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What to Know Before You Visit Iceland’s Blue Lagoon

From a hidden spa to its elfin history, read up before you visit the Blue Lagoon—Iceland’s most popular destination.


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The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s most popular attractions—and for good reason. Its cerulean waters were made for Instagramming and it’s impossible not to relax in the midst of beauty. And that’s saying something considering the number of people from around the world who visit every day.

But there are a few things to note before you hop into the warm waters of the Blue Lagoon. Here are a few tips for making the most out of your visit.

You can get your own private lagoon if you book one of the new Retreat Suites.

In April 2018, The Blue Lagoon added The Retreat Hotel to its already impressive resume. These suites are ultra-luxe, offering private views of the mossy landscape. Each room comes with its own secluded lagoon. One thing to note: They’re not as warm as the main lagoon (they’re farther from the heat source), but it’s the perfect temperature for a morning dip to wake you up.

There’s a hidden spa.

Sure, the lagoon’s warm waters will do wonders for your joints and you can book an in-water massage for a truly special experience. But there’s also a hidden spa within the Retreat spa. Lava Cove is an ultra-private suite that has its own lagoon, an on-call yoga instructor, chef, masseuses, and a cozy, wood-burning fireplace. Ask for availability when you book a Retreat Suite.

Don’t skimp on the hair conditioner.

If there’s one thing you do before hopping in the water, make sure to coat your hair in conditioner. The silica water will dehydrate your locks and, trust me as someone who has been multiple times, it will dry out your hair for days. Consider wearing a swim cap to further avoid any hair damage.

Don’t worry—the bottom of the lagoon is supposed to feel squishy.

When you visit, you also get to use the lagoon’s signature silica face mask. The mud produced by the water and minerals is full of healing ingredients. There’s a hut in the center of the lagoon that will dole out mud for you to cover yourself in. As you walk and swim around the lagoon, you’ll notice that the bottom of the pool feels squishy. Don’t freak out—that’s the same silica mud you’ll find in the face mask hut. Think of it as a healing experience for your feet.

Visit on your way to or from the airport.

The Blue Lagoon isn’t near Reykjavik—in fact, it’s about a 45-minute drive away. However, it is close to the airport. So close that they have regular shuttle buses driving between the two destinations. This being said, plan your visit or stay at the Blue Lagoon with one of your travel days. My favorite thing to do is stay at the Lagoon or in the area the night before I fly out. That way you can enjoy the Blue Lagoon at your leisure and still be in the area for your flight.

Reykjanes Peninsula is a destination in itself.

Blue Lagoon is located in a region called Reykjanes Peninsula. If you’ve ever heard of Silfra Fissure—the area in which two tectonic plates meet and create a narrow, incredibly deep waterway where you can snorkel or scuba dive—know that there’s also another spot to witness the two plates near the Blue Lagoon. It’s one of the only places in the world where you can clearly see the tectonic divide. This area is worth a day of exploring.

Don’t stray from the pre-lagoon shower protocol.

Back to the swimming: Do not skip the shower before you enter the lagoon. Icelanders are very focused on cleanliness and a shower is required before you enter any of the hot springs on the island. You also need to shower naked, but there are shower stalls in the locker room for added privacy. There are staff members in the locker rooms ready to answer any of your questions, should they arise. Iceland’s tourism group put together a fun video series called Iceland Academy and there’s a whole video dedicated to showering at hot springs, if you’re looking to become an expert.

Save room in your suitcase—your towel is included.

Don’t worry about packing one of your own towels—each visitor package now includes a towel with your entry. Pro tip: Avoid leaving your towel on the hooks around the lagoon’s edge. Iceland’s weather is notoriously unpredictable and you’ll often experience all four seasons in one day. The last thing you want is to hop out of the warm water and into a slightly icy towel.

The water temperature differs, depending on your location in the pool.

The farther back in the main pool you travel, the warmer it will get. There are large wooden boxes lining the lagoon—these are devices that heat up the water and disperse it across the pool. Get close to one of them and you will surely feel the temperature difference.

Make time to eat at one of the Blue Lagoon’s restaurants.

There are two to choose from, Lava Restaurant and the new Moss Restaurant, which were built with the Retreat rooms. Both are incredible, but offer different experiences. At LAVA, the menu is a mix of traditional Icelandic dishes, whereas Moss offers tasting menus with wine pairings and each course plays off of a local ingredient or traditional offering.

Familiarize yourself on the Lagoon’s elfin folklore.

Stick with me on this one. Icelanders take elves very seriously and the Blue Lagoon is no exception. On a recent visit, I was told about the time the elves got involved in the construction of the Lava Restaurant. As recent legend has it, the construction crew was experiencing a lot of issues around equipment not working as they broke ground on the new project. An elf communicator was called in—yes, that’s a very real job—to talk with the elves and see what was going on.

After hours of conversation, she came back and alerted the crew that they were breaking ground on an ancient home base of elves. They got the go-ahead to continue building, as long as the elves received a 10-year plan for the construction...on a flash drive, delivered by the Icelandic president. As luck would have it, the President was due to pay a visit and he followed through on the elves’ wishes. The flash drive was left in a stone structure on the property (which the elves directed) and it’s been there ever since. Make sure and ask about it the next time you visit.


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