An Insider’s Guide to visiting the Blue Lagoon

The milky-blue waters of the Blue Lagoon steam seductively before us as we shake the snow from our hats, and enter the main building/visitor’s center. Styrmir, our Icelandic insider and guide, greets us at the door. Then we’re lucky enough to bypass the long lines, the best you can hope for when visiting the Blue Lagoon.

Every time a coach arrives at this heated haven in the heart of a sweeping volcanic landscape, another queue forms. But we have ‘Premium’ tickets to the Blue Lagoon, so there’s no lining up for us!

We’ve been looking forward to these infamous mineral-rich waters all week, and the spa-like modern structure that welcomes us is more luxurious than I’d imagined. But we’re keen to learn a bit about the place before we robe up and head outside.

Why is Iceland’s Blue Lagoon so blue?

It’s our number one question for Stymir, who takes it in his stride. He must have to answer this question a lot. The answer is, the Blue Lagoon is so blue because of all the silica reflecting the sunlight. It can look even bluer when the sky is clear, but it still looks pretty Smurf-like in the snow.

Has the water always been hot here?

In a short answer – yes. Way down where we can’t see, 2,000 meters below the surface of the earth, seawater and groundwater collide to create what’s known as geothermal seawater. Down there, Stymir tells us, the water’s temperature is an unfathomable 240° C. By the time it reaches the Blue Lagoon, fed by the nearby Svartsengi geothermal plant, it’s a rather more inviting 38° C.

Look for the secret viewing platform

the blue lagoon from above
The Blue Lagoon from above

“Not many people realize it, but there’s a great place to see the Blue Lagoon from above,” Stymir tells us. “Do you want to see the viewing platform?”

He leads us in the opposite direction to the changing rooms, towards the restaurant, and we follow him up some stairs we would have missed otherwise. Stepping out onto a sweeping deck, we get the full panorama of the place as the snow flutters down around us. It looks like something from a fairytale, and health benefits aside, it’s easy to see why people travel from far and wide when they’re visiting the Blue Lagoon – just a dip in these waters can make your day.

There’s something extra peaceful and calming about the Blue Lagoon in the snow. In fact, a snowy day might be one of the nicest times to come.

Iceland’s Blue Lagoon is not just relaxing, it’s good for you too 

visiting the blue lagoon

When it’s time to wade in ourselves, we take the prerequisite shower first and slip into our fluffy white robes (included in the premium ticket price). There’s a moment when we’re standing outside in the snow in just our bathing suits, and the adrenaline makes us giggle as we walk the ramp down into the water.

The water in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon renews itself every 48 hours, so we know we’re bathing in clean waters, but the mineral-rich hues and soft white silica mud mean we can’t see anything at all below the surface.

What do you get when visiting the Blue Lagoon?

Our premium ticket includes three face masks in the Blue Lagoon, and while we’re keen to wear a mask that doesn’t cover our mouths for once, the silica mask feels slick and thick on my skin. I trust it. When silica is mixed with algae, it transforms into a healing substance!

We use one of the handy mirrors in the water to see which bits we’ve missed, and have a nice chat with the lady in the booth, doling out the potions to the masses. We’re in swimwear, but she’s dressed in her thickest winterwear!

She tells us to leave the silica masks on for 5-8 minutes, so while the minerals are working their magic, we wade through the warm blue water to the bar to collect our complimentary drinks. One red wine each, please.

The premium ticket includes one drink, but you can have up to three if you desire. There’s no need to carry money either – just scan your wristband and pay your bill via the machines on the way out.

No Blue Lagoon restaurant is included, but you can make those bookings separately.

TOP TIP: Instead of lining up for the bar in the Blue Lagoon, step out of the water and walk/run to the bar on the lower level by the changing rooms. There’s often no line at all there.

Which face masks are available at the Blue Lagoon?

Blue Lagoon beauty from all angles
View of the Blue Lagoon from the secret viewing platform.

📍 The Silica Mud Mask: The slimy but soothing Silica mud mask is the most popular mask for visitors. It’s super-charged with essential minerals and is known for cleansing the skin, as well as strengthening and exfoliating.

📍 The Lava Scrub Mask: This one is composed of lava grains, great for energizing and exfoliating the skin and leaving it soft, smooth and supple. It’s a great scrub for a deep-cleanse.

📍 The Algae Mask: There’s nothing like a little Blue Lagoon-grown algae to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. This one is applied after the scrub and deep cleanse, and it’s really good for re-invigorating dry skin.

📍 The Mineral Mask: This mask is made using the special minerals in the lagoon. It works well to hydrate the skin and is best left on for up to 30 minutes.

How about a proposal at the Blue Lagoon?

As we sip our wine between applying face masks, we see plenty of lovestruck couples floating blissfully in the blue. Maybe they’re visiting the Blue Lagoon with romance on their mind. We remember Stymir telling us how proposals are pretty common here at one of Iceland’s most romantic places. In fact, they happen just as often as people drop their rings into the water and lose them forever (eek!).

What not to bring to the Blue Lagoon

Stymir warned us before getting in that jewelry could tarnish, except for pure gold, and it’s best not to wear any kind of glasses in the Blue Lagoon either. The silica can cause scratches on glasses, but what about if you drop them? You might not be able to see your way out!

