The Blue Lagoon is an Icelandic tourist attraction you don’t want to miss. Relaxing with a drink in the hot, turquoise water, black volcanic rock and white steam on every side, it’s the best bath you’ll ever have and a pretty surreal experience.
We visited the Blue Lagoon on our last day in Iceland, to take advantage of its close proximity to Keflavik Airport. This proved a good idea for another reason too: we all came away from it so relaxed that even when our flight was delayed overnight, the five of us were a picture of calm amid the other passengers’ collective outrage.
An unreal arrival
Driving up to the Blue Lagoon was an experience in itself. We all gasped in amazement when the landscape changed from frosty grassland to a seemingly endless expanse of jagged, black volcanic rock. The lagoon came into view on the horizon as a mass of billowing white steam.
Between the car park and the Blue Lagoon complex you’re taken down a twisting path through walls of crumbly volcanic rock, and right before the door there’s a path off to the left that takes you along some of the lagoon water. The turquoise water seems to glow against the black rocks, creating a scene straight out of science fiction.
I don’t have many photos from the Blue Lagoon because entering it is not a simple process. You have a locker for your possessions that opens with the electronic wristband you’re handed at reception, but between the locker room and the lagoon you’re supposed to shower naked, and there’s nowhere safe and dry to put items such as a camera while you do this. So I had to shower first, then go back to my locker to get my camera, then go back past the showers and out to the lagoon and very carefully take a few photos with it before returning inside to lock it away again. In which time, the towel I’d left at the side of the lagoon got sodding wet (I didn’t think to hang it up, with it being such a short time I’d be in the water). But I’m glad I got the few photos I did – it’s the kind of place that’s difficult to describe without photographic evidence.
Three hours of fun
With my towel hung up and my camera locked away, I was free to start enjoying the Blue Lagoon properly. With some difficulty I found my friends within the steam and we spent the next three hours exploring every inch of the lagoon, finding hot spots and trying out the activities: the steam room, the sauna, getting a pelting from the very powerful waterfall, and putting on the included ‘silica mask’. The latter is a slimy grey paste that you scoop out of buckets with your hands, spread over your face and leave to go hard for 15 minutes before washing it off again. It’s alleged to improve your skin, but primarily it’s just funny to see your friends’ faces covered in what looks like toothpaste.
Another brilliant feature is the swim-up bar, where you can use your electronic wristbands to buy fruit smoothies, luminous slushies, wine, beer and cocktails. I bought a delicious sparkling strawberry wine that I’ve yet to see anywhere else but Iceland. This bar is about as expensive as a swanky bar in London, so the prices didn’t shock as much as I’d feared.
Just being in the hot water, your head out in the cold air, feels awesome and so relaxing. The surreal scenery is a constant source of amazement. And with hot spots and gooey patches of silica to find, as well as the various spa activities on top, there’s always something to catch your attention. You barely notice the hours slipping by as you float around doing almost nothing at all.
Time only caught up with us when the sunlight began to fade, and the darkness began to collude with the steam to make it even harder to see than before. It was with some reluctance that we got out and returned to the real world.
The relaxed state of mind I acquired in the lagoon seemed to last for hours after leaving it. It felt like that cosy inner glow you feel after a hot bath, but intensified several times over. Somehow, both my skin and my mind felt soft and warm.
But the after-effects are not all good: even after washing it with the conditioner supplied in the showers, my hair remained stiff and uncombable until I’d washed it with my normal shampoo and conditioner back at home. This is something that you’re warned about beforehand (you’re advised to coat your hair in conditioner and tie it up before getting in the water to minimise the effect) and it’s only temporary so nothing to worry about.
Let’s face it – visiting the Blue Lagoon is expensive. At €40 to €50 for the Standard package (depending on when you go), it’s the most expensive bath you’ll ever have. Add on drinks and spa treatments and you could spend hundreds of euros. But as a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I think it’s worth it.
Upgrading to the Comfort package (including one drink and towel hire) could be worthwhile if you plan on getting an expensive drink and don’t want to take your own towel, but otherwise the Standard package provides all you need to get the Blue Lagoon experience. Most importantly, make sure you go in daylight hours – you just wouldn’t get the full experience without seeing the white steam, bright turquoise water and black rocks in all their contrasting glory.
Have you been to the Blue Lagoon? Let me know what you thought in the comments!
All text and photos (c) Juliet Langton, December 2016. All rights reserved.