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The Blue Lagoon: A tourist trap or an important part of your Iceland checklist?

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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People with face masks in the Blue Lagoon
Vistas of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland

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  1. An interesting article. I recently spent 12 days solo trip in Iceland. Loved most parts except the very unexpected weather and crazily expensiveness. I tried to visit all parts of the Iceland (two of my favorites are Jorkulsarlon and Snaefellsnes).

    Most people seem to do Blue Lagoon on the last day of their trip and before they head to the airport. I thought about doing it also, but I think the price was 8000ISK which is close to $70USD (10/2012). An $70 for public bath with 240 other people isn’t all that special for me and not worth my money. I, however, used that money to buy the silica mud pack for my mother who’s going to enjoy it.

    I vowed myself to visit Iceland again later. Maybe I can visit BL then, hoping its admission fee won’t be 18400 ISK.

  2. I have to say I *loved* the Blue Lagoon – it was incredible.

    However, when I went I (a) stayed in the hotel (b) in December, so there were very few people actually in the pool when I was there. I think I would have enjoyed it a lot less had it been crowded. And like you say, I was happy to pay the money – it was the end of my trip, I had an early morning flight, and after staying in a hostel for the week I had the money to do it.

  3. Josh – the price you mention must include the price of the bus to the lagoon and back or to the airport because the admission fee is 4800 ISK.

    1. Hi,
      Can you please tell me where the site is I can book for that as I can only find sites charging me £80 which is excessive per person! Thanks

      1. Post comment

        Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

        This post is old so the prices here do not apply anymore and you can’t find cheaper tickets than the ones you’ve found on the Blue Lagoon website.

  4. I went to the Blue Lagoon when I visited Iceland 8 years ago and loved it. I was drawn by its uniqueness and juxtaposition with the power plant. I hope to come back soon (saving hard!) and I hadn’t planned to revisit, now I’ve heard what the price is, I certainly won’t. Hopefully we’ll be able to visit other hot springs around the country.

    The owners want to be careful about alienating the tour operators, people are good at finding alternatives and there’s always someone with a better business mind out there!

  5. I love the blue lagoon. I recommend it to foreigners who visit Iceland. The only thing I hate about it is how expensive it is. I would love to go there a few times a year, but there is no way in hell that I can afford it. But if I was visiting Iceland I would definitely go. It feels so wonderful.

  6. the blue lagoon is a bit of a catch 22. too expensive imho but if you don´t visit it you´ll be faced telling people you didn´t visit it when that´s the only thing they know about iceland. personally, and i get asked a lot working in the industry, i tell people to skip it if they´re headed around the country and to go to jarðböðin instead: less than 1/2 the price, open later, less touristic, imho the water is nicer and as an added bonus they don´t have to employ security guards to stop excessively frisky people in the lagoon, leaving one to winder what they´re actually swimming in in the blue lagoon. having said that yes, it is definitely an experience and if you´re not able to get to jaarðböðin then the blue lagoon is pretty close to a must-do.

  7. I have been there 5 times and am going back again in August. I will say that once you see it, the cost is not significant for what you are getting. They could have nothing this clean, beautiful and amazing in the USA — that is for sure — at least not in the big city where I am from. It worth 10 times the price to visit for most people. If you are on a budget, then that is another story. I would rather economize on things in the USA and save money to do Iceland to the fullest. I have been to Myvtan also and I highly recommend it. I cannot imagine many people being disappointed!

  8. Post comment

    Marissa | Tiny Pilgrim says:

    Very interesting! I actually just heard about the Blue Lagoon this morning, so I thought I’d look up some information on it. I’m from the United States and we have nothing like this around. So for many tourists, I believe it is the experience that they are willing to pay for. Whether the minerals actually have any effect on your skin or not, I think some travelers like to experience things because they are different.

    Thank you so much for sharing this information!

  9. We will have only 4 days in Reykjavik and no car. Are there other thermal pools in or near the city where one can bathe? I would love to try that, but not at Blue Lagoon prices!

