tried to stay low in the water and look for those hot spots, but even then, my hair quickly turned to ice and my ears hurt from the cold. When I finally got the courage to get out and go into the sauna, it wasn’t working so my only choice for warming up was a shower back in the locker room.
Blue Lagoon Iceland Reviews
Both times that I went, the Lagoon itself was not overly crowded, but the locker room was a bit of a madhouse. In fact, the whole process is a bit chaotic. We had prebooked our reservation, which is required, and signed up for the Premium package, which included entrance to the lagoon, use of a towel, bathrobe, a skin care travel pack, slippers/flip-flops, one drink and a reservation at Lava restaurant for a hefty 75 euro per adult (children under 13 were free.)
Arriving at the Blue Lagoon
Getting to the Blue Lagoon from Reykjavik can be expensive if you take a cab. When you arrive, you queue up in the appropriate line depending on your package. We didn’t arrive at the top of the hour so it wasn’t very clear which line we should be in but we were quickly sorted out and given our robes, towels, slippers, skincare kits and wristbands. The wristbands are essential as they serve as your locker key, payment method, and exit method — when they work, but more on that later.
Since we were scheduled for a 2pm lunch reservation at Lava and we didn’t know if it would be appropriate to eat in our robes (the answer is yes, it is fine, but most people are in street clothes), we stowed our stuff and went to lunch. By this time I was a little stressed from trying to find us two lockers together, then having my locker malfunction with everything locked inside. I decided to sort out my wristband issue after lunch so we wouldn’t be late for our reservation.
Lunch at Lava
The lunch at Lava was the highlight at our visit. We started off with the glass of sparkling Cava wine that was included in our package. The restaurant did offer a very nice children’s menu, but we all decided to order off the standard menu anyway.
My husband started with the langoustine soup with seaweed and white chocolate, which tasted like a lobster bisque with a hint of chocolate sweetness. He then continued with the rack of lamb, while Hannah tried the fish of the day and I sampled the beef ribs. All of our meals were delicious and among the best that we had in Iceland.
The two-story setting with glass walls overlooking the volcanic rock with glimpses of the lagoon was an elegant and modern design. As much as we enjoyed our lunch at Lava, we were also eager to get out into the lagoon.
Blue Lagoon Iceland
Before we could get into the lagoon, I first had to get into my locker. Now the way it should work is that you put your belongings into the locker close the door and then you have a few seconds to scan your wristband in front of the closest scanner. I must have missed my few second window because my locker locked and wouldn’t reopen (which shouldn’t happen.)
To get into the locker and to my much needed swimsuit, I went back out to the front desk and waited in line to pose my question. They told me to find an attendant in the locker room so I returned. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anyone so I went back out to the desk and they called someone.
By the time I got back to my locker someone was there to help me out, my belongings were retrieved and next we had to figure out the best way to undress, shower, and put our swimsuits on (you are supposed to shower naked before entering the pool.)
So we undressed and wrapped in our towels and robes, then went down to the showers. After finding a free shower, we rinsed off, dried off, and went back to find unlock our lockers and put on our swimsuits. By the time we finally made it outside, Glenn was starting to wonder what happened to us.
It was overcast on the day we visited in June and the temperatures were probably only in the high 40s or low 50s, so we quickly scampered into the lagoon to warm up. I was surprised that the water temperature wasn’t a little warmer.
I expected temperatures comparable to a hot tub, but found it more like a highly heated pool. We moved around, crouching or kneeling in the lagoon to keep our bodies in the water, looking for warm spots. As we were leaving the lagoon got more crowded but during most of our visit we could move about pretty freely without running into anyone — certainly no worse than swimming at a pool club in the summer.
We saw many people coated in the white silica mud mask that the Blue Lagoon is famous for, but it took us a while to figure out where it was coming from. Soon we found one of the many crates located along the edge of the lagoon and decided to give it a try. On my second trip they changed things and you need to get your sample at one of the huts along the edge of the lagoon.
On our first visit, we ladled out the mud and spread it over our bodies, where it dried and hardened for about 5-10 minutes before we washed it off. It did leave my skin soft and smooth — as did the products in our skin care kits included in our package.
We were able to “swim” up to the lagoon bar to claim our free drinks (smoothie, sodas, beer or wine) using our wristbands. I wouldn’t recommend having too many of those while in the warm water.
During our time in the water, I was wondering what some of the other buildings were that I saw people going in and out of at regular intervals. I thought that perhaps this was the exclusive lounge that was included in the luxury package, but I finally realized that these were sauna and steam rooms, along with a a man-made waterfall for pounding out stiff shoulders. Since I love steam rooms, I was really bummed that I didn’t check them out earlier. By the time I realized what they were, it was time for us to go in order to get to Fakasel in time for the evening horse theater show we were scheduled to attend.
I made sure when we went back on our second trip that I checked out the sauna, but like I said earlier, they weren’t working properly and it was cold going in their during our November visit.
Why I didn’t love the Blue Lagoon
First of all, let me say that I didn’t dislike my time at the Blue Lagoon — I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected to. I even went back a second time to give it another try!
I wouldn’t tell people not to go, but I would caution that if you have limited time to spend in Reykjavik or Iceland, I would suggest that your time (and money) can be better spent elsewhere. There are many other public pools or spas throughout the country that can provide a similar experience, although none quite so unique as the milky blue waters of the Blue Lagoon.
Here is what I didn’t like about the Blue Lagoon:
Lines — despite marked queues at check in, the process was still a bit disorganized with clerks redirecting you to different lines
Wristbands — I was the only one that had a problem using my wristband with my locker but all of us kept losing our wristbands as they easily slip open. We also all had trouble getting them to scan in order to exit the Blue Lagoon — and we weren’t the only ones with this trouble. It created quite a back up and added to the overall frustration.
Locker rooms — there were very few bathrooms within the locker room considering the number of lockers and guests. Waiting for one wasted more of the limited time we had to spend at the lagoon. After trying to squeeze our way in to our lockers to change after showering, we moved over to the vanities to finish getting ready. I had our two sets of flip flops that were provided (to keep) with our package sitting right next to my backpack at my feet. While I was brushing my hair, a woman walked up, took one of my sets of flip flops from literally inches from my feet and walked away with them. I stood there with my mouth open like “what just happened?”
Showers — I’m never a fan of public showers so this is more my issue than the Blue Lagoon’s but the hassle of having to shower twice exacerbated the situation of trying to find an open shower, keeping your towel dry, juggling your shampoo/conditioner, and trying to maintain some semblance of privacy in a crowded locker room.
Bus groups — busses make regular trips from the airport and Reykjavik to the Blue Lagoon dropping off loads of tourists. Many of these are not the typical Iceland tourist, but rather tour groups spending a layover at the Blue Lagoon. Dealing with bus loads of tourists isn’t fun.
Unclear instructions — when we checked in we were given our wristbands, towels, robes and sent on our way with little or no instruction. We needed to figure out how the lockers/wristband worked using the few signs around the locker room. Same deal with the showers. I also would have loved if they provided a handout when we checked in with these basic instructions, along with a map of the property and services. Then I would have known about the steam and sauna rooms to seek them out sooner — not to mention the small relaxation area on the second floor!
I’m sure I would have felt disappointed if we went to Iceland and didn’t go to the Blue Lagoon but it definitely is low on my list of things that we did in Iceland.