A Guide to Iceland’s Top Attraction: The Blue Lagoon

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The Blue Lagoon Iceland is a must-see for visitors.
The Blue Lagoon Iceland. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Situated amid a moss-covered lava field where the surrounding volcanic landscape looms, the Blue Lagoon is a must-see for everyone who visits Iceland. Natural hot springs exist throughout Iceland. But the milky blue waters that comprise the Blue Lagoon Iceland aren’t actually hot springs. It doesn’t really matter though. Soaking in the steamy soothing waters of the Blue Lagoon is still one of the most relaxing ways to spend a few hours – or even a full day – while visiting Iceland.

The Story of The Blue Lagoon Iceland

Arriving at the Blue Lagoon, the surrounding lava fields evoke an other-worldly vibe like many other Icelandic landscapes. When you reach the pools where steam rises up from the milky blue waters, it’s magical. But the lagoon is actually man-made. It started as a hot water pool of runoff wastewater from the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power plant.

In 1981, when Valur Margeirsson became the first person to bathe in what’s now the Blue Lagoon, others thought it strange. But it didn’t take long for others to notice the healing qualities of those milky blue waters. Those suffering from psoriasis began to experience relief. By 1987, the first geothermal pools of the Blue Lagoon opened and Iceland’s biggest tourist attraction was born.

The Blue Lagoon Iceland sign welcomes visitors.
Welcome to the Blue Lagoon! Photo credit: Terri Marshall

About The Blue Lagoon

Located in southwest Iceland on the Reykjanes Peninsula near the town of Grindavik, the Blue Lagoon is just a brief 15-minute drive from Keflavik International Airport making it an ideal place to refresh after a long flight. The Blue Lagoon is also an great place to relax after a day tour of the Golden Circle and other Icelandic tourist attractions.

From the Blue Lagoon, the drive into Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik is about 30 minutes. Arriving by car is simple, but if you choose not to rent a car, bus service is available. There are also Blue Lagoon tours available and group tours offered from Reykjavik that combine other tourist attractions including the Golden Circle.

Read More: When’s the Best Time of Year to Visit Iceland?

What to Expect at The Blue Lagoon

The milky blue waters of the Blue Lagoon stem from the high concentration of silica and other mineral in the water. Naturally heated by the earth’s geothermal energy, the water temperature averages between 98 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit. The Blue Lagoon features a large, open-air pool along with several smaller pools and private pools all with mineral-rich water.

Upon arrival, visitors check in and receive a wristband to scan for entry. The electronic wristband provides entrance to the changing room where you’ll shower before entering the pools and store your belongings in the locker room. The wristband can also be used to purchase meals and additional drinks at the Blue Lagoon. Use the wristband to cover gift shop souvenir purchases too.

There are three admission packages to choose from: Comfort, Premium and Retreat. With the least expensive admission price, the Comfort package includes entrance to the geothermal spa, a silica mud mask, towel use and a drink of your choice from the swim-up bar. The Premium package adds two additional face masks of your choosing and the use of a bathrobe.

With Retreat, you’ll receive all of the aforementioned benefits plus five-hour access to the luxurious spa of the Retreat Lagoon with a private changing room and shower, complimentary skincare products and more. There’s no time limit for your geothermal pool experience. Stay for a few hours or hang out for a full day. It’s up to you.

Read More: Iceland Packing List for All 4 Seasons

The Blue Lagoon Iceland is a place to experience the healing geothermal waters.
Experiencing the healing geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon. Photo credit: Shutterstock

What to Know Before You Go

As the Blue Lagoon is Iceland’s most visited tourist attraction, buying your ticket in advance is a must to obtain your preferred time slot. If you’re traveling during the peak tourist season – June through August – booking well in advance is advised. We were there during shoulder season and were able to book just one day in advance, but don’t count on that in busier times.

If you prefer not to pack your swimsuit, the Blue Lagoon has swimsuits available for rent. Towels are provided with each admission package, but you are welcome to bring your own towel if you prefer.

As a family-friendly tourist attraction, children are welcome at the Blue Lagoon which features several amenities for children including a separate child’s pool and a shallow wading area. Please note, children eight and under are required to wear floaties or a life jacket.

