travel tips for iceland blue lagoon iceland
Iceland,  We12inspire

5 Reasons why not to visit the Blue Lagoon

When suggesting to visit Iceland to my friend Sandra, she said she would tag along under one condition: we had to visit the Blue Lagoon. Immediately my eyes started rolling and I thought: “why?” I’d been there before already and ever since had heard many stories about the increasing crowds. Her answer was “because whenever you see/hear something about Iceland, The Blue Lagoon is mentioned.” And so we went to Iceland and The Blue Lagoon…

 

This post about why not to visit The Blue Lagoon isn’t written with the purpose of keeping you away from it. However, I’m a little tired of reading just how great The Blue Lagoon is, while many people fail to mention any of my five reasons. I want to give you, my readers, an honest and realistic blogpost about my experience at The Blue Lagoon and more important: what to expect of it. After reading all of it (yes, please continue all the way down to the bottom) I’m sure you will be able to decide for yourself if you should or should not visit The Blue Lagoon…

 


 

1. The price

The moment I purchased a ticket for the Blue Lagoon, was a moment with a lot of pain in my heart. Did I really just spend € 45 on a ticket to get into some hot water pool? Yes, I did … Although everyone has to decide for themselves whether you want to spend this amount of money on bathing in thermal water, I think the entrance fee for The Blue Lagoon is outrageous. To give you an idea: just outside of downtown Reykjavik, next to the city campsite,  there’s a swimmingpool where they have various open air hot baths. The entrance fee is about 5 euros and you get to stay as long as you want…

 

2. There are many other thermal pools

Iceland is filled with thermal pools. Apart from the swimmingpool in Reykjavík, I’ve been to various other ones, such as the hot stream at the Reykjadalur area and the hot pools in Landmannalaugar. Just outside of Reykjavík, near the lighthouse at Grótta, is a small thermal bath as well. It can only fit 3-4 people but you have the most amazing view of the bay and the city. And you know what … all of those are entirely free!

 

blue-lagoon

 

3. The crowd

Unless you are either super early or extremely lucky, you can forget about having the pool for yourself and being able to take a romantic picture with your lover in the bright blue water. While we were in Iceland sometime mid-June (not even extremely high season) The Blue Lagoon was full. And I mean FULL with tons of people. Tourists from all over the globe such as large groups of Asians sticking together, families with crying children, backpackers drinking too much beer… you get my point, right? Even though it wasn’t as busy as I expected, it still was way too crowded for my taste.

 

4. The fact that you have to book it

My first time at Blue Lagoon was back in early 2006 on our way back home from New York. We made a short stopover on Iceland and thought it would be fun to visit The Blue Lagoon, which turned out to be no trouble at all to arrange the same day on the spot. Nowadays it’s essential that you book your visit selecting a date and time you are expecting to arrive. Bye bye flexibility.
 
You can book your visit ahead here.

 

5. The queue

Although we booked tickets for a certain time slot, we still had to queue. And I’m not talking five minutes here, I’m talking about at least 45 minutes. We had just arrived by plane and should have known it would be a busy hour, however as we pre-booked it, we expected that there wouldn’t be a line. Staff were explaining that people were staying inside longer than usual and there for they could not allow more people inside. Needless to say, it really pissed us off because we booked ahead of time with a reason: we still needed to drive to Hella for the night and had arranged an hour of arrival with the owner of the property we were staying at. So we had to shorten our planned time at Blue Lagoon and could eventually only stay 1.5 hours. Needless to say I wasn’t happy about it.

 

Below you will find a short 15 second video that gives you an impression of my time at The Blue Lagoon. As our time was a bit shorter than planned, I decided to not spend too much of my time on taking pictures but instead just enjoy being there…

 

 

Ofcourse, it’s not all negative.  As I was bathing in the blue water and trying to relax while sipping from a drink, the sun shortly peeked through the clouds and I loved being there. So in addition to the things I mentioned above, here are my five reasons why you definitely have to go to The Blue Lagoon, if only once in your life:

 

1. The water is blue!

Did I mention that the water is blue? I meant that the water is extremely blue. Not the kind of blue you will see in the Caribbean or Thailand, but some kind of light turquoise blue, like ink from a pen mixed with milk. You won’t experience this somewhere else in the world, at least not to my knowlegde, which makes it a pretty unique experience.

 

2. Staff is friendly

Whatever I said about the queueing, The Blue Lagoon staff remained super helpful and friendly. They offered the guests waiting in the queue icecreams and water and they were always available to answer questions and explain the situation. When we had additional questions, they were very helpful and they spoke in perfect English. Thumbs up for the staff!