We’re surprised to see one man squinting through his silica-splattered glasses – maybe he forgot his contact lenses?

Leave your phones at home

Iceland's best restaurant
Talk about a room with a view.

It’s not really recommended to bring your phone or camera into the Blue Lagoon either, but it looks like a lot of people bring those anyway. We prefer to hold tight to our glasses of wine than risk losing our iPhones in the lagoon, but influencers MUST influence, and they’re influencing everywhere we look.

We speak to a photographer, who’s standing outside with an iPad. You have to be made of tough stuff to brave the Icelandic elements in the name of the perfect photo. What a guy. He snaps a shot of us in our silica masks and emails it to us. It’s on our social media feeds before we’ve left the parking lot, smooth-skinned and maybe just a little bit tipsy. So we can now remember visiting the Blue Lagoon forever.

We couldn’t have asked for a nicer afternoon in Iceland. The only thing better would have been to see the northern lights burst to life overhead! There’s always next time, I guess.

What Blue Lagoon restaurant should I go to when visiting the Blue Lagoon?

There are actually three Blue Lagoon restaurants, a cafe and a bar here, and there’s something for everyone.

🍴 The Blue Lagoon Bar 

You’ll see this when you immerse yourself in the warm lagoon. To keep you from jumping out into the cold for drinks, the Blue Lagoon Bar is built into the water. They serve both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks such as sodas, smoothies, wine, beer and cider. Remember, there’s a limit of three alcoholic drinks per person inside the lagoon. The heat can make you tipsy (it did us) so watch out.

🍴 Cafe

Simply named, the cafe in the main atrium is the best place to grab something quick for lunch. Sandwiches, soups, cakes and snacks are all available and the views of the Blue Lagoon are to die for.

🍴 Lava Restaurant 

Lava is probably one of the most romantic Blue Lagoon restaurants, maybe the most romantic restaurant in Iceland, and it’s known as one of the best, too. With sweeping floor-to-ceiling views of the Blue Lagoon, it’s built into an 800-year-old lava cliff on the western bank. It’s a pretty humbling place to enjoy a meal. And in a country where eating out is expensive, we found the a la carte lunch menu to be reasonably priced.

🍴 Moss Restaurant

This is the place to go for amazing views of the Blue Lagoon, as it’s built at the highest point. Born in Iceland and raised in Reykjavík, chef Agnar Sverrisson integrates Asian flavors while transforming seasonal Icelandic ingredients into gourmet experiences. Everything is prepared with an awareness of when and where local ingredients are the freshest and best. There’s a vegan menu, too.

🍴 Spa Restaurant

No reservations are needed here, and you can dine in your robe, or fully-clothed. It really doesn’t get more relaxing. ​​Spa Restaurant serves light meals, perfect to enjoy as you gaze out at the mineral-rich waters of the Blue Lagoon, and all that ancient lava.

When is the best time for visiting the Blue Lagoon?

Visiting the blue lagoon
Just follow the signs.

Our insider Stymir prefers visiting the Blue Lagoon in December. If you’re here in December you can experience the place in both daylight, and darkness. He recommends arriving around 1pm to get the best of both worlds. Usually, it’s open till 11pm or later, but allways check your tickets and plan ahead.

Summer is also great, as it stays light the whole day. It depends what you want from your time here!

Whenever you come, you’ll be well cared for. There are several staff members known as ‘greeters or hosts’ patrolling the Blue Lagoon at all times, checking to make sure everyone’s OK. We were a little surprised when one greeter told us there had been a small earthquake, shortly after we entered the water – we didn’t feel a thing!

How to get to the Blue Lagoon

It’s pretty easy to drive to Iceland’s Blue Lagoon en route to the airport, and lots of people make it their last stop before flying home. In fact, this is such a popular option that there’s even a separate room for your luggage in the parking lot, so no one’s forced to clutter up the changing rooms with wheely cases!

Which ticket do I need?

Choose from Comfort or Premium tickets. Or take your Blue Lagoon experience to the next level with the Retreat Spa.

🎟️ Comfort: Blue Lagoon

The Comfort: Blue Lagoon ticket includes: entrance to the Blue Lagoon, silica mud mask, use of towel, and a drink of your choice.

🎟️ Premium: Blue Lagoon

The Premium: Blue Lagoon ticket includes entrance to the Blue Lagoon. Silica mud mask. Use of towel. First drink of your choice. Two additional masks of your choice. Slippers. Use of bathrobe. One glass of sparkling wine if dining at Lava restaurant.

🎟️ Luxury: Retreat Spa

The Luxury: Retreat Spa ticket includes five luxurious hours at the Retreat Spa. Includes a private changing suite and unlimited access to both the Retreat Lagoon and the Blue Lagoon. Plus Blue Lagoon skincare amenities and access to the Spa Restaurant.

You can also opt to book a tour, which includes a stop at the Blue Lagoon. See all our Blue Lagoon tour combo tickets here.

How far is it from Reykjavik?

It’s about 40-50 minutes by car from Reykjavik. If you don’t have your own transport, buses depart for the Blue Lagoon from Reykjavik’s BSI Bus terminal every hour. You’ll be given a time slot when you book a return transfer ticket.

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