I think I’ve mentioned before here on the blog that Icelanders have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the Blue Lagoon. I believe what the locals dislike the most about it is the prices and how they’ve kept creeping up over the last few years. Many locals also remember a time when the Blue Lagoon was a lot more rustic than it is now. They long for the old days when we could enjoy our natural wonders without “paying the white of your eye” as some have put it.
When people ask me about whether the Blue Lagoon is worth visiting, I’m often quite torn about how to answer that question. Knowing what else is out there, there’s no denying that the Blue Lagoon is pricey even for what it is. Sure, there are minerals in the water that studies suggest may have some healing power against skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema so it’s difficult to compare, but it’s still quite pricy.
The cost of the tickets is often justified by presenting the Blue Lagoon as a serene spa experience, as opposed to just visiting a pool. That all of the amenities they offer and the otherworldly surroundings somehow elevate it. You will feel rejuvenated after a long flight floating around with your facemask and free drink of choice while taking lots of pictures to make your friends at home jealous.
I have never made it a secret that I’m not necessarily a big fan of the Blue Lagoon. It’s a personal choice that has to do with the fact that I don’t feel comfortable in crowded spaces. I often also feel very aware that I’m a walking dollar sign when I need to exit a place through a gift shop. I don’t have anything against the Blue Lagoon, per se, I just prefer other places when I need to relax.
Even so, I have told people throughout the years that although this is my personal choice, I understand why they would want to visit. Many people feel that it’s imperative to include a visit to the Blue Lagoon to any Iceland itinerary. The fear of missing out is a real thing, and sometimes you just need to check things off your list.
When I’m asked about this, I’ve used the same arguments as the Blue Lagoon itself uses. Like that you will probably not experience anything like it elsewhere and that the prices are high because you’re paying for this spa-like experience. Tourists in Iceland like a lot of things that I’m not a fan of, but I see no reason to spoil their fun by forcing my opinions on them. Instead, I try to give useful advice on how to get the most out that experience as I did with this post about all you need to know about visiting the Blue Lagoon. The same applies when people ask us to help with their itineraries; a visit to the Blue Lagoon is not a red flag that I need to correct.
So my official answer to whether the Blue Lagoon is worth it or not has been that if you feel it is worth it, then it is. As long as you know that the price is high in comparison to other pools and hot springs and you’re OK with paying that premium.
I’ve always been very comfortable with that answer because the times I’ve visited the Blue Lagoon, I got more or less what was advertised.
Until last weekend that is.
On Friday Hrannar and I decided to do a little circle around the Reykjanes peninsula and check out the sights as we often do to see if anything has changed. Because we hadn’t been to the Blue Lagoon in a while, we decided to end our road trip there to refresh our memory.
Full disclosure: It’s standard practice here in Iceland that the companies that you partner with and sell tours and activities for, offer you to experience their services for free. They know it’s easier to sell something you’ve experienced yourself. We received complimentary agent access, which is a stipped access with nothing included but a towel. We used the same changing rooms and had equal access to the lagoon itself as any paying customer though.
We arrived at 9 pm when the lagoon is usually quieter than during the busiest time in the morning and the afternoon. The downstairs changing rooms were closed for some reason, maybe because they were full, so we were told to use the upstairs changing rooms. When I got into the changing room, there were no available lockers anywhere. There was a group of women circling the room, watching dressing women like vultures in the hope a locker would free up.
The Blue Lagoon has a system in place where you can see which lockers are open in each changing room. The 5 or so lockers that it showed were free were all occupied by women getting undressed. In the end, we were escorted by a member of staff to another changing room on the same floor where a few lockers were open. Even so, there were not enough of them for all of us.
I don’t want to get into too many details, but what I experienced in that changing room was all but a spa-like experience. I would say it was more like being a sardine in a rather unpleasant can.
I should mention though that the lagoon itself was very nice. The weather was lovely, and it was amazing to see the whole lagoon light up in the evening sun. Even though there were a lot of people there, it didn’t feel super crowded, and it was still possible to find a quiet area to relax.
When I left around 11 pm, I have to admit that I was in a bit of a shock. The locker room had been so bad that I momentarily felt like I had somehow cheated my guests by including a visit to the lagoon in their travel plans.
On all my previous visits, I’ve used the main changing room on the first floor. Although that too can get busy, it’s more aligned with what people expect for the price they pay. I’ve often wondered why people’s experiences at the Blue Lagoon are so vastly different (people either love it or hate it), and I’m now curious to know if this changing room situation has anything to do with it.
With that in mind, I feel like I need to add a new sentence to my official answer to whether or not the Blue Lagoon is worth it.
If you feel it is worth it, then it is. As long as you know that the price is high in comparison to other pools and hot springs and you’re OK with paying that premium. And you’re OK with the fact that you might be unlucky and get stuck in a changing room that feels more like the inside of a clown car than a spa.
At least now you know and you can adjust your expectations accordingly – saving you the shock I experienced. We did have a nice visit overall though but I’m not sure I would have felt the same if I had paid a full-priced premium ticket (at 120 USD / 110 EUR).
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