 

3. You can take your camera (and selfie stick!)

As opposed to some other tourist attractions in the world, you are allowed to bring your own camera including a selfie stick into The Blue Lagoon. You can take it with you into the water (be careful though) and take as many pictures as you want. There was free wifi in many parts of the swimming area so I got to upload them to Facebook and Instagram straight away, making my friends back home jealous that they were still working while I was bathing …

 

4. It’s warm

Weather is generally cool (or rather: cold) in Iceland. Believe me, unless you are some kind of lucky bastard, you will be experience being very cold in Iceland. Warming up in the hot waters of The Blue Lagoon and the ongoing memory of that will definitely help you to keep warm during your time in Iceland. So if you plan to go: do it before you are visiting the rest of Iceland and you won’t be sorry!

 

5. You just cannot go to Iceland without entering The Blue Lagoon

Did I just say that? Yes, I did! Going to Iceland without going to The Blue Lagoon would be the same as going to New York City without going to the top of the Empire State Building. It’s just not done. You will forever regret if you travel all the way to Iceland without experiencing the Blue Lagoon, including the crowds. So just go … for the sake of it!

 

anto-blue-lagoon

 
Are you still going to visit The Blue Lagoon after reading this post? I sure hope you will! If you have been, do you agree with my opinion? I’m curious! Be sure to also read my post with the best free nature baths in Iceland! They will make sure you’ll save a lot of money! Also make sure to check out this article with more pro’s and cons for visiting the Blue Lagoon.
 

Where to stay near the Blue Lagoon

Most visitors to the Blue Lagoon will choose to stay in Reykjavík which is an excellent choice as the Blue Lagoon is right on the way from the international airport to the city. I can truly recommend staying The Marina Hotel which is right across the harbourside and offers amazing views over the water and the mountains in the distance. Alternatively, check all possible accommodation for Reykjavík here. In case your flight is out early the next day, you may want to overnight near Keflavík airport, check all possibilities here! Iceland is popular and after my 10th visit to this amazing country in July 2017 I can’t stress enough that booking ahead is smart since everyone wants to visit this amazing country. Feel free to reach out in case you may have any questions!
 

Plan your trip to Iceland

Going to Iceland? Awesome, you will not be disappointed, I promise. These will help you to plan your trip to Iceland:
– Order your copy of the Lonely Planet Iceland guidebook here.
– Check flight prices and schedules from anywhere in the world on Skyscanner.
– Go here for the best hotel options near The Blue Lagoon.
 

Want to read more about my various Iceland trips? Check these:
Hiking the Laugavegur – Iceland’s most popular multi-day trek
Why you have to do a glacier hike in Iceland
Tips on how to stay warm in Iceland this winter!
 
For a daily dose of outdoor and travel inspiration, follow me on Instagram and Facebook!
 
Thank you for sharing!
 

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Anto is a 30-something outdoor fan who travels the world about 100 days a year, combined with a full-time office job. She loves to go hiking, enjoys a good class of wine and can usually be found with an iPhone in her hand. Favorite destinations: New Zealand, Patagonia, Austria and Alaska.

92 Comments

  • debbie

    Why are you so sour about your visit to the Blue Lagoon? We went there last summer and had a lovely time with our kids who also were very happy to be here. It was one of the highlights of our trip to Iceland as we had been looking forward to this trip for a very long time. I don’t agree with you, waiting lines come with tourist attractions and are to be expected.

    • Lauren

      Lol…if you read to the end of the article, you’ll see that she actually recommends that you go! It is a realistic picture of the Blue Lagoon with both good and bad things.

      • anto

        Haha yeah I do … however if I’d named the blog “5 reasons why you should go to The Blue Lagoon” nobody would even bother to click on it because it’s been said over and over again 😉

    • anto

      I’m not sour about my visit, sorry you understood it that way. Just trying to be honest and mention what many other blogs don’t. However, I’m glad that your visit to the Blue Lagoon was one of the highlights of your trip!

  • Aaron Jade

    Thanks for the honesty. Good to get a more balanced view on travel, too often things are made out to be something they are not. I am all for exploring other options off the beaten track, so thanks for providing alternatives.

  • Saskia

    Completely agree with you! Visited Iceland and the Blue Lagoon last september and although i liked the Blue Lagoon, it wouldnt go there again. There are so many other things to do, so many other (real) geothermal pools to visit!