With ramps and lifts, the Blue Lagoon is accessible for people with mobility disabilities. Accessible changing rooms are also available along with a wheelchair-accessible bus for pick up and drop off in the parking lot.

While the Blue Lagoon is open year-round, opening hours vary by season, so check the website when purchasing your Blue Lagoon tickets to coordinate your time at the Blue Lagoon with your itinerary. No matter the season, guests must exit the water 30 minutes prior to closure.

The Retreat Hotel

Beyond the main attraction, the Blue Lagoon features several additional amenities including The Retreat Hotel. This award-winning luxury resort boasts 60 suites, a subterranean spa, upscale dining and a private lagoon sourced from the mineral-rich waters of the Blue Lagoon.

Standard with your resort stay is unlimited access to the Retreat Spa and the Retreat Lagoon, providing a more secluded experience with the warm waters of the Blue Lagoon. Among the services in the Retreat Spa is The Blue Lagoon Ritual. This indulgent treatment features time in a sanctuary of three interconnected chambers including a lava cove as you cover your body with the treasures of silica, algae and minerals. Sauna, steam room and private changing rooms are also part of the luxe spa experience.

The Blue Lagoon Iceland is fun to visit even after dark.
The Blue Lagoon after dark. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Moss Restaurant

The Michelin-recommended Moss Restaurant occupies the highest point at Blue Lagoon Iceland yielding stunning views of the surrounding lava fields and volcanic landscape. The menu follows the theme of reinvented Icelandic cuisine.

Lava Restaurant

Built into an 800-year-old lava cliff, the Blue Lagoon’s Lava Restaurant combines the luxury of a spa restaurant with natural wonders. The menu showcases traditional Icelandic and modern cuisine from locally sourced ingredients. Choose between light meals, an abundance of seafood and gourmet dining.

The Spa Restaurant

Dine in your bathrobe if you choose – the Spa Restaurant overlooking the Blue Lagoon is the place to go. No reservation is required. Enjoy menu items ranging from hummus to salads to Norwegian king crab all served with an otherworldly view.

Silica Hotel

The Silica Hotel is located outside of the Blue Lagoon Iceland
The Silica Hotel outside the Blue Lagoon. Photo credit: Visit Reykjanes

Located just a 10-minute walk from the Blue Lagoon, the Silica Hotel provides another lodging option amid the mossy lava fields. Featuring 35 bright and spacious double/twin rooms, terraces with views of the volcanic horizon and a private lagoon sourced from the same geothermal wellspring as the Blue Lagoon, Silica Hotel expands on the tranquil enchanting Iceland lagoon experience.

Yes, It’s Possible to See the Northern Lights from the Blue Lagoon!

While the Blue Lagoon is undoubtedly Iceland’s biggest tourist attraction, the northern lights rank at the top of the bucket list for many visitors to this incredible country. And if you time the Blue Lagoon visit right, you might be able to experience both highlights together. With its location on the Reykjanes Peninsula, the city lights of Reykjavik fade away making the Blue Lagoon a wonderful place to experience Iceland’s northern lights.

As you relax in the warm mineral-enriched waters springs with a silica mask applied to your face and a cocktail from the swim-up bar in hand, you’re all set to experience the natural phenomenon of the aurora borealis! Cheers!

Based in New York City, Terri Marshall is an award-winning writer covering cultural travel, multi-generational travel, road trips, soft-adventure, camping, cars and characters. From hanging out with penguins in Antarctica to fishing for piranhas in Peru to road-tripping through the jungles of Belize, Terri’s always up for an adventure. Drop her into a landscape filled with mountains, towering evergreens, waterfalls and a glacier or two and she’ll be in heaven. But what thrills her most of all is traveling with her teenage grandkids. Terri serves on the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Committee for the North American Travel Journalist Association (NATJA). She also serves as the First Vice-Chair of the Eastern Chapter for the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW). In addition to writing for SheBuysTravel, Terri’s publication credits include AARP, Island Soul, Girl Camper Magazine, A Girls Guide to Cars, CHILLED, World Footprints, North Hills Monthly, Alaska Business Monthly, Alaska Contractor and more. Follow her on Instagram at TrippingWithTerri.
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