    1. There’s nothing like the Blue Lagoon in the city but a bunch of pools. The ones visitors go to most are Laugardalslaug, Sundhöllin and Vesturbæjarlaug due to their proximity to the downtown area .

  10. We went on our recent trip in February 2014 and had a fun time. Here are a few things I wish I knew beforehand though.

    Don’t waste the money on a “package”. The one we bought had a treatment as part of it. Well, the treatment was a frozen version of the silica or the pumice/ash that is already found in the water. If you look around, you can get it for free in the water. We also got a free drink, which we used for a slush. No, this was not worth the extra we paid for it. If you look at the spa prices for things like manicures and so forth, they are vastly overpriced. I’m not sure what is in the executive lounge, but I can’t image it’s worth 10,000+ Kronur per person.

    Get there early. The closer you can get there to opening, the better off you are. When we got there right at opening, there weren’t many people there but within a few hours, it gets crowded very quickly. Don’t worry, there are private shower stalls. You may have to be a bit patient to use them, but they are there.

    Watch your water intake. You are in very warm water and are sweating even though you don’t feel it, so you will want to drink more than you think you do. Yeah, you may get dehydrated being in water. My wife started getting a splitting headache because she didn’t drink enough, we got her a Gatorade in town once we left and she felt fine.

    It is a bit of a tourist trap, but is very well done and the people working there are fantastic, as was everyone else I had the pleasure of meeting in Iceland.

  11. My partner and I are coming to Iceland on the 30th March for a week ( so excited!! ) and this is the only thing left that we have to book. We are planning on going on the last day of our trip ( 6th April ) but we are unsure of whether we will have enough time or not? We would arrive for 1000 opening then leave at 1500 to go to the airport with an hour slot for lunch in the Lava restaurant. is 2hours enough time to spend in and around the water? Im worried incase it is really busy and we end up being pushed for time? :(. Its a lot of money to spend for such a short time.

    I have found this website ( and your Instagram? … maybe its someone else with the same name? ) really helpful so thank you :). Maybe we will cross paths during our time in Iceland :).

    1. Two hours is plenty for the lagoon – you will probably turn into a prune if you stay any longer 🙂

  12. I’ve read lots of comments suggesting a visit to the Blue Lagoon as a last stop before departing Iceland. Alternatively, you may want to consider it as a first stop, especially if you’ve just spent 10 hours or so on one of the flights that gets in early in the morning. It’s a nice, invigorating way to wake up and prepare for your first day.

  13. I was in Iceland in April 2014 and loved it. I drove completely around the island, swam in natural hot springs, went into a natural ice cave, and marveled at the many spectacular waterfalls and glaciers. My daughter arrived a day before me and spent a few hours at the blue lagoon and rated it a… Meh. There are so many natural wonders in Iceland that it was very hard for us to get excited by a manmade pool filled with runoff from a geothermal plant. The heated pool in my backyard is only slightly less natural than the blue lagoon, and I am pretty sure nobody would pay me to swim in it.

    Go to Iceland, Get in a car, drive a bit, take a hike to an actual natural hot spring, or visit a glacier, or geyser. If you have nothing to do on your last day in Iceland you could stop by the blue lagoon on your way to the Keflavik airport, but I would do something else.

  14. I and my husband were at Iceland last week (Sept 2016) and visited Blue Lagoon the day before we came. I was not sure about going there after reading comments but I am glad we visited it. I think it is a unique place and it was a relaxing time. Having visited it now, here is what I would recommend if you plan to go:
    1. Bring a towel and flip-flops with you: We chose not to bring towels and flip-flops in our luggage because we didn’t want to carry them. I got the premium package so we would have towels and flip-flops. It is a lot of money for towel and flip-flops. Get the package with just the entrance fee and have your towel and flip-flops with you. Bringing your own towel or flip-flops will reduce the chance that somebody else will take them when you are in the lagoon too.
    2. No need for Bath Robes / cover-ups: Everybody is walking in swimsuits, towels and it is comfortable. Definitely do not rent bath robes because you leave them on the rack and somebody takes them when you are in the lagoon (this happened to us and to other people around us).
    3. Don’t buy facial products at the lagoon: Silica mud mask or the Algae Mask is 9900 kronos at the Lagoon, 8000 at the Airport Blue Lagoon shop. There was a special deal at the Airport shop. I bought Silica mud mask + Algae Mask for 14400. It is still more than it should be but a better deal than the lagoon itself.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