  • Tag Along Deb

    Interesting post. I visited Iceland in June 2011 and upon recommendation from our travel consultant, we went directly to Blue Lagoon upon landing in the morning before moving on to Reykjavik. It wasn’t crowded at all and I had never experienced anything like it before. I was completely enchanted. Iceland has been very successful at marketing itself as a tourist destination (good for them!) and with that comes the crowds. Based on your post, that would be my main objection to going again. The cost? Yeah, but a beer is $12 CAD so Iceland is generally expensive. It’s a pretty cool place, but that doesn’t mean it’s a “must-see.” I’ve been to New York City four times and I’ve never been to the top of the Empire State Building. 😉

    • anto

      I guess you came on a flight from North America then? Those arrive the morning when it’s not too busy yet. However, from what I’ve heard (not experienced, I was there way earlier first time than 2011) is that the crowds have increased a lot over the past years. Same for all of Iceland. It’s good for them in a way but I’ve spoken to many locals who think it’s a shame that everything gets to crowded in the summer, because many tourists don’t travel responsible nowadays and leave a mess everywhere they have been. So, what are you going to do the next time you’re in NYC? I’d definitely suggest the Empire State Building haha 😉

  • Sammi

    I’m really glad I visited the Blue Lagoon, yes, it was expensive BUT I landed at 9am and visited the lagoon first thing in the morning. I *totally* had a beer in the pool at 11am and swam around enjoying it for a couple of hours before getting the bus into town to check into my hostel. I booked a package that would pick me up from the airport, take me to the lagoon and then drop me off at my hostel! Such little hassle and a great way to start a trip! Pricey? Yes. Cheaper pools in town? For sure. Worth it? HELL YEAH!

    • anto

      Happy to hear you enjoyed your visit! You were lucky to land so early, most flights from Europe land around 4-5 pm which is when the crowds are BIG. So 11 am is definitely a better time to visit than in the late afternoon…

  • Talon

    I spent 2 weeks in Iceland and didn’t go to the Blue Lagoon. I don’t feel like I missed out on anything. I had a great time at one of the local pools instead. Nice to see you sharing both sides of the coin, though.

  • Natalie

    That is an interesting take on the Blue Lagoon. However, I am not completely surprised. I think that touristic attractions all over the world can get crowded to the point that it doesn’t make the experience as enjoyable. For me, the Blue Lagoon looks amazing, and I would love to see it. But, I think I would also check out the thermal pools that are more quiet 🙂

    • anto

      Yes, so true, tourist attractions all over the world tend to get expensive. However, I’ve seldom something as expensive as this, not even in Iceland anywhere else. For me, the Grand Canyon was way too crowded but at least we didn’t pay a major entrance fee, which made it less painful 😉

  • Natasha Alden

    I couldn’t agree more! When I got to Iceland I had plans to go to the blue lagoon. But after chatting with my couchsurfing hosts and other Icelanders they convinced me out of it. Instead, we went to the many thermal baths around Reykjavik and it was a much more genuine experience. I had a great time and definitely saved some money. More people should read this before making their decision, I like that you play devils advocate here.

    • anto

      Ahh yes, the Icelanders are probably the ones who know best. Most ones I talked to (in a non-commercial way) thought I was crazy for visiting. I hope I inspired people to at least reconsider and have a more realistic picture of the Blue Lagoon than is sometimes written on the web…

  • Mar

    Thanks for this! As you say, I had never heard of any of these realities. I guess, with Iceland becoming so popular and the Blue Lagoon everywhere, the tourist influx is unavoidable. I guess one needs…patience 🙂

  • Carly

    I’ve shared similar views about why skipping Blue Lagoon should be an option in an Iceland itinerary. I wasn’t impressed while I was there and felt it was a lot of money to pay for an experience like it.

    Free thermal pools for the win!

  • Travelwith2ofus

    I don’t mind any of the cons you mentioned. After all it’s mostly the same wherever you have a good tourist attraction. I guess you can plan as good as you can and hope it works out in your favor. It is really a unique shade of blue or turquoise.

  • Meg Jerrard

    Thanks for the honest review – we went to Iceland and actually didn’t do the blue lagoon for a lot of those reasons. Random question – how was your hair afterwards?? I heard from a bunch of people that the lagoon really wrecks it afterwards.

  • Natalie Deduck

    I totally understand you!
    Sometimes the attraction is so crowded and tiring to visit that we end up giving up on them. That happened with me in Italy, my second time in Rome and I didn’t visit the Colosseum. It was too packed and I didn’t want to face all the hassle….
    But The Blue Lagoon, this one I must visit, at least once!
    Cheers,
    Nat

    • anto

      Ahhh yes, I get you on the Colosseum, wasn’t one of my favorite visits. Same with the Grand Canyon … loved it but too crowded for my taste!

  • Tamason Gamble

    When we visited Iceland, although we had planned to visit, we never actually made it to the Blue Lagoon, instead opting to go to other quieter locations to experience something similar. Would I visit if we went back? Yes, I think I would, but it wasn’t something I was in a rush to do last time I was there.

