Why I Didn’t Love the Blue Lagoon in Iceland: An Honest Review

Chances are if you’ve met anyone that has gone to Iceland, they’ve gone to the Blue Lagoon. It is THE place that all tourists have heard of and visit, whether it is on a short 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 is that it is so popular that it can also get really crowded. There are a lot of places in the world that are popular with tourists 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.

Now that I have visited the Blue Lagoon in Iceland twice, once in June during prime tourist season and once in November when it was a little quieter, I have some thoughts that I want to share. I will admit that I liked it even less the second time around, both because it lost that new experience shine and because it was cold and windy with freezing rain that caused my hair to turn into icicles.

Bridge over Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon on a cold November morning

Is the Blue Lagoon Worth It?

The bottom line is that it is worth experiencing the Blue Lagoon at least once, otherwise, you might experience a bit of FOMO. So if you are visiting for the first time, or with someone that has never been to the Blue Lagoon, go ahead and book a visit. But keep reading so that you have the right expectations.

Getting to the Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon entrance sign

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. All opinions are my own.

The Blue Lagoon is located about 30 minutes from Keflavik International Airport. Since Iceland Air offers a free stopover program, many visitors will simply take a bus from the airport to the Blue Lagoon, spend some time, and return to the airport.

Also, since most flights from the United States arrive very early in the morning (around 6-7 am) and unless you book a hotel or Airbnb for the night before to ensure an early check-in, you have a lot of time to kill before you can check-in. This isn’t as much of a problem with hotels where you can drop your bags and explore the city, but it is a bigger problem for vacation rentals (although there are storage lockers at the bus station.) For this reason, many people choose to visit the Blue Lagoon on their arrival day on the way from the airport.

Getting to the Blue Lagoon from Reykjavik can be expensive if you take a cab. The best choice would be to rent a car for your travels and drive yourself to the Blue Lagoon. However, if you are staying in Reykjavik without renting a car, you can arrange bus transfers either to and from Reykjavik or from the airport to the Blue Lagoon and then on to Reykjavik.

Of course, now that the Blue Lagoon has two hotels (the Silica Hotel and the sophisticated Retreat Hotel), you can also choose to stay on property and take a full day to experience the wonders of the Blue Lagoon.

What makes the Blue Lagoon Special?

Visitors have been captivated by the milky blue waters of the Blue Lagoon, contrasted with the dramatic landscape of a black lava field. While there are many natural hot springs in Iceland, the Blue Lagoon is actually man-made.

I always surprise people by telling them that the warm water actually comes from the runoff of the geothermal power plant nearby. The color is from the mix of silica, salt, and algae in the water. So part of what makes the Blue Lagoon special is the color of the water, but largely it is the extensive marketing that has made the Blue Lagoon so popular.

There are certainly plenty of other hot springs or public pools in Iceland including the Sky Lagoon outside Reykjavik. See my friend Colleen’s comparison of the Sky Lagoon vs. Blue Lagoon.

Couple in the blue lagoon

Blue Lagoon Iceland Reviews

Both times that I went, we had pre-booked our reservations, which is required because it does sell out, and signed up for the Premium package. A less expensive Comfort Package is also available.

This package includes entrance to the lagoon, use of a towel and bathrobe, a silica mud mask and two additional masks of your choice, one drink of your choice at the Blue Lagoon swim up bar, and one glass of sparkling wine at the Lava restaurant for a hefty $76 per adult (children under 13 were free.)

Arriving at the Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon Iceland reviews -- why I didn't love the Blue Lagoon

When you arrive, you queue up in the appropriate line depending on your package. On our first visit, 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, and wristbands and directed to the male and female locker rooms.

The wristbands are essential as they serve as your locker key, payment method, and exit method — when they work, but more on that later.

On our first visit, we were scheduled for a 2 pm lunch reservation at Lava and since 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 two lockers together for my daughter and I and 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.

On our second visit, we arrived directly from the airport as soon as the Blue Lagoon opened, and getting checked in and into the locker room was a much smoother process. However, I’d still suggest getting there either right before opening or before your scheduled reservation to try to avoid arriving at the same time as the large tour busses full of visitors.

