What do you want after you’ve spent 5-6 hours on an amazingly cramped airbus, and another two hours being subjected to airport bureaucracy and rental car insanity?
To relax. You want to relaaaaax.
Handy, then, that the Blue Lagoon is pretty much on the way from Keflavik airport to Reykjavik.
What’s so special about a hot spring?
The 20 minute drive from Keflavik through the lava fields surrounding the Blue Lagoon is startling, and indicates really quickly that this isn’t a run-of-the-mill landscape.
Boyfriend Perspective: Since driving in a new country as the sun rises is such an “interesting” experience, I couldn’t really spend time looking at the lava fields. Which, by the way, look like something out of Lord of the Rings: no trees, just lava rocks covered in bright green moss as far as the eye can see. Not that I could really see anything with the glare I was giving the road after being awake for almost 24 hours…
This isn’t just any hot spring. The spring the Blue Lagoon draws from is somewhat unique in that it’s incredibly rich in silica. This gives it its breathtaking milky blue hue, and some lovely benefits for your skin. Decades ago, it was a secret the locals treasured. Now, the site boasts a luxury (and currently expanding) hotel, an upscale restaurant, and an incredibly popular spa.
And, after all of our travel craziness, I’d never been so happy to see a place in my life.
What to expect before you hit milky blue heaven
We missed our pre-booked, hour-long window by almost an hour (thank you, KEF rental car BS…). Thankfully, we were still admitted with our wristbands, robes, and flip flops.
As is customary in Iceland, all visitors are required to remove their shoes before entering the locker room. After all, who the heck wants snowy water all over the floor you’ll be walking on in stocking feet?! From there, you proceed to choose an empty locker and start stripping down.
Boyfriend Perspective: Alright, folks, here is where you should take a deep breath and move past those prudish American sensibilities. Before you can enter the pool, you must shower. Oh, that’s all? Did I forget to mention without your swim suit? Yes, you must wash, being sure to condition your hair, without your swim suit in an open shower room. Then, you dry off, go back to your locker, and put your suit and robe on. Only then can you proceed out into the brisk Icelandic morning air.
Yes, you have to expose 95% of your skin to sub-30 degree temps. Yes, you will hate every nanosecond. Just think of it as character building. Or preparing your for some of your coastal excursions later…
You can leave your robe and shoes on hooks by the water, and then it’s time to wade in.
The water stays a pretty toasty 104-115 degrees (F), but does vary a bit depending on where you are in the lagoon at a given time. Also, this is a HUUUUGE tourist destination, so if you’re in the witness protection program, this is not the spot for you. If you arrive at a crowded time, prepare yourself for waterproof smartphone cases and GoPros galore.
Boyfriend Perspective: Psst, the water here is cloudy enough that, if you’re with a significant other, or someone you are “friendly” with, you could fool around a bit and no one would be the wiser. Assuming you two can keep a straight face, of course.
- Blue Lagoon offers an in-water juice, smoothie, and beer bar. The beer selection is limited to the likes of Gull (*gag*) but their skyr smoothies are really quite tasty. With certain packages, you get your first drink free, so just scan your wristband and go.
- They also offer an in-water facial bar, where you have access to an exfoliating silica mask, refined from the naturally-occurring silica onsite. If you have a mid- to upper-tier package, you can also try out their green algae mask, which is really quite nice and soothing. Each stays on for about 10-15 minutes, and then you can rinse it off in the pool.
Boyfriend Perspective: Both of the masks were great, even as a guy. In fact, after I finished the masks I felt fabulous, skin luxurious, and I was going to change careers to be a model. Meagan laughed at me and damn near drowned from it.
- If you want lunch or dinner during your visit, they have a couple of small cafes and an onsite restaurant called Lava. Our package came with sparkling wine and a reservation at Lava, and we very much enjoyed the food, the wine, and the view (even if the service was a little lackluster).
- Note: Luke could NOT stop raving about the lamb, and ordering the chocolate mousse is not a mistake.
- The final premium service that I’m so thrilled to have been able to splurge on for us was the in-water massage. Guys. If you’ve never laid on a floating mat, been draped in a wet towel (it sounds awful, but the weight of the wet fibers is actually super soothing), and gently massaged for 30 minutes while you float, YOU ARE MISSING OUT. Once your time is up, they float you over to a little inlet where you can rest and leave the massage area at your leisure – and just about everyone I saw took as long as humanly possible to stay put.
You can make this stop as energetic or relaxed as you want, which is perfect for relatively quiet travelers like us. As an initial taste of what Iceland has to offer – and a way to destress after traveling – I can’t recommend the Blue Lagoon highly enough.
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Also published on Medium.