  • Trekker Heck

    You forgot to mention all the hair in the white mud of the Blue Lagoon! But really, it is a beautiful place. You’re right on all points of the article – the positive and the negative!

  • Avril

    I went to Iceland in 2003 with my husband on a short (5 night), break on the way to New York. We booked and paid for a trip to the Blue Lagoon on our last evening there. The bus never turned up! We rang the company and was offered an alternative day, but we couldn’t do that. We were told our money would be returned, but it never was. So to add insult to injury, we never got to the Blue Lagoon, and never got our money back either. Gutted!

    • anto

      Awww so sorry to hear that Avril! Especially because you never got your money back. I hope you can make it back to Iceland one day to still go and see it because it’s really worth it!

  • Lieke

    Near Myvatn is another ‘blue lagoon’, a bit smaller, but way more affordable ánd enjoyable, because the majority of the tourists ain’t going north 😉 It’s called Jarðböðin. The area is breathtaking as well (also, literally, because of the typical smell ;)), and definitely worth a visit!

    • anto

      Thanks for the suggestion Lieke! Unfortunatel I’ve not been up north to Myvatn yet but will hopefully go next summer, so will definitely keep this one in mind!!

  • Gary

    Thanks for the read. Gotta love the Internet for useful (real life) info! I’m planning on going in Feb/Mar this year for a long weekend and had assumed it “had to be done” but will now look for the smaller pools mentioned.
    I’m not a big fan on mindless tourism but sometimes it has to be done. I did Venice in September. Great place but…

    • anto

      Have fun in Iceland, I’m sure you will love it. In the period you are going, you can see the Northern Lights with a bit of luck. Take warm clothes because it will be cold and have loads of fun Gary!

  • Nikki

    An interesting read! I think it really depends what you want from a holiday. If there’s one thing (or several things) my other half hates, its queuing, paying over the odds and being packed in with other tourists! We went to some hot pools in New Zealand last year and the romantic experience we had imagined was kinda ruined by screaming kids and drunk college students! Based on what you’ve said and the comments, I think we’d be happier at one of the quieter places 🙂 Really helpful post, thanks!

    • anto

      Thanks Nikki! Ahhh yes, same happened to us in Chile, it was nice and cosy while bathing until the large buses with a certain nationality arrived and began screaming and drinking booze… it comes with travel but it’s never fun.

  • Ozlem Sari

    Thanks for the review, it was interesting to read and helpful also! I read somewhere that you have to shower naked before getting in the pools. Is that true? And i wonder if there’s any luxury packages to buy to avoid crowds?

    • anto

      Ohh good question Ozlem. I don’t actually think I showered naked, or at least I can’t recall. I’m sure they have a lot of packages, though that won’t keep you away from the luxury packages. I hope you will make it there one day and enjoy it a lot!

    • anto

      So true, that’s why I decided to post this. There’s nothing wrong with promoting it, but nobody ever talks about the busy lines, prices etc… I was shocked about various things!

  • Lotte

    Very honest post! I hope to be visiting Iceland this year or in 2017 and I’ll let you know if I visited the Blue Lagoon in the end or not;-)

  • Emma

    So interesting to hear both sides! Its obviously a must do but its always good to be aware of the bad parts too! There are bad parts to every tourist attraction after all 🙂

    • anto

      You are so right! It’s the same with the Grand Canyon, I really enjoyed it, but not the herds of people that were there or the squirrels constantly bugging you for food!

  • Rachel Elizabeth

    I appreciate your honesty! I agree that it’s a bit annoying to book in advance. I went on New Year’s Day, and booked through a tour company since the Blue Lagoon’s official website already sold out of tickets!

    And the line. Oh, the line. It took at least 40 minutes.

  • Sheila

    You are spot on. We went in September and didn’t face some of the issues you did. Loved it and would go again, but now that we know the price we would have given ourselves a lot longer to enjoy it. An hour and a half goes far too quickly! Also, we only had 4 days. With more time I’d want to find some of those other pools you mentioned!

  • Cassidy

    Really love the fact you balanced this post out with the good as well as the bad! I was halfway through thinking, “well is there anything GOOD about this place?” Great article!

    • anto

      Haha yes well there is some good for sure, but I thought to warn anyone that it’s not paradise as they make you believe. It can be, but with the right mindset though…

  • Vicki

    I am glad to know there are other comparable places to take a thermal dip for a more reasonable price or even free. Iceland is still on my “to see” list. Thank you!