Lunch at Lava Restaurant

Beef ribs at Lava -- the best part about my visit to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland
My beef ribs at Lava Restaurant at the Blue Lagoon

There are now four dining options at the Blue Lagoon: Lava Restaurant, the Michelin-recommended Moss Restaurant, the Spa Restaurant, and the more casual Cafe.

The lunch at Lava was the highlight of our first 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 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 you might expect, it was a very expensive lunch — as all meals can be pricey in Iceland, especially fancy ones at a highly-touristic attraction.

As much as we enjoyed our lunch at Lava, we were also eager to get out into the lagoon.

What to Expect When Visiting the Blue Lagoon Iceland

Blue Lagoon -- why I didn't love it

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 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.)

On my second visit to the Blue Lagoon, I understood the process a bit better and things in the locker room went much more smoothly. When the locker room is overcrowded, it can feel a bit chaotic and confusing, which is another reason to try to avoid arriving at the same time as tour busses.

After we undressed and wrapped ourselves in our supplied towels and robes, we then went down to the showers. After finding a free shower stall, we rinsed off, dried off, and went back to 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. When I visited in November, it was even colder and I was very happy for the supplied towel.

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.

On the second visit, it was raining and even colder, so I stayed crouched down in the water to stay warm. Of course on both visits I tried to avoid getting my hair wet in the milky blue water because the silica and minerals in the water will severely dry out your hair.

Blue Lagoon Iceland reviews -- trying out the silica mud
Trying out the silica mud mask

We saw many people coated in the white silica mud mask that the Blue Lagoon is famous for and we headed over to the Mask Bar to receive our included samples and give them a try. 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.

Afterward, 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.

Along the edge of the Blue Lagoon, you can also find sauna and steam rooms, as well as a man-made waterfall for pounding out stiff shoulders. Since I love steam rooms, I was really bummed when I went to use it and it wasn’t heating up properly.

While visiting the Blue Lagoon, there are add-on services that you can book including in-water massage and float therapy. For a true splurge you can also book the Retreat Spa, which includes five hours in the Retreat Lagoon, Retreat Spa, private changing room, skincare amenities, a drink, and other upgrades and amenities.

Why I didn’t love the Blue Lagoon

Mom and daughter at 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 backup 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 over 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 literal 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 busloads of tourists isn’t fun.
  • Unclear instructions — when we checked in we were given our wristbands, towels, and 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!

Tips for Visiting the Blue Lagoon

If you plan on visiting the Blue Lagoon, be sure to follow these tips:

  • Make sure you prebook your reservation at the Blue Lagoon and if you are visiting during the busy season, you may need to book this up to a month or more in advance to get your preferred time slot.
  • Keep in mind that early in the day will be crowded with those coming directly from the airport.
  • If you don’t purchase a Premium Package, you may want to bring your own cover up or extra towel.
  • Bring flip-flops/sandals as those are no longer included in the premium package.
  • Put your hair up to keep it out of the water as the water will dry it out severely. You can also use a shower cap if you really want to protect your hair.
  • Don’t forget your bathing suit!
  • If you are coming directly from the airport, put your bathing suit, shampoo, conditioner, soap, flip flops and a fresh change of clothes in your carry-on bag or personal item so that it is easy to bring into the Blue Lagoon and fit in your locker.
  • Plan to spend a minimum of two to three hours at the Blue Lagoon to allow time to change. You will want to allot more time if you are eating at the Blue Lagoon or if you want to enjoy any of the upgrades such as an in-water massage.
  • Bring a waterproof camera such as a GoPro or a waterproof phone (or phone case) to capture pictures. Just keep in mind that between the water and the steam, it is actually quite hard to get great photos (and you can see here, weather also plays quite a role.)

Looking for More Activities in Iceland?


