Updated: May 21st, 2018
Some like it hot. But some, myself included, prefer it geothermal. Is there anything better than a massive body of 102°F water, magic face mud, beer, and the color blue? NOPE! Those are all fantastic things! I don’t even care that visiting the Blue Lagoon is the most “touristy” thing to do in Iceland – because it’s still the dopest. Yes, I said dopest.
If you’re planning a trip to Iceland, you’ve surely seen the Blue Lagoon a gazillion times. Half the population thinks it’s the greatest thing this side of boiling while the other half (coughhaters) find it too mainstream for their boujee tastes. I’m of the first group—a proud Blue Lagoon cheerleader who, despite how “touristy” it’s known for being, still had the best time. I mean really, any chance you get to act out Mrs. Doubtfire is bound to be THE FUNNEST.
And yes, among my Blue Lagoon tips I will answer all your nudity-related questions so read on! (Man, if I had a dollar every time I uttered that sentence.)
WHAT EVEN IS THE BLUE LAGOON?
Iceland is a country bursting with volcanic activity (both literally and figuratively). Because of this, all that hot schtuff hanging out under the Earth’s surface is brought closer and closer to the top where we can actually make use of it. Drill, baby, drill! Iceland in particular harnesses its surplus of geothermal energy in power plants located around the island. This energy accounts for almost 30% of the country’s electricity and 87% of all their heating and hot water requirements. Oh, and like totally most of their tourism output according to your friendly local hipsters.
These power plants drill into the earth and run the superheated ground water and steam that comes out through turbines that generate electricity. In one such geothermal plant, the Svartsengi Power Station, the water is then expelled from the plant into a man-made (but still awesome so shut up) lagoon where we bathe in it and cover ourselves with its precious waste. Yes, we are a weird people. (But, a weird people with baby soft skin so shut up.)
However, the water in the Blue Lagoon isn’t just power plant backwash. These waters that run a constant 98°-102°F are rich in minerals like silica and sulfur that make it perfect for exfoliation, treating skin ailments, and making your friends laugh via your spot-on Mrs. Doubtfire impressions. White silica mud is scraped from the bottom of the Lagoon and left in buckets for you to smear all over your face, obviously, because that’s what we do with slimy waste scraped from the bottom of a pool full of strangers.
But if it makes you feel better, know that all the water in the Blue Lagoon is naturally replenished every 40 hours.
DO THIS, NOT THAT // NEED-TO-KNOW BLUE LAGOON TIPS
Since you’ll be visiting the Blue Lagoon during your Iceland stopover because it’s the greatest time ever and you don’t care what all the Debbie Downers say (haters gon’ hate), there are a few things you need to know before you go. The following is my list of what I believe to be must-know Blue Lagoon tips and some things about public nudity you probably wish you didn’t know.
BLUE LAGOON TIPS: DO GO WHILE THE SUN’S OUT
Do visit the Blue Lagoon while the sun’s out to see all that beautiful, and famous, milky blue water. Otherwise it’s just a black lagoon and that sounds kinda… horror movie-ish? Murder-y? (Is The Creature from the Black Lagoon actually just a movie about a bather in a mud mask?) Keep in mind that “during sunlight hours” in Iceland could still mean midnight in the summer. The Lagoon is open late year-round but how much light you’ll experience depends on what time of the year you visit. Check out this yearly sun graph for Iceland to get a better idea.
BLUE LAGOON TIPS: DON’T FORGET YOUR SWIMSUIT, BUT DON’T WORRY IF YOU DO
When packing for a trip to a country with “Ice” in the name, it may be easy to forget to pack a bathing suit. No one can fault you there. Just kidding—your friends are going to taunt the sh*t out of you when you have to *rent* a bathing suit that says “For Rent Only” down the side.
Visiting the Blue Lagoon should top your list of things to do in Iceland, so you should most definitely not forget to pack a swimsuit. HOWEVER, if your excitement should cloud your packing judgment, it is possible to rent a bathing suit at the Blue Lagoon. For women, it’s a one-piece swimsuit, for men it’s a pair of shorts, and for the rest of your life, it’ll be a hilarious joke no one ever forgets.
BLUE LAGOON TIPS: DON’T FORGET A WATERPROOF CAMERA
Trust me, you’ll want those photos of your friend in her rented bathing suit and your husband in his mud mask. A visit to the Blue Lagoon will be a memorable and unique experience you’ll want to document even though your photos will most likely come out total garbage. (It’s so hot and there’s so much steam—any photography tips for shooting in this kind of environment? i.e. the top of a volcano?)
During my visit I used this awesome Fuji and even talk about it in another post full of great pictures I took on a snorkeling trip in Hawaii. (Cuteness warning: click that link for baby dolphins.) However, I’ve since become a die-hard GoPro advocate so that’s what I’ll be using on my next visit. I currently use the GoPro Hero 4 Silver (though there are much newer versions) but I know a lot of people who simply use their cell phones with the help of one of these waterproof phone pouches. Whatever method you choose, don’t miss the chance to make fun of your friend for the rest of her life.
