During our three days exploring Reykjavik and around it was inevitable that we would visit the Blue Lagoon. Thanks to strong volcanic activities, there are amazing natural hot springs across Iceland and taking an outdoor soak is practically a national pastime. The most famous of these pools is the Blue Lagoon, located on an ancient lava field just 30 minutes from Reykjavik and 15 minutes from Keflavík International Airport.
The Blue Lagoon, however is not a natural hot spring. The lagoon’s waters are supplied by the neighbouring Svartsengi geothermal power station. Now, this might not sound terribly appealing but the Blue Lagoon is one of the most visited attractions in Iceland and named by National Geographic’s as one of the 25 Wonders of the World.
It’s origins, however, are much more humble. The lagoon original in started in 1976 as a pool of wastewater from the geothermal plant; the waters are actually are a milky white and rich in silica, which reflects the sunlight and gives the water their blue hue. Around the time that the lagoon was formed a young local man, Valur Margeirsson, was fighting Psoriasis and somehow became convinced that swimming in the lagoon water could help. He eventually got permission from the CEO of the geothermal plant and took his first swim in the Blue Lagoon in 1981. After several soaks it was obvious that the mineral-rich waters were helping his skin condition and led others to follow suit. By 1987 the first swimming facilities were officially opened.
The Blue Lagoon with kids
We really wanted to visit the Blue Lagoon during our short time in Iceland and, given its proximity to the airport, we scheduled a stop before we had to be at the airport for our return flight home. I’ll start by saying that I enjoyed the Blue Lagoon but I didn’t love it. It’s busy, expensive and not quite the serene experience I was expecting. That said, floating around in the milky blue waters was a completely unique experience and I’m really glad that we did visit. If you’re planning to visit the Blue Lagoon with kids then there are a few things that you need to know.
Book your tickets in advance
The most important thing you should do when planning your trip to the Blue Lagoon is to book your spot in advance. When somewhere is this popular, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to just show up and buy tickets on the spot. The Blue Lagoon offers timed tickets; the time specifies the time (hour) that you are allowed to check in. Once you’re in, you can stay as long as you like.
There are two ticket options the Comfort package and the Premium package. The Comfort package starts from £45 and includes entrance to the Blue Lagoon, a free silica mud mask, a towel and one free drink from the lagoon bar. The Premium package starts from £64 and includes the same as the comfort package as well as a second mud mask, slippers, the use of a bathrobe, a table reservation at the Lava Restaurant and a complimentary glass of sparkling wine. The good news is that if you’re visiting the Blue Lagoon with kids then children aged 13 and younger are admitted free when accompanied by a parent or guardian (children must be aged two or over to enter).
We booked the Premium package and the best thing about this is that the queue was almost non-existent at the entrance. You also get a bathrobe, which I realised I definitely didn’t take full advantage of when I saw my fellow diners at the Lava Restaurant dressed in their white dressing gowns (I had already showered and was back in my day clothes!).
The changing rooms and lockers
With your entry ticket you are given an electronic bracelet, which also operates and locks your locker. The female changing rooms were, predictably, crowded. My husband and Alfie sailed through the men’s changing rooms and were in the Blue Lagoon in no time. Meanwhile, Tess, Sam and I battled the crowds, eventually finding a locker and a free shower.
As with every hot spring in Iceland, you have to shower before you enter. And when I say shower, I mean a proper take your swimsuit off and wash with soap type shower. This rule applies to both adults and children. There are a handful of private shower cubicles and lots of communal showers.
If the idea of communal changing rooms and showers doesn’t appeal then you can always opt for the Retreat Spa package, which comes with all sorts of special amenities including private changing rooms. The price for privacy starts at £190.
The Blue Lagoon’s temperature
The water temperature of the Blue Lagoon averages 37–39°C (99–102 °F), which means that you can enjoy it year-round even if it is freezing cold outside!
How deep is the Blue Lagoon?
The deepest area in the Blue Lagoon is 1.4m/4.7ft. and the shallowest area is less than 0.8m/2.6ft.
Kids in the Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon has a rule that anyone aged eight and under must wear arm bands. The lagoon provides bright orange armbands and they are very strict that you wear them. Naturally Tess, who was nearly nine when we visited, was mortified that she had to wear armbands! She did try to get into the waters without them but was told off by an official. Which brings me to my next point…
Safety at the Blue Lagoon
Obviously safety is paramount however, the constant policing of the lagoon does detract from the experience somewhat. In addition to the staff in high-visibility vests who patrol the outside of the lagoon, there are yellow-vest staff in the waters as well. Our big kids were told off for straying too far from us at one point.
The Blue Lagoon bar
Depending on what package you buy a drink is included at the bar – you can choose alcoholic or non-alcoholic and I had a very nice berry smoothie. Additional drinks are available to buy; the price is added to your electronic wristband and you simply settle up once you’re dressed. You are limited to three alcoholic drinks per person to avoid any tipsy swimmers.
There are a couple of mask-bars that you can swim up to (or, rather wade up to, given how heavy and thick the waters are) and smear silica over your face. There are a couple of other masks to choose from as well, including an algae mask and a mud mask, however you must pay extra for these. The silica mask is supposed to be brilliant for your skin although I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t notice a huge difference. The masks make for quite a good photo though!
The Blue Lagoon and your hair
Although the mineral-rich waters of the Blue Lagoon reputedly do wonders for your skin, they are not great for your hair. Unless you want to leave the lagoon with hair like straw, it’s worth doing what the locals do and put on lots of conditioner before getting into the water. Post-soak, wash your hair and put on a deep conditioner. I kept my hair tied up and had no problems.
The Lava Restaurant
We lasted about 45-minutes in the lagoon before everyone was ready to get out. Because we had booked the Premium package we had a table reserved at the Lava Restaurant, which worked perfectly as we had an early evening flight back to London. The food at the Lava Restaurant was really very good and I would highly recommend eating here (it’s also a great way to see the Blue Lagoon if you don’t fancy swimming as the restaurant looks out over the lagoon). Children’s menus are available. If you don’t want to eat at the Lava Restaurant then there’s a cafe where you can pick up sandwiches and other quick bites.
Is the Blue Lagoon worth it?
This is a tough question; I do think it’s an expensive experience but I also recognise that it’s a completely unique one. We did really enjoy our trip to the Blue Lagoon as family but when we go back to Iceland I’m going to try out some of the country’s other hot springs.
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