Blue Lagoon Iceland reviews - why I didn't love the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. I break down the good and bad to see if it is something you want to splurge on during a trip to Iceland. #iceland #bluelagoon


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Publish Date: December 1, 2022

39 thoughts on “Why I Didn’t Love the Blue Lagoon in Iceland: An Honest Review”

  1. We totally agree! Our favorite hot springs were the Reykjadalur Hot Spring Thermal River and Landbrotalaug Hot Springs!

  2. Totally agree with what you said great place, but alot of faff, very little privacy and the toll it has on skin and haIr is crazy! Glad i did it but wouldnt rush to do it again

  3. Overpriced and over rated. The walkway into the facility is lined ten feet high on both sides with black volcanic rock which made it feel like I was walking into a prison. Check-in was like an airport ticket counter on a crowded day. Busy, rushed, expensive and bewildering. The hot water is recycled runoff from a nearby geo-thermal power plant and the pool is a man-made concrete hole in the ground. The only exit forces you thru the giftshop which sells astronomically-priced skin products which are made of silica, the most abundant mineral on the planet. Common people call it sand. Next time, I’ll find a real hot spring or just take a bath in my hotel room.

  4. I have to agree that it was overpriced and disorganized and too dark . Surely floodlights around and under water would help .

    1. Yes, for the winter when there is so little daylight a bit more lighting would be helpful, and maybe some of those patio heaters near the towel/robe hooks.

    2. Easygoingtravelersonly

      Look at it this way….
      Its iceland
      Pretty close to the North pole so its going to be darker and colder and expensive
      I think it was unique and what i want out of travel

  5. I just came back from Iceland and it was amazing, not crowded at all so I recommend going off season. I was at the Blue Lagoon on September 16th, didn’t have to queue, had plenty of space everywhere, the lockers worked just fine and so did my wristbands, and I was able to take my time applying the mud mask with my friends. It was beautiful there and it felt like we had a heaven to ourselves at times. Perhaps you should return there when it isn’t prime tourist season to give it another chance.

  6. When I visited 3 days ago, I and several other women could not find an open locker because there were none. We had to wait until someone finished dressing before we could use a locker. As far as leaving your towel, there are not enough spaces for towels, so you towel is on top of, next to and generally just with everyone else’s towels. I thought it was very poorly planned and there are also not enough showers or bathrooms.

  7. We just came back from iceland yesterday and were at the Blue Lagoon on Thursday. It was amazing and I would definitely go again and would definitely recommend it to travelers. Put your swimsuit on in the change room, walk to the shower, go inside a shower stall and take your swimsuit off & hang it and your towel over the door while you shower. Then put it back on when you’re done and go out. I just left my towel by the part of the pool that is indoors and spent about 90 minutes in the pool. If you move around you will find hot spots. I found some that were too hot for me and I LOVE hot baths and showers. There is a booth where you get the silica mud mask from an attendant, and if you have at least the second tier package you get the moisturizing algae mask too. The check in line moved quickly and there was an attendant at the front explaining the process to everyone waiting in line. It was a bit crowded in the change rooms but just look for a locker that is open, put your stuff in it, close it and scan your bracelet on the scanner and make sure it locks. Leave lots of conditioner in your hair when you shower. It was snowing lightly when we were there and the air was chilly but I didn’t feel it at all in the warm water and I HATE being cold. Our visit was included in our whole travel package but I would not miss this place.

  8. Hi a group of us are going in April but my sister and I are not going in the pool. Is it worth us stopping there to see it/walk around? Also with the others going in the pool and for massages we’re wondering how long we will be waiting for them.

    1. I’m not sure how much they let you see without paying an entrance fee. The Lava restaurant is very good but quite expensive. They will be at least a couple of hours if they are going to get massages too so you will probably get pretty bored.

  9. This is quite interesting as the title of the article is a little misleading. Initially I presumed the author hated the blue lagoon but in the end was okay with it. I actually loved it and took a more bare bones approach. Mind you I did this with a 3 and 8 year old after a red eye from the US in the beginning of November. Even without our gear (bag didn’t arrive to KEF), it was so much fun and a great way to spend 4-5 hours. I do not recommend buying the upgraded packages or anything extra. Just get a ticket with no extras. Pack all that you need and take it with you. This way you haven’t set your expectations so high as I feel that many people have done.

