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Perhaps one of the most unreal places we’ve visited, the Blue Lagoon in Iceland is at the top of the list of the most magical places to see. Yeah, yeah…I’ve heard the haters saying “but, it’s too commercialized” or “there are other, better hot springs in Iceland”; and as all of that is probably true, I stand by my belief. If you’ve never been to this type of place, you’ll be in awe.
Just imagine this, a very large body of hot, steamy, volcanic water surrounded by snowy/icy mountains everywhere you look.
And just as glamorous as it may sound, the procedure to enter to facilities is, well, depending on where you are from, a bit uncomfortable. Keep reading… I’ll explain.
If you are staying in Reykjavik there are a couple of ways you can make your way to The Blue Lagoon. One, rent a car and drive, and buy the entrance tickets in advance through The Blue Lagoon’s website. Two, take a taxi…but that might be pricey as it is a 50 minute ride. Or option three, buy an excursion package, which we found to be the best, most convenient way to get there (If you are already in Reykjavik). Bus companies, like Grayline, offer basic excursion that consists of transportation and entrance fee. They will pick you up at your hotel or at select pick up locations, take you there, and you can take any of their shuttles back to your hotel or pick up spot. The shuttles leave every 30 minutes with late departures for those who wish to stay until closing time. If you are in Iceland just for a layover, and you have a few hours to spare, you can also catch a shuttle from the airport to the blue lagoon (a 20 minute ride) and relax before your next flight.
So, one of the things I wish I knew when we first got there is the actual process of getting in and out from the dressing room to the lagoon. We read on a many other blogs how it was a requirement to shower naked before entering any Icelandic public pool… well, terrified of such a piece of information, we were willing and mentally prepared for it. But, what nobody tells you is: at what point do you get undressed? Before the shower, we obviously supposed. Well, what we didn’t anticipate was the fact that there is a long way between your locker room (where you must leave all your belongings) and the showers.
LISTEN TO THE ANNOUNCEMENTS
When you wait in line to get your towel and wristband, there are several announcements in anticipation to the process. They tell you that you must shower nude with no bathing suit on (so, yes, it was true), if you have long hair you should saturate it with conditioner (which they provide at the showers), and pull your hair up in a bun, and to remove anything metallic or silver (jewelry) as it will rust in contact with the silica filled water (which is totally true…some of us didn’t listen *cough cough husband*).
KEEP TRACK OF YOUR WRIST BAND
After the announcements, they’ll give you your own towel, and your wristband, which opens your locker, and also has your credit card information to make purchases inside. DON’T LOSE YOUR WRIST BAND. Make sure it’s secure on your wrist (I may or may not have lost it briefly). If you got the bathrobe and flip flops included in your ticket, they will give them to you as well. We didn’t. A towel and our own flip flops were enough and way cheaper to be honest.
Then, they separate you. Boys one way, girls another way. Keep on walking towards the locker room, find an open locker, use your wrist band and numeric pad/scanner in the center of the locker wall to select your locker. If you are still unsure about how to operate it, look for the instructions on the wall. There are instructions in every locker room. BUT, the questions they don’t answer is : “Do we undress here? Or do we undress… where?”
THE NAKED TRUTH
We stood there, fully clothed for a few minutes, looking around and trying to make sense of the process. We saw naked people, half naked people, fully clothed people, and people in swimming suits. So what is it? Believe me, it is hard to make conversation and ask questions to someone next to you that is half naked. We opted to reserve our questions and just undress there, carefully under our own towels.
After we placed everything inside the locker, The only things in our hands were our bathing suits, cell phone in a secured waterproof case (for pictures), and flip flops at our feet. Making sure our towels didn’t fall off, we walked timidly towards the showers. We soon realized that there were plenty of women who had their bathing suits under their clothes, and just wore their bathing suits on their way to the showers, took them off while in the shower and put them back on. Smart. We know better now, so do that.
The showers are individual stalls with a glazed glass door for privacy. Well, some privacy, because the door doesn’t lock. But it was good enough to make us feel comfortable that we were not going to show our tooshies out. The men’s locker and showers, however, didn’t have individual stalls. So, boys, prepare and manscape.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR HAIR
Ok, so you shower, and please, please make sure to saturate your hair with the provided conditioner. Leave it in. DO NOT RINSE. You can wash it later. If you have long hair, put your hair up high. This will protect your hair from getting damaged by the volcanic products in the water. It is wonderful for your skin, but terrible for your hair. If your hair is dyed, it can turn it orange if you submerge it long enough. Try not to submerge your hair. There’s no need. Your hair will get wet and you can get accidentally splashed by other people, but that is why you protect your hair with the conditioner. Believe me.