The Blue Lagoon ensures that the hot, mineral-y water won’t do your waterproof camera any harm and you’re free to take it back to your locker as you please.
BLUE LAGOON TIPS: DON’T EXPECT TO KNOW HOW TO WORK THE LOCKERS
Upon entering the main building at the Blue Lagoon, you’ll be greeted by beautiful blonde Icelandic women who clearly don’t eat popsicles or hot dogs. They’ll speak in hushed tones with sexy space voices and give you a bracelet that is itself, smarter than a 5th grader. These fancy bracelets do it all: they get you in and out of the spa, they get you beer, and, SOMEHOW, they control the lockers in the locker rooms.
This locker system, to the shock of no one, totally outwitted us and forced us to spend an extended amount of time in close proximity to some very naked ladies. At one point, a butt touched me.
I wish I could fill this blog post with all the helpful instructions on using the Blue Lagoon lockers, but I can’t. It has something to do with touching your magic bracelet to the sensor, and the rest escaped us. Basically, we just did a whole bunch of random sh*t until the thing shut and locked. And it wasn’t just us—no one in that room had a clue how to use the things. When you find yourself in this position, just know it’s not you. Maybe get full instructions before you enter the locker room from one of the sexy space robots at the desk?
BLUE LAGOON TIPS: DO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE FREE STUFF
Because they are there and they are free, prepare to go all Ross Geller at a hotel on those cotton balls and Q-tips. Iceland is one expensive mo-fo and you deserve to take advantage of everything that is rightfully yours. For example: hair dryer? No no no. But shampoos and conditioners? Yes yes yes. You’ll have to pay for the use of towels and robes and just about anything else you desperately need to avoid hypothermia, but those cotton swabs are yours for the taking!
BLUE LAGOON TIPS: DON’T STRESS ABOUT NUDITY
Before I went to Iceland I did a lot of research and everything I read about the Blue Lagoon stated that you are:
- required to shower before entering the Blue Lagoon
- required to shower completely naked
- required to shower naked in a communal shower running elbows and butts with other visitors
I want to set the record straight here. First of all, there aren’t any locker room monitors forcing you to strip down and get hosed off. This. is. not. prison. and I doubt anyone is going to tattle on you. Secondly, there are plenty of private shower stalls with doors made of frosted glass. And if you’re wondering, yes—your neighbor can see your boobs but only if you press them up against said doors. I won’t say which side of that I was on.
The Blue Lagoon has separate locker rooms for men and women and even private special needs facilities should you need one. I know a few people who skipped out on the Blue Lagoon’s magnificence and one who almost did because of public nudity fear mongering. Don’t let these assumptions keep you from one of Iceland’s hottest attractions. (Hah, get it?) Also, no one is looking at you—just beware the moon landings.
The only time you should stress about nudity is if you are about to attend an important business meeting. Or going horseback riding. Or roasting marshmallows. Or preparing to kick a field goal. Or skydiving. Or collecting honey from the hive. All other times, jus’ be cool, aiight?
BLUE LAGOON TIPS: DO RUN LIKE THE DICKENS FROM THE SPA TO THE POOL*
Because it’s 30°F outside and you’re in a bikini—you ‘bouts to be COLD. However, there is an exit where you can enter the hot lagoon waters inside the spa, then walk your way outside, avoiding the whole potential frostbite thing. But that’s just not for me—I like to live dangerously.
BLUE LAGOON TIPS: DO PLAN TO STAY AT LEAST 3 HOURS
Figuring out the God-forsaken locker system will take at least one of those. We thought three hours would be plenty of time to get our Lagoon on but our prune-y old man bodies definitely wanted more. (Prune-y old man bodies—another time to worry about nudity.)
There is no maximum amount of time you’re allowed in the Blue Lagoon—stay there all day and night if you want—just know that three hours is the average visit but there’s the potential to stay for an entire day. There are restaurants, spa treatments, lockers to be dealt with, bars to swim up to, and the place is enormous.
BLUE LAGOON TIPS: DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE LAGOON’S HEALING POWERS
They say the waters of the Blue Lagoon are beneficial to those with all sorts of skin ailments including psoriasis and eczema. However, it’s my belief that the Blue Lagoon cures more than just skin diseases, hangovers, and boredom.
Case in point: Three months before traveling to Iceland I suffered some nerve damage in my hand due to a freak flying trapeze incident, the way one does, after which I’d lost all feeling in my left middle finger down to my palm. Let me repeat: I had no feeling in my finger for three months. However, after my three hours in the lagoon, all feeling was immediately restored and has been 100% ever since. So, consider me a believer!
Will it cure the common cold? Your husband’s prolific snoring? Or that bad haircut you just got? No one can say for certain, but I wouldn’t doubt it. #magicwater It will, however, destroy your pedicure.
BLUE LAGOON TIPS: DON’T STAY IN ONE SPOT THE WHOLE TIME
The Blue Lagoon is huge—move around! Some areas of the Lagoon are hotter than others. Find these areas, park it for a while, wig out when you think your ass is actually on fire, determine that it’s not, exhale, go get a beer at the swim-up bar. Some areas are deeper than others, some slimier, some steamier, some even hotter still. Don’t just park it in the first spot you find—be sure to wander!