    1. Good to hear! I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. It seems like the experience varies depending on when you go too.

  10. I had a fabulous experience at the Blue Lagoon! Very clean locker rooms. We went early, so it wasn’t really crowded. Skipped the upgrades, did second tier for towel and got 1 drink. The mud on face was fabulous….I want more!!! Definitely going back:)

  11. This looks cool but I guess when it comes down to it you’re in a giant hot tub with a lot of tourists. Iceland seems like such a cool place to go though – would you recommend going in general?

    1. 100% recommend Iceland as a destination of you love the outdoors. There is so much natural beauty and in general, it is not crowded or touristy.

  12. i completely agree with this post. i spent a few hours at the blue lagoon in june as well, and it was not all i expected it to be. i was traveling alone, and i booked for on my way into reykjavik from the airport, so i was quite tired and i also had to handle all of my luggage (after traveling for six months, you tend to pick up random things.) it was easy enough to store the luggage but i agree that nothing was very clear after that. i needed a towel (because stupid me left mine in the luggage i checked at the front!) and i was told that i could get one just past where i got my wristband. well, i never saw anywhere to get one, and when i asked, they told me i should have asked for one when i got my wristband (which i did…). it turns out you can buy them at the snack counter, which i did after i changed and got sortd with the showers, etc. the crowds really threw me off. i knew to expect them, but i was so tired and i wasn’t in the right frame of mind to deal with it all. the staff was very nice, the pool was hot and the silica masks were awesome. i swam around and avoided the groups of college kids/families/etc and relaxed, but i wish i had taken the advice of others who said to skip it and go to another pool somewhere else.

  13. I actually loved my visit to the Blue Lagoon! I had one of the best massages ever in the water, and it was a truly unique experience.

    1. My family loved the Blue Lagoon and would definitely go back! I hate to see people saying that they are going to avoid it. I thought everything was so well done!

  14. Esther of Local Adventurer

    i hate that it’s so crowded! when you see all the pretty travel photos.. you assume it’s serene and you have plenty of your own space to relax. there’s nothing relaxing about a crowded place! 🙁 I still want to check it out.. but it’s good to go in with set expectations.

  15. While exceedingly touristy I enjoyed my time at The Blue Lagoon. I probably wouldn’t pay the hefty price tag to go back though.

  16. Heather / girlichef

    I would be thoroughly frustrated and trying to force myself to enjoy the experience, because I am not a fan of crowds and disorganization – especially when I’m traveling and trying to enjoy a new experience. I would definitely love to visit during a downtime, just to say I did – but after reading your honest review, it’s not high on my list.

    1. i also wish i had better pictures! i definitely did not want to get my camera wet… but i should have made sure my go pro was charged, and then i could have done more!!

  17. For all the reasons you mentioned I would not want to visit, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing this post!

  18. Wow! That’s really good to know, I’m planning a trip to Iceland next year and the Blue Lagoon is top on my list. I believe there are other, less popular hot springs around Iceland so I’ll consider that when booking. It’s often the case though when touristy destinations become too popular – the lineups are horrendous and often more stressful than it’s worth. I’ve definitely pinned this for later!

    1. Thanks Madi! There are definitely tons of others to try. We ended up not having time. It had planned on going to the Fontana spa in Laugvartn in the Golden Circle area.

  19. Victoria@celebratetheweekend

    Thanks for all the details, Tamara. As I love visiting water retreats around the world, I find that a big portion of the experience is in the details (vs the milky waters of the spa)!!! I also agree that if having a person on site to explain how it all works is not practical, a hand out could be a solution. I visited several spas in Europe this summer (some- world famous) but was also confused several times as to where to proceed, what to wear etc:). Short of a handout, some spas provided helpful signage in several languages that I appreciated.

    1. I’ll go to you for advice when considering other spas as it sounds like you have a lot of experience.

      1. I agree with your comments and had a similar experience. The lines and the locker room were very unpleasant for me. The temperature of the water was okay, but I felt like the whole experience was overpriced and too crowded.

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