  • Shannon - SoleSeeking

    I agree with your views on it being too expensive. I didn’t have time to bathe but thought I’d see what it looked like on my way back to the airport, and just the entrance fee for being on the premises was ridiculous. Some people like crowds and commercialism but I’d much rather go to one of the many natural and quieter geothermal pools around the country. The Blue Lagoon is definitely a place for tourists more so than native Icelanders.

    • anto

      Yeah it’s way too expensive, it’s probably gone up even more the past year. And yes, I don’t think that native Icelanders even go here at all , they know other places I’m sure!

  • Ann

    Your comment about Asian tourists sticking together is offensive because of its negative connotation. Other races stick together when they travel in groups, how rude to put it that way. You had my support right up until there.

  • Mark Norman

    This is one of most contradicting, derogatory blog I’ve read in a while. Makes no sense first part discourages you and the next part encourages you to go, very dumb.

  • Marcina Barksdale

    I plan to go to Iceland, but I’ll pass on the Blue Lagoon trip. Sounds congested, and unsanitary to me being in the geothermal pool, I can’t imagine those water jets probably clogged with dirt from hundreds of people going in the water without taking a shower, and germs coming from the body; I’ll pass.

    • anto

      True, yet I’m sure it meets all the necessary hygiene standards (at least, we may assume as visitors). I hope you will have a great time in Icceland nonetheless, but I’m sure you will, it’s an awesome place!

  • Chloe

    Why is a large number of Asian people visiting this site a bad thing? The way you said, it just doesn’t sit well with me.

    • anto

      I’m sorry to hear that the way I said it doesn’t sit well with you, that was certainly not my intention. I just want visitors to realize that it’s not as scenic and quiet as the pictures make it look like. It was the sticking together and make certain places impassable because of that, which made me write that. As well as the drunk backpackers and crying children. Nothing in particular against Asian people because they have every right to travel there, of course 🙂

  • Nancy

    True, the Blue Lagoon was touristy and all that. But yes, the water was incredibly BLUE when we were there last Nov and my 2 friends and i were totally enchanted. I would go again.

  • Sam

    Since this blog/article was published, The Retreat opened at The Blue Lagoon, where you can pay more to avoid all of the negative things you’ve said about it. The Retreat was one of the most memorable, private, wonderful days of my life. I encourage you to spend the extra money next time you’re there, and you’ll have a different hook to get people to read your article… bc The Retreat is so exclusive, and no cell phones allowed, you would have some information and experience that very few have had, instead of the run of the mill tourist-y experience of the masses…

    • anto

      Thanks for letting me know! I’ve not heard of this yet but am returning to Iceland in February and will take a look at this. It sounds amazing that they have more options now, especially for those who wish to spend a little more on their experience. I’ll definitely see if I can check it out!

  • Anna

    As an Icelander, I agree with your comments and can add that the blue lagoon is no longer for icelanders as it is too expensive and too crowded. I remember visiting in my childhood and we could go as a family and have a relaxing afternoon, that is now a thing of the past for most Icelanders

    • anto

      Thanks, it’s good to hear! I’m heading back to Iceland in February to see if the situation is still the same and whether the blog needs an update, but maybe I should not even put the effort in and look for other places to discover …

  • Danielle

    Just had a few days in Iceland and was determined to visit the blue lagoon. I’m not as positive about it as you. Yes it’s nice and warm. But I was horrified that all the people washed their free mask in the water, that’s just filthy. There was no relaxing area, unless you count the plastic chair beds on the first floor where the door keeps opening and the outside cold comes in all the time. No comfortable chairs or couch with a nice fire place or something. It’s overpriced, overrated…the only thing I loved was the food at the restaurant, that was star quality, also not cheap, but very good. So Blue Lagoon to me…a tourist rip off, but you just have to do it and see for yourself.

    • anto

      We are heading back to Iceland later this winter and wanted to buy a ticket but the price has gone up so much that I don’t want to pay this anymore. It’s not worth that amount of money. Overpriced is definitely the right way to put it. I’m off to find some great alternatives once again this time!

  • Lukas

    We had our visit as last thing befor i fly off iceland after 5 months working there. So we stayed at Grindavik guesthouse and booked 18:00 entry and funny thing was that we have been expecting that entry is only for one hour 😀 so we have been suprised and happy when staff said us that its untill closing 😀 we have been lucky not so much people around, october is good. Yeah price is crazy but somehow it was just nice ending of our journey. Of course better and cheap spots are like Reykjaladur, Hruni at south of Iceland, Vok baths great that you can go cool down to lake with 8 degrees. Next year we are heading work at Iceland again so maybe we will start with Blue Lagoon 😀 Wish You luck on your journeys.

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