IT’S ALL ABOUT TOWEL PLACEMENT
You have survived the dreaded naked shower, your hair is ready, your bathing suit is in place. Now, it’s time for the good stuff. Walk out of the shower room and into a jungle of hung towels. Yeah, you have to keep up with your towel and your flips, as do hundreds of others lagoon goers. THE SOLUTION? Well, kind of a solution… make your towel placement stand out. We hung the towel and placed the flip flops by hanging them on the top of the towel, differentiating ours from all others. ALL TOWELS are white! So it’s extremely difficult to know which one is yours…unless yours have your shoes on top…don’t worry, the bottom of the flip flops didn’t touch out towels, so no germs there. Everyone else left their shoes on the floor next to the towels, but honestly, anyone can grab yours by accident. If that’s the case and you lose your towel, I’d hate to say this but… just grab someone else’s. What else can you do? Maybe bring a bright bow to mark yours, or even bring your own towel if you have the packing space.
You hang your towel, and you are ready. You have two options. You enter the lagoon through the indoor connection “hall” or you bravely go outside through the door and walk to the water (it’s not far at all, but depending on the season, it could be freezing cold out, and you won’t be wearing much). If you exit the towel dome through the door, just walk a few steps and find a good spot to enter. If you choose the water “connector” hall (recommended) you’ll enter the water indoors, and walk outside while your body is submerged in 102°water, so you really never feel the cold air.
When you are in the water, take a minute to appreciate what’s around you. Depending on the season, you probably won’t be able to see who’s around you anyway as the steam from the water in contrast with the cold air will paint the landscape with a fuzzy veil. Just stand there, breath in, relax, admire the snow covered peaks that are viewable from the lagoon, feel the warmth of the water in contrast with the cold air. Just relax. And then walk to the pool bar and get your two drinks included with the admission price.
THE POOL BAR
There is a swim-up pool bar that holds selected beers, wine, and cocktails. Non-alcoholic drinks are also available. Just scan your wristband and pick your poison. The admission ticket we purchased included two drinks, and we gladly took advantage of this. The selection of beer and wine is NOT great. They only have two or three options for you to pick from and that’s it. Obviously if you use your two drinks and want one more, you can charge it to your card (with your wristband), but I think they only let you have a max of three drinks per visit.
THE MUD MASK
What can make your relaxation experience better than perfectly warmed water and a drink? A volcanic silica mud mask. Whether you are male or female, adult or kid, you will enjoy this mask. There is a stand (opposite side from the swim-up bar) where you can find buckets with an unlimited supply of volcanic mud that you can use to put it all over your body. We opted for just do our face, but nobody stops you from saturating your body with the richness of the volcanic nutrients. This is free and you can do it as many times as you want. There is a green mask (Blue Lagoon Algae Mask) that I believe has a sub-charge, so if you feel fancy, go for it!
DON’T FORGET THE STEAM
One thing that it’s included with the admission is access to the steam room and the sauna. Either before of after you soak your body in these thermal waters, head over to the sauna or if you prefer, the steam room which are side by side from each other. Access to these rooms is located once you have entered the lagoon area to the left. They are pretty small though, considering the size of the Blue Lagoon.
AFTER THE FUN
After you spend a few hours soaking in the volcanic goodness, your hands will turn to prunes, and you will know it is time to get out. You are so relaxed, you’ll feel heavy, and your muscles are probably going to protest because you are moving. But you gotta go fetch your towel, and head to the showers (again). DO NOT SKIP this step. You must rinse any residue from your hair to avoid damaging it. Use tons of the provided conditioner and wrap yourself in the towel before heading to your locker. They won’t let you enter the locker if you are dripping water, so dry before you leave your shower… unless you are comfortable being butt naked in front of people and don’t mind an audience while you dry.
We dried before getting out of the shower, and retrieved our items from the locker. They have “dressing areas” which consist of an open space with benches around…no privacy. We split and used a restroom to change (so that’s an option), while the other one changed meticulously using the towel as a shield in the dressing area (yeah, we are very modest, and honestly, it’s just weird seeing your grown sister nude. Don’t roll your eyes). Once you are dressed, you exit the dressing rooms into the hair dryer stations. Your hair is probably still soaking wet, and if you conditioned it right, it shouldn’t be too tangled; But you don’t want to exit into the freezing cold and get icicles in your hair. Use one of the many complimentary hairdryers. Then you are done.
To exit the gate, simply take your wristband off and insert it into the appropriate slot, and the gate will open letting ONE person go through. So, once again, do not lose your wristband.
This guideline was mostly through a point of view of (and going through) the women’s side of the locker room, so we are not totally sure how the experience can vary if you are a male (or the set up of the male’s locker room). Also, there are different packages which provide a VIP experience, and a very different view of the Lagoon which includes a luxury treatment with massages, and other type of masks and complimentary drinks. Either way, our visit to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, was not only relaxing, but an unforgettable experience and we highly recommended to everyone.
Have you been to the Blue Lagoon? Please tell share your experience with us in the comments!