      Many people prefer a package with a towel because they are going straight to the airport after the visit and they don’t want to have a wet towel with them. The difference is not that great and there are more things included. As for the bathrobes, people might want them for different reasons and I sure appreciated them when I visited when it was very cold outside. I didn’t have any problems with people taking my bathrobe when I was there. So my advice to people is just to do the package that is best for their needs, which are not the same for everyone that visits.

      Good tip about the Blue Lagoon store at the airport. Many things tend to be more economical at the airport (except the food, of course) because you don’t pay all the taxes/duties there.

    2. Thank you for the tip of buying their products from the airport!!

    3. If someone steals your shoes or robe or towel, it is not a big deal, just tell a member of the staff what happened and ask for another one! I would also pay for the towel as luggage space is too valuable to pack a one time use wet towel for a trip overseas.

  15. I was one of the 20%. There is just no way I could justify spending over $100 Canadian to go for a swim. (Banff Hot Springs, for comparison, is $7.30 per person.) I was more excited to see Iceland’s fascinating landscapes.

    1. Post comment

      Ásta - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      I quite enjoy the Blue Lagoon, and it definitely is different, but it is pricey. Since I live here and am not going straight to the airport, I bring a towel with me and just get the standard entrance, which is now from 6100 ISK. But there are also lots of other options, similar baths in the North of Iceland, called Jarðböðin, are smaller and simpler and less expensive. I also enjoy the Secret Lagoon in the South of Iceland.

      1. Hello Asta, This is the information i was hoping to see. I really want to find a place to go that is not so touristy. Is there any hot spring lagoons along the golden circle? Where is the Secret Lagoon? Thank you!

      2. As at 29th May 2018 it’s “from” ISK 6 990 – that’s £50 in English money!

        1. Post comment

          Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

          You can find all the prices for the Blue Lagoon on their website which we have linked in this post.

  16. My family is going in 18 days!!! My husband doesn’t want to go in the lagoon. Does he have to pay just to walk around and take our pictures?

  17. I’m having some confusion about the prices for blue lagoon. I’m traveling at the beginning of March. My 2017 lonely planet book estimates 40 euro, and I’ve seen other travel blogs say 50-70 USD, but when I go to book on the blue lagoon website, all of the morning slots start at 9990 krona for the most basic package. Am I doing something wrong? Thanks!

    PS love your blog so much! 🙂

    1. Post comment

      Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      The Blue Lagoon just changed their price structure (the change takes effect on March 1st) and they are no longer offering the cheapest package which was around 50-60 USD last year. Now you can only choose between Comfort and Premium tickets with the Comfort tickets starting at around 70 USD (but you hardly ever get it for that price unless you plan to go just before they close or something like that).

      So you’re not doing anything wrong – the prices have just changed 🙂

  18. We are going to Iceland in the summer holidays, how far in advance is it advisable to book for the blue Lagoon?
    We intend to do lots of other activities in Iceland is it advisable to book these before we go or should we leave it until we are in the country. I am aware tourism is growing in Iceland.
    Thanks in anticipation

    1. Post comment

      Hrannar - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Hi Janet.