BLUE LAGOON TIPS: DO COVER YOUR FACE IN MUD
Besides its supposed healing and restorative properties, this gives you the perfect opportunity to walk around shouting, “Heewllooooo!” to see who around you is worthy of your friendship.
The white silica mud, found all over the bottom of the Lagoon, is more conveniently also found around the Lagoon by the bucket-full. Apply liberally and keep it on for at least five minutes but preferably longer and until it dries. This same silica mud is sold in the Blue Lagoon gift shops and elsewhere for $100 a bottle but in the Lagoon its FUH-REE! Celebrate good times, come on!
Blue Lagoon Tips bonus: Don’t shop in the gift shop. Oh, you’re crazy rich? Move along then.
BLUE LAGOON TIPS: DON’T GET YOUR HAIR WET, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!
Of all the Blue Lagoon tips I have to dole out, this one is the most important, by far.
Guys—whatever, no one cares what your hair looks like. But Ladies! Keep your hair away from the water at all costs. It’s easier for some but for people like me whose hair often gets stuck in her own waistband and car door, tie it up on top of your head. The minerals in the water make it great for your skin but a nightmare for your hair, unless dreadlocks are actually what you’re going for.
In the locker room showers they provide all the hair conditioner your tresses could ever want, free of charge. Smother your hair in this conditioner and leave. it. in. Tie your hair in a bun as on top of your head as possible, then smother it again. Girl, it’s free. Make Ross Geller proud!
BLUE LAGOON TIPS: DO ENJOY SOME ICE COLD ICELANDIC BEER WHILE YOU SIMMER
There’s a bar in the middle of the Blue Lagoon that you don’t even have to leave the water to visit. Swim up, tap your bracelet, get your beer. It’s cold and refreshing, just how the Vikings liked it.
BLUE LAGOON TIPS: DO BRING SEALABLE PLASTIC BAGS FOR YOUR SUIT AFTERWARDS
The Blue Lagoon is out in the middle of nowhere Iceland so, after leaving the Lagoon, your suit is gonna be wet for a while. A visit here is also often taken on the way to the airport, as was in my case. Nobody (especially your travel buddies) wants a funky, wet bathing suit in his/her suitcase for hours on end and with no way to dry them at the spa, you’ll need to batten down those hatches until you can hang them up. Having a friend who remembers to bring this kind of stuff is perfect but these gallon-sized Heftys are perfect-er.
BLUE LAGOON TIPS: DO BOOK YOUR TICKET IN COMBINATION WITH SOMETHING ELSE
Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, as I said, is in the middle of almost nowhere. A visit here is often combined with a trip to or from the airport since that’s kinda sorta nearby. Because of its location, you’ll have to book transportation specifically to and from the Blue Lagoon. However, including a stop at the Blue Lagoon on a more comprehensive Iceland tour will save you a bit in transportation costs and time if you’ve packed yourself a busy schedule. Since you probably didn’t go to Iceland just to visit the Blue Lagoon (but I totally get it if you did), check out these combo tours:
- Golden Circle, Kerid Volcanic Crater, and Blue Lagoon Day Trip from Reykjavik | An 11-hour small-group tour covering all the Golden Circle sites, the Kerid Volcanic Crater, and ending at the Blue Lagoon with hotel pickup and dropoff in Reykjavik. This is the most popular day tour in Iceland and has a 5-star rating!
- Private Day Trip to the Golden Circle and Blue Lagoon from Reykjavik | Private 10-hour day tour with personal guide. This tour also includes a stop at the Kerid Volcanic Crater and excludes a hotel dropoff meaning you can spend as long at the Blue Lagoon as you wish.
WHERE TO STAY NEAR ICELAND’S BLUE LAGOON
Being about an hour outside Reykjavik, getting to and from the Blue Lagoon isn’t super easy, especially if you have a late/early flight coming up. Even though it seems the Blue Lagoon is way out in BFE, there are still places to stay near the Blue Lagoon and they’re pretty nice too. If your plans don’t include ample time to travel back and forth to the Blue Lagoon, check out these hotels:
- Northern Light Inn | This is a super nice hotel just a mile from the Blue Lagoon. A stay here includes free breakfast and free WiFi, they have a sauna in case you weren’t fully cooked all the way through, and there’s a restaurant and business center on site. Read reviews on Tripadvisor | Book your room here!
- Eldey Airport Hotel | This hotel is just 12 miles from the Blue Lagoon and located right there next to the airport. It includes free breakfast, has a bar and a café, and offers big multi-person rooms for you and all your friends to stay together and drive those high Icelandic prices down. Read reviews on Tripadvisor | Book your room here!
- Base Hotel/Hostel | It’s right next to the airport and just ten minutes from the Blue Lagoon. They offer bunk rooms, standard hotel rooms, and bigger family-style rooms. The place is super cute but those giant fuzzy smilies are terrifying. Read reviews on Tripadvisor | Book your room here!
For more on where to stay in and around Reykjavik, see this post!
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