      We recommend that you book everything in advance. The more popular tours usually get fully booked. With the Blue Lagoon you some hours of the day always book out some weeks in advance. If you have any questions about this, you can send everything through our contact form and we will get back to you within 24 hours – https://iheartreykjavik.net/contact/

  19. Thank you for all the tips on Iceland! We will be there 5 days at the end of January 2019 and your insight into the country helped me plan our trip. I am excited to go and explore the icelandic beauty!
    The BL is on the list since our flight arrives at 6:30am and hotel chevk in is at 3pm. One thing I do not like about it so far: I contacted them and if you want to do a massage or facial you have to book the retreat package which is expensive. A massage with the retreat package entry comes close to $250 per person (crazy!). I understand they want to promote the BL as a unique and luxury experience, but…. Regardless, we will enjoy few hours there with the regular admission package and skip the massage and retreat package hefty fee. It will be a nice experience anyway!
    Thank you again for the detailed information shared on all Iceland attractions/areas. Safe travels!!!

    1. Post comment

      Hrannar - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Hi Monica.

      If you have any questions or need any help with your planning, you can always contact us through the contact form on the website.

  20. My first experience at the Blue Lagoon was my best one. That was 23 years ago. Since I have family living in Iceland (I’m not Icelandic) I have been there at least eight times, staying for weeks at a time. I no longer go to BL for anything but a walk around- it is just too commercial, too big and too expensive. I cherish what is used to be. I also am saddened by all the construction in the city- I was there last year, parking was a nightmare and the charm is sliding. I love Iceland so much and I hope it does not spoil itself with the tourist boom.

    1. Post comment

      Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      I think you can look at the development at the Blue Lagoon from many different angles. Yes, it’s definitely much more commercial now and if you experienced it before, you may feel a sense of loss of what was. On the other hand, and I’ve always said this, they’ve done a really good job with the way they have built it up and no matter how much you may dislike them, you can’t argue that they haven’t put a lot of thought into all the buildings and different services they offer. They’re a spa and want to position themselves as such – not as a public pool which is of course much cheaper.

      Having said that, I personally think the Blue Lagoon is a place you may want to visit once but most people don’t need to do it again.

      As for the development in town – Reykjavík is more than just a destination for tourists, it’s a city that more than half of the population call home. So it was always going to change and develop, that’s the nature of cities. Whether or not all the decisions that have been made are good is a completely different matter but I for one celebrate the fact that there are more restaurants and bars to choose from, for example, because there was a time when Reykjavík was a bit of a culinary wasteland 🙂

    2. I can’t agree more. I actually think that 20 years ago it was a different place and they moved it slightly as they built the plant. It used to have mud on the stones and people could stay near hot springs coming straight out of the ground. Now it is a blue-painted overpriced (100 USD per person) public swimming pool, crammed with tourists. I went there on the last day of our trip last summer because of my husband who was travelling to Iceland for the first time. He said that Blue Lagoon ruined his Iceland’s experience. Iceland is my happy place, I’ve been there many times and keep returning, but it hurts to see how it can go down the drain when it is over-commercialized. I understand that Iceland’s economy crash took a tall on people and it would be nice to help the country to recover and I do not mind paying extra to people there, but not to big businesses. Icelanders need to realize that as much as their country is beautiful, it is expensive as well. Increasing prices will kill tourism.

      1. Post comment

        Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

        The Blue Lagoon as it was and the Blue Lagoon today are two very different things and cannot be compared.

  21. The BL folks need to think of all customers types, including the locals – why not have a late day (when it is near closing) price for those who want to nip in before they leave the country and the full (expensive) price does not warrant the visit. Have different coloured bands or wristbands that change colour when a person has maxed out on the “time package” they purchased – they want more they can come and buy more time (load the fee to the band and reset the colour).

    Kind of like twilight rates at the golf course for the less serious or late day golfers who go at end of day to get 9 or less greens in after work or as an excursion with friends – not interrupting the serious golfers and adding an additional revenue source. This sort of staggered fee scale makes it accessible to more types of customers and likely (at the margin) creates more revenue with repeat customers willing to pay less for a shorter interval, but more frequency of visits. One has to find the equilibrium point s(price) o that more the average customers can ALSO visit amidst the high paying, less price sensitive foreign visitors.

    1. Post comment

      Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      I see where you’re coming from but they actually have cheaper prices in the afternoon and evening often. Not by a lot but it’s an incentive to go later in the day when there are fewer people around.